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DirectStream DAC MK2 - Refurbished

DirectStream DAC MK2 - Refurbished

We are very proud to announce the new Mountain Top update for our DirectStream DAC MK2 - Mount Massive. This revolutionary free upgrade brings a new life into an already impressive Digital to Analog converter. As Paul puts it, “This is the single biggest upgrade I have ever heard in the 50 years that I have done this. It’s huge… It’s really, really big”. You can download the Mount Massive update for free from our downloads page or purchase a USB pre-loaded with Mount Massive.

Check out Tony Cordesman’s review of the DirectStream DAC MK2 as well as a this post about Mt. Massive. These reviews have been reprinted with the permission of The Absolute Sound.

Since its groundbreaking introduction 8 years ago, the PerfectWave DirectStream has stood alone as one of the most remarkable DACs ever built. We are excited to share with the world the next generation of this technological wonder, the PerfectWave DirectStream DAC MK2. Unlike the vast majority of high-end DACs based on off-the-shelf IC technology, DirectStream MK2 is handwritten, discrete, galvanically isolated, perfection-based conversion that uncovers all the missing information hiding in your digital audio media. CDs, streaming audio, high-resolution PCM or DSD based media are expertly upsampled in the DirectStream MK2 to twenty times DSD rate and output as pure analog directly into your amplifier or preamplifier. There has never been a better sounding DAC at anywhere close to the price of DirectStream MK2. The ground breaking DirectStream DAC was the first choice of thousands of critical listeners worldwide, and now with the introduction of the MK2, that legacy will continue.

You have 14 calendar days to audition a Refurbished item from the date you received it. For more information on PS Audio Refurbished units click here.

Regular price $5,999.00 USD
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A Massive Update

Hear Paul's thoughts on what makes this Mountain Top update our best in 50 years. The Mount Massive beta release update includes:
  • Lowered ultrasonic noise by 30dB
  • Moved what ultrasonic noise remains out from 30kHz to beyond 100kHz
  • Lowered audible noise by 10dB
  • Added a new Digital Lens FPGA buffer
  • Improved sound quality dramatically
  • Design

    DirectStream MK2 converts every one of its galvanically isolated input signals, both PCM and DSD, to a high sample rate 50 bit version which is further converted to pure DSD for its final conversion to pure analog. Use of twin FPGAs rather than an off-the-shelf DAC chip provides immense processing power, resulting in a complete lack of digital glare, and allows the owner to download our free operating system updates as they are released. With every free upgrade to the operating system, new levels of resolution and audio magic will enrich and make new this remarkable D to A converter.

  • Application

    DirectStream MK2 is the heart of a highly resolving true reference quality digital audio-based system. It handles all PCM sources up to 705.6 kHz, and DSD up to 256. Its zero-loss digital volume control now features 100% galvanically isolated input, outputs, and power supplies.

    Technology

    The Class A+ Stereophile rated DirectStream DAC just got a whole lot better in the MK2 version by solving one of the biggest problems in digital audio: noise and jitter from incoming sources. Thanks to a radical new technology the DirectStream MK2 DAC eliminates incoming noise and upsetting jitter by galvanically isolating every input, output, ground, and power source of this remarkable new DAC. Once delivered through these clean and noise free inputs the MK2 converts any digital input format from CDs, servers, computers, and streamers, into a pure DSD format and outputs perfect analog directly to your power amplifier or preamplifier. Whatever the format, sample rate, or the medium, the DirectStream MK2 provides a pure output that fulfills the promise of high-resolution analog performance from digital sources. DirectStream MK2 is the work of PS Audio's digital audio guru, Ted Smith. Unlike conventional DACs that rely upon off-the-shelf DAC chips, the DirectStream MK2 is hand-written onto a pair of FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Array). This allows far more precise and accurate processing of the digital signal, resulting in significantly better sound quality and upgradeability in the field. Periodically, Ted Smith's continual research into digital audio reproduction nets another breakthrough in performance. DirectStream MK2 DAC owners are given it free in the form of a downloadable upgrade. In this way, DirectStream MK2 owners can be assured that their unit will continue to improve over time. Hear what’s been missing in your music for all these years. If you know the sound of music and instruments and want to hear what’s been missing on your discs, then this DAC is right for you.

    • 100% DSD BASED D-A CONVERTER
    • UPGRADABLE VIA SOFTWARE RELEASES
    • VOLUME, BALANCE CONTROL BUILT IN
    • UPSAMPLES PCM AND DSD TO 20x DSD RATE
    • DXD SUPPORT
    • PASSIVE TRANSFORMER COUPLED OUTPUT
    • IMPROVES IMAGING + SOUNDSTAGE
    • DUAL FPGA PROCESSING
    • HANDWRITTEN FILTERS, PROCESSING AND UPSAMPLERS
    • IMMUNE TO OUTSIDE SOURCE JITTER PROBLEMS
    • INCREASED DIGITAL HEADROOM
    • NO OFF-THE-SHELF IC-DAC CHIPS USED
    • UNCOVERS DETAILS USUALLY MASKED BY PCM PROCESSORS
    • 7x DIGITAL INPUTS
    • GALVANICALLY ISOLATED INPUTS AND OUTPUTS
    • FULLY BALANCED FROM INPUT TO OUTPUT
    • STORE AND INSTALL UP TO 10 FIRMWARE MOUNTAINTOPS
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    Specifications - DirectStream DAC MK2

    Physical

    Unit Weight 21 lbs [9.53 kg]
    Unit Dimensions 14” x 17” x 4” [ 36cm x 43cm x 10cm]
    Shipping Weight 30 lbs [13.6 kg]
    Shipping Dimensions 20.5”x 24” x 10” [52cm x 61cm x 25cm]

    Power requirements

    Input Power Model specific 100VAC, 120VAC, or 230VAC 50 or 60Hz
    Power Consumption 25W

    Digital audio inputs

    I2S (2), Coax, XLR Balanced (2), Optical, USB

    Sample Rates

    Optical (TOSLink): PCM 16 and 24 bits at 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz and 96kHz

     

    S/PDIF and AES3: PCM 16 and 24 bits at 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz and 192kHz; DoP64

    Dual AES3: PCM 16 and 24 bits at 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz and 352.8kHz; DoP64 and DoP128

    I2S: PCM 16 and 24 bits at 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, and 705.6; DoP64, DoP128, DoP256, DSD64, DSD128, and DSD256

    USB: PCM 16 and 24 bits at 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, and 705.6; DoP64, DoP128, DoP256, DSD64, DSD128, and DSD256

    Analog Audio Output

    Connector RCA single ended or balanced, XLR balanced
    Output level high, maximum 4 VRMS Balanced
    2 VRMS Single Ended
    Output Impedance <100Ω/<200Ω
    Frequency Response 20-20KHz +/- 0.25dB
    THD+N @ 1KHz (full scale) <0.1%
    Output Stage Passive audio transformer, fed by high current, high speed analog amps producing double rate DSD

    Data Handling

    Format PCM or DSD
    Sample rate (PCM) 44.1kHz, 48.0kHz, 88.2kHz, 96.0kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz; 705.6kHz
    Word length (PCM) 16b, 18b, 20b, 24b
    Data rate (DSD) Standard (2.8MHz) or Double (5.6MHz) DoP as well as raw DSD on I2S and USB inputs
    Input jitter reduction effectively 100%, residual immeasurable. No input PLLs, FLLs.
    Input Processing 225.792MHz
    Signal Processing 56.448MHz
    Synchronous Upsampling, all inputs 56.448MHz for 48k, 96k or 192k; 11.2896MHz for all others
    Digital Processing S/N ratio Upsampling > 210dB, volume control and Sigma Delta Modulator: > 330dB
    Digital Volume Control Zero loss of precision
    Analog Conversion method low pass filter DSD256 (quad rate DSD: single bit DSD at 11.2896MHz)

    I2S Digital Input

    Connector HDMI
    Format PCM or DSD. DoP on all inputs as well as raw DSD on I2S inputs

    USB Digital Input

    Connector USB “B” Type
    Format PCM, DoP v1.1 (DSD over PCM), or Native DSD
    Transfer mode Asynchronous

    Reviews

    This update does live up to its name

    This update does live up to its name. Right from the initial installation it was an huge improvement. Any performance increases after break in will be frosting on the cake.

    Iwin

    Just when I cannot imagine the MK2 can sound any better...

    It is nice to see there are many others to solidify what I am hearing is really there. Just when I cannot imagine the MK2 can sound any better in my system, this Massive comes along. There are plenty of “Wow” moments already with the MK2, now there are even more with this update! It brings out even finer detail and liveness to the picture. The dynamic contrast from this Dac is out of this world. The MK2 is so very sensitive to tweaking. Nice update.

    Waymanchen

    This DAC is an excavator. It digs details out of....

    This DAC is an excavator. It digs details out of records I am very familiar with especially red book CD's. A good example of this is the Byrd's 8 Mile High. I don't know how many times I heard this track but I never noticed that when the guitar starts playing in the left channel it rattles the drum kit. I enjoyed the MK I and the two iterations before it but I always felt my vinyl rig sounded better. The digital was convenient and opened up more more potential music via streaming but I preferred the sound of vinyl for reference playback. Now I am not too sure if this is the case.

    First listen on MKII for about 20min. Musically it's unbelievable.

    First listen on MKII for about 20min. Musically it's unbelievable. Something unexpected was big diff in bass. Sounds like a bit more, but what is there is so sweet and clean. Same with Hi pitched guitar strings, they are so pin point.

    Striking out of the box and better on every level

    The difference between MK1 and Mk2 was striking out of the box and better on every level. The Mk2 is hands down the best bang for the buck.

    it is superior to DS1 in every way

    The MK2 in my system is fully broken in, and it is superior to DS in every way. The sound is fuller with no hole anywhere. I got a fuller image and sound stage between the speakers than from DS. I adjusted my speakers, so they toe in less. It is not because I have experienced any problem, but because I did not lose any fullness and gained a wider soundstage.

    Blown away

    600 hrs into the MKII and blown away every time I turn in on. Many friends have come by for a listen during beta testing and will be ordering now that it is live.

    You would have to pry this MKII from my cold dark hands to let this thing go

    Ok, you would have to pry this MKII from my cold dark hands to let this thing go. I'm not going to use any analogue comparisons because it's better than that In my humble opinion. I've be an audiophile ( if you call it that) for almost 60 years and this is the best sonics I've ever heard. Waiting for the incoming now. I could talk about soundstage and micro dynamics, noise floor, blah, blah, blah. But this unit is worth every penny. I don't think you need mega cables to make it sound great. It just lets the music in, I'm a happy camper.

    I sent the MKI back to PS Audio immediately

    Mine went back last week. Even with the MKII fresh out of the box, I wanted to sent the MKI back to PS Audio immediately, the improvement in the sound and performance was so profoundly better with the MKII.

    Stunning

    Let's start with I2S. Audioquest Carbon HDMI between PST and Mk II. Fabulous imaging, super wide and deep sound stage, instruments sound so right! Listening material includes multiple Octave SACDs, Blood, Sweat and Tears Columbia SACD, and Reference Records HRX 176/24 Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances. Stunning.

    Amazing soundstage that is almost unbelievable!

    The most recent 24 hours have resulted in a settling-in of the DAC with the soundstage, accuracy, and better bass resolution continuing to congeal into this amazing soundstage that is almost unbelievable. A heartfelt thank you to @tedsmith and the rest of the PSA team, who have brought this amazing piece of equipment to life. I am very grateful for all of your efforts and the quality that has resulted.

    Holy Crap!!

    The other night I queued up a track that I often use to gauge hall ambience and dynamics, adjusted the volume ahead of the track starting and - Holy Crap !! - I was gobsmacked by the instruments exploding out of inky blackness. The MKII continues to amaze.

    Better than any digital has ever sounded in my system, ever!

    My MKII is breaking in beautifully! Tonight it's sounding better than any digital has ever sounded in my system, ever! I got rid of the Matrix since going direct USB into the MKII handily outperformed the Matrix to I2S in my system. With the Mo Fi Santana Abraxas SACD vs the ripped file and it wasn't even close. The ripped file sounded like the Master tape and the SACD sounded like second generation tape!

    The DAC MK II. Is an amazing improvement

    The DAC MK II is an amazing improvement.The sound of SACD DSD over IS2 through the DAC MKII is the best sound I have ever heard - listening to music since 1960's. The sound is crystal clear, alive, expansive dynamic range, with all instruments and voices in a 3D space with no sense of floor or ceiling or back. Each instrument has a better sense of its own space. From lows to highs - all are better.

    I can't believe how much more came out of regular CDs

    Last night fed the MK2 a mix of SACDs and CDs from the PST I2s. No technical issues. Blues were on tap. I can't believe how much more came out of regular CDs: Forrest McDonald “Finger Lickin Blues” and Roy Buchanan “Guitar on Fire”. SVR “Couldn't Stand the Weather” SACD was next level too.

    Incredible

    This DAC is surprising me everyday with how much better it is performing over the MKI. Tonight I put on the DSD256 of “Satchmo Plays King Oliver” and I swear, it blows away every demoed I ever heard in any Hi-Fi shows that they use to show off their ultra expensive systems. Sounds so much more organic, and real with not a trace of exaggerated sibilance, and such air and richness of tone. Incredible!!

    Much improved sonics

    Day 2 w/ DAC II, all via I2S from PST - initially better than DAC I, now becoming MUCH improved - sonics like others have mentioned. Another great product Paul, Ted and team! And i am a fan of the small screen.

    On the fence?

    Listening to Norah Jones 'Till We Meet Again (Live) is so sweet. The Rendu Signature SE and KTE SU-2 is a fantastic combination with the MKII. If you were on the fence about the MKII, don't be.

    Smokes my older DAC

    Just got about 18 hours in with the new MK2 DAC… It really does smoke the DA2 in the C53.

    The MKII is bringing out nuances in the music that the MKI is just incapable of

    The sound is simply incredible at this point, better than it ever was. Each recording I put on is like a new recording. I didn't think some of these remarkable old recordings can sound any better when played through the modified MKI. The MKII put that thought to shame. The MKII is bringing out nuances in the music that the MKI is just incapable of. The freedom from noise and distortion from this MKII is truly remarkable. The sound from the USB is a revelation, so much better than the MKI. I can't say enough good things about this new MKII.

    They sounded so good!

    I just purchased a bundle of DSD256 downloads because they sounded so good in my new DS MK2, and I only had 48 hours of honeymoon with it. Playing through DS is not even close. The MK2 handles DSD256 and hi-resolution streaming so much better.

    It's all there!

    It's all there, everything you want. The range of his voice, the snap of his guitar, the sense of them bopping along with one another, that bit of resonance you hear live is palpable. It's loud in here now, I keep turning it up and am digging it! The Blues is Alive and Well!

    No idea how much better

    I went back to the DirectStream Jr and there's so much missing in sound quality. I knew DS MK2 would be an upgrade but had no idea how much.

    Can't believe what I am hearing

    The better the recording, the better the MKII performs. I've just played this HDTT DSD256 of Art Blakey “Moanin” and I can't believe what I am hearing! The density, the palpable instruments, and the dynamic contrast, goes far beyond the MKI is capable of, and gives my 45 rpm a run for the money in SQ superiority!

    I find the MK2 very dynamic and expressive

    I find the MK2 very dynamic and expressive with speed not being an issue. Listening to Saturday Live in San Francisco- Paco DeLuca, Al Di Meola and John Mc Laughlin, certainly demonstrated these properties. Far more than my MK1 which is all right there in your face. I'm very impressed by the resolution of each guitar. I'm at about 80 hours and it sounds better each time I turn it on.

    The MK2 smokes it

    My original DSD is packed away for trade-in so I've been listening to my old Theta Digital Compli universal player and that is my baseline. The MK2 smokes it. The Van Morrison “St. Dominic's Preview” CD was simply shocking in its presence and imaging. When you find yourself involuntarily glancing at the soundstage to “see” the player you know there's some serious realness going on.

    Everything is better!

    Well…I got my Mk II today, and had basically the same initial impression as everyone else…love the sound vs. my stock Mk I. Everything is better, even right out to the box cold.

    The sound is amazing!

    I set up my MK2 last night. Using coax connection from my Node2i. The sound is amazing just out of the box.

    HUGE improvement

    More listening last night, exclusively Qobuz via USB from my Auralic Aries G1 WiFi. It is all that and a bag of chips. Everything is a HUGE improvement. No matter what the track or bit rate, everything sounds phenomenally better. Sound stage is so much wider and deeper, more separation between instruments, decay that just keeps decaying. All this while using a cheap (for this crowd) Harmonic Technology copper USB cable.

    It sounded glorious!

    Received my MKII today and have had it running the past 2.5 hours. It sounded glorious cold out of the box. It took less than one song to know it easily outperforms my DSJ. The blackness of the background and the level of detail it pulls is really quite something.

    Almost jumped out of my socks

    Paul you made a believer out of me. I played the Octive/Don Grusin SACD and almost jumped out of my socks. On the Mark1 it sounded great but with the Mark2 the sound stage exploded. It higher, way deeper, and more localized and focused. With The Mark1 I'm looking into the studio. With the Mark2 I'm IN the studio. Ted you should be proud of your new creation. It's amazing.

    Bigger soundstage

    Just received my Beta test unit. Stunning in black. Initial impressions: **started up flawlessly **bigger soundstage than previous model - especially the height. **music centers better than with previous model **much more detail

    Dyamn!!

    calord here in Boulder……picked up my DS II Thursday and I'd like to second The Beef's sentiments. I've been so busy enjoying my music that I've had no time to report on the new box!! I'll post more detail about what I'm hearing and my associated system components……But, Dyamn!! I'm just enjoying my favorite music all over again!! Wow! My future report will end with my summary phrase: “The music is so much In My Room!!”

    I am listening to music again

    The major win for me a few days in is that - so far at least - I don't care about that with the DS2. I put something on and simply forget about “evaluating” anything. Or Audiophile playlists. I'm listening to Music again rather than Equipment. That is a quality I look for in gear. It is a blessed relief, frankly. Sorta doesn't matter what I'm listening to.

    You're in for a treat!

    You're in for a treat! First listen was SACD (via hdmi). Color me impressed. Quickly noticed more depth in soundstage, more punch in the bass, and the high end seemed cleaner, more distinct. Vocals were palpable. Then a quick listen to streamed sources via BluSound and Coax hookup…again, better clarity and punch than I remember in the past.

    Questions?