PS Audio DirectStream (DS) DAC: Snowmass Upgrade

PS Audio DirectStream (DS) DAC: Snowmass Upgrade

Over four years ago, in May 2014, I reviewed the PS Audio DirectStream (DS) DAC. I ended up purchasing it and I still use it as my reference. Many times over these last four years I have been approached by other audiophiles asking why I have a DAC as my reference that is not ‘new’ and ‘up-to-date’ as compared to other DACs that have the newest DAC chip. ‘Oh no’, I say, ‘you are wrong’, ‘my DAC is only at most months old, it is yours that is old.’

My response is in fact, a fact, and that is what is so special about the DS DAC: Because its electronics are software based not hardware based, you get a new DAC every time PSAudio updates the software—and updates are free of charge. The DS at $6,000 retail does not have a traditional DAC chip built within; instead it uses a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) which is an integrated circuit board that is programmed to serve whatever function it is commanded, including non-audio applications such as medical instruments and defence, distributed monetary systems and security systems.

Brahms: The Four Symphonies—DG Limited Edition 180g vinyl reissue

Brahms: The Four Symphonies—DG Limited Edition 180g vinyl reissue

I usually write music reviews, especially classical, with my classically-trained hat on, commenting on performance, interpretation, comparables, etc. My audiophile nature kicks in at times and posts commentary in each review, for sure, but the main event is always the music.

For this review, it’ll be primarily about the sound.

What is the lover of classical music, Brahms, von Karajan, the Berliner Philharmoniker, and especially of reissue vinyl, getting from yet another version of their legendary performances? Karajan’s Brahms cycle was released originally on vinyl by Deutsche Grammophon in 1964. There were variations/pressings of the vinyl, both individually and in box sets, then on DG CD, followed by lots of different releases in that form. More recently, streaming, and now the limited edition vinyl reissue.