Upgrade path... BHK preamp or Directstream Senior?

Hi Everyone,

The audio bug has bitten me this year and I have finding myself wondering about the next step to take to take my setup to another level. My current setup includes the Directstream Junior with an integrated tube amp (Line Magnetic 805ia).

I have read on these forums that the Directstream Senior is a solid upgrade on the DSJ but I have no way of knowing right now. I have really enjoyed the DSJ since I purchased it however - it is my sole source of music as I use it as a Roon endpoint for music that is on my computer connected to the network. While I haven’t tried Snowmass as yet, I am wondering what would make a greater impact to my system:

  1. Upgrade to the Directstream Senior; or
  2. Purchase the BHK Preamplifier

Thanks in advance!


With your integrated and the new Spendors I would upgrade to the DS Sr. first and then concentrate on a preamp later. Though the Sr. is back-ordered into next year there are several “high volume” dealers that may have them in stock. Before doing anything I would do the Snowmass upgrade first and see where you are after that. Adding preamps to the amp section of an integrated can be a hit or miss. This from the owner of a DS Sr. and the BHK preamp. Just my opinion and ymmv.




Tell him why you are making a choice. One word pronouncements are easy.

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You must have seen my other posts! I have the Spendor D9s, yes. They sound fantastic with the DSJ. Do you think there is enough of a difference to justify the added $2-3k cost?

I am wondering the same about what to do next. Once I have funds on hand I am hoping that my dealer will allow me to demo both in my home for a week and return one. We will see.

I personally like having my amp/preamp from the same company which is what you have with your integrated. Now this isn’t to say you can’t find a better combination from separate companies. If I was going to upgrade I would go Directstream Senior.


I feel the same way as Michael above. I think the Sr. is the best next upgrade step.

My PS Audio journey started with the DSD Sr and I was absolutely pleased with the performance driving my BHK Amps. It was a combination that I could live with easily. If your source is digital, get the Senior. However, the addition of the BHK Pre did make a difference to the music. The main reason for getting the BHK Pre, other than sonic, is the ability to provide for managing more sources and to have two outputs. I use the secondary output of the BHK to drive a pair of SVS subs. In a nutshell, you get greater sound and more flexibility.

Thanks all, it sounds like most of the suggestions seem to be geared towards getting the Directstream Senior. For those that have heard both the DSJ and DSS, is there enough of a difference there to justify the added cost of $2-3k?

Well, you know what they say about opinions and everyone having one. Here’s mine. Upgrade to the BHK preamp. While the senior’s clearly better than Junior, in my opinion, the difference adding a BHK preamp is a lot bigger than the difference between the two DACs and, even if you had a Senior in place, I’d still make that recommendation.

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LOL now that you are totally confused good luck :+1:

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I went from a Jr to a Sr and the improvement was easy for me to hear.
Then I added a BHK preamp and the difference was substantially better.
I’d definitely go with the BHK

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Thanks @Paul - Can’t say that I am not curious about both. The question is how to verify which one makes a bigger difference in my system now! Sounds like either the DSS or the BHK would be good options. The DSJ sounds so good already though that I can’t imagine another DAC sounding better.

Lol - Thanks, I think I will need it. My wife wouldn’t be happy with me bringing home both, even if it is for trial purposes.

Can you elaborate on the differences you heard with each stage of upgrade? I’d be curious to hear as I think the DSJ already sounds fantastic on its own. It is exciting to hear that there is a path upwards but I’m not sure that I can visualize it yet.

Agreed. It’s always a crapshoot. My recommendation still stands because I have heard the improvement brought by this preamp to a direct fed DAC too many times. It’s just magic. If it were me I’d choose the BHK, find something old laying around and trade it in with us to get the best pricing, then you have 30 days to play with it and see what I mean. Return it if it doesn’t work out.

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The switch to SR was quite a while ago. But I do remember distinctly blacker background, more detail, clarity, realism. If I characterize the effect of the Sr, I’d say it was an engineering improvement.
The BHK just made everything more believable, alive, better timbre, more weighty, musical, textural, way more high fidelity. I remember being overjoyed with the BHK. I would characterize the BHK as the art of the system.

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Having heard both extensively, and owning the DSjr, I’d say try and go for the BHK.

The big brother (or the Dad) does make things sound better, there’s no denying though I’ve never been sure of the quantification / approximation of ‘80-85% as good as the Senior’. Absolutely love the Jr plus I’m not sure after Snowmass the rough 85 calculation stands?

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Have you seen my DS with Bridge II listed in the Marketplace here?