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PS Audio about to ... (Read 28683 times)
Lonely Raven
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #225 - 07/03/14 at 06:26:36
 
I've got the DAC going, but I can't seem to get my Media PC to see it. I think this install of Windows is having issues with the PS Audio DAC driver. I'm at the point where I'm thinking about just formatting the damn PC and starting fresh. Right now, I'm playing music via my Oppo -> Coax -> DS DAC -> XLR -> ZMA



So, Brianne was pretty heated that I dropped money on this...even with the 36mo Same as Cash and all that. (apparently she wanted me to buy new kitchen countertops/sink/faucet). She grumbled that at the PS Audio demo we went to, she couldn't hear a lick of difference between the Oppo and the DS. I've just spent the past two hours trying to get the damn Media PC to work, gave up and just started streaming from the Oppo - first track I play is Crosby, Stills, and Nash off CSN (1969) Helplessly Hoping - It's one of my go-to songs to see how resolving something is, and I just love the harmonies. I'm not 10 seconds into the song and Brianne is like "is this the same copy you always play?" I say, why yes, look at the CD image it's displaying on the screen (it's my DCC 24k Gold CD), and she's like "who's the whiny girl on the right speaker?" I break out laughing as I was thinking the same thing.

First impressions, separation of instruments and vocals is far greater. You could clearly pick out each vocal and drum whereas in the past is was kind of a muddled blur...though I never realized that. I used to think the separation was great with the Oppo and ZMA. Reverb in albums is more apparent. Percussion sounds more realistic; being a casual musician, I think I have a good sense of the attack a plucked guitar string or crack of a drum head has, and this is very apparent with the DS DAC. (Edit to add: Attack and Decay both are amazing)

I have more on my mind, but I need to let it percolate a bit. I like giving a "percentage of improvement" when I talk about how gear improves my experience with the system. At first I was going to say only 10% improvement, but the fact that Brianne was immediately hearing differences (even in songs she hates like Helplessly Hoping), and the clear separation of voices and instruments - I'm bumping this up to a 15%+ I'll let it burn in a bunch (one of the few digital pieces that I truly believe needs to be burned in) and I'm betting this is going to be a 20-25% improvement to my system. That's as big of a deal as getting the ZMA was. They are a good match so far - I just need more time, and I need to get this damn JRiver/PS Audio driver working!
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« Last Edit: 07/03/14 at 06:30:24 by Lonely Raven »  
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beowulf
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #226 - 07/03/14 at 06:52:40
 
How the heck did you get it so fast did you run down to Music Direct and pick it up? Shocked

After installing the drivers, did you go into Control Panel>Sounds and set it as your default device?
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« Last Edit: 07/03/14 at 07:08:31 by beowulf »  
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Lon
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #227 - 07/03/14 at 11:04:17
 
Awesome Eric. Sounds like I'm in for a treat when I'm done with my vacation and I send one of my DAC Mk IIs back for the upgrade.

In the meantime I need this vacation, both for time with my new gal here and to see my friends in Texas, so badly--my days can be so hard to get through that I'm beginning to look fondly on the worst jobs I've had in my life-- that I'm not even jealous you guys got yours first (and mine has been paid for for weeks and weeks!)
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« Last Edit: 07/03/14 at 11:10:36 by Lon »  

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stone_of_tone
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #228 - 07/03/14 at 12:57:56
 
Awesome LR! I am 31 hours in and could not be happier. The step up in musicality/involvement is very pleasing and justifies the purchase for sure. Plus, I've only scratched the service... .

Yes! You need to get things rolling out of your CPU. I read your post at PS....looking for a cheap USB cable. You have to much ripped...not to get that up and running. I saw some postings in regards to your issue...on the PS Forum.

My continued order of musical enjoyment is getting 200 hours on my DS then consider the latest Firmware update? However, I read through all of the posts at PS in regards to this...and I might leave my unit alone for 500+ hours. I like it the way it is! But, you can always go back to the version you had. I suppose I will have to play around with it eventually. Hey, I like the dedicated line your running too!  Smart.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #229 - 07/03/14 at 15:28:38
 
Quote:
How the heck did you get it so fast did you run down to Music Direct and pick it up? Shocked


I was going to drive into the city to pick it up, but (long story short), John from Music Direct hand delivered it to me here at home.  No kidding! LOL  We chatted about guitars and gear a bit, and I slipped him a six pack of a rare Dogfish Head beer as a thank you for dropping off the equipment. I did have a six pack of good Root Beer in hand in case he wasn't a drinker - I always feel terrible when I find someone is in AA *after* I try to thank them with a rare alcohol - so I try to have a backup plan.  :P

Quote:
After installing the drivers, did you go into Control Panel>Sounds and set it as your default device?


I spent hours on the #$%^@ last night - it's a Windows issue I'm sure. The DAC appears to be working fine, my settings were setup according to several guides I read on the intarwebs. Windows just wouldn't take the DAC Driver correctly, and absolutely wouldn't let me reinstall the driver. I went as far as to wipe the PC and try a fresh copy of windows (last thing I did before going to bed at 3am). If that doesn't work, I'm going to try going back to Windows 7 - this is my first foray into Windows 8.1 and so far it sucks.

Quote:
Awesome Eric. Sounds like I'm in for a treat when I'm done with my vacation and I send one of my DAC Mk IIs back for the upgrade.

In the meantime I need this vacation, both for time with my new gal here and to see my friends in Texas, so badly--my days can be so hard to get through that I'm beginning to look fondly on the worst jobs I've had in my life-- that I'm not even jealous you guys got yours first (and mine has been paid for for weeks and weeks!)


Lon my friend, you deserve this time off more than anyone I know. Enjoy it! In fact, get the F off the forums! Go! Now! Stop reading, and GO!

Stone, don't be a dope, jump up to the 6115 Firmware NOW! It's a grand improvement! *This* is the what I heard at the demo with Paul two weeks back - the clarity and *depth* of image! I nearly fell out of my chair with how the music suddenly stretch far through the back wall. I've had some chats with Ted and Paul, and they both say this is *the* firmware to have. The older firmware may sound good/better in some systems, but this latest change takes the DAC from a 15%+ improvement to a solid 25%! I thought the DirectStream was good, now it's GREAT.

Also, I had a short geeky chat with Ted about burn-in. I can keep up with his theories and ideas as long as he doesn't delve into the technical minutia (which is to say I'm pretty sure he's dumbing it down for me  :D  ). He said the analog parts he's selected for the DAC are really low heat generating parts, and he believes the side-effect of this is long burn in before "steady state".


So, I'm playing the DAC again this morning (of course), and I keep gravitating back to my Blue Coast Records recordings. Even DSD run through the Oppo (converted to PCM then through Coax) while not ideal, sounds amazing. Very engaging and lifelike. The output volume on this DAC doesn't seem to be as much as the Oppo, so I don't feel it's *driving* the ZMA as hard as the Otari Reel to Reel or the Oppo does. I feel the ZMA likes that drive and brings a direct mic to mixing board sound into the room. The trade-off is that the DS DAC is easier and less fatiguing than the Oppo (or tape!).
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« Last Edit: 07/03/14 at 15:29:53 by Lonely Raven »  
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stone_of_tone
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #230 - 07/03/14 at 17:27:56
 
LR, you convinced me! I will do the 6115 as soon as I can.

I'm surprised even with the +6db from XLR out to the ZMA XLR you're lacking a little for attenuation? I am glad I have the CSP3... .

Dogfish...I love Dogfish beer!  Now I have to go get some when I'm in Wisconsin tomorrow and of course it ships out of Delaware to NYC for me next week!

Arnie Nudell is involved with this DAC too. So, in honor of him I'm hooking up my Genesis Genre II's! They image like nobody's business and why I won't sell them...they get rotated in often. IF, I can only stop Listening to Music right now to do it. This DAC is blowing my mind!  Knowing the 6115 FW will blow it further is ....I'm at a loss for words.
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« Last Edit: 07/03/14 at 17:29:47 by stone_of_tone »  

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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #231 - 07/04/14 at 02:09:11
 
LR...sounds like you are hearing what your system is capable of with the ZMA and a great front end.  Still thinking about replacing the 944's?

Stone...Enjoy the DS and keep the feedback coming in.  Also, since you are the King of Speakers on this forum, please keep reporting on your experiences with your different speakers.  They are extremely helpful.    

Lon...can't wait to hear how the DS sounds in your system and the direct comparison between DS and mkii.  Most importantly, enjoy your time off!

Hope you all are enjoying the music!  I know I am!

Cheers,
d  

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Lonely Raven
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #232 - 07/04/14 at 02:41:35
 

Stone,

If you watched the video I posted from Paul's visit, he mentioned that (if I remember correctly) they lifted the low pass filter higher and added DXD processing to the Firmware. It really makes an imaging difference. Though in the PSA forums, they also say there is a new midrange sweetness and some other stuff. I think it's just the "air" that creates the illusion of depth, but I don't have the hours on the DAC to say the mids aren't improved.

Whatever, this version Rocks.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #233 - 07/05/14 at 18:53:10
 
OK, two days into this now - I've played the DAC 4 hours on, 4 hours off almost 24/7 for this first two plus days.

Sound wise, it's smoothed out a bit. Bass is huge and punchy - maybe too  much bass. I'm still trying to put my finger on what's wrong as "too much" doesn't sound correct. Every album I put on sounds "different", be it a CD rip or DSD - it's like I bought a collection of remasters. It's good, but in some ways disconcerting. You know, like you've listened to and loved an album for 30 years, and they go and remaster and re-release it...it sounds good, better even, but the differences throw you off. My audio-memory is hiccuping due to the changes.

The latest (6115) Firmware is amazing. Due to the fact that this DAC uses an FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array), whenever Ted comes up with some revelation in programming, you can simply put the latest changes on SD card, pop it in, reboot the DAC and boom, you just got a DAC upgrade via Email! Seriously, the first Firmware was good, but a couple albums I listen to sounded a bit edgy, good albums too like Blue Man Group - Audio (note: this could also be new hardware burn in, but I'm 98% sure it's the firmware). After the firmware update, it's like I bought a new-*new* DAC. This Blue Man Group album is now punchy, tight, smooth, and had D-E-P-T-H. The depth I feel was the biggest improvement in this firmware. And these improvements can simply be sent to you via E-mail! So lets say they come up with a DSD-super-duper format. No problem, Ted just rewrote the code that runs the DAC, you can download it and boom! you have a new format. In fact he did this recently to add DXD support.


With Ted's help I got JRiver working on a micro-PC I built. The JRiver Software is still flaky, and I'm not sure it's running correctly, but I don't exactly have the money (nor inclination) to run out and "Buy a Mac" as the saying goes. In fact, right now I can't even afford the PS Audio Bridge to add network capability to the DS DAC (I'll wait for the Bridge II - whatever/whenever that is). Long story short, I have *everything* encoded as DSD128 and playing back via DoP, even if it's a Redbook rip (which is what I'm listening to as I type this). This setup wasn't exactly intentional, as I'm having many issues with JRiver, but it's working, and working well - so I'll leave it for now.

As many of you know, I jumped on the Reel to Reel bandwagon after being blown away by Steve's Otari setup and a couple "master tapes". I love the sound of 1/4" tape, it just has a density that I've not heard anywhere, short of live performances. I was honestly hoping the DS DAC would present me with that same *density* and wake up my music collection so I could stop trying to be such a tape hound, hunting down good deals on great tapes...truth be told, the DS is great, but it's no tape unfortunately. Yes, it has huge depth, clarity, and dynamic range, just not that density.

Volume and "Push" - previously I mentioned that the DAC didn't seem to be pushing the ZMA as hard as my reel to reel or Oppo. I had the volume pretty much cranked between the ZMA and DS DAC, and it wasn't quite as loud as the Otari or the Oppo. I'm not sure exactly what's changed, but the DS DAC *seems* louder today, but oddly I think the Oppo seems to "ride the gain" better still. If I wasn't able to get the DS DAC with the great deal I did, I could honestly say I'd be quite happy with the Oppo to ZMA via XLR.

Feel free to hit me up with any questions - I kinda rambled as usual, but I think I touched on all the points I wanted to, and hopefully with some clarity.  :)














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« Last Edit: 07/05/14 at 18:56:30 by Lonely Raven »  
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Lonely Raven
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #234 - 07/05/14 at 19:11:29
 

I missed this earlier -

Quote:
LR...sounds like you are hearing what your system is capable of with the ZMA and a great front end.  Still thinking about replacing the 944's?


Yes - While the frequency range and detail on the 944 is amazing, especially DS to ZMA (the bass is huge and full - I've actually stopped to check to see if my sub was on, but it's not even connected!), I'm nutty about 3D imaging, and the DS just drives me to want more of that. I really need a 2 way system, or radial to get me where I want to be. I'm afraid I'll probably have to give up on some bass in order to get the imaging I dream of. The style of (my pair!) these speakers is great, the frequency response is great, I just don't think M-T-M work for me, except maybe in a home theater setup where I'm not as critical about throwing an image.

I'm tapped after purchasing the DirectStream...and Brianne had me go ahead and order new kitchen counters to boot, so I'm really tapped. If I were to go for another set of speakers, I'd have to hope for a good deal, and probably sell my 944, my Otari, and my tape collection to afford the upgrade. That's hard for me to do, but I'd consider it if the right speakers came around. Steve tells me he thinks the HR-1 are  probably what I'm needing to make me happy - so I'm going to schedule a visit with Steve and give them a run with his ZMA and my DS to see what happens.
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #235 - 07/06/14 at 19:31:48
 
Yeah, others have noticed even with the 6db of gain using Balanced...they long for more....when driving the DS direct to Amp. Ultimately, a Preamp is needed.

Speaking of my CSP3 Preamp....I'm spending time today A-B-A'in the DS against my AA Front End.  I love the DS....but I love the fatigue free extended highs and overall tonal balance I am getting with the AA with 20 bit dither. Riding the gain of both my DAC and the CSP3 (plus I have the voltage output dialed in)...I don't care when I truncate a couple of bits back to 18 or 16....because the CSP3 is maintaining it all/tonal balance and detail=definition an weight!

Well, I have until the 25th of July to make a decision. If I send it back...that free's up some serious funds for coming Decware masterpieces!
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #236 - 07/06/14 at 20:45:55
 

Quote:
Steve tells me he thinks the HR-1 are  probably what I'm needing to make me happy - so I'm going to schedule a visit with Steve and give them a run with his ZMA and my DS to see what happens.

What about the Monoliths?  Those are a 2 way MT config.  Weren't those the speakers used at TapeFest?  Thoughts?

Anything new you are hearing from the DS as it continues to break in?  I wish you had a PW mkii to do a direct comparison.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #237 - 07/06/14 at 22:19:32
 
Quote:
Anything new you are hearing from the DS as it continues to break in?  I wish you had a PW mkii to do a direct comparison.


No, nothing besides what I've already mentioned above. The sense of space, depth, and detail - all without fatigue are really what make this DAC wonderful. I'm going through CD rips that I was burned out on, and it's like they are all remasters - they sound different, but better.

If anything's changed after 3 days of 4-5 hours on, 4-5 hours off, the DAC just seems to be getting more consistent. Bass doesn't seem as squirrely as before

I'm listening to my old Satriani recordings right now, and the detail that's being pulled is amazing - the synths have more growl to them, the drums more snappy, the reverb and space is huge and with luscious decay. I'm constantly amazed as how much micro-detail and spacial information was missing in all these CDs until now.

I'm sure the PWD and Stone's AA gear is good stuff, but I can't imagine anything in this price range and under coming close to what the DS is doing. The DS is the front end equivalent to what the ZMA was for me. I really just need to find speakers in this caliber and I could live with this setup till the end of times.

Quote:
What about the Monoliths?  Those are a 2 way MT config.  Weren't those the speakers used at TapeFest?  Thoughts?


I'd have to give them a serious listen as well. So far, I've not heard the kind of imaging I'm looking for from them, but I just figured that was because we had so much stuff in the room at Steve's place. My room still isn't done, I've got one giant diffuser half-way done and had to put a pause on any fun projects for house projects. It will be the next Decfest before I get around to mass producing diffusers at this rate. LOL
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« Last Edit: 07/06/14 at 22:24:07 by Lonely Raven »  
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #238 - 07/06/14 at 23:05:05
 
I hear you LR. I have "On Every Street" = Dire Straits in right now on the DS...and I still don't have the FW upgrade in yet.  The micro and the macro....just nails me to my Listening Chair!

It is gorgeous outside...I'm to be somewhere....I cracked open a Dogfish Head Sixty-One...The continually Hopped India Pale Ale brewed with Syrah grape must.   I'm not leaving...the shade of my Listening Room tonight-is where I'm staying...I had a great weekend outside partying already... .  Cheers
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« Last Edit: 07/06/14 at 23:06:15 by stone_of_tone »  

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Lonely Raven
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Re: PS Audio about to ...
Reply #239 - 07/07/14 at 03:19:02
 

I'm trying to get Steve interested in Dogfish Head - he likes the Sierra Navada Extra IPA - which I think is good, though a bit bitter for me. Cost could be a deterrent for Dogfish Head - but, in my limited experience, they make the best brews around.
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