PS Audio’s DirectStream Memory Player
I go back with PS Audio. Way back. Back to when most of today’s digital/computer audio experts were running around in their underoos while their dads were listening to Led Zeppelin in the living room. That’s when I had one of these: the original PS Audio DAC.
I’ve still got it and it still works. So I guess that settles any thoughts of ”PS Audio reliability issues.” Back in the mid 80s, this baby set me back a cool $1,000. Six months prior, when I bought my Nakamichi CD player, I noticed a jack on the back that simply said, digital output. The salesman gave me a blank stare when I inquired what said jack was for. Now I knew.
A mad dash home to plug it in yielded pretty impressive results. Digital sounded pretty rough then and the PS Audio Digital Link went a long way towards making those shiny discs sound a lot better. First disc in the tray to give the Digital Link a spin? Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Nothin’ Fancy. It rocked, and I still remember my audiophile pals thinking I was out of my mind for dropping a G on that little box. But it was pretty awesome, and stayed a staple of my system for quite a while, replaced by another PS Audio DAC about ten years later.
Fast forwarding to 2017, there aren’t many disc players left, and precious few that play everything. This is one of the things that makes the PS Audio DirectStream Memory Player so intriguing. $5,999 gets you a high resolution transport that plays CDs, DVD audio discs and SACD’s. Multichannel too. Those of you that still like physical media, rejoice. This one’s for you.
The folks at PS Audio were kind enough to send along their companion (also priced at $5,999) DirectStream DAC. This has been on the market for a while now, and has garnered more than it’s share of awards. We reviewed an earlier version of this DAC years ago, and found it to be a top notch performer for the price asked.
What makes this combo so intriguing is it’s ability to extract the DSD layer from your SACD collection and process everything in the DSD domain. Thanks to PS Audio’s I2S bus going from transport to DAC, you aren’t getting PCM conversion when listening to your favorite SACD.
So, I guiltily pulled Skynyrd’s Nothin’ Fancy out (this time on SACD, natch) and pushed the play button. The first impression is outstanding, and we’ve got more listening to do, but so far, this combo not only proves exciting, it’s performing quite well with some other incredibly expensive digital hardware on the rack from a few of the usual players.