PS Audio DirectStream Memory Player with pure DSD "Handshake" technology. My review coming soon..

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Steve Hoffman, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. amgradmd

    amgradmd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    Steve - I'd be interested at the end of the day, after having listened to the PS Audio DMP extensively and keeping in mind your recent turntable acquisition, which paradigm you would prefer to listen to? Digital or vinyl? Let's say you have both the SACD and vinyl in pristine condition. Same mastering, more or less. Which do you sit down with?? I'm guessing you'll say, it depends on x factor and y factor. The DMP is pretty much as good as digital gets, more or less and your VPI table isn't far from the ultimate vinyl rig. It should be a good test! So please keep this in mind when you evaluate the DMP and get back to us!
     
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  2. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident

    Location:
    Essex UK
    Steve keeps on being given exotic equipment on long term loan..Let hope these companies manage to shift a few units on the back of his reviews.
     
  3. triple

    triple Forum Resident

    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Oh, I just thought of another PS Audio novelty - free software updates. dCS have been (quietly) doing them since the begining of the century, but it was PS Audio who made it a concept of their own. So much so that hifi sites have started reviewing them, say that Huron thing. I have trouble grasping how this can be of use anybody not in possesion of a PS Audio dac, but I am obviously in minority.
     
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  4. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    I haven't come across any big spender audiophiles who consider PS Audio's current transport/DAC to be competitive with state of the art. Don't get me wrong, if someone was "lending" it to me for the "long term" then I'd be doing back flips! That said, if I could be greedy, then it would take no time at all to list 10 digital front ends which are reputed to perform on a completely different level.
     
  5. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC
    I know quite a few big spender audiophiles who would disagree with this! :D

    And I would be interested to see if the 10 systems you come up with are in the same price range as the PS Audio gear?
     
  6. MDW

    MDW Howard The Duck's Biggest Fan

    Location:
    Arkansas
    I apologize, I was talking about redbook. :cry:
     
  7. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    They didn't spend enough or look hard enough.



    Maybe 2 or 3 of 10. The others would range from insane all the way up to "institutionalize immediately". I've had my SACD player for many years now. I'd guess the analog section is still pretty good, but digital has advanced. I want an SACD transport which can interface with a DAC that has separate R2R for PCM. So yeah, I'd take the DaVinci flagship if someone gave it to me.
     
  8. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC
    Trust me, some of those folks have spent quite a bit before landing on the current DSD and DMP.
     
  9. amgradmd

    amgradmd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    OK, I didn't realize that dCS had been "quietly" using FPGA in their DACs so that they could be completely upgraded and improved upon since the beginning of the century! Why didn't they tell us!

    You do realize that with every iteration of FPGA code in the Directstream DAC, the entire sonic picture is improved, not just features added or operational bugs fixed. It is the equivalent of upgrading the model of DAC and not charging the consumer for the upgrade. They have done this like 6 times! PSA has gone to considerable time and effort to provide this service. And they don't claim to have invented this process, either. They just live by it and people love it so the word gets out. Try sitting down and listening to three or four iterations of the firmwares of the DS DAC and tell me you aren't impressed at the progresion. Their current firmware is Huron (Edit: actually Red Cloud) which, by all accounts, approaches the sonic excellence of other DACs which are much more expensive, including dCS. What is your deal with PS Audio, anyway?
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
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  10. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC
    As a quick fyi, the current software version is now Red Cloud (Huron was the previous update).
     
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  11. amgradmd

    amgradmd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    Yes, thank you. It is Red Cloud. Huron was only out for 6-8 months before it was significantly upgraded! Will correct in post.
     
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  12. Don Parkhurst

    Don Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    PS Audio has indeed put out updates that have improved the sound quality according to pretty much everyone that has reported back after the upgrade.

    I do believe that JH901 makes a good point though, in that a few years ago I was using the EMM Labs (Meitner) MA-1 DAC via USB and a Mac Mini. Twice (in the time that I owned it) the firmware was upgraded just like PS Audio has done. It substantially improved an already very good DAC. As you say, it was free and the sonic improvement at one point the MA-1 with the latest firmware was about equal to it's more expensive brother, the EMM Labs DAC2X. Of course, EMM Labs updated the firmware on the DAC2X a short while later, but it was very impressive at the time. I sat down and compared it to a Brinkmann Bardo turntable and the Brinkmann was better but the MA-1 was competitive.

    I think that some people find that Paul McGowan tends to make claims that are a little larger than life. In my opinion he is even better at sales/marketing than at running his hifi company and creating new products ; ) I don't have anything against him, as I have bought and enjoyed quite a few of his products over the years, but I have learned to take what he says with a grain of salt.
     
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  13. amgradmd

    amgradmd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    I agree with what you are saying and I trust you about the firmware upgrade with the EMM labs DAC. I'm not familiar with that DAC. McGowan is a salesman and advocate for his company, so I don't begrudge his excitement. In the spectrum of BS that runs through hifi hardware, I'd put McGowans's claims on the far nice end of the spectrum. My point with triple is that he seems to have an ax to grind with regard to PS Audio and this isn't the place for it.
     
  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    He has an axe to grid with almost everything audio. Soon he could be grinding it somewhere else.
     
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  15. Black Elk

    Black Elk Music Lover

    Location:
    Bay Area, U.S.A.
    Regardless of what anyone thinks of PS Audio as a company (or its employees), the DAC is the work of Ted Smith -- a more dedicated audiophile it would be hard to find! Where Ted differs from the rest of us, he has the chops to make his dream designs a reality.
     
  16. amgradmd

    amgradmd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    [QUOTE=" I have learned to take what he says with a grain of salt.[/QUOTE]
    I've learned to take everything all manufacturers say with a grain of salt!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  17. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    Not fair or appropriate, Steve. The rest of us can't pop off with threats, so you should hold yourself to a higher standard.

    PS Audio markets their achievements aggressively and they've got quite a following. Would be unfortunate if push back was silenced.
     
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  18. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    I have read that a number of audiophiles who listened to and were knocked out by Ted's original prototype were less than enamoured by the PS Audio Direct Stream DAC when it was first released.
     
  19. Diskhound

    Diskhound Forum Resident

    Do the firmware upgrades improve DSD processing or only PCM?
     
  20. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Ted and PS Audio engineers had to work-together to make some design compromises compared to ted's original prototypes in the design of the DS DAC which Ted freely admits to, simply to allow it to be sold at its present price-point. One of these compromises (I think) may have been the model of FPGA which was chosen.

    Ted has been working very hard for years to continue to improve his FPGA firmware to both eliminate any internal compromises inside of his code, as well as to minimize the effects of various hardware compromises which needed to be made to build a production version of his DAC. Additionally he has had a number of new ideas which he has implemented over this period of time which have allowed him to push the performance boundaries of the original hardware well beyond its original limitations.

    But it certainly would be interesting to hear how the present PS Audio firmware compares to his prototypes. I saw these sitting on the floor of his basement listening room (which doubles as his lab) a couple of times when he invited me over to his house, but I have never heard any of these personally. These prototype boards are absolutely monstrous. These are literally at least twice the size of the PS Audio DS DAC, and have these huge Jensen transformers hanging off of one end.

    It would be interesting to know just how much further Ted could take this design as an all-out no-compromise product. But I suspect that some of his more recent versions of his FPGA firmwares running inside of his DS would acquit themselves very-well against his prototypes. This DAC really has evolved a long way since it first went into production.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
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  21. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Push back for what? Have you heard this unit? Do you like the way it sounds or not? I don't even have it yet, haven't heard it. Can you save the bitching until I write a review or until you write one? In other words, stop crapping in my thread, start your own.
     
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  22. Black Elk

    Black Elk Music Lover

    Location:
    Bay Area, U.S.A.
    That would not surprise me. A good friend who heard the prototype said that it was the best converter he had ever heard, and he has had his hands on all the good options at some point (he has also worked on numerous DSD projects, so is a very good listener).

    It's often the way of the world, the hand-made thing that looks like a dog's dinner does something extra magical that the engineers cannot seem to get when translating the design into something that can be manufactured.
     
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  23. Bill Mac

    Bill Mac Forum Resident

    Location:
    So. ME USA
    Probably because McIntosh, Oppo, B&W and PS Audio make excellent products that many are happy with and proud to own. Why is that so hard for you to understand? Are those products not high-end enough for you? Are you loyal to any specific brands?

    I'm looking forward to Steve's thoughts on the PS Audio DirectStream Memory Player. Most likely out of my budget but still nice to get more informed thoughts on this gear.
     
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  24. amgradmd

    amgradmd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    I don't get the point of this statement. So you're saying that the initial incarnation of the Directstream (one word, btw) didn't blow everyone's socks off? The one that was released over four years and 6 firmware iterations ago? Who cares? It was bleedinig edge technology at the time and Ted will freely admit he had to work a few kinks out. Listen to it now. Vastly improved in every single way. And BTW, I got mine with Torreys FW and it honestly wasn't a significant step up from their excellent and affordable PSA NuWave DSD DAC which I had previously. It is now. It's a totally different machine. Read the reviews.
     
  25. amgradmd

    amgradmd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    FW update improve everything for PCM and DSD. Here are Ted's words:

    "Redcloud features much whiter background noise: this should greatly help those who listen at lower volume levels. The system’s analog background noise floor hasn’t changed (that would require a change in the hardware) but the cause of the digital noise floor being colored differently with each release has been fixed, this also lowers THD at all signal levels less than -10dBFS (i.e. almost everything you’ll listen to.)

    With this change some of the less effective ameliorations for low level noise/distortion have been removed. This should firm up the bass, lower THD, lessen distortion at very high levels (> 3dBFS) and overall be less hazy than previous releases. In particular the changes in the bass from Torreys to Huron were an adjustment of one of those anti distortion patches. Now the whole patch is gone with another improvement to the bass."

    My experience mimics these statements. Noise floor is hard for me to quantify since you're dealing with inaudible levels of noise. What I really noticed was that the volume I tended to listen to changed and I now listened at 2-3 dB lower levels. Bass incredibly transparent and palpable. Imaging improved and greatly improved dynamics.
     
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