Paul McGowan of PS Audio was on hand to introduce his firm’s fascinating new DirectStream DAC ($6,000), which converts and upsamples both PCM and DSD digital audio files to a 10X DSD format and then decodes them for playback. Thus, internally, the DirectStream DAC does everything in the DSD domain. When I asked McGowan how the DirectStream DAC compares to this earlier Perfect Wave DAC, he unhesitatingly replied that the new DAC sounds markedly better, which is why PS Audio will—for a $3000 fee—upgrade existing Perfect Wave DACs to turn them into DirectStream DACs.
Also getting in on the combination CD player/DAC action was the British firm Rega Research with its Saturn-R CD/DAC player ($2,995). The Saturn-R incorporates two coaxial inputs, two optical inputs, and a galvanically isolated asynchronous USB input. The Saturn-R uses a new Wolfson WM8742 DAC and can decode files with resolutions up to 24/192. For use with Windows based servers, the Saturn-R is supplied with a dedicated driver said to eliminate “signal degradation caused by generic Windows Based Drivers.”