DirectStream, Bridge II, Roon, and the Future


#1

Hey folks, this is my first post here. I have been reading this site ever since I decided to buy a DirectStream DAC.

My audio system is currently using an Yggdrasil DAC with an ultraRendu feeding it on USB via Roon. I am actually quite happy with the sound I am getting out of this setup. A big part of this setup sounding good is the clean power it is getting. I am using a Topaz isolation transformer wired for balanced powered and the ultraRendu is powered by a Teddy Pardo power supply.

I just bought a slightly used (less than 100 hours) DirectStream with a Bridge II card installed. I bought this DAC for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I am looking for a DAC that sounds better than what I have. I also wanted a DAC that gave me the option to play DSD and MQA tracks. The simplicity of having a Roon endpoint built into the DAC is a draw. Finally, I really like the upgradability the FPGA-based DirectStream offers.

When the DirectStream arrives, my plan is to let it burn in for a long while. I hear this DAC can take up to 500 hours to sound its best. Once that is done, I will compare the DirectStream/Bridge II and Yggdrasil/ultraRendu combinations. Then, I will try the DirectStream with the ultraRendu to see how it sounds compared to the Bridge II. Does anyone here have any comments on that last comparison?

Let’s assume for a moment that, to me, the DirectStream sounds better than the Yggdrasil.

I am hopeful that I find the DirectStream/Bridge II to be better sounding than the DirectStream/UltraRendu. Or at least equivalent.

This question is probably for @adminpaul: what is the future of Roon in regards to DirectStream and internal endpoints? Will the Bridge III card support Roon? I am committed to Roon at this point as it offers exactly what I am looking for to manage and control my library and to explore new content using Tidal (or other services down the road).

Thanks in advance for any feedback or advice I get. This seems like a great community based on what I have seen!


#2

Welcome to the forum! We look forward to your impressions when you get your DS. Paul has said that Bridge III will run Octave, the server software PSA is developing. Sorry but it will not run Roon. Roon will continue to be supported on Bridge II and you can, of course, use third-party Roon endpoints.


#3

Thank you! I will post my impressions as I am really looking forward to comparing the two DACs. The two have very different approaches to the same problems. My bias should be minimal as I don’t need one DAC to sound better than the other. I just want what sounds best to me.

That’s too bad about the Bridge III card. The problem with an external Roon endpoint solution, and least based on what I have read here so far, is that MQA support only works if you go through the Bridge II card. That’s why I want the Bridge II card to sound as good or better with the DirectStream than the ultraRendu.

My concern with the Bridge II card is that it would not sound as good as an external Roon endpoint feeding a DirectStream I²S port. I have heard that the Bridge II card adds noise because of how it gets its power. Maybe that is not true. At this point MQA is not really important to me so maybe it doesn’t matter.


#4

Bridge III will not be Roon Ready? What? Why? I don’t understand why PSA would try to compete with Roon though. Will Octave have the same amount of features? This is shocking and bizarre to me!


#5

Shocking and bizarre? Gosh. :slight_smile:

PS Audio’s goal is to indeed produce the best server, including a superior interface. Given their track record in other areas I think they have an excellent chance of succeeding.


#6
jtwrace said

Bridge III will not be Roon Ready? What? Why? I don’t understand why PSA would try to compete with Roon though. Will Octave have the same amount of features? This is shocking and bizarre to me!


This is not news, it has been discussed extensively with Paul in other threads. This is really the age old discussion of which is better - an open system like Windows where you have a lot of different players involved leading to some complexity for the user or a closed system like Apple where they can control the complete user experience by controlling all of the components in the chain. The DIY’ers and tweakers will want an open system so they can tweak to their hearts content. However, the great masses just want something that is easy to install, easy to use, doesn’t require a technical degree, and works every time. It appears that the tweakers can continue to use the Bridge II or use the other DSD inputs to try all sorts of upstream renders and converters (Sonare, SoTM, AudioByte, Berkeley, etc). For the mass market, PSA will have Octave for an all in one, plug ‘n’ play solution. People are buying a lot of Sonos and Bluesound not because of the quality but because they are easy to install and easy to use and get them music in any room they want. I think PSA is wise to look to expand their market by meeting different needs with different solutions.

My only suggestion to PSA is change the name. Instead of calling it Bridge III, they should call it the Octave Bridge or Connector or something like that. By naming it the Bridge III, they are going to upset the tweakers who have a Bridge II and think they are somehow missing out on an improvement or upgrade by not being able to buy up to the Bridge III. My sense is that other than both cards have an Ethernet connection, there is very little that’s the same between them. So why not come up with another name for the new one so people don’t even associate it with the B II and don’t view it as an upgrade?


#7

For those not following all the action here, here’s a Link to a discussion of Bridge III. In a quick scan of this discussion I didn’t see anything specific from Paul on Roon, but he has stated in other posts that while he was initially intrigued by Roon, ultimately he rejected it. Octave is his plan and this will be a PS Audio unique system.

Edit: I should add that Paul has stated Bridge II will continue to be supported after Bridge III is released. No orphans here!


#8

I don’t want to go way off on the Roon vs Octave tangent. Regardless of what Octave is, if it doesn’t interact with Roon, I won’t be using it. Why? Because Roon works well with the nearfield setup I have in my office, the low-fi setup I have in my garage, and my 2 channel setup I have in my Library. It is hardware and vendor agnostic which means I am not tied to any one vendor for anything. Is Roon perfect? No. But it is great. I am sure PS Audio can come up with a better interface and user experience. But, I suspect it will be limited to the PS Audio universe and that is a problem.

My concern with the Bridge II card is that people using it will be stuck with that hardware platform. Maybe that isn’t an issue. But better hardware usually means better sound. Roon not being supported by the Bridge III card, or whatever it ends up being called, means Bridge II users are stuck in the past with little hope for improvement in sound quality due to hardware improvements.

Maybe I am wrong about all the above…


#9

Speed Racer, good points and well taken. I concur that going from Bridge II to Bridge III there is an expectation of improved sound. Likewise, going from Roon to Octave there is an expectation of improved sound (and improved interface). Sometimes improvements come at a cost that is more than some can bare, in that case you stay put and enjoy what you have.


#10

Does Roon/MQA not work with USB from their application?


#11

EldRick, while not a Roon or MQA user, my understanding is when MQA is unfolded on a PC (Mac too?) you only get one unfold (96/24), on the Bridge you can get two unfolds (192/24) if the recording started out life as 192/24. Presumably this user wants the second unfold.


#12

MQA is certainly not important to me now. It’s just a “nice to have”. But @pmotz33sbcglobal-net is correct. In the future, if MQA does become important to me, it is my understanding the only way get a full unfold in the DirectStream will be through the Bridge II card.


#13

I think Karl’s idea is good - the association with the Bridge should perhaps be broken if the aim of the BIII (“B3”?) is that it be pretty much Octave-centric. If it is fully backward-compatible, MAYBE keep calling it Bridge, but be prepared for the haters.

Speed Racer dude, yeah - I am a Roon user/and generally lover, but I agree with Paul that, while Roon has a wonderful user interface/system they don’t seem to have sorted the sound end of things fully… though it is no slouch, and they can’t ever sort it with respect to EVERY SYSTEM in the world.

Paul reckons PS can come up with a Server with a library/user interface/usability deal AND sound quality that bests Roon. Kind of a Mac deal. Full software and hardware environment. No small task. But ONE of the things I admire about the guy is his faith and enthusiasm.

TWO! TWO! OF THE THINGS I ADMIRE about him are: FAITH and ENTHUSIASM!..(NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition!) I certainly wouldn’t bet against him.

Also, there has developed herein, a Grand Tradition of Speculation, Pronouncements and Decisions Made Far In Advance of the Product In Question. One can always wait, and not be an Early Adopter.

I used to do video work for Ford Future Vehicle Marketing Research for a quarter century. Can’t discuss it - have to kill ya ; )

On the West Coast (where 30+% of the cars produced in the US were sold) there were a great number of Early Adopters, who would say, “Can I buy that now?” when looking at a prototype that was three years from production.

Back toward the East Coast, one would tend to get more folks who would say, “Well, I will wait until it comes out, then I will let several of my neighbors buy it, then I will ask them what they think after they have owned it for a few years”.


#14

@badbeef

I understand that you have faith in Paul and PS Audio to come up with a killer server/client solution in Octave. I don’t doubt it either. But, if Octave is PS Audio only, it does not work for me. I am not going to put PS Audio DACs everywhere I want to hear music. I want to be able to use a $100 DAC or a $20,000 DAC. If you are prepared to be tied into specific hardware, more power to you. I am not. I am not looking for an audio hardware ecosystem to join. I did that once and it was a mistake. I am not knocking Octave or people that want it. I am not a “hater”. It’s just not what I am looking for based on what I have read so far.

Roon support is a requirement for me. So it appears I will be using Bridge II or some endpoint feeding my DirectStream via one of its digital inputs. MQA support appears to be in perl if I don’t use the Bridge II, however.


#15

SR - didn’t mean to infer either that I was “prepared to be tied to specific hardware” (which I ain’t), or that you were a hater. The haters will come in the future, as they always do. ; )


#16

I believe “Bridge III” is just what people on the forum started calling the successor to Bridge II, before PSA had even said there would be one. So no official name yet but I agree it should be something Octave related. It’s also still a ways off from what Paul has said, with the standalone Octave server (which will work with non-PSA DACs too) coming first.


#17

I am not sure how this discussion got off the railscool or where it’s going.

Our plans aren’t all that complicated.

Bridge III (or whatever we call it) will be based on new hardware we’re developing in-house - where the current Bridge II is based on third-party hardware from Converse Digital. To Badbeef’s point, it will be managed by our own software, Octave, and will not include a Roon endpoint, though that decision is not final or even really thought out. Endpoints aren’t too difficult to implement. What I had said in the past is that using Roon as the server software inside Bridge III won’t happen. But that does not explain the endpoint like in Bridge II.

As some people have figured out Roon requires three pieces of hardware to operate: a server (usually running on a computer), an endpoint (in this case Bridge II) and a controller (maybe an iPad). Once all that hardware’s installed and running you can then add extra endpoint hardware in different rooms and run them off the main computer which must be on at all times.

Octave is different. Octave does not require the computer/server part that ROON does. Octave runs as standalone or ties together with multiple devices in different parts of the home, controlled by an iPad, Android or web browser. Octave players will eventually be available from the very inexpensive (several hundred dollars) to the expensive (probably $6K) and everywhere in between.

Octave maybe doesn’t work for everyone and that’s ok. We wouldn’t want to build a product that does. What works for everyone works well for no one.itwasntme_gif


#18

There’s rails?! ; )


#19

If I had $5 for every time someone in these Forum pages freaked out about the scope of Bridge III and 3rd Party music server support, well I’d be able to buy a BHK amplifier or two. I think PSA would be best served, as Karl suggested way above, if they just gave the new Bridge a different code name. After all it is really a very different product with a very different purpose.

We’d all be better off as we wouldn’t have to talk another person from jumping out the PSA window for all the wrong reasons.

pulling-hair_gif


#20
Speed Racer said . . . if Octave is PS Audio only, it does not work for me.
The Octave server, for example, will work in any system. The new Bridge will run Octave, plugs into PS Audio DACs, will not be a Roon endpoint, but will accept input from all sorts of servers and players.

Neither will be for you if you insist upon Roon (nothing wrong with this). On the other hand, you may find you like Octave better. We will not know until Octave is released.

I like the idea of calling the new Bridge something else. This will eliminate some confusion.