New PS Audio software upgrade coming tomorrow...

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by LeeS, Dec 7, 2017.

  1. LeeS

    LeeS Audio Research Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    For those here that have the DirectStream or DirectStream Jr. DAC, there is an upgrade coming tomorrow that is worth checking out.

    Here is what Paul McGowan is saying in today's daily email:

    The audition

    Yesterday and today are reserved for the audition process.

    Engineer Darren Myer and I began in Music Room One at about 10 AM, yesterday, with 20 slight variations of code for Red Cloud, the next Ted Smith upgrade miracle of lowered noise and jitter and significantly better sound quality for DirectStream DACS. It’s an arduous process, culling out the weak versions, focusing on the strong ones, until a clear winner has emerged.

    A clear winner for DirectStream has emerged and Red Cloud is coming Friday.

    Of course, the audition began with the DAC’s current software version, Huron, to establish our reference. The first track was Vivaldi: Concerto For Violin, Strings, And Harpsichord In G Minor, R. 331 – 1. Allegro on the Archiv label with the Venice Baroque Orchestra. This is a tough piece to reproduce properly and one of our torture challenges. In its opening refrain, the ensemble’s in full swing and you feel like it should be powerful, but it sounds rather meek before lowering in intensity. We can hear the harpsichord tinkling in the background, but just barely. The sonic performance is respectable—if not a smidge cluttered and compressed sounding—something we thought to be the recording itself. Wrong. Holy ****. With Red Cloud, it’s a 10-seconder (an in-house term when the change is so apparent it takes only a few seconds to hear it). Weight, authority, and anxious intensity where with Huron there was complacency—laid back like Vivaldi can sometimes be on poor recordings but never in person.

    Within seconds of Red Cloud playing both Darren and I turned to each and uttered the same profanity at the same time. Darren insisted we immediately go back to Huron, so big the differences that neither of us could believe it was the same recording. With Huron it sounds as if half the instruments are missing and the confusion is back. Upgrade to Red Cloud and instantly the clutter’s gone, the violin of Giuliano Carmignola now rich with rosin and full with body—and the small ensemble led by Andrea Marcon comes alive with an energy unknown to me from this recording. What was once an alright disc now has moved to first place on the short list of reference CDs.

    If I had just laid out $50K for a new DAC and heard this change I would pat myself on the back for making a good choice. But this was no new DAC (though you could have fooled us both).

    Then the pièce de résistance, the San Francisco Symphony’s Mahler III. OMG again. The blat of horns was perfect: blaring without a hint of tizz. The orchestra suddenly transformed from great to spectacular: full-bodied, rich, without the slight bloat we now understand Huron to have had. The remarkable depth of the distant orchestra even deeper, beyond the walls of Music Room One. Captivated we could not turn off the music. That piece is nearly an hour in length. We did not move. Could not move.

    Tomorrow we’ll repeat the audition process for DirectStream Junior.

    On Friday we will launch the biggest DAC upgrade in the history of DirectStream and DSJ—elevating these remarkable DACS to even higher levels than thought possible—just in time for the weekend.

    For free.

    And there’s new Bridge firmware too. We’ve added Spotify Connect (more on that tomorrow), VTuner, Quboz (the European based high-resolution streaming service), and the latest ROON version so users can play MQA encoded files using ROON.

    For free.

    My apologies to non-DirectStream owners who won’t be enjoying their new DACS and services over this weekend (though we’ll buy your existing DAC back at full retail if you’re so inclined to upgrade).
     
    TarnishedEars likes this.
  2. amgradmd

    amgradmd Active Member

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. PS Audio gets customer service. Not only do they make amazing products for a great price (recently bought their Stellar M700 monoblocks and they are stunning, especially for the $$) but back it up with amazing and personal service. I'll grant you, Paul is prone to occasional hyperbole re: the sound of his products, but there is no denying the fact they are consistently excellent in price/performance. Love this company.
     
    GoldprintAudio likes this.
  3. Blair G.

    Blair G. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    What happens if it's only an upgrade in their minds and you prefer the previous incarnation. Can you reverse an upgrade?
     
  4. amgradmd

    amgradmd Active Member

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    Yep. You can actually go as far back as you like to the original firmware, if you like. It's very interesting to go back and forth between the firmware. Before I loaded Huron I went back as far back as Yale from a couple years previous and then to Torreys and finally Huron. It's crazy how much better it has gotten with each iteration. Changing takes all of 30 seconds, which is cool. Some swear it takes a couple hours, +/- a reboot to solidify the changes in the FPGA, but I haven't had that experience.
     
    LeeS likes this.
  5. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    You can downgrade to any firmware release which is compatible with your hardware. If you ware just using the original DS DAC without any of the bridges installed, then you downgrade to any release which you can still get your hands on. Some code has been added to later firmware versions to provide compatibility to the newer bridge hardware. But that is the ONLY limiting factor to downgrading an original DS .

    FWIW: There were two upgrades in a row that I did not care for, and so I was a version 1.21 hold-out for a couple of years, until Toreys finally dethroned it to my ears. But then Huron came along and amazingly, it was even better!

    Frankly my DS DAC sounds so amazing with Huron that I can barely even imagine how they could have improved it further. So we shall see if I end up keeping the red cloud upgrade, or if I should decide to downgrade back to Huron.

    Regardless, my PS Audio Direct Stream DAC has been, without a doubt, some of the best money I have ever spent on my system. It is an incredible piece of equipment.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
    LeeS, olson and amgradmd like this.
  6. LeeS

    LeeS Audio Research Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    I just wrote a review of Red Cloud to be published soon on Part-Time Audiophile.

    Red Cloud moves the DS into reference category imho. Superb resolution, sublime bass, among the best vocals I have heard from digital and a deep 7 wide soundstage.
     
  7. LeeS

    LeeS Audio Research Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Amen on the customer service part. They have an active forum and Ted and Paul both are on frequently.
     
  8. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    FWIW: I was too busy this weekend to spend a lot of time listening. But my initial impressions of Red Cloud are very positive. It has detail like you can't believe, a deeper soundstage than before, and less congested mids. All of this without some of the downsides of some of Ted's previously super detailed firmware releases (Pikes Peak and Yale IMO), such as a lack of "bloom", or a slight harmonic thinness. Red-Cloud has no hint of those old (minor) defects.

    IMO the sound out of this DAC is really something very special now, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be able to beat some DACs selling for multiple times it's retail price now.

    I can't help but wonder, at its current level of performance, if PS Audio is going to raise their price on this DAC at some point in the future as it seems to just keep getting better and better.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017 at 8:19 PM
    amgradmd likes this.
  9. LeeS

    LeeS Audio Research Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Well said. The level of resolution is truly spectacular. It manages this while sounding still musical and effortless. I continue to spend extra time in the listening room.

    The only downside is that Red Cloud is making my end of year awards at Part-Time Audiophile more complicated...but that is a good thing.
     
    TarnishedEars likes this.
  10. amgradmd

    amgradmd Active Member

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    I like all types of music, especially live music. Rock, jazz, bluegrass, hip-hop, classical. The problem is I've never warmed up to classical at home. Despite having a nice 2 channel setup, I've just never felt that recorded classical was such that I felt an emotional connection to the music. And as a result, I just don't listen to classical at home. It was just too anemic for me, even with Huron. Now with Red Cloud, for the first time I really get a palpable sense of emotional connection to the orchestra. I can feel the double bass, the cellos, and kettle drums. The strings are not just a conglomeration into a single sound but more separated and nuanced. Crescendos really have power now. I don't know what it is, but Red Cloud has made classical seem more real (in addition to rock, jazz, etc). And that's awesome!
     
    TarnishedEars likes this.
  11. Lonson

    Lonson Don't get around much anymore

    Location:
    Chardon, Ohio
    I have an SD card with RedCloud on the way to me from PS Audio, looking forward to joining the RedCloud fan club. As said above Huron is so good it's hard to believe that it can be "trounced" but most feedback from owners have been very positive.

    Here is an email sent out this afternoon from the Mothership:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Redcloud Brings Breakthrough Performance to DirectStream

    PS Audio's digital guru Ted Smith has been busy during the six months since the release of the Huron OS, announced at the time as "revolutionary". How do you follow a revolution?

    You get to work. By diligent effort Ted has managed to improve upon Huron, the best-sounding firmware PS had ever released. The new OS, Redcloud, improves upon Huron's already-exemplary spatial presentation, dynamic contrasts, and low bass. By better-linearizing low-level signals, Ted has managed to reduce residual noise and THD even more, with startling improvements to low-level resolution, ambient hall sound, and solidity of bass performance. Blacker backgrounds, immediately-identifiable concert venues, and incredible dynamic slam are all evident with Redcloud.

    As good as Huron was, Redcloud is far better. The improvements are immediately noticeable---as Paul McGowan put it, "it's a 10-seconder. You hear how much better it is instantly."

    Check out early user comments on the PS Audio Forums, Polk Audio Forums, Steve Hoffman Forums, Audio Afficionado, Audiogon and Audio Shark.

    Simultaneous with the release of Redcloud is the release of an update for the network Bridge II, adding support for Spotify Connect, VTuner, Tidal, Qobuz, MQA, and Roon.

    PS Audio's DirectStream and DSJ DACs have won dozens of audio awards. Their FPGA-based architecture ensures they will never become obsolete, and that they can and will actually be improved by periodic no-cost OS upgrades. Redcloud (like Huron, Torreys, Pikes Peak and Yale before it) is named after one of 53 “Fourteeners” in Colorado, mountain peaks that rise above 14,000 feet. “Fourteener” names symbolize PS Audio’s aspiration to ultimate sound quality. Besides, PSers just love their Colorado home.

    Full details of the Redcloud Operating System can be found here, available for download now. Redcloud will be available as a freedownload for DirectStream and DirectStream Junior. Redcloud will also be available for purchase, preloaded onto an SD card (DirectStream) or a USB stick (DSJ).
    Download for Free
    Buy Redcloud
     

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