Snowmass DSD Sr. - Sound Characteristics and Perceptions


#101

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
biwired
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


#102

Have fun! Your system should be singing soon.


#103

Just got around to installing the Snowmass upgrade/update and so happens that it was also time to update the Bridge II.

Install went smoothly for both, and initial impressions are similar to others. I do feel like there is a more holographic 3-D soundstage and I can hear “around” some instruments like piano better than with Redcloud. However, I also think that vocals are ‘hotter’ and somewhat unnaturally forward on some material, but not all. By that I don’t mean sibilant - as there is no sibilance to be heard (and given the composition of my system, that gets a big kudos to the PSA team - both my speakers and amp tend to amplify sibilance). Rather, male vocals (Billy Joel, Keith Richards, Tom Waits) are raspier (which I guess is more realistic) and slightly shouty, while female vocals (Nellie McKay, Lola Kirke, Asteroids Galaxy Tour) are somewhat more present than before. I only have a CD transport and Roon/Tidal via Bridge II and therefore not a lot to compare with. If I had to characterize the sound in terms of previous equipment, it’s very similar to my old beloved Direct Link III (which, to the surprise of others here in the past, actually sounded better to my ears than the DS Junior, which I then traded in for a Senior).

It will take some getting used to. I am also in agreement with other comments that Snowmass is more revealing of other flaws - or rather, unique attributes of other components in the signal chain. So while Redcloud suited my setup very well, I’m going to have to set aside some time to evaluate Snowmass. It’s definitely not bad, but it does both exacerbate (beam-like vocals) and temper/improve (fast rather than natural decay, somewhat narrow soundstage/off-axis dispersion) some of the in-built behaviors of my listening setup of which I was already aware. So far I don’t hear any difference whatsoever in the bass response. Guess that’s very system/placement dependent.

System consists of:

DAC/Preamp: PS Audio DSD Senior
Power Amp: DIY Hypex NC500 based two-channel class-D
Speakers: JBL Project Array 1400s
Speaker Cables: Bluejeans (Canare 4S11 Star Quad with sonic welded banana plugs)
Interconnects: Better Cables silver/copper hybrid balanced XLR (Blue Truth II I believe)
Digital interconnects: Cat-6e cable to Bridge from wireless router, standard coaxial and optical cables (Monster or AQ equivalent from Best Buy)
Power: Tripplite isolation transformer for power amp and Furman conditioner for DAC, using hospital grade electrical outlets with the little green dot

P.S. Is it just me or is the video link for the installation instructions broken for everybody else too? https://www.psaudio.com/ps_how/upgrade-directstream-operating-system/


#104

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: https://www.audiostream.com/content/ps-audio-snowmass-os-update-now-available 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).


#105

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:


#106

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 https://forum.psaudio.com/t/the-next-directstream-update/5273 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: ]


#107

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


#108

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”…


#109

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.


#110

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


#111

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.


#112

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


#113

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


#114

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


#115

Allan,
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.
Richard