Thanks for all this info. I apologize if I’m asking redundant questions - I’ve reviewed the thread but perhaps not every word.
I’m very interested in this product. Though I love the DS, I have for a while been thinking about my next move up the DAC ladder (if you’ll forgive the pun).
My issues with the DS are very straightforward:
- the noise floor is high. Comparisons to competing DACs (most extensively the Mytek Manhattan II) reveal a high noise floor in the DS. This is worse without a preamp (see next issue) but is true even with the BHK Pre in between.
- direct connection to the active monitors in my system (Focal SM9s with beryllium tweeters and an unforgiving disposition) either exaggerates hiss (with the DS set to High) or slightly dampens dynamics (DS set to Low). As such for me the BHK is required even though I only have one source.
- sensitivity to digital sources and cables is good but can always be improved of course.
- lower priority are the screen, which is low-res and low-contrast and unresponsive to touch; the outdated UI; the intermittent cover art feature. Sound quality is far more important than these items but presumably they’ll be fixed or irrelevant in a new product.
I have a BHK Pre, which ameliorates the noise floor somewhat and adds its own ineffable magic (PCC88s are great). However I have (and want) a very simple, digital-only system, so preamp functionality is not needed.
As I look for options, I’ve focused on the new dCS Bartok, which seems ideally suited (with the headphone amp) to replace my DS / BHK stack, as well as the EMM Labs DAC2X (which would require keeping the BHK, and a separate streamer I guess). I have heard and loved the CH Precision dac but it’s more than I would spend. The Mytek Manhattan II (NOT the Brooklyn, as I originally misstated, which I haven’t heard but I’m sure doesn’t keep up with the DS) is a great all-rounder (and very very quiet) but lacks the vibrant inner dynamics and harmonic depth of the (Redcloud at the time) DS.
- you mentioned reducing the noise floor by 3 or 6 dB. …Can we have more? I feel like this is the one meaningful weakness of the current architecture (or implementation?).
- will you prioritize ethernet and it’s isolation as an input? This is the interface of the future, I would argue, without the inherent compromises of USB and toslink; and I would love to avoid $1000 CAT6 cables, Fibre media adapters, and all that stuff.
- how would you characterize your thinking about preamps? Are you voicing the TSS to drive amps directly, or have you accepted the recent PSA consensus that any DAC will sound better with a (very good, ie BHK or better) preamp? As a digital-only listener it would be lovely to drive amps or active analog speakers directly without any compromise in harmonic integrity. For this asking price range I’m hoping I would have to get into completely ludicrous $$ preamps to make an improvement. Specifically, I would want this thing to sound better and quieter without a BHK preamp.
- just out of curiosity, what is your development / reference system? I think you mentioned once having big Focals at home… Are you voicing this thing on the IRS Vs, Arnie Nudell’s orange prototype, or some newer AN1 prototype?
Thanks again… Looking forward with bated breath.