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Sunlight, the firmware update for PS Audio's DirectStream is out.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by LeeS, May 4, 2021.

  1. LeeS

    LeeS Martini Time Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Sunlight – PS Audio

    This is a good one folks. I am hearing loads more detail, better defined bass, and a bigger soundstage on my system.

    Press release:

    Boulder, Colorado, May 4, 2021 PS Audio has released its Sunlight firmware upgrade for its PerfectWave DirectStream DAC and DirectStream Jr. The new OS enables the DirectStream DAC to deliver an extraordinary new level of musical realism and improved performance including quad-rate DSD capability, and significantly enhances the audio quality of the DirectStream Jr.

    “The sonic improvements provided by the Sunlight are not subtle – it’s like getting an entirely new DAC,” said Paul McGowan, PS Audio CEO. “Sunlight is the result of testing more than 20 iterations of code and months of programming, listening and fine-tuning by our digital engineering guru Ted Smith, senior hardware engineer Darren Myers and others on the development team. It’s the ultimate expression of PS Audio’s ‘mountaintop’ series of upgrades.”

    The Sunlight upgrade is made possible because the PS Audio PerfectWave DirectStream DAC is one of the few DACs on the market that is fully programmable, by means of its FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) core processing engine. This flexible architecture allows every parameter that controls the DirectStream DAC to be configured and tweaked.

    With the Sunlight OS, the DirectStream DAC will now accept quad-rate DSD via its I2S input. By precisely controlling the clock timing of the signals in the various stages of the circuit, noise and jitter are significantly reduced. The sonic results of the Sunlight upgrade are a greater sense of resolution and space, a more natural tonal balance with improved top-end extension, better micro and macro dynamics, and a much more involving and engaging musical presentation overall.
     
    Cliff, jfeldt, OC Zed and 1 other person like this.
  2. LeeS

    LeeS Martini Time Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Really impressed with the sound quality so far!

    I was listening just now to Private Investigations on the MFSL SACD. This track is brilliant for highlighting the improvements offered up by Sunlight. The guitar solo has s much presence and life to it. The transients are breathtaking. But the best part is the bass drum which has loads of impact and definition.
     
    grbluen likes this.
  3. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I loaded Sunlight on my DS last night before I hit the sack. My initial impressions were:
    An even wider and deeper soundstage. More pinpoint imaging. Better rendition of subtle instrumental details.

    Needless to say I'm very pleased with this update..
     
    grbluen, LeeS and Ham Sandwich like this.
  4. OC Zed

    OC Zed Bludgeon Riffola

    Location:
    Costa Mesa, CA
    I listened for a little bit last night as well and my initial impression was more space between instruments and heightened resolution. This ends up being a good final chapter for the DS DAC MkI. Given that the DS DAC is being discontinued, I will likely move on to another DAC within the next year. I'm looking forward to seeing what the next DS DAC version will be like, provided they give existing MkI owners a decent trade-in option.

    The other DAC on my list in that price range would likely be the Denafrips Terminator or maybe the Auralic Altair or Vega series. Has anyone else had the opportunity to hear those DACs in comparison to the existing PS Audio DS DAC?
     
    LeeS likes this.
  5. LeeS

    LeeS Martini Time Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    I would like to hear the Terminator but have not had an opportunity.
     
  6. Cliff

    Cliff Magic Carpet Man

    Location:
    Northern CA
    After a few nights with Sunlight, I am really diggin' it. Biggest improvement for me (via ethernet) is the lowered noise floor. Second best thing would be the lowering of midbass bloat. Now you can really crank this thing and the music flows without horrid, (mid-fi sounding) overly bloated midbass. I've also noticed much improved pin-point imaging. It was already very good but they've taken it up to another level. Sweeter, more extended highs and tighter bass are just icing on the cake. I really want to test the i2s port. My Sonore streamer can't get here soon enough!
     
    TarnishedEars and OC Zed like this.
  7. OC Zed

    OC Zed Bludgeon Riffola

    Location:
    Costa Mesa, CA
    Which Sonore streamer did you decide to go with? What are you using now?

    I'm currently using either the Bridge II or streaming via the i2s port through the Roon Nucleus/Matrix combo. I was hoping for a material improvement in sound by using the Matrix, although I haven't noticed any appreciable difference. (I suspect the Nucleus is the weak link here in this regard. I also haven't physically removed the Bridge II yet which is supposed to improve performance by lowering the noise floor.)

    I'm contemplating getting a Lumin U1 or Auralic Aries G2/2.1, but would love to hear others' feedback.
     
  8. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    FYI - There is a lot of buzz on the PS Audio forum around modding these units to replace the stock output transformers with the new ones which PS audio will be using in the MKIIs. I plan to perform this mod on my DS, since I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to afford/justify the cost of the MKII. So while this is the final firmware for this DAC, it doesn't represent its ultimate potential.
     
  9. OC Zed

    OC Zed Bludgeon Riffola

    Location:
    Costa Mesa, CA
    I've been following some of those threads over there. I'm holding off on going the modification route, at least for now. The lack of long-term product support for the DAC and parts shortages that Ted Smith has mentioned has left me a bit skittish on investing further in the DAC.

    With all that being said, I think it's a great piece of hardware currently and is now (finally) priced more in line with other competitors at that price point/performance level.
     
  10. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I wouldn't be concerned about the parts shortages. The odds are that if it didn't have any issues within the first 6 months of operation, it is very unlikely to develop any new problems over the next 20 years. By the time that it eventually fails, you're not going to care.
     
  11. Cliff

    Cliff Magic Carpet Man

    Location:
    Northern CA
    Yes, that noise floor was the exact reason I just had to have a streamer. I am new to streaming so I'm not exactly sure how much noise is to be expected with it. But I went all-in on the opticalRendu, opticalModule DX and ultraDigital. The oR and uD have their own Sonore LPSs and the oM has the less expensive LPS. I too considered the Aires but the galvanic isolation for optical ethernet sold me on the Sonore products.

    EDIT: Sorry forgot to say which streamer I currently use. My DS Dac is only a week and a half old, so I'm using the Bridge II as the streamer.
     
  12. LeeS

    LeeS Martini Time Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Further listening....really high quality update. Definitely kicked things up a notch.
     
  13. OC Zed

    OC Zed Bludgeon Riffola

    Location:
    Costa Mesa, CA
    I've been listening for an hour or two most nights this week. I had never heard my system sound as open and dynamic as last night. Vocals were startlingly lifelike. I was so incredibly jazzed about what I was hearing until...

    I noticed some static noise coming from my left speaker. I think I have an issue with my PrimaLuna tube amp now. I'm still in the process of investigating, but gosh, the timing couldn't have been worse. Having a nice stereo system feels like trying to maintain a high performance sports car at times. There's also something that needs tweaking or fixing... AAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
    LeeS likes this.
  14. LeeS

    LeeS Martini Time Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Some truth to that...hope you get it fixed soon.
     
  15. Lonson

    Lonson Just a Lucky So-and-so

    I got a Sunlight SD card in the mail last night, three days early. I installed the SD card with no problem, re-booted and listened a bit. Definitely a significant change–albeit not as severe as Snowmass to Windom. I’ve let it burn in overnight with a favorite cd and will sit down and listen soon–as soon as I can get my wife out of the house! She is leaving late today due to a doctor’s appointment near the house.

    I don’t anticipate the ordeal I had with Snowmass making the system sound excellent. (The Snowmass ordeal was mainly because I kept getting inconsistent, often inferior, loads). I will probaby toe-out my speakers a bit and I already rolled a tube in my Decware ZROCK2 EQ unit that helped “enrich” the sound and also take advantage of the more “focused” sound I noticed immediately. I expect after a little burn-in and tweaking this will be a nice improvement.
     
    OC Zed likes this.
  16. OC Zed

    OC Zed Bludgeon Riffola

    Location:
    Costa Mesa, CA
    Update: It looks like the new Eero 6 wifi pods that I installed into my existing Eero network last week caused some interference into my PrimaLuna amp. I think I've addressed it now by moving the beacon connected to that system further away from my amp. Wifi issues can be so frustrating that I'm now considering going the Auralic route for my next dedicated streamer based on their wifi capability.
     

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