Distance from soundstage using DirectStream?


#1

I love the design and implementation of the DirectStream DAC and am saving my pennies to buy one.

Beforehand, though, I’d like some input as to where the DirectStream places the sound stage relative to other DACs. I believe one of the earlier Sterephile articles on the DirectStream mentioned that the sound stage was somewhat distant, and this was the intention of the design. Is that accurate, i.e. more Row S than Row A? And if so, is it consistent between the different firmware versions?

Thanks for any input.


#2

Distance to the soundstage is indicated by many different auditory cues. Some people pay more attention to some of those cues than other cues and/or other people. The DS isn’t designed with a emphasis on any particular effect, just towards being faithful to the source. (Tho Arnie may have a bias as he selects from the various different compiles I give him.)

For example:

Since higher frequencies are more attenuated with distance, a tilt down in FR would push things back. The DS is as flat as I can get it.

But more reverb also can push things back. As the background noise goes down and more detail is revealed there may be more apparent reverb which could push the soundstage back.

In my system the soundstage is deep, but not pushed back. Ironically some guests have been taken aback by how near they hear the soundstage, while others were surprised by how far back they hear it.

Others will probably chime in with their experiences.


#3

A very thoughtful reply.

I hear the soundstage as near, but deep. In addition to those things Ted mentioned, the added clarity and detail allows subtle cues to be heard - such as the sound of oboe pads, a solo violinist’s breathing, etc. This brings one to the musicians. Yet, the orchestra does not sound on top of you unless it was recorded this way.

My most recent orchestra concert experience was Saturday night, experiencing a chamber orchestra performing a Bach cantata and Mendelssohn’s First. I was third row, center in a wonderful clear hall. One hears this level of detail with the DS if it is on the recording. But, fascinatingly, the DS does not sound ridiculously wide as does sitting this close - again, as it should be. the recording will not be made with this width.

I record many groups, from small chamber to full orchestra and choir. I am pleased with how the DS represents my recordings. If something sounds wrong, it was my fault, not the DAC.


#4

That’s great. Thanks! Based on what I had read, I was concerned the DirectStream might be distant-sounding, and my personal preference is to be more up front.

In my experience, even some components within a unit can affect the distance to soundstage. I replaced the feedback resistors in the output stage of my current DAC with better/boutique/expensive ones, and the most pronounced effect was to pull the soundstage forward.