PS Audio DirectStream DAC - The Review That Almost Was

DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,559
edited January 2015 in Going Digital
Introduction

I was interested in adding DSD file playback capability to my two channel system. I currently play digital files with a Bryston BDP-1 connected to the DAC section of a Cary Audio CD 306 Professional Version SACD player ($7,995) with a BNC-RCA digital coaxial cable. The Cary does not have a USB input and therefore cannot accept DSD files.

I had high expectations for the DirectStream DAC ($5,995) based on the favorable reviews I had read and based on my excellent experiences with PS Audio power cords and power quality enhancement components. The retail value of my investment in PS Audio equipment spread over five audio and audio/video systems exceeds $50,000.

Although I ended up selling the DS DAC, I consider it to be a fine sounding DAC with great build quality, aesthetics, and features. My dissatisfaction with it was based on my comparison of it to the Cary CD 306's DAC section and can be illustrated with the following analogy:

1. If you suddenly had Donald Trump's money, would you feel rich?
2. If you were Bill Gates and suddenly had Donald Trump's money, would you feel rich?

The Sound

BDP1-DirectStream_zpsde165a00.jpgFigure 1. The DS-DAC sounded good, but, compared to the Cary...

My DS DAC arrived with the latest firmware version, 1.2.1, installed.

The first 24 hours was characterized by thin, bright, veiled sound with muddy bass. The sound steadily improved and was listenable and pleasant after the first 24 hours. I immediately had an issue playing DSD files from the BDP-1 digital player. The DS DAC's display would say "PCM" and give an erroneous sample rate whenever a DSD file was played from the BDP-1. However, if I played the same file from my laptop computer running JRiver Media Center, the DS DAC would play the file with no problem. There was also no problem playing PCM files from the BDP-1 through either a coaxial or AES/EBU connection.

DS-BDP1-USBInputDisplay-s_zps6505af6e.jpgFigure 2. DS DAC display when a DSD file was transmitted over the USB input.

PS Audio and Bryston responded immediately to my emails about the BDP-1/DS DAC DSD playback issue. I went through a variety of troubleshooting exercises with PS Audio and Bryston tech support, but there was no resolution. PS Audio and Bryston finally agreed to send each other their respective components to try to reproduce my issue. A BDP-1 would be sent to PS Audio and a DS DAC would be sent to Bryston. However, by the time I received that notification, I had decided to put the DS DAC up for sale and I informed PS Audio of my decision. PS Audio and Bryston went ahead with the troubleshooting exercise anyway. I could not return the unit to the dealer because his return policy only allowed for defective products. Fortunately, I was able to sell the unit quickly and get most of my money back. The buyer of my DS DAC indicated that he was thrilled with it. His previous DAC was a Calyx 24/192 ($1800).

Bryston tech support contacted me on 1/2/15 and informed me that they had reproduced my DSD file playback issue and that it was caused by the need to restart (power cycle) the DS DAC when the USB input was selected. Restarting the DS DAC enabled the BDP-1 to "see" the DS DAC's USB connection.

I spent a total of 75 hours auditioning the DS DAC. The recommended break in time is 300 to 500 hours, therefore my comments must be considered in light of my relatively short audition time. Although I did not go anywhere near the recommended break in time, the DS DAC's sound quality was so far from that of the Cary that I did not think the disparity would be bridged, or surmounted, with further break in time.

In summary:

1. Clarity and detail was such that the DS sounded veiled compared to the Cary. However, if I wasn't doing A/B switching between the Cary and DS, if I were just listening to the DS, the sound was quite satisfying.

2. The sound stage was reduced about 2 feet at each side, height was reduced about 1 foot, depth was reduced about 2 feet front and rear. I still had a big sound stage though. For perspective, Height went from 5 feet to 4 feet. Width went from 21 feet to 17 feet. Depth went from 10 feet to 6 feet.

3. The sound took me back several generations in my two channel system's evolution. The DS DAC is better than the $1,500 to $3,000 CD players I used several years ago, but it did not provide the "reference" quality clarity, detail, and image weight of my two Cary CD 306 SACD players.

I discussed my experience with Cary Audio and this was their reply:

"One of my dealers is also a dCS dealer and they did a comparison with the dCS $18k solution [Puccini CD/SACD player]. They also felt nothing could touch the 306PV anywhere near its price point. He felt the dCS was better but the 306PV was NOT embarrassed by an $18k solution and that the differences between them was nowhere near $9k."

Tweaks

DSDAC-OnPowerBase-s_zps8e59c0b1.jpgFigure 3. Better power cords and the PS Audio PowerBase isolation platform improved the DS DAC's performance.

Going from the stock power cord, to a PS Audio Premier SC power cord ($1,793) to a PS Audio AC-12 power cord ($1,200) provided increasing overall clarity and detail and more bass articulation, bass weight, and bass detail.

A PS Audio PowerBase isolation platform brought further refinements in clarity, detail, and image weight. The contrast in sound with and without the PowerBase could be easily heard by repeatedly lifting and lowering the DS DAC off of and on to the PowerBase. I did not hear a difference or improvement whether the DS DAC was fed power directly from the PS Audio P-10 ac regenerator, or from the PowerBase's filtered receptacles.

Five different XLR interconnects were auditioned with the DS DAC. They are listed going from best sound quality to least:

1. AudioQuest Sky 1 meter ($2,900).
2. PS Audio xStream Transcendent 1meter ($500).
3. Signal Cable Silver Revolution 3 feet ($139).
4. Monster Cable Z200i XLR, 2 meters ($280).
5. Signal Cable Analog Two XLR, 4 feet ($71).

The USB cable between the laptop and the DS DAC and the BDP-1 and the DS DAC was a generic computer grade cable that came with one of my external hard drive enclosures. The 75 ohm digital coaxial BNC-RCA cable was made by Signal Cable ($45).



"So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
"Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
"Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
"Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
Post edited by DarqueKnight on
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Comments

  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,559
    edited January 2015
    PS Audio DirectStream DAC - The Review That Almost Was - Continued

    Review Of A Review

    As far as I can determine, the DS DAC's "peer group" would more appropriately be DACs and CD/SACD players in the $3,500 to $4,000 price range rather than DACs and CD/SACD players at or near its list price of $5,995.

    Art Dudley of Stereophile reviewed the DS DAC in the September 2014 issue. The review was also posted online on 8/22/14. Dudley's review sample had an earlier version of firmware, 1.1.4. He compared the DS DAC to his reference DAC, a Luxman DA-06 ($4,990), which he reviewed in Stereophile's July 2014 issue. Here are excerpts from the DA-06 review:

    "...the Luxman DA-06 is a damn fine-sounding D/A converter with virtually all music: insightful, explicit, substantial, colorful, and as consistently analog-like a digital product as I have heard. That it is also attractive, easy to use, and made by a corporation that will turn 90 next year tips the balance toward an enthusiastic recommendation."

    John Atkinson concluded his measurements review with:

    "But other than the S/PDIF and AES/EBU inputs' rejection of jitter, the DA-06's measured performance is simply superb."


    From Dudley's DS DAC review:

    "The PS Audio DirectStream maintained its slightly distant sound compared to that of the Luxman and other converters, but its excess smoothness had been replaced with a greater degree of textural nuance and detail. I was already impressed by the DirectStream's ability to play music more compellingly than most D/A converters of my experience; here was the refinement that put its sonic presentation in the first rank, as well."

    "Time will tell if and when these levels of performance, flexibility, and luxury will become available for less than $6000. But today, for those who've waited for a computer-friendly DAC that offers, with every type of music file, the best musicality of which DSD is capable, the PerfectWave DirectStream may be in a class by itself."

    The DS DAC's designer, Ted Smith, mentioned in the manufacturer's comments that the "slightly distant sound" was a design goal.

    I noted that, while Art Dudley was very complimentary of the DS DAC, he kept the Luxman DA-06 in his system.

    As always, your mileage may vary.

    A Few Words About Marketing

    I love it when companies I admire get kudos for bringing a good product to market. However, I don't think the marketing department should get carried away. PSA is advertising the DS DAC as the "Stereophile and The Absloute Sound Product of the Year!"

    Actually, the DS DAC is Stereophile's "Joint Digital Product of the Year", along with the MSB Technology Analog DAC ($5,995) and the Sony HAP-Z1ES Media Player ($2,000).

    The DS DAC was one of twenty-four "Absolute Sound Editor's Choice DACs", with DACs ranging in price from $149 to $20,000.

    Associated Equipment

    Teres Audio Model 255 turntable
    Graham Phantom II tonearm
    Ortofon MC Windfeld phono cartridge
    Sonic Purity Concepts and Design "The Clamp" record clamp
    Cary Audio CD 306 Professional Version SACD/CD/HDCD player
    PS Audio PowerBase isolation platforms for turntable and SACD player
    Black Diamond Racing isolation Pits and Mk IV Cones
    Pass Labs XP-30 line level preamplifier
    Pass Labs XP-25 phono preamplifier
    Pass Labs X600.5 monoblock power amplifiers
    AudioQuest Sky XLR interconnects
    AudioQuest Everest speaker cables
    AudioQuest LeoPard tonearm cable
    PS Audio PerfectWave AC-12 power cords
    PS Audio PerfectWave P-10 AC Regenerator
    Polk Audio SDA SRS 1.2TL loudspeakers (heavily modified)
    Salamander Synergy Triple 30 audio credenza

    Three 20 amp dedicated ac circuits, one each for the monoblock amplifiers and one for the AC regenerator/source components/preamplifiers serve the two channel system.

    Power amps are plugged into the wall. Preamps and source components are plugged into the PS Audio P-10 ac regenerator.
    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 42,493
    They also felt nothing could touch the 306PV anywhere near its price point.

    Yet, Cary stopped making it........shame.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


    President of Club Polk

  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,292
    edited January 2015
    F1nut wrote: »
    They also felt nothing could touch the 306PV anywhere near its price point.

    Yet, Cary stopped making it........shame.

    Agreed, once in a while certain brands pull out all the stops to create something special. Though I have to admit, how many are actually in the market for a 8g cdp. Low fi is the new hi-fi for consumer dollars spent.

    Nice write up as usual DK. I like the way companies like Cary and Audio Note chase that analog sound, and don't deviate with trends.

    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • Moose68BashMoose68Bash Posts: 3,589
    DK,

    Clear, concise, and informative review -- as always!

    Thank you.

    My experience with my DSD is that it continues to improve with "age," and that it clearly outpaces the Cambridge Audio Azur 840C that it replaced in my system.

    I wish I had a "higher-end" DAC with which to conduct an A/B comparison, as you have done.

    Also, I do not have a PS Audio PowerBase with which to experiment.

    Because of the way I have to set up my components (Silver Circle Pure Power One 5.0 power conditioner and power amplifiers in the basement), I have to use power cords that I have fabricated from double runs of Supra Lorad 3x2.5 cable with Furutech plugs. Hence, I cannot easily compare sonic effects of various power cables.

    I'm getting great sound, as I hear it, but I can't help wondering how much better it could be!

    Oh, that rabbit hole! :)
    Family Room, PS Audio PW Transport, DirectStream DAC w/Bridge II; AQ Sky XLRs, McIntosh MC 220 Tube Pre; AQ Sky XLRs, CAT 600.2 Dualmono Amp, Morrow SP7 Speaker Cables, SDA SRS 1.2tls (RD0198s, Dreadnought, Black Hole 5, Acousta-Stuf, Dynamat Extreme, JBWeld. Vr3 Mods: "The Abbot" Monastery-Level Xovers, Custom Internal Wiring, Binding Post Plates, & SDA ICs).

    Exercise Room, Wadia 171 iPod Dock, PS Audio PerfectWave MkII DAC w/Bridge II, AQ Sky XLRs, Perreaux PMF3150 Amp, Dreadnought, Supra Rondo 4x2.5 Speaker Cables, SDA 1Cs (Vr3 Mods Xovers).

    Synology 713+ NAS on Gigabit LAN serving PW MkII DAC & DirectStream DAC.
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,559
    F1nut wrote: »
    They also felt nothing could touch the 306PV anywhere near its price point.

    Yet, Cary stopped making it........shame.

    Cary thought it didn't make economic sense for them to continue to offer a high end, $8,000 SACD player, and continue paying Sony's high SACD licensing fees, while the market for SACDs was shriveling before their eyes. Virtually no artists in the most popular music genres were or are putting out new releases in SACD. For a while, Cary offered a stripped down, tube output version of the CD-306 PV SACD player, the CD-303T SACD ($6,500), but it was discontinued.

    Cary has gotten out of the SACD player market. They currently offer two CD players: the DMC-600 ($5,995) and the DMC-600SE ($7,995).

    "Differentiating it from the DMC-600, the DMC-600SE utilizes super premium reference grade components within the analog output sections for further performance enhancements as well as a clock input for use with an external master clock for recording studios and professional or semi-professional use."

    tonyb wrote: »

    Agreed, once in a while certain brands pull out all the stops to create something special. Though I have to admit, how many are actually in the market for a 8g cdp. Low fi is the new hi-fi for consumer dollars spent.

    Cary must think there is a market for an $8,000 cdp because they just released the DMC-600SE ($7,995). Cary says the DMC-600SE sounds better than the CD 306 PV.

    http://www.caryaudio.com/products/dmc-600se-digital-music-center/

    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,292
    Maybe it does DK, or maybe not too. You really weren't expecting them to say it sounds worse than the previous generation ?

    I see though they've jumped on the DSD bandwagon. Which is about the only thing driving hifi sales these days. 8g's though is a tough pill to swallow. I'll wait until it's used price hits the under 3g mark...in about 10 years or so. ;)
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,559
    tonyb wrote: »
    Maybe it does DK, or maybe not too. You really weren't expecting them to say it sounds worse than the previous generation ?

    Cary said the 303T wasn't the sonic equal of the previous 306 PV. They also said the DAC-100, DAC-100T, and DMC-600 were not the sonic equal of the 306 PV. They also suggested some players from Esoteric, Accuphase, and dCS that I might want to look at as upgrades for the 306 PV.
    tonyb wrote: »
    I see though they've jumped on the DSD bandwagon. Which is about the only thing driving hifi sales these days.

    I think DSD is a wonderful format. Since SACD was a commercial failure in popular music genres, I'm glad to see that DSD is being given a second chance. However, I am concerned that the record companies' price gouging for hi-rez downloads is going to kill demand. There is absolutely no reason, other than greed, for a hi-rez download to cost significantly more than its physical media counterpart that has to be mass produced and then physically transported and stored.
    tonyb wrote: »
    8g's though is a tough pill to swallow. I'll wait until it's used price hits the under 3g mark...in about 10 years or so. ;)

    8g's is a tough pill to swallow. That's why I shop wisely. ;)

    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • tophatjohnnytophatjohnny Posts: 2,572
    edited January 2015
    Introduction

    I

    1. If you suddenly had Donald Trump's money, would you feel rich?
    2. If you were Bill Gates and suddenly had Donald Trump's money, would you feel rich?



    Doubt either would mess with a system like this, or if they would, they would not pay a dime for it!
    "if it's not fun, it's not worth it & remember folks, "It's All About The Music"!!
    *****************************
  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 11,811
    Learn how to edit posts. You have an hour now to fix editing mistakes.
    Bud - Silicon Valley

    Lumin X1
    Sony XA-5400ES SACD
    Pass XP-22 pre, X600.5 amps
    Magico S5 MKII Mcast Rose speakers, SPOD spikes

    Shunyata Triton v3/Typhon QR on preamp, Denali 2000 (2) on amps
    Shunyata Sigma XLR analog ICs, Sigma speaker cables
    Shunyata Sigma HC (2), Sigma Analog, Sigma Digital, Z Anaconda (3) power cables

    Mapleshade Samson V.3 four shelf solid maple rack, Micropoint brass footers
    Three 20 amp circuits.
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,292
    However, I am concerned that the record companies' price gouging for hi-rez downloads is going to kill demand. There is absolutely no reason, other than greed, for a hi-rez download to cost significantly more than its physical media counterpart that has to be mass produced and then physically transported and stored.

    Couldn't agree more pal. I'm afraid that may be the case though. SACD's are still overpriced and it's safe to say that has become a niche market....or maybe it always was, I dunno. With DSD though, like you said, you don't have the physical aspect, transportation and storage, and the costs associated with that.

    Makes me wonder too, what else is audio going to create to drive sales after DSD has mellowed out.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,559
    edited January 2015
    tonyb wrote: »
    Maybe it does DK, or maybe not too.

    The DMC-600SE arrived today and it does sound better, on PCM playback (CDs and digital files), than the CD 306 SACD Pro Version. Stone cold and straight of the box, the DMC-600SE sounded better than the CD 306. But that only applies to the solid state output stage. So far, the tube output stage has nowhere near the clarity, detail, dynamics, and image weight of the solid state stage. It might just be a matter of the tube stage needing lots more break in time. This is just the first day.

    The CD 306 PV's SACD playback still trumps the DMC600SE's hirez PCM when comparing the same musical selection.

    If it turns out that ripped SACD and downloaded DSD files sound the same or better than SACDs played on the CD 306, then I can retire it.

    DMC600SE-Stack-s_zpsf05b8577.jpg
    The DMC-600 sits comfortably between a rock and a hard place.

    I am (currently) not using any "boutique audiophile" digital cables. The BDP-1 digital player is connected to the DAC section of the CD 306 with a Signal Cable BNC-RCA cable ($45). The BDP-1 is connected to the DMC-600SE with a Signal Cable AES/EBU cable ($45) and a generic computer grade B-plug USB cable for DSD file playback.

    DMC600SE-Tubes-s_zps3fc96351.jpg
    I was surprised that Cary shipped the DMC-600SE with the tubes installed.

    DMC600SE-PowerSupply-s_zps64c8f1a2.jpg
    The power supply takes up 1/3 of the interior space.

    Post edited by DarqueKnight on
    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 11,811
    Just as a suggestion, see if you can get The Cable Company to lend you a Shunyata Alpha Digital, or Sigma Digital, power cable to use on the BDP-1. I was amazed at the improvement the Alpha Digital made to my BDP-1 versus the Shunyata Zitron Cobra I was originally using. I later upgraded to the Sigma Digital, and moved the Alpha to my BDP-1 in the HT/surround system.
    Bud - Silicon Valley

    Lumin X1
    Sony XA-5400ES SACD
    Pass XP-22 pre, X600.5 amps
    Magico S5 MKII Mcast Rose speakers, SPOD spikes

    Shunyata Triton v3/Typhon QR on preamp, Denali 2000 (2) on amps
    Shunyata Sigma XLR analog ICs, Sigma speaker cables
    Shunyata Sigma HC (2), Sigma Analog, Sigma Digital, Z Anaconda (3) power cables

    Mapleshade Samson V.3 four shelf solid maple rack, Micropoint brass footers
    Three 20 amp circuits.
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,292
    Interesting take on the 2 DK. I would give it some time to break in as you suggested also. Could it be the 306 simply has a better analog output stage ?

    Playing a SACD also has another benefit, no cables involved, as having to run thru the DSD file process. That may attribute to some small differences. I agree with Fox though, your level of gear warrants some better cabling.

    If and when you retire that 306, have a bunch of S&H green stamps laying around doing nothing. lol
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,559
    BlueFox wrote: »
    Just as a suggestion, see if you can get The Cable Company to lend you a Shunyata Alpha Digital, or Sigma Digital, power cable to use on the BDP-1. I was amazed at the improvement the Alpha Digital made to my BDP-1 versus the Shunyata Zitron Cobra I was originally using. I later upgraded to the Sigma Digital, and moved the Alpha to my BDP-1 in the HT/surround system.
    tonyb wrote: »
    I agree with Fox though, your level of gear warrants some better cabling.

    I agree that further investigation with cables warranted. I will do so after my equipment selections settle down.
    tonyb wrote: »
    Interesting take on the 2 DK. I would give it some time to break in as you suggested also. Could it be the 306 simply has a better analog output stage?

    I'm thinking it has more to do with a higher resolution file played on a lesser output stage sounding better than a lower resolution file played on a better output stage.

    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,292
    I'm thinking it has more to do with a higher resolution file played on a lesser output stage sounding better than a lower resolution file played on a better output stage.

    Possible for sure....who knows. Be interested to hear your findings after some burn in to see if your opinions have changed any though. Maybe Cary did do the analog output stage on the DSD player up right....never known them to slack off in that department anyway.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 11,811
    Burn-in certainly needs to finish before making any final conclusions. Remember how the Revelation Audio power umbilical initially sounded better with vinyl than with SACD, then the SACD later caught up.
    Bud - Silicon Valley

    Lumin X1
    Sony XA-5400ES SACD
    Pass XP-22 pre, X600.5 amps
    Magico S5 MKII Mcast Rose speakers, SPOD spikes

    Shunyata Triton v3/Typhon QR on preamp, Denali 2000 (2) on amps
    Shunyata Sigma XLR analog ICs, Sigma speaker cables
    Shunyata Sigma HC (2), Sigma Analog, Sigma Digital, Z Anaconda (3) power cables

    Mapleshade Samson V.3 four shelf solid maple rack, Micropoint brass footers
    Three 20 amp circuits.
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,559
    tonyb wrote: »
    If and when you retire that 306, have a bunch of S&H green stamps laying around doing nothing. lol

    If and when the 306 is retired, it will still have to stick around to do backup duty when the DMC-600SE makes its inevitable service trips.

    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,292
    Inevitable service trips ? Explain....because for a piece of gear costing that much, I would expect zero service trips.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,559
    tonyb wrote: »
    Inevitable service trips ? Explain....because for a piece of gear costing that much, I would expect zero service trips.

    Older Jaguars cost much more and used to spend more time with the mechanic than with their owner.

    This is from the "BDP-1 First Impressions Thread":
    My CD 306 SACD player went back for service three times during its first year of ownership.

    My CD 306 Pro Version SACD player went back for service three times during its first year or ownership and had to go back for a forth repair to fix repair work improperly done during the third repair (the tech who did the third repair had since been fired). I haven't had any problems since then.

    There was a bright side to each repair cycle ordeal. After the final repair, the players were returned to me sounding better.

    I am hoping I won't go through a similar experience with the DMC-600SE.

    All of the problems I had with the CD 306 and the CD 306 PV were transport related. I didn't have any further problems after the first year's repairs were completed, plus the units came back sounding better after each repair.

    The DMC-600SE's transport is a Cary design rather than the modified Sony transports used in the CD 306 SACD players, but I don't know whether that is a good or a bad sign. If transport issues are lurking, it will probably be a long time before they surface since I will seldom be using the transport. I actually wish Cary had offered a standalone DAC version of this player.
    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,559
    edited January 2015
    tonyb wrote: »
    If and when you retire that 306, have a bunch of S&H green stamps laying around doing nothing. lol

    After three days of listening to the DMC-600SE, it is looking more and more like the 306 may not be retired anytime soon.

    I purchased a single-rate DSD download of Dave Brubeck's "Time Out" and compared it to the SACD that was produced from the same master tapes, by the same recording engineer, Bernie Grundman. The DSD download version was less dynamic, less clear, and less detailed than the SACD. In fact, the DSD download did not sound as good as my ripped 44.1k/16 bit FLAC version nor did it sound as good as my hirez 176.4k/24 bit FLAC version.

    I am wondering if the DMC-600SE is optimized for PCM playback and DSD functionality was thrown in for marketing and to "round it out". That would make sense since most music is in PCM format. The 600SE is a better PCM player than the 306, but not way better. On most PCM selections I hear a little more clarity, detail, and depth with the 600SE, on some selections I hear no difference at all.

    I don't mind paying a few hundred dollars for a little bit of improvement, 'cause that's what we do in the rabbit hole. Paying thousands of dollars for a little bit of improvement gives me pause.

    Multiple reliable sources have informed me that I will have to go shopping in the five figure price range before I find a DAC that "wows" me.
    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 11,811
    Berkeley Audio argues having a DAC do both PCM and DSD degrades the performance of the DAC. So, they require DSD files to be converted to PCM before being sent to their new Reference DAC. Whether that is true or not, I have no idea. However, their Reference DAC, at $16k, is getting tons of positive press for its PCM playback. Hopefully, other manufacturers will improve their products to meet the Reference DAC performance, but at a lower price point.

    Personally, while my Auralic Vega will decode DSD, I have never tried it. I seriously doubt there is much, if any, difference between high-res PCM and DSD. As with any format, the original mastering will most likely make the biggest difference in how it sounds.
    Bud - Silicon Valley

    Lumin X1
    Sony XA-5400ES SACD
    Pass XP-22 pre, X600.5 amps
    Magico S5 MKII Mcast Rose speakers, SPOD spikes

    Shunyata Triton v3/Typhon QR on preamp, Denali 2000 (2) on amps
    Shunyata Sigma XLR analog ICs, Sigma speaker cables
    Shunyata Sigma HC (2), Sigma Analog, Sigma Digital, Z Anaconda (3) power cables

    Mapleshade Samson V.3 four shelf solid maple rack, Micropoint brass footers
    Three 20 amp circuits.
  • EmlynEmlyn Posts: 2,444
    The high-res PCM vs DSD issue is something I am also trying to wrap my head around. From what I have been reading on other forums there is a tendency for high-res PCM files to sound slightly better than the same recording released as DSD files. Given the relative scarcity of DSD downloads, I have been buying high-res PCM files only so far. I have no idea whether this difference is system dependent rather than reflective of there being an issue with DSD download quality when played back using a media player, a USB cable, and an external DAC. Right now, there are multiple links in the playback chain that could be causing an issue. I don't think it is as simple as the old debate about DVD-A vs SACD discs being played back through a universal player and one sounding better than the other to some people. Given the newness of the technology, I get the sense that most manufacturers are still getting a grip on what works best, and they have limited real world experience in how their products work well with other manufacturer gear.

    I would recommend checking in with Bryston to see if they have any thoughts on the experience of using a BDP-1 to play back DSD files into the Cary DAC. It is not clear to me what the Bryston's capabilities are in terms of transmitting a straight DSD signal out to an external DAC and what the Cary DAC does with the signal when it gets it.
    1. Polk LSiM707, 704C, 703; Dual SVS SB2000 subwoofers; Marantz SR7011 receiver; Parasound A23 amp; Oppo 205; Sony 65" 4K TV; FIOS; PS Audio Power Plant Premier; MIT S2 cables
    2. JM Labs Electra 920.1; Sonic Frontiers Line 3 Preamp; Classe Model 25 amp; Sony HAP-Z1ES; Oppo 105D; Music Hall MMF7 and Acoustech phono pre; PS Audio Power Director; MIT S1 Cables
    3. Polk LSiM703; Parasound JC2BP and A21; Sony 48" 4K TV; Wyred4Sound DAC 2; Oppo 203; Squeezebox Touch; MIT S3 cables
  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 7,153
    edited January 2015
    If you haven't already, check out this 12/2013 to 01/2014 thread at Computer Audiophile.

    http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/multibit-direct-stream-digital-debate-18437/

    Mentioned in the first post is this database. It lists DAC's and notes whether they accept native DSD. To me native is the key. However, how it gets there and what happens to it is very important.

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AgVhKcl_3lHfdFVyenBBNjNpQ2lieG81WGpqQTNfVUE#gid=0

    The fellow Jesus that is mentioned is Sonore by Simple Design. He has a forum at audio circle. I just got this neat USB to I2S board to play with from him. It was designed for ESS Sabre chips and will do DSD. Isolation and reclocking.

    Sonore-USB-1000a.png
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's * Audio Research Reference 3 * Bottlehead Eros Phono * Park's Audio Budgie SUT * Krell KSA-250 * Harmonic Technology Pro 9+ & Pro 11+ * Signature Series Sonore Music Server w/Deux PS* Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC * Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive * AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm * AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R * Richard Gray 600S * NHT B-12d subs * GIK Acoustic Treatments * Sennheiser HD650 *

  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,292
    I don't mind paying a few hundred dollars for a little bit of improvement, 'cause that's what we do in the rabbit hole. Paying thousands of dollars for a little bit of improvement gives me pause.

    I believe we call that the "law of diminishing returns". LOL I hear ya man. At some point you have to just enjoy the tunes and wait until technology takes a big leap instead of small incremental improvements to validate the coin spent.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • Moose68BashMoose68Bash Posts: 3,589
    I rely on my wife to keep me attuned to "the law of diminishing returns."

    Thank God for common sense somewhere in or around the rabbit hole! :)
    Family Room, PS Audio PW Transport, DirectStream DAC w/Bridge II; AQ Sky XLRs, McIntosh MC 220 Tube Pre; AQ Sky XLRs, CAT 600.2 Dualmono Amp, Morrow SP7 Speaker Cables, SDA SRS 1.2tls (RD0198s, Dreadnought, Black Hole 5, Acousta-Stuf, Dynamat Extreme, JBWeld. Vr3 Mods: "The Abbot" Monastery-Level Xovers, Custom Internal Wiring, Binding Post Plates, & SDA ICs).

    Exercise Room, Wadia 171 iPod Dock, PS Audio PerfectWave MkII DAC w/Bridge II, AQ Sky XLRs, Perreaux PMF3150 Amp, Dreadnought, Supra Rondo 4x2.5 Speaker Cables, SDA 1Cs (Vr3 Mods Xovers).

    Synology 713+ NAS on Gigabit LAN serving PW MkII DAC & DirectStream DAC.
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,559
    Update: The DMC-600SE was returned. I didn't think that the small improvement in PCM sound quality was worth the investment. After 300 hours of burn in, the 600SE's DSD sound quality was equal to that of the CD 306 PV's SACD sound quality, although the output level of the 600SE was 10 dB below that of the cd 306 PV when playing DSD files. I think the 600SE's DSD playback might have improved a little more with further burn in. Bypassing the CD 306's transport noise resulted in better sound, so theoretically, playing ripped DSD files through the 600SE should have eventually sounded better than the same files pulled off the CD 306's transport. The 600SE's PCM quality was a little better than the 306 PV's right out of the box and improved further over 100 hours.
    Emlyn wrote: »
    The high-res PCM vs DSD issue is something I am also trying to wrap my head around. From what I have been reading on other forums there is a tendency for high-res PCM files to sound slightly better than the same recording released as DSD files.

    A very high sampling rate is just one tool in the producer's and recording engineer's toolbox. The producer and recording engineer must also have the desire, knowledge, and ability to make a good sounding recording.

    Recording studio personnel currently have more experience with PCM than with DSD. Even more important than that, outside of jazz and classical music, producing high quality recordings does not enter the mind of studio personnel because their consumers don't demand it.
    Emlyn wrote: »
    I would recommend checking in with Bryston to see if they have any thoughts on the experience of using a BDP-1 to play back DSD files into the Cary DAC. It is not clear to me what the Bryston's capabilities are in terms of transmitting a straight DSD signal out to an external DAC and what the Cary DAC does with the signal when it gets it.

    The BDP-1 outputs a DSD over PCM (DoP) signal. The Cary strips off the PCM encapsulation and produces a pure DSD data stream.
    SCompRacer wrote: »
    The fellow Jesus that is mentioned is Sonore by Simple Design. He has a forum at audio circle. I just got this neat USB to I2S board to play with from him. It was designed for ESS Sabre chips and will do DSD.

    I use Jesus' (free) "ISO2DSD" software and a hacked Sony (the irony) PlayStation 3 to rip DSD files from my SACDs for storage on the BDP-1's hard drive. My DSD rips are sonically indistinguishable from DSD downloads and SACDs of the same title.



    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,292
    I guess that means I should stop holding my nose, praying to that bobble head Jesus on my dash board....looks like the 306 is staying put.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,559
    tonyb wrote: »
    ....looks like the 306 is staying put.

    At least until I find something that really impresses me. I'm currently looking at MSB Technology's Analog DAC.

    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • polkfarmboypolkfarmboy Posts: 5,724
    tonyb wrote: »
    ....looks like the 306 is staying put.

    At least until I find something that really impresses me. I'm currently looking at MSB Technology's Analog DAC.

    I love MSB, its super dynamic and smooth and better than the ps audio units.
  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 11,811
    Bud - Silicon Valley

    Lumin X1
    Sony XA-5400ES SACD
    Pass XP-22 pre, X600.5 amps
    Magico S5 MKII Mcast Rose speakers, SPOD spikes

    Shunyata Triton v3/Typhon QR on preamp, Denali 2000 (2) on amps
    Shunyata Sigma XLR analog ICs, Sigma speaker cables
    Shunyata Sigma HC (2), Sigma Analog, Sigma Digital, Z Anaconda (3) power cables

    Mapleshade Samson V.3 four shelf solid maple rack, Micropoint brass footers
    Three 20 amp circuits.
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