Friday, February 12, 2016

PS Audio DirectStream Junior Dac

The advanced FPGA and pure DSD technology employed in DirectStream was expensive, our most expensive DAC ever made. PerfectWave customers were asked to spend an additional 41% to enjoy the benefits of designer Ted Smith's seminal effort at redefining the very architecture of digital to analog conversion. And many thousands of customers did.

But not all could afford DirectStream. Many loyal PS customers had to sit on the sidelines, priced out of the market. Within a few months of DirectStream's launch, work began on a lower cost version code-named "Junior".

DirectStream Junior

Ted Smith learned much in the 7 years it took him to develop DirectStream. At first blush it seemed a relatively straightforward task to develop a lower cost version by taking costs out of low hanging fruit like the chassis, user interface, and PC boards. But our goals were loftier than that.

Our product directive asked for similar architecture to DirectStream in a PerfectWave-like chassis, with the network Bridge built in and performance not less than 85% of the original. A tall order by any measure.

Retooling the chassis, replacing the touch screen with a less expensive OLED display and manual volume control was relatively straightforward work by PS Engineering. The real challenge fell upon Ted Smith's shoulders. How do you get 85% of an instrument's performance with 41% less to spend? The answer turns out to have a number; two years of hard work. The end result is DirectStream Junior.

Who did we build DirectStream Junior for?

Customers who want to uncover what's been missing in their libraries, but could not manage a DirectStream DAC. At $3,999, DirectStream Jr. (DSJ), with its built in Bridge II, is slightly more than half a similarly outfitted DirectStream (DS). That makes it a  a more cost effective DAC than even the original PWD.

No, it is not a DirectStream when it comes to ultimate performance, but DirectStream Junior offers 85% of DirectStream's performance at a significantly lower price.

Soon DS and DSJ owners will enjoy pure SACD

And there is another compelling reason for you to step up to DirectStream or DirectStream Junior. SACD raw. In October of this year PS Audio will launch DirectStream Transport (DST). DST will play SACD in raw DSD if connected to either DirectStream or DirectStream Junior through their I²S inputs. For the first time, you will truly appreciate what has been buried on your SACD, DVD-A, and BluRay Audio discs.

DST will stream pure DSD from SACD only with connected FPGA based DirectStream DACs.

Audible differences

The two instruments have near identical character of sound. Full, rich, warm, never electronic. Both units share the remarkable ability of helping Red Book CDs sound close to high resolution audio, and uncover a wealth of music long buried in home libraries.

Where the two deviate is in terms of spatial accuracy, transparency, separation of instruments, soundstage width and treble accuracy. The best measure of these differences can be expressed in percentage. DirectStream Junior provides 85% of DirectStream's performance in the aforementioned areas. The differences are not glaring, and auditioned in a vacuum, DirectStream Junior will impress listeners as one of the finest audible experiences they have yet had.

Compared to any other DAC at anywhere near the price, DirectStream Junior stands head and shoulders above the pack.

Firmware updates

DirectStream Junior operates with the same FPGA architecture as DirectStream, though the firmware is not identical. Differences in the front panel board and output stages between the two instruments requires different code.

DirectStream Junior is upgradeable just as DirectStream is, though they use different storage mechanisms. DirectStream relies on SD card storage, Junior, USB memory sticks for upgrades.

When DirectStream receives another upgrade, as we released between Pikes and Yale, DirectStream Junior will also be updated at the same time to enjoy the same benefits as DirectStream.


DirectStream took 7 years to design and launch. Its technology of upconverting both PCM and DSD to a pure DSD analog stream has never been copied and sets the standard for all DACs to aspire.

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