How good is the Directstream DAC

I don’t think so. How friendly and robust the UI is completely dependent on the SW you’re using. Network audio can be a little tricky because of multiple factors, but if you have reliable internet, should be just fine. I’ve said it many times, but Roon will offer the best experience. Mcontrol is usually very robust, but the UI takes a little time to get used to its quirks.

Short answer:

IME, ripped and downloaded files fed to my DS Sr./Bridge II combination is THE BEST digital sound I have ever eked out of my system.

However, at least two key system-specific factors must be noted for context:

  1. My files are sent from an iMac hard drive via Wi-Fi to a router, which feeds the Bridge; and

  2. Even though I can use Roon to manage and “stream” my files, the best overall performance to date is consistently achieved when I use JRiver Media Center and its companion controller app. JRemote to “spin” the files.


Have fun.


[Edit: I don’t have any experience with stand-alone, single-purpose “streamers”. So, sorry if I was non responsive.]

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Thanks for replies. I probably didn’t provide enough context. I don’t own any stored digital files. Exclusively streaming from Tidal, Qobuz, etc.

So what I need is the best streamer/dac/preamp for under $7k to stream Tidal, full MQA. My Teac NT-505 does that now and is amazing for $2k, with a very mature Lumin interface that is rock solid.

I own in secondary systems Cambridge 851n with StreamMagic, Marantz pm7000n with Heos, and Bluesound Powernode 2 with BlueOS, and in all four cases the Tidal streaming just works flawlessly all the time and the UI’s are all really good and similar – ie, it is basically a solved problem across the digital streaming industry; everyone else can do it well at low price points. These are all obviously comparatively much lower cost than DS Sr.

So I never really stopped to think that maybe there are current $7k products out there that hadn’t nailed these aspects, until I saw the post in the other thread that I mentioned. Hence, my reason for asking here. I have no opinion on the DS Sr as have never heard it, but obviously it has dedicated fans as is clear from this forum. Especially as to the DAC quality.

Edit: the CA and marantz are not full MQA (which is a requirement for my main system), but they nail the streaming and UI aspects, even though the dacs are not nearly as good as the NT-505.

If you like Tidal’s UI with its mobile and/or desktop apps., you would be hard pressed to beat a used DS Sr. DAC/Bridge/Tidal combo for the money, IMO.

Auralic Vega G2.1

Why you want to use a lossy format like MQA …

Or a used LUMIN S1 (Link)

It should tick all your boxes, the software is rock solid and has a great UI.

(post in wrong thread, sorry)

Haha, well I don’t want to start a format war but I guess bc currently I only subscribe to Tidal and MQA sounds the best there

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I only mentioned it because if you look at the Auralic Vega G2.1 specifications it lists MQA under lossy formats.

I’ve never used Tidal, been with Qobuz for 7 or 8 years, so I’ve been able to observe MQA with resigned amusement. But then I’ve never been convinced for more resolution than 16/44, even though by accident I pay for it, and I find it ironic that older audiophiles (are there any young ones?) go on about high resolutions, but probably have significantly impaired hearing (because it’s part of getting old). I had mine measured as my neighbour is an ENT surgeon and it was already worsening at age 50.

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If I were in your shoes I would purchase a DSD with Bridge and give it a listen. PS Audio gives you 30 days to try out the gear. If you like it, keep it. If not send it back and get your money back. This meets your under 7K budget. Or you can go used for 4K. The PSA DSD w/Bridge II seems to fit your requirements of Tidal and MQA.

You really need to give it a listen for yourself. I personally find forums are great for finding out about new products, etc. Taking advice about what to buy is hit and miss in my opinion.

Good luck in your pursuit.


Did you really compare the sounds of music from low and high resolution files? I am 64 years old, I have little noise in my left ear, but otherwise I can hear at least well (I can hear sounds up to about 13kHz, also very soft sounds - I have had my hearing tested thoroughly). I have had a DMP for 3 years and during that time I bought about 300 SACDs and only a few CDs. Only high resolution files give you the full satisfaction of having high end audio equipment, especially when listening to classical music.

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I too can hear a clear difference between 16/44.1 and higher resolutions although it probably requires a high res original recording/mastering process.

As an example, the Billie Eilish album on CD versus a 24/44.1 download. the download is streets ahead of the CD. I like the last three tracks - the 24 bit version sounds great but if you then play the CD version the magic has gone.

Agreed. Listening to something less than CD res on a good system can be enjoyed if you’re passively listening while cooking dinner or something. If you’re going to be enjoying an album in the sweet spot, it really needs to be higher res. Regardless of how high end a system is, if you’re feeding it crap, it won’t be engaging.

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Sorry I not in agreement on this one. I get just as much enjoyment and engagement out of non high resolution music than I do out of high resolution. If my system only allows me to “enjoy” high resolution or top notch recordings than it is time for me to get a new system. I have been down that road and found myself listening to maybe 5-10% of my music collection. To me that was a complete waste of my time.

I like to call this the difference between being an Audiophile and a music lover.


Oh and before anyone burst a blood vessel if you only want to listen to high resolution files good for you.

How dare you, Sir!! (just kidding, that was funny - difference between, made me chuckle)

Me too–I predominantly listen to cds, and the DMP/DSD combo makes them sound so so good. (All my Decware components as well). Hires is nice, but I live in Redbook and vinyl formats.


Everyone here is both, but the balance depends on the individual.

I have yet to meet anyone who has absolutely no interest in music, does not care what music is recorded on the medium, and literally listens only to the hardware. But such people may exist.

At the other extreme, I know many who care not a whit about equipment, love music, and listen a great deal. These music lovers are not on audio hardware forums as the equipment does not matter to them. If you are here, you are not part of this second group. :slight_smile:

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I agree. I still enjoy listening to an old transistor radio when washing the car…I am a music lover!

Oh absolutely! Redbook through the DMP is simply stunning.
To clarify, when I said low res, I meant MP3 or listening to something like Pandora at 64kbps. If I were to show off my system to some friends, the last thing I would do is flip on Pandora. Pop in a CD though? Absolutely!