This month, PS Audio will begin selling the new DirectStream Junior DAC. The Junior has the same architecture and much of the same functionality as the original DirectStream DAC/network audio player, which Brian Kahn reviewed in 2014, but it offers a smaller form factor and lower price of $3,999. The Junior uses the same field-programmable gate array and can upsample all inputs to 10x DSD. More details are provided in the press release below.
From PS Audio
PS Audio is pleased to introduce the DirectStream Junior DAC. Junior offers the same FPGA (field-programmable gate array) technology that is at the heart of the original, award-winning DirectStream, at a much lower price.
Following the success of DirectStream, designer Ted Smith was given a challenging design brief for a new model: same basic architecture as DS in a smaller, PerfectWave-style chassis, built-in network bridge, and performance at least 80 percent that of the original. As usual, Ted did all we asked, and then some. All it took was two years of work.
By simplifying the power supply, output circuitry, display and user-interface, we've managed to produce a unit with 85 percent---not 80 percent- – of the detailed, natural sound that has made DirectStream a reference standard for reviewers and recording engineers worldwide...and even included our Bridge II, while we were at it. All for $3,999, a full 41 percent less than the cost of DirectStream, including Bridge II.
• Both use identical FPGA architecture.
• Both upsample all inputs to 10X DSD rate.
• Both can be upgraded by downloading new firmware (DS uses SD cards; Junior, USB sticks).
• Both will have firmware updates released simultaneously.
The question most will ask regarding DirectStream Junior is, "But how does it sound?"
Junior possesses the DS's basic character: full, rich,warm, never electronic or "digital." Both models make the most of standard Red Book discs and uncover a wealth of music long-buried in music libraries. Many listeners, when hearing CDs played through DS and Junior, assume they're hearing hi-res downloads.
Where the two DACs differ is in the areas of spatial accuracy, transparency, separation of instruments, soundstage width, and treble accuracy. We'd estimate that Junior provides 85 percent of DirectStream's performance in those areas, and without hearing the original, listeners will find it hard to believe that anything could possibly sound better: Junior is that good. Ultimately, DirectStream is better than Junior, but compared to any other DAC near its price, Junior can safely hold its own.
DirectStream Junior's MSRP in the US is $3,999. Product will begin shipping this month.
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