So recently I acquired a NEW Nuwave DSD Dac to use in my system last week (It’s AMAZING). I run a Line Magnetic 219ia for my amp and I have tested DAC’s from Cambridge Audio (851 & DACMAGIC), Cary Audio (200TS), NAD (M51) and finally a PS Audio Nuwave DSD. From the moment the Nuwave went in I was AMAZED at the transformation it has on my system. 3 Dimensional, Dynamic, powerful, layered. and sweet. Not harsh in ANY way, just organic and room filling creating a wall of sound. It improved over 8 hours and has stayed there without any further changes.I was so excited by this I wanted to see what the next step up would bring. If the low end PS Audio DAC sounded THIS good, imagine what a DIrectstream would do! So I called a PS Audio dealer I knew well and ordered the DirectStream Junior.
Well, the junior arrived today with an old firmware. Torrey? The sound was flat, dull, veiled, shrunken and my volume had to be jacked up to noon for normal listening levels (yes, dac was at 100 on the volume). To say I was disappointed, well, yes I was. The DSD was FAR superior in my system. The music was alive with the DSD. The Junior made it LIFELESS which shocked me. Yes, new, needs burn in…I know…but it’s a HUGE difference NIGHT and DAY.
I have owned crazy high end systems over the last 20-25 years. From $5k to $50k systems. I have never heard a DAC make such a huge improvement as I heard with the DSD and I have never heard a DAC take the sound quality down so far (JUNIOR).
A $999 dac vs a $4000 dac. You would think the $4k dac would just slaughter the $999 DAC but goes to show these things are all system dependent.
I then remembered…I HAVE THE OLD FIRMWARE! I will update it all to the latest and be wowed. So I did. I updated to Redcloud and also updated bridge. Listening to Tidal with MQA using Bridge… as well as a bluesound Node via optical (how I listened with the DSD).
So after all was updated I tried again. SLIGHT improvement in clarity and space but again, the DSD is killing the junior here. The JR has been running for 2-3 hours now, and the DSD sounded 10X better out of the box cold than the JR does with 2-3 hours on it. What I hear is a slightly veiled sound, much lower volume, lower dynamics, smaller soundstage, and an overall way too mellow sound. I also hear less separation of instruments, all sounds more muddled together with the junior. How could this be?!?!?
I have already contacted my dealer about returning the junior. Restock fee, ship fees…well, I’d rather lose a few hundred than live with a sound I just can not get into. I will let it run all weekend and see how it sounds Monday but I am doubtful it can change it’s entire character with burn in. Just doesn’t happen like that but who knows. Maybe it will surprise me.
What I have learned is that the Nuwave DSD is an amazing DAC for the money. Alive, rich, 3D, full, meaty yet detailed with precise imaging and HUGE soundstage. Never thin or harsh or in your face, just fluid music that sounds like music should.
The Junior, for me, is soft, veiled, shrunken soundstage, not as good imaging and too relaxed. No dynamics or energy at all. My vinyl sounds much nicer than the JR yet the DSD sounds MUCH better than my vinyl.
Crazy but to me, odd. Has anyone here compared these. two dacs in your system? If so, what has been your experience?