DS vs DS Mk2?

This has been asked before but it is hard to find. How do the fully modded DS compare to the DS Mk2? From what I can find the Mk2 sounds better.

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That seems to be the overwhelming consensus by the Beta test crew.

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The MKII sounds better. In my opinion the MKI has a superior interface. But as you know the MKI display is electrically noisy.


My sentiments as well


I don’t doubt it but just to be sure…was there already someone comparing the Mk II to a Mk I with external PSU, VOCM mod, C704 mod and Lundahl 1948? Or only part of it?

Oh jeez. Assuming one likes Ted’s work going in: Why would you think a modded 8-year old design (Ted-endorsed mods or not) would be better than his current design?

Then there is the fact that the 1 will not have any more Mountaintops.

And if mods are your thing - then mod the …'ing 2🙄

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I consider myself lucky to have a mostly modded Directstream MK1. I could not swing the biggest transformers but Jkrichards modded or rewired my XS4400 and I just got the VOCM mod. Everything else was previously done to my Directstream. A MK2 would be nice but I have a hunch that the modded MK1’s will always maintain respect.


No clue until someone compares.

I’m sure the Mk II is better than a fully modded Mk I with Edcor and it’s maybe even better than one with Lundahl and probably clearly better after a few firmware upgrades. And a further modded Mk II will certainly again be much better.

To get fact based opinions instead of speculations was the matter of this thread as far as I understood. The 8 years argument alone is probably not so relevant in this case.

If one needs the best (before or after further mods), he must buy the Mk II anyway.

Except for the Lundahls the Mk II already incorporates all of the aforementioned mods with better quality parts and better integration than the modders are using. To my mind it’s more speculative to assume there’s even a contest. So far (once again with the possible exception of better transformers) the mods that have been discussed for the Mk II are steps backwards.- They are addressing problems the Mk II doesn’t have and are based on broad and unsupported speculation about how the Mk II works. Most of the recommended replacement parts are of inferior quality to the parts in the Mk II. (And in some case inferior to those parts in the DS Mk I.) And all of the talk about whether a Mk I with mods can sound as good at the Mk II seems to forget that the Mk I is limited by its software and its hardware that no one is talking about modding.

I’m not saying that no one can make the Mk II sound better nor that the Mk II is perfect, but I seriously doubt they can make it sound better without knowing what they are doing and so far, no-one knows what they are talking about with possible Mk II mods.


I’m absolutely convinced of what you say.!

With further mods for the Mk II I just thought of a further transformer replacement if someone would want to do that.

And I also mentioned the firmware updates because that’s the main thing. I’d never expect even a fully modded Mk I has any chance to be as good as a Mk II latest as soon as it has further firmware upgrades.

Just in case it’s not clear, tho I do have good ideas for the next Mk II FPGA software release, the current Mk II FPGA software is much quieter than the Mk I FPGA code. It already incorporates higher precision, longer filters and a completely new SDM code both of which significantly outperform the Mk I code.


It’s like trying to hot rod an 8 year old (modern) car vs a brand new version of the same model.
You can only take the old one so far then you are out of places to improve without a complete redesign. Hence new models of stuff with electronics in the design.


I have a fully modded MKI w/Lundahl’s, I also have an unmodded MKI. The unmodded is going back to PSA as a trade-in.


Oh I see…I really didn’t notice how far from the last Mk I firmware the current Mk II one already is.

I will have a chance to compare next year myself. A Mk II, an unmodified Mk I and my modded Mk I. But it’s only fair as soon as the Mk II also has the reformatted molecular structure of signal path the others in the comparison have, that’s the mod ruling out all others. No doubt at least then the Mk II wins.

If I’m doing a further upgrade in digital front end it will be the TSS.We don’t have the US trade in deals here but the fact that I get PSA industry prices would make it theoretically half way possible if I really decide to spend more money at this place. Anyway I’ll be on a Ted DAC :wink:

Did not know you have two DS, and to trade in the unmodified DS with MK2 will be a major upgrade.

You should at least try a better power cord on MK2 because It for sure will bring more out of MK2 (among other tweaks should you decide to move on from Beta phase).

I stopped MKII testing yesterday. I have already changed power cords and I switched from an AudioQuest Diamond USB to a Platinum Starlight 8, it sounds a bit better.

I was going to keep the modded DS, but have already decided that it’s going out the door as well.

Today I am testing a dCS Bartok.


Wow, we need to hear about all of that when you are ready to share.

Like, I’d love to demo a Mk2, but no interest in paying $8k for the privilege to do it (unless many many many say it’s better than dacs I already know are good that I can and have go into a dealership and listen to for free).

So far despite 100 beta units out for over a month I’ve not heard one tester favorably compare it against a serious competitor.

Can it possibly be the case that all 100 only have Mk1 experience? Highly doubtful

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Have you heard of anyone unfavorably comparing a beta MKII to a “serious competitor”?

Curiously yours.


No, but I’d love to. Please post if anyone has or can make that comparison. I’ve been begging for it.

Edit: Positive or negative comparisons I mean - I just want to know what those who’ve had it think about it compared to other companies’ comparably priced dacs. I already assume it’s better than mk1, duh, it better be. And when I was lamenting lack of positive comparisons, it was really lamenting any comparisons at all other than to mk1, except for the one tester who reported his comparatively priced analog setup bested mk2, but that’s apples to oranges.


I would be curious to get your impression of the Bartok vs the MKII once you formulate an opinion. I believe the Bartok is about twice the price of the MKII if not mistaken.