The system I heard the Select 2 DAC, the speakers alone were worth more than $250K.
Worth or cost?
Cost. I didn’t think they were worth a fraction of that.
@tedsmith What will be the best digital connection to transport audio data from a source device (player/streamer/bridge) to the TSS? Which will deliver the best result from a sound quality perspective? What is your personal opinion on that?
My goal is that all inputs will support the same level of sound quality. Nothing is perfect, but there will be at least three additional levels of isolation for each input: (optional) galvanic isolation at the input (to separate possible groundloops), then the optical isolation between the digital and analog box and finally multiple levels of reclocking to lower jitter in the analog box.
I understand the product does not exist yet, but do you already know or have a target for what will be the output Vrms of the TSS?
The “standard” CD voltages levels: 2V RMS (5.657 P-P) for unbalanced and 4V RMS (11.324V P-P) for balanced. There will also be an option to use the unbalanced (RCA) output as a balanced output and (when combined with the isolate the ground option) you’ll be able to get 4V RMS from it. Here’s a simplified sketch of the output with the various isolation, attenuation, etc. option relays.
Wow. In what circumstance would somebody use RCA balanced drive? Is it solely to get the extra voltage on a single-ended cable?
Yes, people are often asking for more voltage on the RCA connector. They should be very careful that that’s not too much voltage for their preamp, but for some amps the extra voltage may be welcome. There are a few systems which have fully isolated RCA inputs (i.e. the RCA ground isn’t connected to the chassis ground), but since the output of the DS can be isolated from the DS’s ground the RCA can be used in balanced mode on any preamp/amp.
Also people are often asking for two balanced outputs without using a Y connector, this may help.
Thanks for the answer, and for me I am glad to hear I can use 2 balanced output, one to my pre, one to my Stax amp (a DIY with only balanced inputs)
In contrast, I had the opportunity to compare MSB’s “entry level” Discrete DAC with two external power supplies to the DS in my system. The MSB is roughly twice the price of the DS, but I’m guessing probably less than the TSS.
The outcome was quite interesting: the MSB had more precise imaging and low-level detail and was simply more transparent on low level stuff. However, this came at the price of significant digital glare on many recordings, making long term listening fatiguing. I have no idea whether this goes away at the higher MSB price points, and whether this is a symptom of inferior design or merely a consequence of greater upper frequency extension. (I compared the white noise spectrum of both and the MSB goes lower and higher).
The DS was consistently musical and non-fatiguing throughout, and it’s thus remaining my go-to DAC.
The one area where the MSB absolutely trounced the DS was the bass. The MSB (like the DS, connected directly to my amp) went way lower with taut, musical bass, and I now miss that in the DS.
@tedsmith this made me wonder whether anything can be done in the design of the TSS to improve the low end?
As a side note, the Bel Canto Black system has some similarities to the approach Ted is using for the TSS. Including optical connections in this case to the amps. A friend of mine has the Double Black dual mono stack. The sound was pretty much one of the best I’ve heard.
I always found the dCS and MSB to be too fatiguing for my taste, but they gave me the impression of more detail. I know that the DS is flat in the high end unless the cables have too much capacitance, so with too much capacitance the DS Sr without the 20dB attenuator has some high end peaking and with the attenuator engages some roll off. (“Too much” is in the multiple nF range.)
The TSS (and perhaps the next software release of the DS and DS Jr) will have a little firmer bass. The transformers that will be used in the TSS will be the same level of quality that the best analog mixing consoles use. They definitely have more extension on the bottom and the top than the transformers in the DS. The TSS FPGA software will have more bass extension as well, I can (in theory) get some of that on the DS and DS Jr, but I’m not sure which release I’ll do that work on the DS and DS Jr. (It’s simpler on the TSS hardware, but the DS and DS Jr hardware support it with enough coding time.)
Interesting. Are you able to offer any hypothetical numbers to compare the bass performance of today’s DS with tomorrow’s TSS?
I really look forward to this development!
And yes, still fatiguing was also my impression up to many newer, even really expensive DAC‘s as the DCS you mentioned. A reason why I was always wondering how so many like such digital sound. Maybe I didn’t know the really good other ones, but for my ears digital started to be competitive to best analog gear with the DS (after some break in and care for things). You really achieved a lot with it for folks like me. Winning the music nuts and toe tappers is harder than the review guys and short term effect listeners imo. Still wondering how toe tapping translates for mainly classical listeners…
I have never been a toe-tapper. Part of this may be that listening to classical music is often as much as a delicious intellectual process as emotional pursuit. And the more you understand the better it gets.
Perhaps of interest is classical musicians typically do not tap their feet. When I started training we were told not to tap our feet. You learn to watch for tempo, listen to your fellow musicians, and internally subdivide.
Then there are classical musicians like a friend of mine whose subtle foot moving/hand actions remind me of Joe Cocker. I have absolutely no idea if his movements are in any way related to the tempo.
I don’t have good numbers on the DS’s current transformers. But the Jensen transformers have significantly less distortion at higher levels and at their nominal 600 Ohm spec they are at -3dB at 0.4Hz We don’t load them that much in normal use so the bandwidth is wider. I’m pretty sure the transformers won’t be the limit on the bottom end. The power supplies will be stiffer than the DS to support better bass. There will also be more computer power which should help with bass.
Thanks Ted. Regarding the issue of more detail, I guess I’m wondering whether I’d characterize MSB and dCS the same way, as “giving an impression” of more detail. This to me suggests the detail is artificial (the same way images can be over-processed to enhance edges).
When I listen to MSB and dCS, the detail - musical and spatial - that they reveal IMHO seems genuine and an organic part of the music, and something that adds to the enjoyment of the same. My assumption is that when they introduce a hardness, that’s an unfortunate but separate and hopefully solvable problem, as opposed to being an inescapable consequence of said detail.
The hope is that one can eventually attain their degree transparency but without the hardness.Sort of like a top of the line analog setup (minus that set of problems).
Given the rate of discoveries of what matters and thus improvement in digital, I’m optimistic.
I listed to a MSB Premier with Premier Powerbase and Femto 93 Clock. Source was Aurender W20 feed via AES/EBU. The Aurender was clocked synced to the MSB. Now I wasn’t familiar with system (Gryphon amp/preamp, Magico speakers) but it was some of the best music I have ever heard. Now given that was the first time I had heard that setup and I couldn’t switch in my DAC I can’t say if the MSB is worth the money. I will say this, that system made me want to go back for another serious listen and give the MSB some serious thought. To me it was that good.