Building my dream system - Brave new world of streaming? bit lost

The Chord DACs may have an FPGA, but I don’t recall ever hearing of a field upgrade. Plus, the DirectStream kills all of the Chord DACs save The Dave. The Dave is better at some things (pianos, for example) but worse at others (DSD, for example).

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I think something forgotten here, and today I purchased (at a smoking hot price) an SA/CD transport, is that physical media (even CD) sounds amazing and arguably as good or better than hi-resolution streaming media… Only drawback is I have to now begin building a collection again, as I sold it years ago.

I like to explore options, and I have… I didn’t just jump on here with no prior research, a large amount of hanging out at Audio stores, and listening to components, etc… I now have a basic starting point and can tweak (or not) as needed… I just came here to find the best way to get ahold of / and use digital downloaded music… not get advice on what brand of DAC sounds better or not, as in many respects any DAC sounds good if your threshold of good is what 99% of most people call good.

So you actually didn’t come here for advice only confirmation.

nowhere did I ask for advice on DAC’s, amps, pre-amps, cables, etc… I asked how to get ahold of quality music to stream into my stuff… or do I need to return to grammar school and learn how to write more clearly?

And you were told how to do that by multiple members with far more current experience than you but you chose to take the advice of paid reviewers, Magnolia employees and You Tube. I guess you consider that research.

Chord don’t upgrade because they get it right first time!
Funny how they are extraordinarily popular, lose very little value used and measure extraordinarily well (much better than PSA DACs). Plus all models below the Dave are primarily battery powered headphone DACs. PSA don’t do a $500 FPGA DAC like my little Mojo that has served me well for years.

No, not forgotten. I just can’t agree with your assessment. I have yet to listen to a transport than sounds better than streaming in my setup. On top of that, even though I have all of the CDs and SACDs that I have ripped, I refuse to deal with physical media beyond ripping it. Ripped music is just too damn convenient and easy to deal with.

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There are way better forums than this one for that type of advice.

Also, playing physical media is not streaming…

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Too funny. I wonder what @tedsmith would say about that? All I know is nothing has been built or programmed that could not be improved upon with the benefit of more experience and increased knowledge.


I’ve been following the conversation with great interest. Thank you for the contributions. I have similar questions in that I have the DS Junior and a Cambridge Audio Azur 851 N and really want to improve the sound as I am limited to what my iPhone and the Cambridge can do together…No high resolution streaming. I’ve been looking at a replacement streamer…Now the catch: We started with Apple Music…didn’t like anything about it and have switched to Amazon Music that has really impressed us with the massive library. I do believe that Amazon will continue to attract listeners.
So, who makes a streamer that has built-in Amazon so that I don’t face the limitations of the iPhone/iPad, preferably one that will also allow us to rip and store our 300+ cds?

I use the USB Audio Player PRO app on a Samsung Android into a portable Mojo DAC for my headphones. The Kindle Fire tablets and ASUS ZenPads are very cheap and a bit of research should find if you can use the USB Audio Player PRO app and Amazon UltraHD on them.

You are right the Chord DAC’s are structured and programmed to function as PCM core, which is absolutely fine for RedBook CD and FLAC of course. Their DAC accepts DSD, but first convert DSD into PCM and than do their D/A magic. This conversion leaves a Chord footprint when playing DSD, I have read a couple of reviews where I got this from. And don’t actually know if that is a good or bad thing, the added conversion makes me hesitate though.

There are a number of companies utilizing FPGA’s, even Esoteric. None except PS Audio update the FPGA structure by software update.

Why is this FPGA updating so important? I don’t think that the updates per definition improve sound quality and device reliability. Although I have nothing but high regards for Ted Smith as he has designed this whole DAC philosophy, programming remains a human activity. We all make mistakes. Especially when we try to improve something that is already really good but complex. For reliability reasons I am taught the wise lesson to “never touch a running system”. So, updating a super complex FPGA structure and software in an US$ 6k DAC would just make me nerveus. I have enough devices that seem to require updates, I don’t need more of them.

There is a brand new DAC chip. Designed from ground up with DSD upsample philosophy. A high end dedicated chip from ROHM, a Japanese high end chip manufacturer that sponsors music teaching and events for decades globally. Luxman found it so good they put it into their 16 k flagship SACD player and Steve Gutenberg thought it das better than his R2R separate DAC.

I can not imagine they developed that chip fore a single SACD player with integrated DAC only. So I will watch out for reviews and hope it trickles down into more affordable Players and DAC’s

It’s worth noting that the DirectStream is a very old DAC at this point. 5 or 6 years is ancient in the world of DACs. Yes, there are the updates, but the hardware remains quite old. Anyone wanting to try a DS, I suggest going used and bargaining for a great deal rather than pay top dollar for a very long in the tooth piece of hardware.

IMHO in its price range the DS still is a strong competitor to others thanks to Ted’s great work. Updating the DS’s FPGA/firmware is perfectly safe, never had any serious issue switching in between and eagerly looking forward to the next mountain top!

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Well, I, and probably a bunch of other people here, would disagree with you. I do so vehemently!

Well, I have updated $1,000,000 systems with updates before so I don’t really have any issues updating a DAC…


Check out the Bluesound VAULT 2i. Streams Amazon Music HD and should hold all your CD’s. Rip, Store, and Stream!

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Over the last 10+ years I’ve used quite a few streaming systems that have received software upgrades. Some are bug-fixes and some increased functionality. The most significant was when my current system purchased in 2016 received a Roon Ready update in 2019.

I would expect any unit that is software driven to be upgradeable and they always are. Years ago I had a server/streamer that was upgraded by burning new software to a CD and putting it in the drive. Now they sometimes just happen automatically.

However, I would never buy a device for what it might do in the future, only what it can do for me now. I am interested in the Dutch & Dutch 8c, they have promised Roon Ready, but I will not even demo them until it is implemented. It has now been over a year since it was promised.

So DSD DAC software changes are all well and good, but for me not a reason to buy one. I am more concerned that if I am promised improved sound quality from software improvements in the future, why is it not optimised now?

Plus the entire thing is apparently dependent on one person, Ted Smith, and to me that would be a big risk.

These are important issues in choosing products, so will see them as positive, some negative.

I get that firmware and software get updates, but do not necessarily see it as a guarantee for good SQ. I.e. software upgradeability is not my decision driver. A well designed hardware (chip) solution could potentially sound equally well.

I was referring to DAC‘s only, not to streamers and certainly not to servers.

I have the impression that most of the doubts and negative comments about PS Audio equipment are expressed by people who do not have this equipment and did not have it.