Seeking Piano Lovers

Hello friends. I’ve owned the Directstream DAC for only one week. Frankly, I find that it is already marvelous with much of my music. The exception to my glee is the sound of pianos. I’m finding that after about 100 hours of use, I’m still experiencing a slightly metallic sound that lacks the attack, sustain and decay of my previous unit (ARC DAC8).

What do you classical or jazz piano fans notice. In your early days of ownership, was the Directstream as I find it? Did it settle down?

While synergy is important, I think that my Ayre and Revel gear should be a decent match for the Directstream.

If you do a forum search on DS breakin time your questions will be addressed. I recommend at least 750 hours before any critical listening.


Metallic on pianos… well… to me, and I guess you too… this is one of the acid-tests for digititus. When digital is done improperly, as it has been for so many years after its introduction in consumer electronics in the early 80s, the metallic sound is a manifestation of badness.

It will mellow out as it burns in… but honestly… most folks here are real big fans of the DS … I am too… but I have Focal speakers with berylium tweeters… and now I think the DS is just a tad too “Revealing” on the top. However, it is not metallic. That should go away with time.

Now a totally amateur opinion: PS Audio… make the DS run hotter in your next design.

Bruce in Philly

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Based on my experience, I would agree that 100 hours is nowhere near enough.

Most piano I listen to is jazz and on well recorded piano pieces, for example Hiromi, Bill Anschell, Oscar Peterson (Exclusively for My Friends collection), Bill Evans (Some Other TIme: Lost Sessions from the Black Forest) I don’t get any metallic sound in the upper registers.

I have Martin-Logan electrostats, which are revealing speakers, but one of the things that drives me up the wall with them is that they have a tendency to emphasize any harshness in the 1,000 - 2,500 Hz range. Poorly recorded piano or brass can result in an excruciating listening experience, but when piano is recorded right, it’s heaven.


I’d agree with other replies suggesting you need more hours on the clock with Snowmass, as my first impression of V1 sound quality was more realistic attack, fuller tone and more audible decay on treble notes on piano (classical & jazz) and other instruments, and also voices.

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Revealing gear uncovers other weaknesses of the setup, but yes, first let the unit run burn in tracks for a week or two at night. And if you don’t use the bridge, care for a sophisticated USB connection, not just plug&play.

Under proper conditions, the DS sounds natural and true.

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I’m running the DAC all night, with the amp off. I’m sorry if I sounded like an impatient noob. I crave the sound of a good piano sonata or of a Keith Jarrett solo. But, as they say, good things come to they who wait.

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Sounds like the new capacitors breaking in. Give it a week or two.

I use a directstream sr -> Simaudio moon 430ha-> focal utopia setup, even though the headphone amp is very transparent and the Focals tend to be very revealing esp in the highs, I nevertheless love listening to classical piano concerto recordings on this setup, no metallic sheen or distortion I can discern , I have about 200-350h Of burn in on the dac , so hopefully burn in will resolve your concerns as well

A huge part of my listening diet consists solo piano, jazz or classical (everything from Bill Evans, to Keith Jarrett, to Argerich and Brendel).

The DSR Sr is the best sounding paired with my Stax setup (having downsized, no more power amps and speakers for me).

Here the piano sounds warm, like real wood. In some Brendel recordings, I could swear I’m sitting 10 feet away.

I think you may need to experiment with different setups, configurations and components in your chain to get the sound you like. This includes trying the different firmwares for the DS Sr.

May i ask why you switched over from AR DAC8 to the DS?
I choose my gear on sound signature and AR is also one of my favourites.
Like the sound of my AR cdp.
Before Snowmass i wanted to switch over to another dac :-0

Snowmass is for me much more accurate than previous releases.
Listening to the Goldberg Variations by Murray Perahia


Try Dave Grusin Homage to Duke - a beautifully recorded album and a piano played by a maestro.

I agree the ARC 8 is great sounding DAC. I understand why it could be your preferred.

Do you know a site were I can download this album Dave Grusin Homage to Duke in lossless format?

Tidal can stream Homage to Duke by Dave Grusin in FLAC lossless. Get a trial subscription to Tidal. Better yet - try Roon and Tidal together - it will revolutionize the way you listen and appreciate digital music.


Getting a Roon Nucleus delivered in 3 days for that very reason : tidal /Qobuz high res + roon + directstream sr via bridge should make a potent listening experience

I’ve executing pianos for over almost 40 years so I hate piano.

I never had problems with the sounds of piano when well recorded.

The problem is that most recordings were made to please listeners, not to give a good rendition.

An example is Oscar Peterson (Exclusively for My Friends collection). Most people like the recordings while there are not realistic.

But if you have recordings by John Lewis, Ellis Larkins, Duke Jordan, Gene Dinovi, Teddy Wilson sounding metallic, then there is a problem.

Welcome, PHIL007!

I got a little restles and curious. Wanted to know what all of the fuss was about in relation to the Directstream. I’m glad that I did. For two years, I wondered where the bass was in my system. I’d read that the DAC8 was good in the bass department and my Revel Salon2s are noted for their bottom end, but I wasn’t hearing it. I thought that my amp might have been to blame but when I went upmarket in the Ayre amp stable still not much bass.

The Directstream has solved the problem, I’ve now got an amazing bass reponse. The DAC8 is a very good unit but perhaps the synergies of my system were not right.