Tag Archives: DirectStream

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

With over 2100 CD’s ripped to my music library in WAV format, I have no use for high resolution music streaming, although I do stream for background music for my house music system.

However, there are differences between the two major players in the hi-rez streaming business and it looks like one company from Europe will take over that business.

Streaming wars

Sometimes wars are won without much of a battle. Such is the case with the Streaming Wars.

As I have reported more than a few times I am not a big fan of Tidal. It’s a nice service with a decent library but sound quality always was an issue. Compared to my reference of CDs played on DMP there was not even a contest. In fact, the difference is so stark that I do my best to keep Tidal unavailable in Music Room One because it does not properly represent the system’s capabilities. Instead, we limit the options to my Mac Mini server or the best option, discs played back on DMP: still the gold standard for digital audio playback.

But now there’s Qobuz, the French company with their 40 million track library and quality streaming soon to be available in the States. Team members at PS Audio have been given accounts so that we might learn about this service and I must tell you, I am impressed. Blown away, in fact. While not quite as good as DMP it’s within spittin’ distance.

Qobuz allows you to not only stream but to download onto your local hard drive (they are encrypted so don’t get too excited about copying them onto discs) and sound better played back from the drive than streamed over the internet.

DirectStream and DS Junior owners can stream Qobuz through the Bridge in resolutions up to 192kHz 24 bits when available. Or, simply stream or download to your computer and connect via USB.

Finally, a streaming service that works like you’d want it to. No more fussing with MQA in the hopes it’ll be “better” than the original. Now you can enjoy a library that’s multiple lifetimes big and much of it at 192kHz 24 bits. You can bet Qobuz will be central to our upcoming Octave system.

The battle lasted about 10 seconds, but that’s good.

The war’s over.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

This is kind of a funny post, although more technical than most would want to read about.

I use PS Audio’s DSD DAC and it is a fantastic sounding digital player, made even better by the occasional updates to it that PS Audio offers for free.

Simply, the player takes our digital music, say music that we have copied onto a hard drive of some sort (computer, phone, iPod, etc) and then makes real music out of it that we can listen to.  At some point, the digital file is turned into music we can listen to and that is called a digital to analog conversion, or DAC.

Is no DAC the best DAC?

I’ve been answering a lot of great customer questions on Ask Paul. One of them was a simple misunderstanding, but it sparks good dialog.

On the DIY forums, a poster suggested he was converting digital audio to analog without the benefit of a DAC and the question posed to me was, “Is that possible?” The answer should be a simple “no” but then it’s never quite that simple.

Let me first explain what the poster on the DIY site was doing: converting DSD to analog with little more than an output transformer. Thus, he didn’t need a “DAC” to make music, he needed only a single part.

DSD is very different than traditional PCM. If you were to try the same technique of decoding PCM with a simple capacitor, you’d get nothing but noise (if you got anything at all). This is because PCM isn’t anything close to analog, while DSD is as close to analog as any digital format can be. Look at PCM on a scope and you see nothing recognizable as music (it’s a code, after all). Try the same thing with DSD and you can actually see the music.

This difference is one reason why our digital guru, Ted Smith, converts everything to DSD in our DirectStream and DirectStream Junior. Their output stages are essentially simple low-pass filters (like the transformer I mentioned earlier). DSD is already close to analog and requires very little post-processing.

In direct answer to the reader’s question whether it’s possible to play digital music without benefit of a DAC, I would answer, no. Anything used to convert digital to analog is, by definition, a DAC.