Is it worth it to buy a DirectStream ONLY for Tidal and Spotify streaming? (Currently using a Node 2i)

Hi. My new system is comprised of a pair of KEF R7 speakers, a NAD M22 V2 amplifier and a BlueSound Node 2i. I just bought the NAD M22 V2 amp (before I used a Rega Brio amp) and I’m amazed at the uncanny detail and great sound quality I get from hearing songs via Tidal (both CD quality and MQA) and even via Spotify. The quantity of revealing information, openness, clarity is day and night in comparison with the already good quality I got from my Rega Brio.

Because I want to get the most of my already loved system and learning from some forums that the DAC of the BlueSound Node 2i is not that great, even some people call it poor, naturally I’m now wondering how much more could I improve the sound of my system by adding a better (or the best) DAC out there.

I need the DAC to be compatible with MQA and I’ve read that PS DirectStream DAC is considered one of the best (if not the best) out there.

As you know, the price of the DS is $6,000.oo and even though in my opinion that’s a lot “just for a DAC” being that, in fact, it would be the most expensive of my components, IF my only source is streaming via Spotify and TIDAL, would I really benefit and hear an improvement that can justify the price of the DS? Would the improvement in sound be a night and day difference? If right now I think the sound is fantastic, I just can’t think or measure my excitement when I hear something even better!

I would connect my BlueSound Node 2i to the DirectStream DAC via optical. By doing so, does it means that the DS would upsample 64 times the original Tidal/Spotify sound? Anyone would guess a really big difference and improvement should be heard.

If by paying the $6,000 the DS cost I would really experience an extraordinary night and day improvement in comparison of what I’m getting right now, I’m so in love with the sound I’m having now that the expense would be well justified! That’s why I’m asking if spending that money is really worth it in my case. Thank you very much!!

Lucky for you PS Audio have an in-home obligation free purchase policy. The best answer to your question is to take them up on that offer and make your own assessment.

1 Like

Keep in mind that you need to use the PSA Bridge network (Ethernet) card input to get MQA decoded with PSA DACs.


1 Like

If MQA is your primary concern then buy a Lumin D2 or a Teac Reference NT-505.


Having had a Bluesound Node, I can say that the unit is priced accordingly. Is it poor? Well, when compared to the DirectStream DAC, the answer is, yes. How can any of us expect a $499 streamer/DAC to be able to convert digital to analog as well as DAC’s 5X, 10X, 15X its price. It is really a comparison that should not be made.

The question of whether the DS DAC will bring enough of an improvement for you to feel happy with the $6000 purchase is one none of us can truly answer beyond speculation. You have a system DNA that likely nobody here has experience with.

Are you speakers capable of resolving the SQ improvements the DS DAC can bring? The same question can be asked of your NAD amplifier. It is not that either of those components are cheap, but it is difficult to say how well they are able to pass on the strengths and capabilities of the DS DAC.

The recommendation by @Brodric to take advantage of the 30-day in-home trial is about the best any of us can offer since much of what it is your are asking is system dependent. Could you buy a $2000 DAC of another brand and spend the $4000 on another amp or set of speakers that are of higher quality? Sure, but that still does not guarantee happiness.

I know many of us have been in your very position at one point in audio journey. You have already committed more money than you probably ever imagined reasonable for what you have obtained thus far. Then you imbed yourself in some forums, read a bunch of audio publications and reviews and next thing you know, you realize you have not even scratched the surface of this giant, endless blackhole of purchase potential. You are definitely on the right track in that you are here inquiring about the DirectStream DAC which in my opinion outperforms its price point in multiples. But, it may be a bit premature for you to expect it to perform up to its price point when it will in reality, shift the weak link from your DAC to both your amplifier and speakers. So, if you are not satisfied with your $6000 DirectStream DAC purchase, it very well could be that you amp and speakers are smothering its ability to demonstrate just how good it is.

Does that mean you should not purchase it based on your current setup? Absolutely not! Rather, what I’m saying is be realistic and understand that it will absolutely pulverize your Bluesound Node, but it may not be until you eventually upgrade your speakers and amp to a level worthy of the DirectStream DAC’s performance that its $6000 price tag then becomes justified. You must start somewhere with regard to reaching higher limits and a DAC is a great start. Then you take your time and pick off one component at a time when it comes time to make another large investment.

If you do decide to get the DS DAC, then I would suggest selling the Bluesound and purchasing a better music server/streaming appliance. There are plenty of options that will allow you to stream the content that is most important to you. You could get a Bridge II card (required if you want fully unfolded MQA music) for the DS DAC, or you could use a dedicated music server/streaming appliance such as a Roon Nucleus+, Innuous Zenith, a dedicated Mac Mini, or a variety of other high quality options. If budget doesn’t allow for such a purchase, get the DAC and put the music server on your wish list. Many here on the forum have had great success connecting to the DS DAC via the i2S connection either through an i2S capable music server or via the Matrix X-SPDIF-2 converter. Something to consider if and when you decide to shop for a music server.


Short answer is having heard Bluesound Node2 powering a five room system for atmospheric background music, it sounds beautiful. If you are developing a two channel hi res system for critical listening with world class SQ, you came to the right place, DirectStream. JeffofArabica couldn’t have stated it better. :wink: cheers


The DS can be had for less than $6000 if you shop around or trade something in. As mentioned it does not do MQA. You would need the bridge which means the bluesound would not be needed - this would be a much better option than BS with optical out. I’ve had the bluesound and it’s very nice for what it is but it’s no where near the level of the DS with or without MQA. You should do a little research on how the upsampling works with the DS - not really the way you described.

1 Like

I wouldn’t spend more than $75 to make Spotify available. Horrible source!


Turn around, run for your life! This is all a terribly expensive slippery slope and we’re all like crack heads. These forums can lead you to ruin :joy:


Why is it horrible?

Thank you but I don’t live in USA so returning an unwanted item it’s more difficult not that I can’t but I rather be sure before buying.

Really? I thought the Bridge Network was only if you wanted to use the DS also as a streamer BUT if you have a separate streamer than can handle MQA files and you connect it to the DS with it’s latest firmware update, the DS can use and upsample the MQA file without said additional ethernet card…

Thank you for your suggestion. I will read about those models. In terms of upsampling streaming sources like Spotify and Tidal, including but not limited to Tidal’s MQA files, are those DACS you suggest as good as the DS sound quality wise?

Simple answer is no but for $6900 vs $2000 they are close and they both are Roon certified, MQA certified and both upsample. They both use the Lumin app ecosystem but use different chipsets so a slightly different presentation than the DS or each other.

1 Like

hey insoc, check out Paul’s video of a similar question to yours…and the message is similar to Jeff’s post above. With some insight into what to look for in a good DAC…like the output stage.

good luck.


1 Like

And that’s one of the things this hobby has that I love about it. Believe it or not, I really ENJOY “creating” “problems” that consist of choosing amongst a lot of options and opinions the best components to enjoy hearing the music the most realistic possible way.

I just at $4,000 my KEF speakers and at $3,000 my NAD Master Series amp so obviously I don’t intend to be changing those components any moment now. Actually the NAD M22 V2 that I bought it was based on the Stereophile Class A recommended components and I’m so glad I trust Stereophile on that one because even though most people say that all amps sound the same at the same volume, I surely can hear the vast improvement between the NAD and my former Rega Brio amp and before that a Denon amp I had. I even compared it with a Cayin A-50T MKII which is a very well reviewed tube amp and the NAD is superior than all those by a large margin.

In my country there are very few high end distributors but thankfully one of them sell KEF speakers and after auditioning a lot of cheaper speakers I decided to pay more and buy ay $4,000 the KEF R7 speakers and SOME HOW I’m starting to believe that PAYING MORE for components before entering the law of diminishing results really makes a bigger difference in sound improvement and that’s why I’m looking to buy a better DAC.

In respect of cables, I haven’t gone that far as buying ultra expensive cables. I’m doing fine with Blue Jeans cables.

What I always believed was bulls—it but now I’m considering it is buying a power regenerator/conditioner and there’s one by PS Audio at $2,000 that I might buy after reading more.

Thank you!

That’s one of the reasons I’m considering buying the DS DAC, because of it’s upgradeability but I will make a new separate post asking for opinions about if it’s worth as of today, 2019, to buy a DS dac.

$50,000 for a pair of speakers! I can’t imagine how good they should sound! What is the rest of your system? Do you like analytical sound or musical sound, or neutral? Regards,

Thanks for the answer. So, if I need to buy the bridge that would be an additional 1,000 more for a total price of $7,000 for a DAC. As much as I think my speakers and amp are top notch, would it be that a $7,000 DAC is more for a $150,000 system starting with $50,000 speakers?

LOL thank you for the suggestion. I’m well aware of the hazard but I love the process!

Thank you. AS LONG as they sound better than my current Node 2i and that I could hear an improvement I’d be happy!