How good is the Directstream DAC

Not anymore stunning that Redbook streamed from my Roon Core…

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I use to be in that group that don’t care about equipment. Only the music mattered. Then an audiophile friend invited me over to check out his equipment. He had a VTL 120 tubed amp and Audio Research SP9 tubed preamp. I laughed that he was using such old antiquated tubed equipment. He also had a Sota Sapphire with a linear tracking air bearing arm. He put the air pump in another room because of the noise. He ran Kimber 4tc to his Thiel 2.0 speakers. What I heard changed my life forever!! I heard musical instruments in the room in it’s own space. I heard texture and solidity and bells that ring in the air with a cushion of air that I have not heard before. That’s the first time I heard soundstage he was raving about. I didn’t know music can sound so good!! But I’m afraid now I’m going in the wrong direction and equipment is getting my attention more than music. Whatever makes me happy, I guess.


Listening to dCS Vivaldi play a CD in 2013, and several times since, made me wish I’d found £75,000 on the pavement on the way in, and that more than 16/44 source files are largely or totally unnecessary. The reality is that the 55dB dynamic range of vinyl is plenty if used well.

Qobuz gives me 16/44 or above and I’ve stopped looking.

I’m a music lover and have been to three recitals in the last week, probably more than most here. I can happily listen on my Pure DAB radio.

So what I need is the best streamer/dac/preamp for under $7k to stream Tidal, full MQA.

You won’t do much better than this Auralic offering:

Interesting, thanks. Anyone have direct comparative experience between the Auralic and the DS Sr that they would share?

Auralic also a brand I am unfamiliar with because no dealers within several states of me. The PSA option to trade stuff in at full msrp is pretty nice.

My guess is you swing back and forth. I expect most of us get enamored with buying a new piece of equipment, shop, buy it, enjoy the improvement - and then settle in to listening as music becomes the primary focus once again.

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I think you’re right. I certainly fall victim to that “buyer’s high” after getting a new piece of kit. Usually lasts quite a while too. But I think like most on this forum, I’m ultimately here for the music. Buying a new toy is always fun, specially when it’s to enjoy one of the best mediums out there. Ultimately though, it’s the emotional engagement to music that never gets old. These cool toys just help me get there.


Well expressed, the toys get one closer to the music; the little nuances can now be heard, the subtle phrasings, the attack if an acoustic instrument’s notes, the ambience. Neat stuff.


Auralic has a liberal try-it-you’ll-like-it program, and their stuff is excellent.

As to how good the Directstream DAC is, it’s hard to say. It doesn’t seem to be the limiting factor in my system. The more I change and improve things around it, (like preamps, power amps cables etc…) the better the DAC sounds. At one point, I thought it sounded even better than my analog system which I thought was impossible. But I can say this. It is truly sounded like no other DAC I’ve heard as far as smoothness and least digital artifacts in my memory, which is saying a lot. The upgradable feature is such a plus and looking forward to improve the sound further with the next upgrade.

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The closest DAC’s I have heard to the DS sound are the ones from Aqua. A lot of similarities between my DS Sr. and La Voce S3.

Wow that new Auralic streaming dac is priced identically, to the dollar, of the ds sr w bridge. 6899. Seems an odd number to be coincidental

I don’t think Auralic are pricing against PS Audio. I’ve used their products. My view is that their strength is streaming, with fantastic software. PS Audio do not yet have a streamer or streamer/DAC.

Over 10 years Auralic have built up a portfolio of core technologies that they build in to an increasing range of products. They therefore maximise on what they are good at and it seems to have been hugely successful. Their streamers and DACs, and now clocks and upsamplers, all seem to get rave reviews and are very popular. They used to make amplifiers, but it was not a core product and they dropped them.

I can’t say about the DAC, but with the G2.1 you are getting a much more sophisticated streamer than the Bridge, with magnificent streaming and server software.

You just brought up pricing…let’s see how quickly the two pricing police on this forum will jump out to comment.

Oh sorry if I said something inappropriate. Can’t imagine what it would have been but I am new here and do not know the rules I guess …

No, not at all. I was jokingly referring to couple people here who get all worked up whenever the dollar sign and PS Audio are mentioned in the same sentence.

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I highly recommend you talk with @jamesh about pricing for the DS DAC, they offer some deals and discounts and trade ins.

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Thanks. Not in financial position to make move yet but maybe when the time comes. NT-505 will have to do for awhile longer. I probably should have mentioned that just collecting advance info, trying to narrow field of options. It took me 6 months and dozens of auditions to buy speakers, haha

Research is always a great idea for big purchases, it saves regret later on. It is a good forum to get opinions, people have tried lots of different equipment. Good luck!

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Fully agreed. There is a big difference between enjoying sound or listening to music. Years ago I appreciated searching for more and more perfection in sound. I changed parts, equipment, cables and so on rather permanently. Sound was changing but was it really improving? Well, at that time I listened to only 1 percent of my CD-Collection. Sometimes bad music in good sound. I sold everything, the complete equipment, concentrating now on digital-stuff, which is not fatiguing and supports natural music enjoyment not being analogue or digital just right putting music in “good vibrations” (PS Audio DSD and DMP), amplified by good studio equipment by Funk and Neumann, both companies in Berlin, engineering professional pre-amplifiers respectively professional loudspeakers and microphones. Now I’m listening and enjoying music putting those CDs in my DMP, I like to LISTEN TO … :yum: