"a completely ridiculous idea". Dr AIX's latest rant about Direct Stream


#1

The paragraphs below are not from me. They are from Dr. AIX (Mark Waldrep).

From his daily email from 11-3-14:

"Then there was the guy that wanted to push my buttons about the new PS Audio component that converts everything you put in it into DSD (a completely ridiculous idea if you ask any competent audio designer). I wasn’t going there. Even if you prefer the sound of what DSD does to accurately recorded audio or believe the “science” behind it…I simply can’t support any box that requires me to adopt a specific technology because of someone else’s personal preferences. I don’t require people to listen to a “stage” perspective mix of my recordings by removing the standard 2-channel stereo version or the “audience” 5.1 mix. I’m hoping that people will try the “stage” mixes but I wouldn’t mandate that choice. It’s like there’s a DSD police out to enforce their narrow vision of great audio.

This is what PS Audio does with their new processor. There were a couple of other curious attendees at the table as I explained the history of DSD, why it equals ideal CD fidelity and no more, the fact that there are no tools to produce natively in DSD, and that virtually everyone uses PCM to make their recordings…even people that support and release DSD tracks. The debate is part of the passion that audiophiles enjoy. Maybe I should take one of my 96 kHz/24-bit PCM tracks and downconvert it to DSD 64 and let people compare them."


Dr Aix on Oppo, SACD, DSD, & PS Audio
#2

He raises valid points. There are serious limitations to DSD, almost everything is recorded as native PCM, 96/24 has better resolution than single rate DSD, and DSD is indeed the audiophile flavor of the month.

The test is, of course, whether you like the sound of the product - not how it produces the sound.

To embrace a product merely because it produces sound in a theologically correct way is as silly as rejecting it on the same basis. But, we commonly do this in politics, religion, etc. We might as well do it in audio as well. :)


#3
st50maint said The paragraphs below are not from me. They are from Dr. AIX (Mark Waldrep).

From his daily email from 11-3-14:

"Then there was the guy that wanted to push my buttons about the new PS Audio component that converts everything you put in it into DSD (a completely ridiculous idea if you ask any competent audio designer). I wasn’t going there. Even if you prefer the sound of what DSD does to accurately recorded audio or believe the “science” behind it…I simply can’t support any box that requires me to adopt a specific technology because of someone else’s personal preferences. I don’t require people to listen to a “stage” perspective mix of my recordings by removing the standard 2-channel stereo version or the “audience” 5.1 mix. I’m hoping that people will try the “stage” mixes but I wouldn’t mandate that choice. It’s like there’s a DSD police out to enforce their narrow vision of great audio.
This is what PS Audio does with their new processor. There were a couple of other curious attendees at the table as I explained the history of DSD, why it equals ideal CD fidelity and no more, the fact that there are no tools to produce natively in DSD, and that virtually everyone uses PCM to make their recordings…even people that support and release DSD tracks. The debate is part of the passion that audiophiles enjoy. Maybe I should take one of my 96 kHz/24-bit PCM tracks and downconvert it to DSD 64 and let people compare them."


This is really the height of hand waving lunacy. Mark seems like a smart guy, but when something doesn’t fit into his model of the world …

And this is precious “why it equals ideal CD fidelity and no more, the fact that there are no tools to produce natively in DSD, and that virtually everyone uses PCM to make their recordings…even people that support and release DSD tracks.” That’s just patently wrong - both parts. Hopefully people don’t pay too much attention to him on this subject.


#4
Paul McGowan said This is really the height of hand waving lunacy. Mark seems like a smart guy, but when something doesn't fit into his model of the world ..
This is the aspect of his opinion that frustrates me; rejecting a product outright as it is theologically suspect rather than judging it on its merits.

Besides, the many practical limitations of working with DSD and the paucity of native DSD recordings - while completely real - do not matter to the end user of the DirectStream.


#5

Sadly, the point that his own PCM recordings sound SPECTACULAR on the DirectStream DAC is clearly lost on him.107_gif

On another note… my friend with a newly updated Devialet 250 (from the original, a major upgrade) finally got to hear my DS DAC. “Holy S**t, mine doesn’t do that!” It was a brief encounter and I’m not clear about just what aspect, or aspects, of the presentation he was referring to but he was clearly blown away. Cha-ching.


#6

???

Does he not realize that every modern DAC chip converts PCM to DSD in its internal Sigma-Delta modulator?

No point in giving it any more time if he isn’t going to even listen as he will find fault even when there is none.

Are we ready for Bridge II beta yet?

:)

–SSW


#7

Anybody who espouses a view that the use of one method is more valid than another method, does not understand the nature of being human. In almost all things I can think of, the care and quality and intelligence in implementation of any system or product matters far more than the system itself.

Transistors vs Valves

PCM vs DSD

NFB vs no Feedback

Ported enclosure vs Sealed box

MM vs MC

Analog vs Vinyl

etc., etc…

This is particularly the case when the result is a subjective one such as the reproduction of recorded music. That is why there are millions of words devoted to our hobby because there are millions of possible ways to produce the music - equipment, software, media. I have experienced a comparison between two different technologies where the theory says that one of the two is superior but that was not borne out by the comparison.

Enjoy the Music,

Chris


#8
Streets Still Works said ???

Does he not realize that every modern DAC chip converts PCM to DSD in its internal Sigma-Delta modulator?

No point in giving it any more time if he isn’t going to even listen as he will find fault even when there is none.

Are we ready for Bridge II beta yet?

:)

–SSW


I am ready for the Bridge II beta :)

#9
magicknow said
Streets Still Works said ???

Does he not realize that every modern DAC chip converts PCM to DSD in its internal Sigma-Delta modulator?

No point in giving it any more time if he isn’t going to even listen as he will find fault even when there is none.

Are we ready for Bridge II beta yet?

:)

–SSW

I am ready for the Bridge II beta :)

cerobo said Anybody who espouses a view that the use of one method is more valid than another method, does not understand the nature of being human. In almost all things I can think of, the care and quality and intelligence in implementation of any system or product matters far more than the system itself.

Transistors vs Valves

PCM vs DSD

NFB vs no Feedback

Ported enclosure vs Sealed box

MM vs MC

Analog vs Vinyl

etc., etc…

This is particularly the case when the result is a subjective one such as the reproduction of recorded music. That is why there are millions of words devoted to our hobby because there are millions of possible ways to produce the music - equipment, software, media. I have experienced a comparison between two different technologies where the theory says that one of the two is superior but that was not borne out by the comparison.

Enjoy the Music,

Chris


Chris,

Just to continue on your thoughts, I think the British audio writer, Martin Colloms, said it best. He wrote (and I’m paraphrasing): “I can show you a great sounding tube amp, and I can show you a terrible sounding tube amp. I can show you a great sounding solid state amp, and I can show you a terrible sounding solid state amp. So while the technology comes into play at some point, the most important thing is the implementation.”

I am just so grateful for Ted’s implementation of a dac.

And if Ted is following this thread, Ted, you may have answered this question previously, but what were the reason(s) that you chose to convert all the data streams to DSD instead of PCM?


#10
supersax said And if Ted is following this thread, Ted, you may have answered this question previously, but what were the reason(s) that you chose to convert all the data streams to DSD instead of PCM?
From the first moment I heard DSD I knew I'd never heard music reproduced so accurately and realistically. I started building a DSD DAC and PCM was an afterthought - I figured that since I had an FPGA I might as well add PCM inputs and had faith that I could convert PCM to DSD.

At a more practical level “all” you need for a DSD DAC is a low pass filter. I was a software weenie so I knew that I could build a quality passive low pass filter and do the programming to convert to double rate DSD. Doing anything else would have been a longer less certain road that I didn’t really believe in.


#11

Dr AIX’s latest email 11-21-14 includes the following:

"I got the following from a customer of PS Audio, the company that recently offered upgrades to the owners of the Perfect Wave DAC. Their “upgrade” to the Perfect Stream DA forces every source recording to be converted to DSD prior to playback. I’ve written about this rather harsh design consideration. Click here to read about the new Direct Wave.

I got this note from a PS Audio customer that purchased the upgrade.

"I just recently updated my PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC to the Direct Stream. I ran it straight into the amp using the onboard volume control.

Now since I have ‘updated’ the DAC to the Direct Stream, I feel I have lost my way. Despite having been run in over 300 hours I feel the presentation has been dulled or truncated. It feels as if it has lost speed and clarity, like it needs to blow its nose. I have tried putting a preamp in the chain as well as a passive attenuator and still I am want for clarity.

I could reinstall the Perfect Wave components and sell the Direct Stream kit but wanted to get a recommendation from you on what DACs I should take a look at should I decide to break camp with PS Audio."

I haven’t responded to this individual yet but found his “needs to blow its nose” comment compelling (I admit it brought a wide smile to my face). His comments are interesting. I don’t know if they are typical because I haven’t reached out to any other PS Audio customers that purchased the “upgrade”. I think PS Audio made a critical error by forcing everyone to adopt DSD in the Direct Stream unit. Why not augment the unit with that “feature” instead of mandating it? I’m always in favor of providing choices to my customers."


#12

The alleged DS owner’s reaction certainly doesn’t reflect my experience but you can’t please everybody. I wonder if what he is hearing is based more on what he expect to hear after reading what Dr. Aix had to say. As. for the “Doctor” himself, I suspect that if he ever took the time to listen to a DS he would hear exactly what he expects to hear.


#13
  1. Expectation bias works both ways: if we do not expect to like something, we will not; if we do, we will.

  2. Some here have also complained the DS is a bit soft, lacking in clarity/sparkle/energy.

We all prefer what we prefer.


#14

Don’t forget, also, that when a new component is added it alters the mix of the other components that may have been tailored to make up for the others’ faults. For example, thin silver interconnects’ high frequency ‘brightness’ can make up and counter-balance a duller-sounding speaker by acting as a small-scale high pass filter to even out the flaws in the speaker. No components are perfect and we mix and match things until they sound right. Then when DS came along the slight ‘edge’ from the PWD that used to dulled out with their other components or interconnects was gone, leaving those remaining components acting as low-pass filters to the DS, making the system sound less peaky, when, in fact, it could have been the other components making up for the now-gone PWD. So because the system sounded different when the DS was added everyone blames the DS when, in fact, it could be the other parts in the signal chain.

So we may all be back to tweaking for a little while yet as we settle in with DS . . .

–SSW


#15

Oh boy. Who knows? Mark Waldrup, (Dr. AIX) has been on a tear about DSD for a long time. What can one say? We get used to the sound of one thing or another and that’s it. We get used to a digital zing of PCM and don’t appreciate DSD. What we should all be doing is simply comparing to our best recollection of music. Plus, I don’t think any of us are suggesting DS is perfect. Could it use energy on the top end? I don’t know. On my system I would suggest no. On others, perhaps.

What Mark seems to not understand is that ‘offering a choice’ in DirectStream between DSD and PCM for the way it works is anything but practical, worse, it makes no sense. We believe in DSD, we believe in the performance of DirectStream down to our cores. DirectStream brings forth musical information from even CDs other DACS just miss. Why would we give that up? It’s not like PCM processing is just another flavor of the month - as Mark seems to suggest (we should not force our customers to enjoy only vanilla) - that’s absurd. We offer DirectStream as one of the best musical instruments ever made at any price. Period.

Can we make DirectStream better? Sure! It’s one of the beauties of the design. But change its method of operation from one that’s near perfect to that of an ancient best struggling to maintain its grip on technology? No thanks. We were instrumental in bringing the high end world into the age of DSD processing - which is the future - and there’s no way (or reason) for us to compromise anything.

When we went from horse-drawn buggies to cars, the buggy whip manufacturers howled, scolded and shamed some into believing what worked then is still best. That won’t be us.


#16

Very true, and well expressed.


#17
Streets Still Works said Don't forget, also, that when a new component is added it alters the mix of the other components that may have been tailored to make up for the others' faults.
In what specific ways did you "dull down" your system when you bought your PWD? And how did you feel about doing that?

Your explanation, well…


#18

#19

^^^

This post has quite an edit history for being completely empty. Did you intend for this post to end up with anything in it but for an empty quote box?


#20

To read Mark’s comments makes it pretty clear he hasn’t listened to the DS. He had a chance to listen to it at the Toronto TAVES show but suspect he didn’t as otherwise can’t imagine him making the comments he’s making. The DS sounded amazing at the show; so much so that I bought one at the show. I love the Perfectwave (which is now in my HT/music system), but the DS (in ny 2 channel set-up) is simply better. PCM / DSD, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is how a DAC sounds and the DS simply sounds amazing. The Perfectwave, amazing light. :-)