DirectStream and just what should we expect?


#1

A provoking thread title, considering I was one of the first people in line to contact Mayoura for the upgrade. :-/ But my thoughts are on what this new device is going to sound like, and how it might relate to my thoughts on DSD.



I said in one of the other DirectStream threads that I’ve a number of high end SACD/DSD systems over the last number of years, but I’ve not always walked away thinking that “DSD sounds better” than excellent PCM. Some may try to argue that what I was not hearing was the “edginess” of PCM, but I’ve been in this game too long to be fooled into that kind of reaction. I and my close friend and partner in audio crime (who has even better listening acuity than me) have often walked away with the feeling that DSD seems a little “too” smooth, the high end a little soft, a lack of punch especially in the midrange. It’s never been clear to either of us why this might be - the recordings, the playback gear, something inherent about DSD?



What I’m struggling with is what is the DirectStream supposed to do? Is it supposed to “make all inputs sound like DSD”? If that’s the plan then hopefully some might understand my concern. I would rather the answer be “it’s supposed to make each data stream sound the best it can”, but I’m not so sure. Ted has been at this a while and clearly has some chops when it comes to a good design - but (no negative intended here Ted :slight_smile: ) a little research suggests that Ted has been heavily invested in the DSD world for quite some time. Is it possible one of the entry conditions of the plan (either knowingly or not) was to get a result that sounded a certain way? Some might respond and say “of course every designer wants their product to sound a certain way”, but is that the right answer, or is it that we want the product to produce the best sound it can regardless of the hope (if any) of the designer? Any insight you can provide would be great, Ted.



I’m trying to be very careful, Ted and Paul. I do not mean to imply there’s any shenanigans going on, but I’m in the engineering business too. Sometimes when we expect something to work a certain way we develop the design considerations to make it work that way. Might seem harmless enough, but replace the word ‘work’ with ‘sound’ and it might lend some pause. Apologies in advance if my thoughts suggest anything negative. It is not intended.


#2

@tony22



Howdy



I’ve certainly heard your concerns expressed by others.



Random thoughts:



At my house I’ve been in the pursuit of the most realistic sound reproduction I can get. I’ve had many players there and have visited lots of friend’s systems, shows, etc. To me most DSD has always sounded more correct and involving than most PCM. This is from my experience in choirs, barbershop, playing piano, clarinet, trombone, organ, going live performances, etc.



The reason I chose DSD for a DAC was simply “that all I needed was a low pass filter.” That PCM thru the DAC then had a much more involving character was an unexpected result.



I have a pretty reasonable collection of music, thousands of CDs and SACDs, DADs, DVD-As and hi-res downloads and I enjoy them for their music however it comes. I’ve certainly noticed that often music mastered for DVD-As has a different character than that for SACDs. I don’t think it’s a coincidence and I suspect that it reflects the taste of the mastering engineers, etc. (P.S. to my ear the DVD-As sound very much like you describe PCM and the SACDs, well, sound DSD.)



When I’ve been there for group A/Bs, etc. I find that my taste more closely aligns with the vinyl heads than with the CD lovers. One particular event stays with me: the local audio club was doing all sorts of CD tweaks (green markers, pads on the CD in the player, etc.) I had a little tinnitus that day and I noticed if I picked the version that lowered my tinnitus I ended up voting almost uniformly with the vinyl heads.



People I’ve had over often comment that my system doesn’t sound like solid state (whatever that means) and that it is much more involving than they expect. None ever says anything about it being too smooth or lacking punch, often they say they’re surprised at how dynamic the system is.



I’m rambling again…



-Ted


#3

I guess I’d like to add that many times when I hear about DSD vs PCM comparisons, they are done on a system that’s been optimized for either PCM or DSD and they’re then trying out the other without a lot of thought about how they might have already tailored their systems which might give a bias to one format or the other.



I know that the one DVD-A player I bought sounds like crap in my system :slight_smile: But in that case I’m pretty sure it’s because I couldn’t bring myself to spend as much on a DVD-A player for my 50 or so DVD-As as I have on SACD players for my 1000s of SACDs.


#4

An excellent, thoughtful, well-composed question and an equally gracious, helpful response.



#5
At my house I've been in the pursuit of the most realistic sound reproduction I can get. I've had many players there and have visited lots of friend's systems, shows, etc. To me most DSD has always sounded more correct and involving than most PCM.


Thanks for a nice response, Ted, but for this comment - might ask, why?

People I've had over often comment that my system doesn't sound like solid state


Well, the reasons for that could be (on the one extreme) is that is sounds more like the real thing than either solid state or tube, and on the other extreme that it sounds more like tube gear than it does solid state. You can probably guess which one I'm hoping it is. :D

I guess I'd like to add that many times when I hear about DSD vs PCM comparisons, they are done on a system that's been optimized for either PCM or DSD and they're then trying out the other without a lot of thought about how they might have already tailored their systems which might give a bias to one format or the other.


In my references above, I was hearing DSD on playback systems that are specifically made for DSD playback.

I still believe there is an inherent "sound" to DSD (just like there is for PCM). I'm hoping the DirectStream is biased to neither, or ideally has no bias at all.

#6

“Expectations” is a bad thing. If you have no expectations, you will not be disappointed. Improvements? Yes. I think there should be some improvements. But the lesser the system, the less improvements you are going to hear. Wglenn heard the DS in Paul’s system. For example, I do not have IRS’es at home. By no means I’m going to say that my ML Summits are bad speakers, no, they are excellent, but there are better ones. Plus the room (I mean my room) acoustics is not great, despite DAAD’s. Plus the power line can be better. Etc…



I did not expect much when I ordered the MkII upgrade kit. Did the miracle happen? No. Yes, the sound was better. Just another evolutionary step. So, I expect the same from the DS - another evolutionary step.



But yes, I’m always ready and open for miracles. I just do not expect them :wink:



#7

Can someone explain to me how they tune a system for dsd or PCM or analog for that matter. Help me get the concept as I cannot get it as of now.

But as for dsd against PCM. Given the recordings are the same master , meaning it’s dsd and then down sampled to PCM. Dsd is more detailed and just seems more natural sounding.



Ted did you rip your sacd,s. If not then you are limited to only hearing the dac inside the payers .

Al


#8

I’ve left lots of clues as to how I thought it sounds in relation to the PWD II and it is a clear winner. If I had to briefly describe what it sounds like I would sum it up like this.

It sounds like a sweet turntable setup with more dynamics than you can get from an analog front end.

How’s that?


#9
"But yes, I'm always ready and open for miracles. I just do not expect them ;)


No miracles expected Alekz. Don't believe in 'em. But also hoping we stay on the path of straightforward sound improvement. Paul stock is high in that market so the prospect is good, but I await with caution only because the PWD is already so fantastic.

I've left lots of clues as to how I thought it sounds in relation to the PWD II and it is a clear winner. If I had to briefly describe what it sounds like I would sum it up like this.
It sounds like a sweet turntable setup with more dynamics than you can get from an analog front end.
How's that?


Yes, I've appreciated your thoughts wglenn. Getting anxious now that we have to wait; brain is starting to think about all the little things that have nagged me about PCM, DSD, digital in general. May? That's a long way off. :-S

#10

@wglenn

You are making me salivate.





Attached files


#11

@tony22: Yeah. I don’t know who has it worse, those who know what it sounds like or those that ain’t heard it yet. ~X(

Man, it’s good. Many have asked if it is “soft.” Not having much experience with DSD players from other makers I can’t offer a direct comparison. But- I can without reservation tell you that it is not soft, mushy, compressed, boring or reserved. I found my toe tapping and my head bobbing. It gives a nice life to the music. I have a feeling that this will come through on lesser systems than Paul’s as well. Gordon’s can’t arrive soon enough for both of us! I am anxious to hear what HP has to say, of course. At last we’ll have someone with the knowledge base and vocabulary to let us in on the ups and downs of this new toy. To me it was all “ups,” but that was only one afternoon crammed with as many CDs as I could throw at it.

Gordon- Ray Sings, Basie Swings. OMG, Ray’s voice grabs you where it hurts on the DirectStream. Paul had a copy and I listened to the whole thing. You’ll have to give it a spin!


#12
wglenn said: Ray Sings, Basie Swings. OMG, Ray's voice grabs you where it hurts on the DirectStream. Paul had a copy and I listened to the whole thing. You'll have to give it a spin!

Yup, I have it. I have the redbook version.
If you come across a higher power I would gladly let you off the hook on your date with ELK.


#13
At my house I've been in the pursuit of the most realistic sound reproduction I can get. I've had many players there and have visited lots of friend's systems, shows, etc. To me most DSD has always sounded more correct and involving than most PCM.


Thanks for a nice response, Ted, but for this comment - might ask, why?

I assume this question was a reference to this quote?
Anyway, I'm note quite sure: are you asking why DSD, or why DSD might sound better to me, or how DSD sounds to me?
DSD on most good systems I've listened to causes more toes to tap in the room. Everything, for lack of a better word is more solid, more there...

#14
I think there should be some improvements. But the lesser the system, the less improvements you are going to hear.

Every system I took the prototype to sounded much better to the owners of the systems. Many asked if they could buy it from me on the spot. That may not be true for all systems, but I expect it will be for more systems than most people think.

#15

@ALRAINBOW

"Ted did you rip your sacd,s."

I have a Sonoma workstation. I downsampled some of my SACDs myself since I don’t trust the algos in most of the players/tools out there.



#16

Omg don’t say that now. I ripped over 100 of mine. How did you convert yours then ? Redbook.

Just kidding I know what a sanoma work station is. Lol



Al


#17

When I updated my PWD from mk1 to mk 2 I noticed an improvement straight away. I am assuming that going to the DS DAC would make for a whole new listening experience. When I listen to my very best files on the PWD I am astounded how good they sound. My foot taps a lot already. Can I assume the new DAC will make everything sound a lot better? I have some digital files that sound, well, lousy. For me the Holy Grail is making all my music sound great. I haven’t got there yet but I am headed in the right direction.


#18

I would expect that the DirectStream DAC will be an improvement over the PWD Mk.II similar to the obvious (to most) improvement that the Mk.II was over the Mk.I. That said, they are all dependent on the source material and there are some recordings that NOTHING can fix or make better. The perfect DAC can only deliver exactly what is in the recording and I would not want anything different. If it is doing something to make bad recordings good then it is applying the same distortion to the good recordings and almost certainly making them less good. I don’t know about your music collection, but in mine there are far more good recordings than bad, and I do have my share of poorly recorded material.



J.P.


#19

My daughter is listening Lady Gaga on my PWD while I’m browsing this forum. Would a DirectStream improve my SQ an PQ (patience quality) ?


#20
Pat said: My daughter is listening Lady Gaga ... Would a DirectStream improve my

Yes, your clothing preference will definitely change :D