Heartbroken: Unhappy with the sound of my new DS Sr

Well, I have had my DS sr. for 5 days now, and have approximately 60 hours on it. After being completely heart broken, and just beside myself with the way it sounded, I called tech support yesterday and they had me update to Snowmass. Snowmass immediately sounded better, and has been operating for 24 hours continuous since installed. At present It still sounds no different then when I first installed snowmass. The overall presentation of the DS is very disappointing, and unfortunately very costly for a guy on a rather tight budget.

The DirectStream literally puts my music in speaker prison. Its very clear and quiet but so compressed, and uneventful, I can’t take it!

I have a NuWave non DSD version (4 months old) that I was using, and still have for a reference between the two. The Nuwave straight out of the box was just as clear and quiet, and sounds actually more open and detailed than the DS. Put it this way…the Nuwave sounds like I have a live jazz band in my audio room, and its voicing is absolutely perfect!

I figured if the NuWave was that good, what possibly was I going to experience with the DirectStream, and just could not resist the temptation to get one.

What Now? I bought the DS new from a dealer with a 2K trade on another piece of equipment.

I expect possible questions and recommendations, but are not new at this since audio has been one of my passions for over 40 years. I really don’t need lessons on cabling, positioning, etc, etc. But, If you truly believe you have something, I will listen. Steve

I would encourage you to give the DAC much more time to break in. I’m not a DS owner, but I’ve read that the DS needs much more than 60 hrs to open up. Just a thought…

Something is definitely not right. The Directstream is exactly the opposite of what you are describing! My Soundstage exceeds the boundaries of my room in all dimensions. It is so musical and natural sounding. You had better talk with someone from tech support. Be sure to convey to them what your system consists of.

Thank you for your reply. At this point I can’t think of anything else that I can do. However, my experiences with break-in have never been night and day except in the occasion of very large coupling caps that actually did benefit from a few hundred hours of break-in. Steve

Have you turned the power off (back power switch), let the unit sit for five minutes or so, and reboot?

I will absolutely call tech support again on Monday. Thank you for providing me with some hope that something may actually be amiss with my unit.

You’re welcome. For myself, I noticed quite a large improvement from my NuWave DSD DAC when I upgraded to the Stellar Gain Cell DAC. I’d be very surprised if a similarly large improvement shouldn’t be as noticeable for you going up to the DS.

I’m still thinking burn-in time, but at the same time PS Audio has an awesome reputation for customer service. I imagine quite a few other people will chime-in on this one.

What you are describing is actually common with new components (each shows its newness a bit differently). Give it at least 400, if not 500 hours, i.e., three weeks, including running and not running (settling) time. I never make a judgment on anything less.

I will give it the time you recommend. Thanks do much, Steve

Do go through the manual and check all your settings, just to be sure. What I meant by run and not run time is that components are perhaps like our bodies, where recovery is where the gains are made or consolidated. I don’t know that there are any controlled studies to show it, but I’ve noticed it seems to work (and saves a little money). Morrow Audio suggests five hours on, five hours off with their cables, while I typically run 24-36 hours playing, 10-12 not. That’s playing, as in delivering output to the next component in the chain, not that the next component needs to be on.

I understood your meaning, and believe it has merit. Thanks…

I would also encourage you to reinstall an earlier software version, play the DAC a bit, and then reinstall Snowmass.

I have been through three software updates with my DS Sr., but Snowmass was initially not very impressive when I updated from Red Cloud. I listened for several days and did not note any Holy Cow-type improvements. Based on some others’ feed back I reinstalled Red Cloud, listened to Snowmass and then did the same thing one more time. On the third loading of Snowmass it became very evident that Snowmass was more musical than Red Cloud to my ears, in my system. So, in addition to giving your new kit some time to “burn in”, uninstall and reinstall Snowmass a couple of times before your next critical listening session. I can’t explain it, but I (and others) have not been able to get the Snowmass software to “take” without a reload or two.

Best of luck to you.

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That makes sense, and will give it a try. Thank you…

The DS should sound OK out of the box.

Do you have the option of 30 day trial period? If so give it the 29 days and reassess.

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Most report break-in ranging from 100-600+ hours.

What are your components —
Music Server?
Music Player?
Music Player Software?
DirectStream Input?


If the starting point is unhappiness, it’s unlikely any amount of breaking in will change that. The previous suggestions of rolling back the software and moving back to Snowmass again might improve things.


I have the DS with Snowmass and Bridge II, and have run non stop for last 8 days, so about ~200 hours. Love it, particularly Jazz and vocals or guitar. I guess the burn-in process does make a big difference. I am very pleased with the DS and Snowmass. So much that I hesitate to upgrade it to SM v2!! I have downloaded and unzipped the SM2 onto the SD card. Newbie question: I copied the directory with the unzipped files onto the sd card; should I copy only the unzipped files (ie not the directory)?

Copy only the individual files to the SD card, not the directory.

Snowmass 2 sounds the same as Snowmass 1.

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Thanks Elk!

Ask if you have any problems. There is always someone here around to help.