PS Audio PerfectWave DirectStream MK2 D/A processor Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Digital Sources: Roon Nucleus+ file server with HDPlex linear power supply and AudioQuest JitterBug FMJ; iPad mini running Roon; Benchmark DAC3 B & PS Audio DirectStream D/A processors; MBL N31 CD player/DAC; Ayre Acoustics C-5xeMP disc player; Ayre Acoustics QA-9 A/D converter; NetGear Nighthawk router.
Integrated amplifier: CH Precision i1 with 2.1 firmware.
Power amplifiers: Parasound Halo JC 1+ monoblocks.
Loudspeakers: GoldenEar BRX, KEF LS50.
Cables: Digital: AudioQuest Coffee (USB), DH Labs (AES3). Interconnect: AudioQuest Wild Blue, Ayre/Cardas Signature (balanced). Speaker: AudioQuest Robin Hood. AC: AudioQuest Dragon Source & High Current, manufacturers' own.
Accessories: Target TT-5 equipment racks; Celestion 24" speaker stands with KEFs, 29" Sanus stands with GoldeEars; Ayre Acoustics Myrtle Blocks; AudioQuest Fog Lifters cable elevators; ASC Tube Traps, RPG Abffusor panels; AudioQuest Niagara 5000 Low-Z Power/Noise-Dissipation System and AudioQuest Niagara 1000 Low-Z Power/Noise-Dissipation System (source components). AC power comes from two dedicated 20A circuits, each just 6' from breaker box.—John Atkinson

PS Audio
4865 Sterling Drive
CO 80301

hollowman's picture

In one of the PS Audio YT videos, Paul M shows the lobby showcases at PS Audio HQ in Colorado. In them are all the products PSA has developed over their history.
For DACs, there have been several UltraLink models. Here's a Stereophile review from 1995:
It would be curious to re-review a fully-working classic DAC -- and compare/contrast w/the latest DAC.

John Atkinson's picture
hollowman wrote:
It would be curious to re-review a fully-working classic DAC -- and compare/contrast w/the latest DAC.

In 2019 Herb Reichert compared the original PS Audio DirectStream DAC with the 1989 PS Audio Digital Link. See

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

hollowman's picture

JA: thx, for the link to the Link!
And I did see that you also measured that old dac in 2019 with modern metrological instruments, like the SYS2722.

The Digital Link used the then-new Burr-Brown 18-Bit DAC chip, the PCM 61P, in a dual set.
In the Link, the entire d/a chip set seems to be:
2 x PCM61P - YM3434 - YM3623B

Image here:
Some possible issues with Herb Reichert's 2019 comparison might be the age/condition of those eletro caps (are they orig. in his re-review unit ?). Also, the lack of I2S direct input may have compromised sonics between the two units.
As a far as JA's note about Most Significant Bit (MSB) adjustment ... first thru third gen Philips dacs (up to Bitstream) dealt with that issue "expensively" via DEM (dynamic element matching) and external ceramic coupling caps (e.g., the tda1541, on the 3x2 bit active divider pins). Later multi-bit dac chips addressed the MSB issue internally (Philips Continuous Calibration) , as AD did with their AD1862, and trimmer pins, as does the PCM61P . Modern R2R discrete dacs, deal with this via dsp control.

Nota Bene:
Re-measuring (and re-reviewing) older, well-kept gear is a very good idea! It keeps the new-equip manufs in-check; and the 2nd-hand communities (AudioKarma, Audiogon), objectivists (Hydrogenaudio ) and DIY communities all interested and engaged in what mainstream hifi media are ... ahem ... "agenda-ing."


MhtLion's picture

Subjective listening and the musical enjoyment is another thing. But, how I interpret the provided measurement here of PS Audio PerfectWave DirectStream MK2 D/A is that this DAC is not worth its asking price. Personally, these measurement speakes that PS Audio does not have the industry leading engineering pedigree when it comes to a DAC.

I'm not saying this is a bad sound DAC. Not at all because I haven't heard it. But, in order for a company to say 'we know a thing or two about a DAC' it first need to produce a good measurement or at least very good at making elaborated BS claims why they product intentionally sucks at the measurement, which apparently some people buy. Have you tried a popular DACs under $900 with a $100k system? Schiit, Topping, SMSL - They are sounds good playing with systems 10X of their retail price. To say a DAC sounds good - doesn't mean much. I don't remember any bad sounding DAC above $500 in last a couple years. To get a merely sounding good DAC, you don't have to spend $8k. For $8k - it needs to be special. It needs to so good that once taken out of system you miss it, cannot stand without it.

Glotz's picture

But the various online audio communities tell everyone they do. Largely, because they don't have experience listening to the gear, and measurements 'tell' them they don't need to listen.

Yet, when everyone actually listens exhaustively to the SMSL and the Topping DACs compared to $10k plus units, they suffer in image size, depth of field perspective and focus.

Any DAC can be placed in a $100k system and will sound pretty great. It's the DAC at $10k and up that need to justify their position in those systems... and do. They prove it in the listening. There would not be a market for those expensive DACs if not.

By price and measurements, though excellent, you still dismiss the PW DAC.

For a DAC to be 'special', you haven't noted any parameters for such, other than price and measurements.

hollowman's picture

I’ve gone thru Ted Smith’s videos and posts about how DSD “is” the “analog” signal and all one really needs to do is LP filter. That’s a very simple interpretation; please correct me as needed!
I was going thru the HiFiEngine’s schematics and serv. manuals and ran across the Arcam Black Box “Delta” series of DACs.

And comparing to the master digital chip list on:

That dutchaudioclassics list has the wrong chipset for the Black Box 500 DAC. Going thru various Black Box schematics, Arcam did what I believe Ted suggests--way back in 1993!!! The TDA1307 is a rare and unique DF, made by Philips, and used various Philips / Marantz products --- including the very high end Marantz SACD unit from 2000.

The 1307 got little attention because the PMD100 chip with HDCD was the hot, attn-grabbing rock star in the mid/late 1990s. The TDA1307 interpolator converts I2S (PCM) to Bitstream (“DSD”). And then Arcam follows that with their own, custom “Bitstream digital to analog converter (DAC)” which may be what Ted had in mind. Not sure. The schematics for the Black Box 500 are readily avail at the usual places. Have a look!