Directstream issue+need part, Mr. Smith could you please try to look at this?

I contacted CS several times to no avail. I sent a message asking for Ted Smith to inquire into this please. First, when playing CD’s only(2 CD players, all inputs, 7 cables tried) The Bitrate display flickers constantly between 16-20. CD’s are not 20 Bit. USB and Bridge display correctly. Ultimate CS answer was force reinstall Redcloud but failed to solve issue. It is not a huge deal since the sound is fine and that is all that really matters. I was just wondering if this is some bug or I am the first one to encounter it. This is not an upgraded unit but new stock Directstream DSD.

More importantly, obviously I did some cable swapping here. The nut with black plastic piece behind it securing the RCA for Coaxial was loose on my unit purchased 5/6/18. The gold plated “sleeve” or “ferrule” in front of the nut has now been lost. So there are exposed threads where this piece once resided. It appears that there was some white colored thread lock compound on there as well. I would greatly appreciate if someone either contacts me at the Email on this account or responds to the service ticket(same Email). Arranging to send me this piece. I can pay for it if you insist. I certainly hope I do not need to send you the entire unit for this. In which case I will just do without the sleeve over the RCA. I know PSA is a great company, encourages DIY and I think I can manage to screw that on. Just please inform me what threadlock you used if any. I have owned many of your products and do currently. I hold PSA in the highest regard for being a truly caring and ethical company. Even if you won’t send me the little part I will still be a PSA fan forever. Thank you, Todd

I was asked about the sample width display earlier this week, I don’t know if they got back to you.

You are correct that CDs aren’t 20 bits, but is there a chance that your CD players recognize HDCDs? HDCDs decode to 20 bits and they change encodings (and hence number of bits) regularly within a single track.

Another possibility, you say all inputs: did that include TOSLink? If TOSLink doesn’t fail, it may be that you have a difference in ground voltages between your sources and the DS.

The FPGA itself can’t tell the difference between any of the inputs, if different inputs act differently the differences are upstream of the FPGA (perhaps in the bridge.) If you tried I2S and USB and they act differently the difference is surely in the source (assuming that the USB isn’t the only hardware input working properly on the DS :slight_smile: )

To date the FPGA has never lied about the number of bits in a sample (it basically looks for how many bits on the bottom of a sample are changing, that’s pretty easy to get right :slight_smile: ) So I expect that the answer is something upstream, like I said perhaps ground, perhaps HDCD decoding and I know there are a few CDs with DTS on them that decode to more bits (tho usually at 48k or 96k.)

The hardware support questions I’ll leave to PS Audio Service (I know they have read your email to them, but I don’t know whether they have tried to get back to you yet.)

I really appreciate you got back to me so late at night! I am a big PS Audio fan and I know you are a legend. Therefore you make perfect sense. It is not HDCD but SACD. These are Redbook CD’s. The bridge(Ethernet) works fine , so does I2S and USB as well. 2 different CD Transports doing it seems odd. However very interesting all the cables I have including AES/EBU are super high end from the same manufacturer. They are all from Transparent Cable of the current Reference XL series. I wonder if these high end cables are non standard. Perhaps, being exactly what gives them their “sound”. I will go get a Mogami for 40 bucks and try it. Like I said this is not a big deal it sounds good. However what you explain may be affecting the sound I gather! I assume you do not mean a ground loop but differences in grounding potential. I know something about electronics having built many things but nothing like you do.

I am very disappointed about losing the collar on the Coaxial RCA which came loose out of the box. So not entirely my fault. I sincerely hope I do not need to send in the unit for that! I provided them the serial number. Could you please just remind them to contact me for shipping information if they are willing to give me one? I am betting they are already tired of me there. I did not mean to be a nuisance but I admit I got a bit carried away about it. My apologies to them, and yourself regarding my haste.

BTW, your beard is awesome :blush:

Thank you,

Todd Cohen

PS Audio service will likely get a hold of you. I don’t work for PS Audio in the Bolder office so I don’t have any more direct contact than others.

HDCDs are regular Redbook CDs, they use slight changes in the low bits (sort of encoding things in the dither) to indicate different filter options, etc. There would be a HDCD logo on the packaging if the disc were HDCD - I was surprised at how many I had. Often CDs were mastered with HDCD equipment even tho they didn’t use any HDCD features and the HDCD indicator light on some transports, CDPs, etc. would come on or flicker. Anyway there are relatively few SACDs with HDCD encoded Redbook layers.

If there’s electrical noise or a floating ground or a difference in ground potential the connection might be slightly (or not so slightly) flaky. A bit perfect test would make sure. TOSLink is the best way of getting around this at least for a test. USB and I2S have better grounding than AES/EBU and S/PDIF so there could be a problem that just affects some cabling more than others.

Yes it’s definitely worth seeing if more standard cable(s) have the same problems. I don’t know what the mechanism would be that affects only the DS, but weirder things have happened. I do have some patch cords that used to come with VCRs, etc. that won’t pass 96k or 192k but do pass 44.1k fine - so it’s certainly possible for bad cables to be a problem :slight_smile:

I really appreciate the help. To put it lightly if it is a $3,400 cable doing this I am going to speak with the manufacturer! I did not have time to release everything from the rack yet. I have a known good cable to try. I will try a “average” Toslink cable as well. It seems until I2S, AES/EBU was the preferred connection. I remember that light on early CD players. I do gather that if you have a flaky connection as you put it, it could affect sound. Although I would think it would be dropping out already. Of course I do not know much about it either.

Thank you for the help.


I’ll forward this to service for you but I assume you’ve made contact as stated. Of course we will do whatever you wish, whether sending you a new part or repairing it for you. Please accept our apologies for the problem in the first place.

Thank you MR McGowan. You really run a great company. I have always been exceptionally pleased with your products.


Bad news. It is not the cable! I just tried a Mogami AES3 cable and a Hosa Toslink with 3 CD Players. Same thing, flickering between 16-20. I really do not want to send it in. So my question to either of you is this: Do you think this is impacting the sound or just an issue with the displayed “Bits”?

So you are not aware of this ever happening before? Figures, My luck. I would certainly imagine you have tried it since you developed the product.

I appreciate the help. It looks like, not wiling to send it in it is what it is. Hopefully it is not impacting the sound in a negative way. I have not heard another Directstream so I don’t know. Regardless it sounds plenty good. As usual you Guy’s did a good job.

I also appreciate That you both addressed this, and quickly to boot! Most companies, even if small one does not get to speak with the CEO and Lead Designer. You Guy’s are awesome and I will always be your customer!

I just realized something. I have many Thousands of CD’s. So they are all in “folders” sans the jewel boxes. It is not entirely impossible that the 15 I picked to try were all HDCD and I knew none the better? Stranger things have happened I guess.

If the reported bits are flickering any thing higher than 16 when you are playing a CD it is a clear indication that you aren’t playing the data from the CD, so without knowing what you are playing there’s no way to tell if it’s audible (as I mentioned above it might just be a volume control not at 100 somewhere, which probably doesn’t affect the sound in any noticeable way.) I can’t think of any hardware problem in the DS that would cause the bit count to flicker with multiple different inputs (i.e. the only things in common between various inputs are the power supplies and the FPGA software. If the power supplies were broken I don’t think the results would be this subtle (and the TOSLink hardware is literally the TOSLink receiver and a trace to the FPGA.) The FPGA is measuring the exact bits it’s playing to calculate the number of bits per sample so I trust it and we’ve never known it to be wrong.

As I mentioned before, run a bit perfect test. ( You can’t check bits 17-24 if CDs are the only path thru your sources, but if you can play a bit perfect test file and get the Green Checkmark we’ll know more about where things are going wrong.

I guess I should have asked you to disconnect any cable that you aren’t using for the tests since changing inputs doesn’t change some of the possible electrical problems like a ground potential difference. If you still have the problem with only the TOSLink cable connected (and no other inputs or outputs connected) we’ll know that the problem isn’t grounding issues. If the problem goes away as you disconnect cables you might get lucky and find out where the problem is.

Well, Nothing else was connected! I mean to any inputs. I want you to know I do not mind the display. I was just concerned it is negatively impacting the analog outputs/audio? It figures this would happen to me. I am like the Guy that always gets the DOA components LOL. You have never seen this happen before?

As I said though, it is remotely possible the 15 CD’s I picked out of Thousands were HDCD. Stranger things have happened! I cannot tell because I do not have the Jewel cases handy. I can try more CD’s. How many would you try before you decide there is some other issue?

OH Wait! Could it be the AC12 on it or DPP20 doing this? I know they are yours too and you build great stuff but I need to figure out what the issue is.

Like I said if it is just the display flickering I can live with that. My concern is that it may be impacting the sound quality? I mean it sounds great to me but short of like a ground loop/hum or whatever I could be missing a problem altogether. I hope not.

I am really sorry this has turned into such a big deal.

I am grateful that you and MR McGowan are trying to help.

It is not everyday top people at a company help their customers!

Thank you,


I just played your Bitperfect test. It did nothing. Completely played but no sound, nothing. That is form USB which is displaying the correct Bitrate constantly. The volume in Foobar is disabled and the system volume is at 100%. There is no volume on the CD player. It is just going right into the DS. I am not sure what you mean volume not at 100, where? One thing, it will not take exclusive of your Asio driver, only with WASAPI. If that has anything to do with this. I have Jriver 24 as well and same issues.

Well if I am not playing CD data I am not happy with that. I need to correct this. Since most likely nothing is broken and I have done all the troubleshooting I am not sure where we go from here. I hope you have some ideas though. I do not mind at all tinkering with the stuff. I just need to get bit perfect CD and it appears I am not. In fact now I do not even know what is going on with USB since your file did not play! I am pretty down right now I mean a bummer but I have confidence you will get it working. I just feel bad I took so much of your time.

Thank you,

The bit perfect test signal level is low. You will not hear anything unless you turn the volume up a bit (I suggest mute in any event).

Did you get a green check mark and the words “Bit Perfect” near the upper left of the DirectStream’s display? If not, we now know the source of the problem; your source is messing with the bits before sending them to the DAC.

Okay, I fixed that issue. It indeed says Bit Perfect with a Green check mark to the left next to the System settings icon.

However that does not solve the problem with CD playback USB and Ethernet were not connected when I was trying to figure out what is going on.

Just a quick side note: for USB, do not use Upsamplers ETC in software? I assume not since it is not Bit perfect then. However lets just try to resolve my CD playback issue please.

Thank you,

Okay, I noticed something that may help you guy’s help me.

It switches to 20 Bit Rate upon loud passages only. For instance at the beginning of a track that is mellow it will be at 16 for a couple seconds when it starts out. Then a Kick drum hits for instance and it instantly flashes 20 then back to 16. Once the Chorus begins and there is a lot going on it starts constantly flickering between 16 and 20. This is CD only. With AES,Toslink and Coax. USB and Bridge are working fine.

I wonder if perhaps not enough folks have a CD player anymore that this has been tested a lot.

However, playing data that is unintended is a huge problem. I do not hear anything else but it must be there. All of my CD transports here are SACD units. I wonder if that is what is causing this? I do not have a non SACD transport/player to test. This is very strange. I hope somehow it can be remedied but if not I still think this is a fantastic DAC. I also have DAVE and prefer the PWD DSD. So that begs the question if there is other data about why am I not hearing it? I wonder if these high end transports pad with zeros. Just trying to think of anything at this point. Hopefully MR. Smith will come back with another idea. At least I have the most qualified people helping me and for that I am thankful.


Processing with upsampling, etc. will change the datastream from bit perfect (try the bit perfect test with your processing of choice to find out for certain), but if it sounds better to you, use it.

Switching to 20 bit playback on loud passages is exactly what HDCD does; HDCD increases dynamic range.

I can play with that. I am very concerned about the CD’s however. I was wondering if anyone else that has a CD player could try it please? Preferably a SACD player with Redbook CD’s. I would appreciate that. I am afraid not many people have a CD player anymore. I have far too many to rip. If it is not being adulterated it is fine. If not I am terribly unhappy. This is the players though I gather so any DAC would have this issue.

As I said it is possible with my luck I just picked 15 HDCD’s out of thousands LOL. If that is the case I think we have come to the conclusion. The unfortunate thing is I do not have the Jewel cases handy to find out for sure. I will try more CD’s I guess. However not hearing anything different I am not certain anything unwanted is present. At least I hope not. That explains a lot though ELK.