Snowmass DSD Sr. - Sound Characteristics and Perceptions


expecting ds sr delivered Tues
Just tweaked whole system
new REFLECTOR 6H23P-EB / 6922 in both lamm m2.1 mono hybrid
Burning in nice Highs are there to discern changes immediately
Positioned listenng position raised up 8 inches To appreciate the Martin logans requests 2way not biamped
They are picky!!
Cleaned all contacts one pair of martin logan reqwests 16 contact points alone.
Thank god for silver polish ( all contacts silver ( silver audio)
Lamm ll2 retubed recapped and more 2 months ago.
Ditchng the Meitner bidat SHOULD be easy
Im expectng WOW
After burn in holy shit!
Looking forward. Change is good especially when it gets better


Have fun! Your system should be singing soon.


Wiping out my entire previous review/comment on the new Snowmass firmware and replacing with this.

After a few months of critical and casual listening on my already pretty revealing system, I decided to go back to RedCloud because I feel that on my system it provides a more “musical” listening experience. The things I experienced with SnowMass are probably specific to my equipment, and are as follows:

While the presentation does seem to be more detailed in some areas, my system (class D amplification and JBL compression driver/waveguide speakers) just makes too much of that detail. In addition to fatigue after 30+ minute spells, it becomes an exercise in listening for things I’ve never heard before or things that I knew were there take on an increased prominence during playback. My musical tastes are pretty much all over the place so I won’t provide many examples as they’d be meaningless, but Van Halen II (MQA - Tidal) and Yo La Tengo “…Heart Beating as One” are two recent albums that became more of a chore than a pleasure to listen to in critical sessions.

I’m really curious what setup the guys at PS Audio used (source material, amplification, speakers) during listening tests on the new SnowMass because I can picture this latest build perhaps sounding really good on a more ‘linear’ or ‘analog’ setup, such as a TT playing through a McIntosh tube or SS amp and “warmer” sounding speakers with some roll off over about 13khz - maybe even Martin Logan type planar/ribbon speakers. But not compression drivers or more revealing speakers like Totem/Dynaudio/what have you.

What system(s) did you guys (engineers, sales, etc.) use for listening tests of Snow Mass prior to release?

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Is there a writeup anywhere on the differences between Redcloud and Snowmass (or between any firmware and its immediate update) - such as maybe a high level explanation of how each uses the hardware differently? I wouldn’t want you to divulge any trade secrets of course, but maybe in theory just what advances you guys tried to implement on Snowmass and what some of the goals were in terms of sound quality or sonic ‘flavor signature’ you were going for?

Edit: Well interestingly enough I found this: which explains some of the design goals!

Edit 2: I have always been a bit confused about where the Bridge II ‘drops off’ and the FPGA of the main DAC component ‘picks up’ - is there a good resource for that? For clarity, I’m trying to figure out whether the new firmware should also improve the sound of the DSD Sr. while using the Bridge II, since I understood the latter to kind of function as a standalone DAC within the chassis (but I could be wrong in that).


Ted addresses this in this thread, and in a number of other threads. He strives for the best technical result; ruler flat response, more accurate phase, etc. He is not voicing for a particular sound, but rather espouses technically correct results in the best sound quality.

Edit: I see now Ted is replying. I hope my response holds up. :slight_smile:


To a first approximation Snowmass and Redcloud use the hardware identically. With each release of the FPGA software I try to generate less power supply pollution noise in the FPGA. Tho those changes aren’t in general measurable, the blacker back ground they bring is obvious to most listeners.

The thread contains very precise descriptions about what’s changed and why. In a nutshell Snowmass is a rewrite of the PCM upsampling code. But because it also lowers noise in the FPGA everything sounds better. The lower the input sampling rate the “more better.”

I’m always looking for technically better answers to questions - I don’t pay attention to “sonic ‘flavor signature’”, etc. My experience has always been that a better implementation gives better sound quality.

[Edit - I just saw your edit, but I’ll post this anyway :slight_smile: ]


Yeah that makes much more sense. I should know this as an engineer. :sweat_smile:


Clearly the technical answer is the one that just makes sense. I sometimes (mistakenly) assume that within high end audio companies, they strive for a “house sound” or try to massage a certain “flavor” out of their equipment. I suppose a good analogy would be the comparisons of some DACs to “sounding like vinyl”…


If you just updated give it time. I played my PAD system maintenance CD 24 hrs and the next day Snowmass was just sublime on everything.


My impression is some companies do indeed strive for a certain house sound.


Thanks yeah will definitely be giving it some time to settle in. Wish I had been smart enough as well to isolate variables and hold off on the Bridge II update, for which reason I won’t be able to tell which of the updates are responsible for which sonic characteristics/changes.

I’m patient with this kind of thing, and I think our ears get used to our equipment to the extent that “burn-in” or letting the equipment warm up might be a bit overemphasized in some areas of audiophilia. Not to say those concepts have no merit (of course they do), but my impressions of some components have changed so drastically over time, that I can’t reconcile any theoretical changes in the hardware/electronics to the degree of difference. Has to be my ears/mind in most cases, I think.


Burning in ds sr
I prefer the non attenuated setting Just bettter punch!
Now the question is digital interconect!!!
I am using a kimber d60 rca coax
and an Apogee wide eye xlr
The kimber is 1m
The apogee wide eye 1ft
There is a difference!!
The kimber has a fuller mids Not quite at as focused.
The wide eye apogee quieter a bit more highs
but less musical
Any recommendations on an upgraded xlr digital interconnect
Seeking the best of both worlds


Yeah the Shunyata Sigma. Awesome cable. Check reviews on the web.


Well I’ve finally given up on Snowmass and gone back to Red Cloud.
Whilst Snowmass does have a smooth clean solidness I can’t quite define its just too much. For example playing Phil Collins “You Know What I Mean” off face value - the drum sounds great, treble sounds great, but there is a complete vacuum in between such that the vocal sounds really squeaky with no timbre in his voice. Anything with tambourines completely dominates. Master Tape hiss is far too loud as well. It’s possible it would sound good in a valve system but in my solid state system RedCould has much greater body and enjoyment factor


I really think your review was spot on. I too was amazed by the increased width sound stage, 3d detail, and smoother more focused vocals. Yes it is slightly foward but in no way artificial. I feel that the mid range is now less sterile, more organic and slightly warmer. It is not tube like but much more enveloping.
In my system it was a big improvement.
Thanks again.

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After my initial report after 100hours use, I can now report that having got 500+ hours on Snowmass V1 the sound quality has definitely improved yet further: more space and detail apparent. I guess this is a consequence of a lower perceived noise. I admit I did not really believe the posts claiming more improvement in SQ after many 100s of hours but it’s true!

Thanks again Paul & Ted for a great product.

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After some back and forth between SM and RC I am staying on Snowmass for now. It does seem flatter. Maybe less “colored”. I may have lost a bit of the analogue bloom I initially found so compelling about the DS Sr. DAC when I bought it (Had RC installed). But I will give it a try for a week or so.

I like that I could go back and forth in minutes to compare. Very slick

What I did not do, was upgrade the Bridge II. I am very suspect of this, and lurking on the forums, people have had some bad experiences with this. Maybe when this gets ironed out, or causes for certain bugs get sorted, I will do so. But it works now (Roon why I have it), so I’m not sure what I’m gaining, and without a clear way for me to easily roll back (I use MAC) I am suspect.

If anyone has advice on this, or impressions, let me know


I don’t use the Bridge anymore but I can’t listen to usb without it. although the Bridge installed does lose treble resolution it does make the midrange bearable by adding quite a lot of bass. Snowmass through usb is very very thin in the midrange and bass without it installed in my system


If you have successfully installed SM; no reason not to update the Bridge software, AFAIK. It is more we’ll behaved than its predecessor IME.



But which is the latest software ? Redcloud or Snowmass? I understood that Redcloud is a better match for solid state set up and Snowmass is better for tubes. Is that right?
I use Ayon tubed set up. So, I will stick around with SM.