PS Audio PerfectWave DirectStream D/A processor New Firmware

A couple of weeks before I was to submit this Follow-Up, I received an e-mail from Paul McGowan saying that he wanted to send me new firmware for the DirectStream that was to be released to the general public in a few days. The firmware is in the form of a computer file that can be e-mailed, transferred to an SD card, and inserted in a slot on the DS. According to McGowan, the new firmware, the work of Ted Smith, not only fixes the bass-distortion problem that John Atkinson had identified in his measurements, but represented an overall improvement in sound quality.

I was e-mailed the new firmware and installed it—a process simple enough even for someone with my limited computer skills—then listened. A few days later, the public release of the DS firmware was made available for download from the PSA website. I downloaded and installed that one; my comments are about the latest version (v.1.2.1). I'm told that PS Audio had come up with 20 different versions of the new-generation firmware; the final version was selected on the basis of listening tests by McGowan, Smith, and Arnie Nudell.

No doubt about it: The latest firmware represented a major improvement over the one that I and Art Dudley and Michael Lavorgna had. Soundstages were now deeper and wider, and well outside the speakers' positions with some recordings; and images on those stages were now more "rounded," more three-dimensional. The bass was cleaner, with better-defined transients, a difference I easily heard with Mickey Hart's Planet Drum (CD, Rykodisc RCD 10206). In audiophile jargon, the sound was less veiled, more analog-like.

Conclusions: For me, PS Audio's combo of DirectStream DAC and PerfectWave Memory Player CD/DVD transport represents a good step up from the already-excellent Ayre Acoustics CX-7eMP, and increases my enjoyment of my CD library. If I decide to get into high-resolution downloads and/or streaming, I'm confident that the DS will be able to handle whatever I throw at it, and its ability to have its digital processing updated through convenient firmware upgrades is a major advantage. For now, I'm all set—until Ted Smith conjures up another firmware update.—Robert Deutsch

jazzbirder's picture

I am having some problems with the new P S Audio DirectStream DAC I bought. I am not a audiophile or a computer wiz. I have an old Dell from 2004. I called P S Audio to help with downloading the software and fired up the DAC. Using my USB cable, I was able to listen to WBGO on the net, but I could not listen to WKCR because Windows Player and Real Player gave me error messages ! I need someone who knows audio and PCs !

John Atkinson's picture
jazzbirder wrote:
Using my USB cable, I was able to listen to WBGO on the net, but I could not listen to WKCR because Windows Player and Real Player gave me error messages!

As you were able to listen to WBGO via your Internet connection and the PS Audio DAC, this suggests your set-up is correct. If you set the PS Audio via USB as your PC's default sound device, are you able to listen to things like YouTube using your Web browser?

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

John Atkinson's picture
dcolak wrote:

Thank you for the link. Amir's measurements aren't that different from Stereophile's, so I am not sure why you imply ours aren't "real."

In addition, when he quotes me as saying in our review that "In many ways PS Audio's DirectStream DAC measures superbly well but..." and says "What? Superbly well? This is is superbly well?" and shows the poor low-frequency linearity graph from my measurements of the review sample with the original firmware, he is ignoring both my "but" and the subsequent measurements at, which show that this poor performance had been addressed.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Jarek Htaudio's picture

Tego DAC będzie można posłuchać w tym tygodniu w Poznaniu w HTaudio w ramach "Tygodnia z najlepszymi przetwornikami DAC w cenie 18-30 tys. zł". Oprócz PS Audio DirectStream DAC będzie także Nuprime Evolution DAC, Audiobyte Hydra Vox i Simaudio Moon 390: log/zapraszamy-na-tydzien-z-na jlepszymi-przetwornikami-dac-1 -6-sierpnia