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.

Stay tuned!

Oppo’s latest: Sonica

We’ve just received OPPO’s latest creation, the Sonica DAC.

At $799, this looks to be another killer, offering compatibility with all digital formats, streaming and multi-room audio capabilities. Featuring the latest ESS ES9038PRO chip, and synchronous transfer mode, the high precision clock inside the Sonica DAC drives the audio signal, not relying on the clock quality of the computer. The USB DAC input supports PCM up to 768 kHz 32-bit and DSD up to 22.5792 MHz (DSD512).

The Sonica offers variable, line level outputs, so it can be used as a preamplifier, like their award winning HA-1.

For more information, click here:

The ELAC Discovery DS-S101-G

Why is the ELAC the world’s best music server? Because it fucking works. And it works right now.

I apologize if you are offended by my coarse language, but I have spent nearly a decade screwing around with music servers and “computer audio.” Before I did that, I was an early adopter in the world of digital imaging (I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop since version 0.8 – before it was even a commercial product) and I’ve torn out a lot of my hair over this stuff.

I am sick and tired of music servers that have gobbled up my life on setup, maintenance, tagging, metadata, etc., etc., etc. I have flushed hours of my life down the drain that I am never going to get back. You name it, I’ve tried it. I must admit I’ve stuck with my Sooloos system because it works most of the time and the interface is awesome. But back when I bought in, it was a pretty expensive system.

But the ELAC DS-S101G is $1,099 and you will have it up and running in less than 60 seconds. No joke. Plug in your Network cable, the digital output of your choosing and power that little jewel up. As soon as the LED indicator glows solid white, launch the LIFETIME, bundled version of Roon Essentials, tell it where your NAS or USB drive is, and enter the password to your favorite music service. TIDAL integration took 5 additional seconds.

That’s it. Done. It took me a lot longer to write this blog post than it did to hook up the DS-S101G. I hope you’ll be so kind to read my thoughts on sound quality shortly. In my Audiophile Apartment system, which features the outstanding Focal Sopra no.1 speakers, Audio Research Preamp, Nagra Power Amp and the MOON by Simaudio 780D, it sounds pretty damn good right now.

Seriously, don’t wait for my review. Just go buy one.

Here’s a link to the ELAC website….