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DirectStream Memory Player beta reviewer postings
Topic Rating: +177 Topic Rating: +177 (183 votes) 
November 18, 2016
7:19 am
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This is my first post regarding the SQ of the DMP. I was one of the folks who received the second shipping of beta units, so between that, burn in, and some personal issues that kept me from doing any serious listening I’ve been a bit delayed.

I’ve been using the PWT for over three years in my system. I also have the Bridge II – which through the DS I find to be a tiny bit better than the PWT. But these two sources are closer together with the DS than they were with the PWD. The PWT is connected via the PS Audio I2S Sliver, 1M cable. The DMP is connected via a 1M Nordost Silver Screen. I haven’t yet tried the shipped 1/2 M cable yet due to the geometry of having to set up the DMP right now for beta testing. BTW, the Wyred 4 Sound that was spoken of highly earlier is on sale right now (I have no affiliation with the company).

For this listening I let the DMP burn in with a CD-R of mixed music for well over 100 hours before I even began listening, so I won’t be able to chime in as in the past about how the sound changed over this time. I had an identically burned copy of the same tracklist on another CD-R that was in the PWT. I did my listening by staggering the playback my about a minute across the two transports. I won’t get into the freeze up I had with earlier versions of the DMP FW. That’s in the buglist thread. My listening so far has been basic RBCD to RBCD on the PWT. Haven’t gotten to the Bridge II yet.

For all the preamble, what I have to said has already been said by others – the DMP is a better source. There appears to be less noise, letting the subtle microsounds come through in a smoother, more realistic way. For as good as the PWT is (and it is), it sounds almost like there’s a very fine bit of sand mixed into the music, making the music sound a bit less real. The DMP (and again I’m amazed by this as I thought the PWT already did great in this regard) is also much more musically engaging. I found myself often not really caring about listening to the “sound” of the music. The PWT, OTOH, I think on some tracks with significant upper midrange and low treble content may sound a bit more incisive, but the difference is very small and as yet I don’t know if it may be due to the difference in cables or perhaps the need for more burn in on the DMP. Soundstage depth is about the same as PWT, but the PWT has the front edge of the music just a tint bit more forward in my system – again if I wasn’t listening for little differences like this I’d never be able to notice. DMP at least through the Nordost has what sounds like the same soundstage width. Height seems maybe a tiny bit lower. All very small differences. The biggest difference, and why to me the DMP is a clear preference even with RBCD, is that it sounds more like real music in my house. The instruments and humans sound more three dimensional, there’s less sandy noise, the tiniest subtleties come out in a natural sounding way. The music is highly engaging. I’m again amazed at how this can be compared to the PWT.

I will try to get to Bridge II listening this weekend.

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November 18, 2016
7:20 am
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Thanks Tony! A fine review.

Co-founder and CEO of PS Audio. Hobbies (other than audio) include cooking, artisan bread baking, writing The Carbon Wars, hiking and inventing stuff. Infinity IRSV, MG Audio Designs and Audioquest cables, five P10 Power Plants, DirectStream DAC, NuWave Phono Converter, Clear Audio Master turntable, Lyra Cartridge, BHK Monos and BHK preamp, LANRover USB Transporter. I live in Boulder Colorado with my wife Terri, both of us are vegetarians for many decades. If you want to see support my first shot at writing a novel go here.

November 18, 2016
8:51 am
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JM said

oddeophile said
Badbeef if I recall you’re using an Audioquest coffee HDMI?

Earplugs, which HDMI are you utilizing?

Has anyone used the topline Audioquest Diamond HDMI?

Wondering the differences in HDMI levels the if any to obtain all there would be out of the DMP/DS interface. 

I use a Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7.  In comparison, that cable edged out the Audioquest Diamond in my system.  The AD was also a very good cable.  

Paul,

You had mentioned in previous posts that you would be sending out the HDMI cable that PS Audio had designed/manufactured by an unnamed company to beta testers when they arrive.  (The one you raved about from your RMAF exhibition.)  Do you have any update on that?  

November 19, 2016
10:40 am
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JM said:

“Paul,
You had mentioned in previous posts that you would be sending out the HDMI cable that PS Audio had designed/manufactured by an unnamed company to beta testers when they arrive. (The one you raved about from your RMAF exhibition.) Do you have any update on that? “

Since no one is responding to that, I’ll chime in, as I asked about that a while back.  It’s sort of an asked and answered deal.  Or an asked but not fully answered.  I have the sense that the included cable proved so popular/impressive, Paul realized there was no need to expend further effort and money in that direction ; )

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November 19, 2016
10:45 am
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No, actually, when I wrote that originally I hadn’t realized the cables were being included in the beta shipments. But they were. The ones included are the same I was writing of.

Co-founder and CEO of PS Audio. Hobbies (other than audio) include cooking, artisan bread baking, writing The Carbon Wars, hiking and inventing stuff. Infinity IRSV, MG Audio Designs and Audioquest cables, five P10 Power Plants, DirectStream DAC, NuWave Phono Converter, Clear Audio Master turntable, Lyra Cartridge, BHK Monos and BHK preamp, LANRover USB Transporter. I live in Boulder Colorado with my wife Terri, both of us are vegetarians for many decades. If you want to see support my first shot at writing a novel go here.

November 19, 2016
10:47 am
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A fine review, Tony.  Thanks!

November 19, 2016
11:09 am
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Paul McGowan said
No, actually, when I wrote that originally I hadn’t realized the cables were being included in the beta shipments. But they were. The ones included are the same I was writing of.

Ah, that clears it up.  

The only loose end – I thought you mentioned something about length options, given the fact that the .5m probably wouldn’t work for some or most people in their current setups.  Any chance of getting a 1m?  Otherwise, that cable will never be used (unfortunately).

November 19, 2016
12:25 pm
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One question to the Beta testers: Does the new DMP play a l l  SACD’s and DVD-A’s you are feeding it? I’m asking because I’m having troubles with my Primare BD 32 multiplayer which is very “picky” about these types of discs: Several discs it doesn’t want to read or even play. Seems mainly to be a problem of the Hybrid SACD’s but also with some DVD-Audio discs. I hope this is not the case with the DMP…

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November 19, 2016
1:34 pm
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Arcus7 said
I’m having troubles with my Primare BD 32 multiplayer which is very “picky” about . . . Hybrid SACD’s but also with some DVD-Audio discs.

It sounds like the laser in your Primare either has a dirty lens or is failing. How old is your BD32? You might try a lens cleaning disc or, even better, open the case and gently swab the lens with a Q-tip or a microfiber cloth. If that doesn’t improve things, you may need to replace the laser unit. I did a quick search in the usual places, but was unable to find a replacement laser for the BD32, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t available.

Anyway, my DMP has had no problems reading any hybrid SACD I’ve played. It does have issues with DVD-As and BDs, but I think that’s related to the way the discs are authored and not a problem with the laser.

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November 19, 2016
8:51 pm
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I am late to the beta party, and this is my first post. I have used the PWT and PWD since they came out in 2009. The PWD was upgraded to II, and then again to DirectStream. I have a Bridge II installed, but have yet to use it. I’ve been strictly a player of silver discs and LPs, plus a bit of over-the-air FM radio.

 

My PWD played the System Enhancer disc by Purist Audio Design on its first overnight, on repeat, and then another 72 hours of playing a DVD of burned 44.1/16 jazz tracks. My first comparison, which has already been done by others, is redbook CD on PWT vs. DMP.

 

So, imagine walking about in New Orleans, and around the corner a band of tuba, trumpet, trombone, and drums starts playing. Immediately you know it’s live, because t he music is dynamic and alive. The PWT is a fine source, and I have truly enjoyed it. But, redbook through the DMP has moved my music experience significantly in the direction of New Orleans.

 

Instead of using audiophile descriptors, I prefer to talk about the effect the music has on me through DMP. I’m energized, alive, on edge, and elevated. Music that I know can once again surprise and delight. On discs that I have used to evaluate sound, in snippets, I now find myself listening to the whole thing through. And, I’m not thinking about sound, but instead, I get engaged. And that’s what I look for. How does the musical experience affect and change my response. Usually it takes a while to figure it out when comparing A and B. This time, between the excellent PWT and the DMP, using only standard CDs, it took only a short while to realize that my listening experience had been transformed. And that is a beautiful thing.

 

I apologize to those waiting for a CD vs. Bridge II comparison. I can’t help. But, I don’t mind spinning discs, and have a collection that I look forward to hearing at this new level. I’ll report on SACD and other high rez as soon as I can.

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November 19, 2016
10:09 pm
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Thanks, Ken.  A nice review from a bit different perspective.  Any product which reengages you when listening to known discs is a substantial upgrade.

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November 20, 2016
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JM said

Paul McGowan said
No, actually, when I wrote that originally I hadn’t realized the cables were being included in the beta shipments. But they were. The ones included are the same I was writing of.

Ah, that clears it up.  

The only loose end – I thought you mentioned something about length options, given the fact that the .5m probably wouldn’t work for some or most people in their current setups.  Any chance of getting a 1m?  Otherwise, that cable will never be used (unfortunately).

Yes. After all this feedback we have ordered 1M versions instead and these will become the new standard. I’ll see if we can wrangle a few from the powers that be in purchasing.

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Co-founder and CEO of PS Audio. Hobbies (other than audio) include cooking, artisan bread baking, writing The Carbon Wars, hiking and inventing stuff. Infinity IRSV, MG Audio Designs and Audioquest cables, five P10 Power Plants, DirectStream DAC, NuWave Phono Converter, Clear Audio Master turntable, Lyra Cartridge, BHK Monos and BHK preamp, LANRover USB Transporter. I live in Boulder Colorado with my wife Terri, both of us are vegetarians for many decades. If you want to see support my first shot at writing a novel go here.

November 20, 2016
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Are they going to be as good as the 0.5m length or will that be the better option for those that can accommodate it?

November 20, 2016
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Ken said
I am late to the beta party, and this is my first post. I have used the PWT and PWD since they came out in 2009. The PWD was upgraded to II, and then again to DirectStream. I have a Bridge II installed, but have yet to use it. I’ve been strictly a player of silver discs and LPs, plus a bit of over-the-air FM radio.

My PWD played the System Enhancer disc by Purist Audio Design on its first overnight, on repeat, and then another 72 hours of playing a DVD of burned 44.1/16 jazz tracks. My first comparison, which has already been done by others, is redbook CD on PWT vs. DMP.

So, imagine walking about in New Orleans, and around the corner a band of tuba, trumpet, trombone, and drums starts playing. Immediately you know it’s live, because t he music is dynamic and alive. The PWT is a fine source, and I have truly enjoyed it. But, redbook through the DMP has moved my music experience significantly in the direction of New Orleans.

Instead of using audiophile descriptors, I prefer to talk about the effect the music has on me through DMP. I’m energized, alive, on edge, and elevated. Music that I know can once again surprise and delight. On discs that I have used to evaluate sound, in snippets, I now find myself listening to the whole thing through. And, I’m not thinking about sound, but instead, I get engaged. And that’s what I look for. How does the musical experience affect and change my response. Usually it takes a while to figure it out when comparing A and B. This time, between the excellent PWT and the DMP, using only standard CDs, it took only a short while to realize that my listening experience had been transformed. And that is a beautiful thing.

I apologize to those waiting for a CD vs. Bridge II comparison. I can’t help. But, I don’t mind spinning discs, and have a collection that I look forward to hearing at this new level. I’ll report on SACD and other high rez as soon as I can.

Thanks Ken! Love the image of live music in New Orleans

Co-founder and CEO of PS Audio. Hobbies (other than audio) include cooking, artisan bread baking, writing The Carbon Wars, hiking and inventing stuff. Infinity IRSV, MG Audio Designs and Audioquest cables, five P10 Power Plants, DirectStream DAC, NuWave Phono Converter, Clear Audio Master turntable, Lyra Cartridge, BHK Monos and BHK preamp, LANRover USB Transporter. I live in Boulder Colorado with my wife Terri, both of us are vegetarians for many decades. If you want to see support my first shot at writing a novel go here.

November 20, 2016
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John777 said
Are they going to be as good as the 0.5m length or will that be the better option for those that can accommodate it?

That remains to be seen (or heard, as the case may be). I’ll let you know when we actually get them.

Co-founder and CEO of PS Audio. Hobbies (other than audio) include cooking, artisan bread baking, writing The Carbon Wars, hiking and inventing stuff. Infinity IRSV, MG Audio Designs and Audioquest cables, five P10 Power Plants, DirectStream DAC, NuWave Phono Converter, Clear Audio Master turntable, Lyra Cartridge, BHK Monos and BHK preamp, LANRover USB Transporter. I live in Boulder Colorado with my wife Terri, both of us are vegetarians for many decades. If you want to see support my first shot at writing a novel go here.

November 20, 2016
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Ken,

You wrote-: “I prefer to talk about the effect the music has on me through DMP. I’m energized, alive, on edge, and elevated. Music that I know can once again surprise and delight. On discs that I have used to evaluate sound, in snippets, I now find myself listening to the whole thing through. And, I’m not thinking about sound, but instead, I get engaged.

Note that I bold-highlighted the word “again”.

You seem to be implying that the DMP has some “special” quality that allows you to again become engaged with music that previously surprised and delighted you. I am curious – how did that same music previously engage you, and delight you, prior to acquiring the DMP when you were listening to that same music via audio equipment that didn’t have that “special” quality that you believe exists in the DMP?

Jeff.

November 20, 2016
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Nobo said
Can anything be done to test the DMP’s optical disk drive for its ability to read slightly damaged disks…?  

Nobo, I just checked a marred Redbook CD with tracks near the end that the PWT refuses to play. The DMP sails right through all of them!

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Review of my DMP unit.

This post represents my personal beta tester review of the DMP and I will primarily comment on its musical sound reproduction quality and its operational reliability.

Some background:

I have been an audiophile for 46 years, and I used a speaker-based (and LP-based – owning both a LinnSondek LP12 and VPI TNT turntable at the same time) audio system for the first 31 years, and a headphone-based audio system for the last 15 years. I only listen to classical music and opera, and I place a major emphasis on the reproduced sound quality of “musical accuracy”, which I arbitrarily define as an audio system’s reproduced sound that most closely approximates the sound of “real life” classical musical instruments and “real life” opera voices. I am very biased, and I personally believe that a good quality headphone-based audio system is much more capable of rendering certain “musically accurate” sounds – compared to any speaker-based system. I believe that speaker-based audio systems are too hampered by the following inherent problems-: i) they have to move too much air to produce a sufficiently loud sound in a large-sized room, and the large size of their diaphragms limits their transient speed of motion, thereby impairing their transient sound reproduction response quality; ii) the speakers usually have a combination of bass, midrange and treble units, which have to be integrated into a cohesive sound and iii) indirect sound from wall/furniture reflections interact with the direct sound thereby smearing the final “ear-heard” sound to a variable degree. Although I prefer a headphone-based audio system, I think that headphones cannot produce the body/weight of a “real life” orchestra’s sound, and I am constantly aware that it is like listening to a very miniaturized version of an orchestra when I am listening to orchestral music via headphones. During the 1980-1990s, I used to live near New York City, and I attended approximately 20 – 30 “live” orchestral/opera performances every year at either the Met. Opera House, Avery Fischer Hall or Carnegie Hall, and the memory of those “live” orchestral/opera sounds are still vividly present in my memory and I have never heard any audio system (whether headphone-based or speaker-based) that can come close to equalling that “live” sound in terms of “musical accuracy”.

My present headphone-based audio system is as follows-: PWT/DMP => Anedio D2 DAC => Violectric V281 headphone amplifier (which has 4 separate amps that drive my headphones in a push-pull manner as I only listen to the V281 headphone amp in balanced mode using a XLR connector) => HiFiMan HE 1000 headphone or Sennheiser HD800 headphone. Because my DMP is connected to my Anedio D2 DAC via a coax cable, I cannot obtain DSD audio signals from the playback of a SACD, and therefore my musical sound reproduction comments are only relevant to the playback of redbook CDs.

Musical sound reproduction:

Prior to purchasing a PWT 2 years ago, I previously used either a Sony XA5400ES CD-player or a Marantz 8001 CD-player. I purchased the PWT on a whim in November 2014 without ever auditioning the CD-transport. It resulted in significantly better sound, and I was so happy with its sound quality that I subsequently purchased another PWT as a spare unit because I wrongly thought in late 2014 that PS Audio would probably discontinue the production of any CD-transport device in the not-too-distant future.

In this review I will only be comparing the sound of the DMP to the PWT (and not to the Sony/Marantz CD-players) when playing redbook CDs. My audio system is entirely CD-based and I do not have a musical streaming device and I do not listen to high resolution audio files stored on a musical server.

I think that the DMP offers a significant, but small, improvement over the PWT in terms of classical music/opera sound reproduction. My personally perceived improvements regarding the sound quality of the DMP (relative to the PWT) are very concordant with the opinions expressed by some other beta testers. Here are three examples of comments made by three other beta testers.

1) ILSEM wrote in post #299-: “Overall there’s more transparency than what I’m used to, with no hint of added brightness (a concern I had in Round 1). Bass notes are a bit more taut, but most noticeable are enhanced hearing of things being struck and plucked with strings and percussion (more snap my notes say). Also there’s a more shimmering sound to cymbals, tambourines, and triangles. Vocal harmonies are less homogenized/more separated.”

2) Rob wrote in post #307-: “What I quote above from ILSEM pretty much nails it. The leading edges of notes come with a measure and subtlety of detail that the PWT does not deliver. Back on Nov. 1, Alan W commented here that he has spent much of his life playing pianos and recordings of that instrument sound much more realistic to his ears on the DMP, both tonally and with “more of a sense of each individual piano key being struck”. I can’t agree more. Furthermore, in the case of other instruments that produce their notes from strikes on some kind of string or surface, one hears so much more about the speed and/or force of the collision, also about the nature of the materials that are doing the actual colliding“.

3) Dennis D wrote in post #379-: “Now enters the DMP. With only a few hours playtime the DMP has already shown itself to be a far superior extractor and conveyor of data than the PWT, BridgeII, or Auralic Aries.  The best analogy I can come up with to describe what I’m hearing is viewing a landscape through a window.  Aberrations to the image caused by passing the light through even the best glass result in a loss of detail and softening of edges.  Removing the glass restores the fine detail and edges are sharper.  With the DMP the aural window has been opened.  Micro details and texture is more evident.  The attack of percussion instruments has sharper impact and the decay is more naturally sustained, not truncated.  Everything just sounds more right.  The soundfield is populated with ambient details that weren’t evident with the other sources.  These aren’t dramatic differences, but taken in total make it easier to suspend reality and get pulled into the music.

The first quality of the DMP that impressed me was its ability to produce a faster transient response that gave struck instruments (eg. vibraphone, snare drums, triangles, cymbals, castanets) and plucked instruments (eg. harp, mandolin, violin, acoustic guitar) a greater level of “snap” clarity with less loss of detail and less softening of edges. It was as if the musical sound picture was scrubbed slightly cleaner thereby eliminating a level of sonic haze, and the overall reproduced sound is therefore more clear, and less hazy. My two headphones are capable of excellent soundstage imaging – both from side-to-side and back-to-front – and the perceived soundstage (located in an imaginary soundspace situated in front of my head) is cavernous in size when my headphones are used in balanced mode. I do not perceive any differences between the PWT and DMP when it comes to the size of the soundstage, the perceived size of the instruments within the sounstage and the stability of the positional locus of each individual instrument within that soundstage. However, I do hear slightly more “air” and a sense of a “blacker” background within that soundstage and I postulate that it is due to the greater “snap” clarity of each instrument’s sound so that there is less of a congested/smeared halo of sound surrounding each instrument (or opera voice). This quality is particularly apparent when listening to an opera chorus or when listening to a Gilbert& Sullivan opera when multiple operetta singers are singing in unison – equivalent to ILSEM’s claim that “Their vocal harmonies are less homogenized/more separated“. When it comes to the bass quality of my audio system, I desire a sharp, incisive bass attack with no overhang, bloating or woofiness/boominess. Both the PWT and DMP can produce this quality when it comes to the kettledrum and bass drum, but the DMP seems to have tighter (more taut) control over the lower registers of the cello and double bass string instruments, which I find very satisfying. Finally, I have found that there is slightly less sound congestion and less sound smearing during loud orchestral passages when 50-75 classical musical instruments are playing simultaneously at full tilt during an orchestral climax – although the reproduced sound using the DMP is still extremely congested/smeared compared to the “real life” sound of a classical orchestra playing in an orchestral venue.

In summary, I think that the DMP sounds marginally better than the PWT in a number of areas, but the magnitude of that difference is less than the magnitude of the difference between my PWT and my Sony XA54000ES and Marantz 8001 CD-players. I perceive of the sound difference between the DMP and the PWT with respect to redbook CD playback as being a refinement, rather than a radical improvement, but I am still amazed that PS Audio’s sound engineers could extract even more clarity from standard redbook CDs with their DMP’s new design changes, which I would never have anticipated, and they definitely deserve plaudits for this remarkable achievement.

Operational reliability:

I will first start off by expressing my opinions on the operational reliability of my PWT before I discuss the DMP’s operational reliability.

I can unequivocally state that the PWT is the most operationally unreliable audio product that I have ever owned in my 46 years of experience as an audiophile. To put this claim into proper perspective, first consider the operational reliability of my Sony XA5400ES CD-player and Marantz 8001 CD-Player. Using a scale of 1-to-10 for operational reliability (where 1 is the maximum degree of operational unreliability and 10 is the maximum degree of operational reliability), I would give the Sony XA5400ES CD-player and Marantz 8001 CD-Player a rating of 9 – because they only malfunctioned approximately once-per-year. By contrast, I would give my PWT a rating of 1 – 3, because it has malfunctioned hundreds of time during my 2-year time period of ownership.

Here is a list of the types of operational malfunctions that I experienced with my PWT.

1) On multiple occasions the PWT would not play an inserted disc. It didn’t respond to the play command at the start when I tried to play track number 1. Then, it would sometimes respond if I selected the 2nd track on the remote and it would play that track or sometimes it didn’t respond at all. Sometimes, I couldn’t even remove the unplayable CD because the eject button didn’t then work. I discovered that if I turned off the power switch at the back and then turned it on again after ~15 seconds (thereby re-booting the PWT) that the eject button would again work and I could remove the CD from the PWT’s CD-drawer. However, on 4 occasions, that rebooting technique didn’t work and I had to manually pry the CD-drawer open using the paperclip technique.

2) On multiple occasions, the player would start to play a CD but then suddenly/randomly come to a dead-stop while playing a certain track. It would then either start playing again if I selected another track or it would not respond at all to the remote control and I then had to remove the “stuck” CD.

3) On multiple occasions, the PWT would suddenly stop playing, but then suddenly (spontaneously) start playing again after a time period of <1 second, and then it would stop again for < 1 second and then spontaneously start again producing a continuous/hiccupping start-stop series of distorted sounds each lasting < 1 second for each sound-on cycle. I could only end the hiccupping-sound (drop-out) phenomenon by clicking the stop button or the eject button.

4) On a few occasions, when I was listening to a classical music CD (eg. Mozart piano concerto), and I was listening to the final (3rd) movement I noted that the PWT’s progress time bar indicated that the final track was going to end in a few seconds even though I knew that there was at least 30-60 seconds of unplayed music remaining in that 3rd movement. The final track therefore ended prematurely and the CD stopped playing even though the musical piece was incompletely played. The PWT then recycled back to track 1 and I didn’t ever get to hear the end of the classical music CD.

I sent my malfunctioning PWT back to PS Audio for repair on three separate occasions and each time they replaced the CD-drive (+/- controlling circuitry), but those problems still persisted after the first two CD-drive replacements. On the 3rd repair visit a few months ago, after replacing the CD-drive, they also changed the CD-drive’s firmware to make the CD-drive spin much faster, which has temporarily solved those multiple problems, but now I have a noisy (loud swishing) CD-drive that is clearly audible from a distance of 12 feet.

I could imagine that some readers would assert that I unforunately had a rare “lemon” PWT and they would assert that even a reputable company occasionally produces a lemon-product. However, I regard that assertion as being invalid based on the ” reported evidence” from other PWT-owners. Consider this post by Dirk (post #269) where he stated-: “Elk suggested skipping over the DMP posts on the bugs, etc – and he has a point – but it doesn’t leave much else to read………. Reporting all the bad stuff is important…..  My intention was to buy the DMP, ASAP, but after reading all the above posts I will hang fire for a good few months before I place an order on a new DMP.. My PWT is under 2 years old and currently on its 3rd mechanism….! It actually arrived with a faulty mechanism. I have a few CDs where the PWT reads the TOC and displays all art work but when I hit play there is no sound ? ( I have tried all the updates, etc ) On other occasions the PWT abruptly stops playing and the only way to retrieve the CD is switch OFF then ON to reboot the PWT… All my discs are in perfect condition with no scratches, etc… I do hope the loading mechanism is of a much higher standard on the DMP because the mechanism in the PWT simply isn’t up to same standard as the rest of the PWT…… “It looks and feels cheap – which it is”. The PWT is excellent (musically) when compared to other CD players I’ve owned – but it is the most temperamental / unreliable hi-fi product I have owned……” Note that Dirk also had his PWT’s CD-drive replaced 3x and that he also asserted that the PWT is the “most temperamental/unreliable hi-fi product I have owned“. Finally, here is a 3rd report of PWT-unreliability by Michael in post #65 where he responded to my post about my unreliable PWT as follows-: “Jeff, Hope this is not true. My experience with the PWT mirrors yours – waiting on mine right now to come back with a new drive due to random dead stops. Good thing I’m beta testing the DMP otherwise I’d still be without a music source for my DSD. Also lots of issues with SD card and firmware on the PWT. And I had thought it was only me! Fortunately Dave P and crew were very helpful. If DMP shows same idiosyncratic traits I’ll tear my hair out.”

Does the DMP have the same degree of operational unreliability as the PWT? It is too soon to tell because we only have a few weeks of reports from beta-testers, but the early “bug” reports are not promising. Consider some examples of the types of operational unreliability “bugs” reported by beta testers.

1) One of worst faults from my perspective is the problem of random “dead stops” where the CD-transport simply stops playing the CD (= gets “stuck”) and where it doesn’t respond further to any remote control commands – because it radically intereferes with the music-playing experience. This is an operational fault that should never happen – and it never happened even once with any of my Sony and Marantz CD-players during the past 15 years – yet a number of beta testers have experienced this same problem with their DMP. Here is an example of that type of problem as described by Woodburger in post #167-: “Yesterday, the dmp stopped playing with :01 left on the last track (#9) of the CD.  This happened three times.  Finally, I rebooted (rear switch) and wanted it to run overnight to build some more hours.  This morning I found it stopped on track 6 of 9, with :36 seconds to go on that track.  Dmp won’t respond to any remote commands and touchscreen is also unresponsive.”

2) Some beta testers have experienced a gross failure of their new DMP units. Here is an example from Solomon where he wrote in post #242-: “DMP arrived today. I left a disc playing and when I returned the screen was blinking slowly and not playing. Several reboots failed. Some of them asked me to touch the 4 corners of the screen in order, but screen still blinked. Finally I got a stable reboot with music playing, but the image on the screen is upside down. Touch screen doesn’t work, just remote. This is firmware 1.47. — Here is yet another example of a total failure of operability by ClassicalDude when he wrote in post #283-: “Sounded great when it worked, but unfortunately, as posted in various other forums (per Paul’s suggestion), beta products are just that. Unit stopped working completely after about a week. Inserting a hybrid disc caused the whole thing to stop working, meaning the initialization screen just hung and never got to operation. It’s not the firmware. Updated or not, just stopped working —- Now I have the chore of boxing this up, lost a disc, since I can’t retrieve it. Will never do a Beta with PS Audio again. Not worth it.

3) I reported the following operational problem in post #260 -: “I turned the “on” switch on the remote to turn the DMP on, and the screen showed the “insert disk” screen display. Then I clicked on the open/eject button of the remote, but the CD-drawer wouldn’t open despite many repeated attempts. Rebooting solved this problem, but this is yet another example of an elementary player operational fault that should not be happening. Sourav then responded to my post by stating that he had twice experienced this same problem.

4) Many beta testers reported a specific “lockup” problem of both their DMP and DS-DAC when they were conjoined by an I2S connection, and where both of the two units required rebooting after the “lockup”. It seemed to still be a problem after the issue of firmware version 1.57, and I don’t know if the problem has since been resolved following the release of the latest firmware (version 1.68). One beta tester has already stated that he still experiences the lockup problem after updating to firmware version 1.68.

5) A number of beta testers stated that they could no longer obtain a DSD signal from the DSD layer of their SACDs after they updated to firmware 1.47 or firmware 1.57, and one of the beta testers stated that he could only obtain a DSD signal when he went back to the original firmware. I don’t know if this specific issue has been resolved.

6) pmotz in post #275 complained of dropouts when playing a SACD. Here is his post-: “The second bug I discovered when I was playing SACDs.  I played one last night, Jazz at the Pawnshop (sounded wonderful!) and it played without a hitch, burp, or whatever.  Then this morning I selected a few PentaTone SACDs, the first was Bach “The Art of the Fugue”.  When I placed it in the drawer and tapped the “Insert Disc” icon on the screen the drawer closed and began playing.  I didn’t press “Play”, it did it on it’s own.  Hmmm, Ok, so I start reading the paper and the music plays and it seems somewhat repetitive.  I look at the screen from my seat and it shows the first track.  Did it not change the display or …?  Well, it turns out the disc started in repeat mode.  I had listened to the first track three times, ahem, must pay better attention!  So I play with the “Repeat” icon on the screen (hadn’t found it on the remote at that point) and get it to play The whole disc.  Sounded great, but then … it happened.  The sound would cut out for a second or two, repeatedly, but not in any pattern. I tried a couple of other PentaTone SACDs, first was Berlioz “Symphonie Fantastique”.  This played fine and sounded good.  Next was was Chopin and Loewe Piano Concertos.  This disc also had dropouts, lots of dropouts!  No pattern to them and when I replayed the disc they weren’t in the same places.  Then I pulled out a Mercury Living Presence SACD, Suppe Overtures.  This too played with lots of dropouts.  It also had some irregular pops at the beginning of play, but they stopped after about 30 seconds.  Now I’m getting depressed. [Image Can Not Be Found] I have to go out so I leave the disc in the player and it is stopped.” He (and others) also complained of low level tick-or-click sounds at the start of playing a SACD. For example, Michael in post #287 complained of “having same issue only with SACD – disc starts playing by itself after loading with start up sound like dropping the needle on a record“.

7) Even after the recent 3rd major revision of the firmware (version 1.68) many operational problems remain as delineated by Rob in post #378 where he stated-:

“Loaded the latest firmware last night but waited until today to try it. All navigation issues that I pointed to last time remain, then some:
  1. Rapidly-sequenced clicks of the remote to backwardly relocate the play point within a given track still quickly lock-up the DMP, requiring a power-off, then a power-on again to restore function.
  1. The touch-screen is still not responsive to all touches. My test for this now comes down to using the fast-forward or fast-backward arrows at each end of the play-point track bar to scroll as quickly through successive tracks as I can to get to a desired track. In this case the touch-screen misses up to 1 tap out of every 3, at least in rapid succession.
  1. The play-point cursor of the track bar seems even slower in response to remote or touch-screen repositioning than it was before this last firmware update. Furthermore, when using the touch-screen to do so, the cursor tends to jump around for up to 2-3 seconds after its new placement before it finally becomes stationary; and as stated several times previously it also tends to have a mind of its own, not always stopping where one has just tried to position it. With the remote, however, the cursor exhibits somewhat different behaviors. When clicking the navigation wheel to rapidly get to an earlier passage within a given track, the cursor is slow to react to any pausing of that function and will continue jerking backward for another second or so, even though music starts playing immediately.
  1. The screen is also quite sluggish in displaying new tracks (or providing an accurate account of the new track number) if one has just fast-forwarded or fast-reversed through several tracks to get there. In fact, several seconds can elapse before the new track is displayed with an accurate track number and/or track-title details.
  1. And with the new firmware, navigation quickly to a desired track is no longer necessarily silent, since momentary snippets from the beginnings of tracks that one is just trying to navigate past are now sometimes audible.”

8) Finally, I had a new operational problem that started three days ago and that operational fault happens randomly – where I cannot choose any other track after the CD starts playing track 1. For example, if I click on track 4 on the remote while the DMP is playing track 1, the display number changes to 4 but the track number 4 doesn’t play and the DMP is operationally “stuck”. If I eject the CD and then immediately re-load the CD, then my DMP becomes temporarily operable again from a track selection perspective. However, this frustrating new operational problem has re-occurred a number of times, and I don’t know if this particular operational problem is going to worsen with the passage of time.

Final decision-making:

Like other beta testers, I am obliged to decide whether to keep the DMP or return it for a full refund.

I have personally decided to return my DMP and I have since contacted Kevin in order to obtain a RMA form.

The reason for returning the DMP relates to my concerns about its present (and predicted future) level of operational unreliabity. I experienced a very tumultuous “love-hate” relationship with respect to my PWT over the past 2 years – loving its sound reproduction quality but hating its lack of operational reliability. I strongly suspect that the DMP is likely going to be as operationally unreliable as my PWT and I do not have the emotional fortitude to withstand another tumultuous “love-hate” relationship with another PS Audio transport device. I imagine that I am going to experience many pangs of regret when I ship my beta unit back to PS Audio, but I have decided that I will only consider purchasing a DMP in the future if I can obtain incontrovertible “evidence” that PS Audio has radically improved the DMP’s operational reliability so that it can at least achieve an operational reliability score of 8-out-of-10.

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mark-d, audio.bill, Rob, woodburger, Dirk, Nobo, JM
November 20, 2016
8:34 am
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JeffreyMann said
You seem to be implying that the DMP has some “special” quality that allows you to again become engaged with music that previously surprised and delighted you. I am curious – how did that same music previously engage you, and delight you, prior to acquiring the DMP when you were listening to that same music via audio equipment that didn’t have that “special” quality that you believe exists in the DMP?

Ken’s post raised the same question for me. 

I have often had an analogous experience when new equipment allows me to hear more than previously.  This can be mesmerizing.  The most pronounced example occurred when I bought my first good headphone amp and headphones.  The detail I could now hear was fascinating.  I listened for hours.  But the music itself was not more engaging; the reproduction was. 

The novelty soon wears and one returns to listening to the music, rather than the equipment.  I learned long ago not to chase newness. 

It is akin to an addiction to horsepower.  After buying my first performance car which was capable of 0-60 in less than four seconds I found myself bored with the acceleration.  I tore the engine apart and installed a performance cam, headers, etc.  And delighted in the new rush of faster.  This too got old however.  Into the engine again with head work, polishing, new pistons.  Rush, followed by boredom. Rinse and repeat.  Lesson learned.

On the other hand, with audio, I respond to improved timbrel accuracy/texture and microdynamics.  As a classical listener, this is where the magic resides.  Thus, the new DS firmwares – which continually improved both – did increase my engagement as Ken describes.  But the same music on a portable player remains as delightful as before; it is just a different experience.

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November 20, 2016
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JeffreyMann said
I used to live near New York City, and I attended approximately 20 – 30 “live” orchestral/opera performances every year at either the Met. Opera House, Avery Fischer Hall or Carnegie Hall, and the memory of those “live” orchestral/opera sounds are still vividly present in my memory and I have never heard any audio system (whether headphone-based or speaker-based) that can come close to equalling that “live” sound in terms of “musical accuracy”.

It is refreshing to see another express this.  Modern reproduction, no matter how good, does not come close to live acoustic music.

My present headphone-based audio system is as follows-: PWT/DMP => Anedio D2 DAC => Violectric V281 headphone amplifier (which has 4 separate amps that drive my headphones in a push-pull manner as I only listen to the V281 headphone amp in balanced mode using a XLR connector) => HiFiMan HE 1000 headphone or Sennheiser HD800 headphone.

An excellent SS amp, although I still find its appearance a bit odd.  Do you find the amp matches well with the HD800’s high end?  I want to like these ‘phones by find them a bit much with every tube or SS amp I have tried.

In summary, I think that the DMP sounds marginally better than the PWT in a number of areas, but the magnitude of that difference is less than the magnitude of the difference between my PWT and my Sony XA54000ES and Marantz 8001 CD-players. I perceive of the sound difference between the DMP and the PWT with respect to redbook CD playback as being a refinement, rather than a radical improvement . . .

Thank you for a superb, detailed review of what you hear between the two.  Great stuff.

I do not have the emotional fortitude to withstand another tumultuous “love-hate” relationship with another PS Audio transport device. 
. . . I will only consider purchasing a DMP in the future if I can obtain incontrovertible “evidence” that PS Audio has radically improved the DMP’s operational reliability so that it can at least achieve an operational reliability score of 8-out-of-10.

A reasonable and rational decision.  Like you, my again Sony SACD player has worked superbly for thousands of hours.  My PWT is quirky, but sounds better as a transport.  I can easily understand not being willing to embark on another roller-coaster ride for the added refinement you are hearing.  But a tough call I suspect.

[edit: fixed format errors]

November 20, 2016
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Elk,

You asked the following question regarding the Vioelectric V281 headphone amplifier and the HD800 headphone-: “An excellent SS amp, although I still find its appearance a bit odd.  Do you find the amp matches well with the HD800’s high end?  I want to like these ‘phones by find them a bit much with every tube or SS amp I have tried.”

I have owned the HD800 headphones for about 6 years and I love many aspects of its sound reproduction, but I hate its treble brightness/brittleness. I deliberately chose the Vioelectric V281 headphone amplifier because it was reputed to be “warm sounding” for a SS amp and it was reputed to match well with the HD 800 headphone. I did find that it ameliorated the HD800’s exaggerated treble brightness to a small degree, but not to a sufficiently large degree, and a large amount of artificial treble brightness remains, which drives me crazy. I also tried the Anax mod. on the HD800, which had a small, but insufficient, effect. I specifically purchased the HiFiMan HE1000 headphone because it has a far more polite treble response. In fact, I discovered that it was too treble polite and too “laid-back”, but those problems were solved when I changed the stock cable to a Norne Eternus cable. I now exclusively use the HE1000 headphone and I now no longer listen to my HD800 headphone. I wish that I could find a solution for the HD800’s exaggerated treble brightness problem because it has so many “good” qualities. By the way, I am not convinced that the new HS800S model (which has a resonator installed in the outer cup) is an adequate theoretical solution to the exaggerated treble brightness problem, but I must frankly admit that I have never personally auditioned the new HD800S model so I could be wrong.

Jeff.

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November 20, 2016
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JeffreyMann said…with respect to my PWT over the past 2 years – loving its sound reproduction quality but hating its lack of operational reliability. I strongly suspect that the DMP is likely going to be as operationally unreliable as my PWT”

 

Yes,its operational reliability leaves a lot to be desired…no doubt. I also have had difficulty’s with the PWT over the past two years,albeit…not in the abundance you speak of though. I’m hoping the DMP can be made to function like a 21 st century product should. At least in the 8-10 area you speak of.

By the way…”great review”. Thank-you for your honesty…41_gif

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November 20, 2016
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Elk said: “It is refreshing to see another express this. Modern reproduction, no matter how good, does not come close to live acoustic music.”

Apparently you don’t read Paul’s Posts’ Boards….65_gif

P3, DirectStream Memory Player via I2S (AQ Carbon) or Bill Ernst-modded Mac Mini running Roon via galvanically isolated USB chain (or ethernet to Bridge II) to DS Junior, Transparent Ultra XLRs, DEQX HDP-4, Transparent Ultra XLRs, Hypex nCore 400-based amp, Harbeth SHL5+ or Quad 988's with JLAudio f112 subs.  Analog:  VPI Scout, JMW 9 arm, Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC, VTL TL 2.5 Phono analog to DEQX, or PS Audio Phono Converter, I2S to DS Jr.  Surround: ARCAM AVR 600, Oppo 105, ACI Sapphire XLs, JL Audio subs.

November 20, 2016
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Two plus weeks into the beta and I feel the DMP just goes from strength to strength.

Obviously, SACD/DSD pops in a way I haven’t heard on CD before, as this is my first DSD capable player, but the real test is regular CD’s.  My first impressions of an enhanced soundstage and clarity have been reaffirmed listening through various discs both of high production quality as well as less production focussed discs.

I revisited my PWT this morning and it’s almost as if someone had put a muffler on the music when compared with the DMP – in isolation the PWT sounds great, but the DMP just takes the music to another dimension.

I’m listening to Oh Wonder by Oh Wonder, beautiful harmonies threaded with piano so clear and pure but with tremendous warmth that the PWT can’t match.

Think I’ll be packing up my PWT after TG to send back  as my trade-in

 

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November 20, 2016
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JeffreyMann said

I can unequivocally state that the PWT is the most operationally unreliable audio product that I have ever owned in my 46 years of experience as an audiophile.

I’m surprised to read this. My PWT was the best CD player I’ve ever owned in my 31 years of buying CD players. Not only did it outlive every one of the other players, its reliability and performance exceeded every one of them, too.

I’m speaking of my PWT in the past tense as it finally returned home to PS Audio two weeks ago after seven years of heavy service. I let the PWT go in favor of the DMP, a unit I feel is superior to the older transport in every way, though it’s going to be several years before I can confidently compare mechanical reliability.

Waxed string, Dixie cups, old comb, paper cone, hound dog.

November 20, 2016
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JeffreyMann said
I have owned the HD800 headphones for about 6 years . . .

Thanks, Jeff!  Excellent information.  I respect the HD800 but cannot get myself to love them.  I want to. :)

November 20, 2016
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badbeef said
Apparently you don’t read Paul’s Posts’ Boards….65_gif

Correct.

November 20, 2016
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JeffreyMann said
Elk,

You asked the following question regarding the Vioelectric V281 headphone amplifier and the HD800 headphone-: “An excellent SS amp, although I still find its appearance a bit odd.  Do you find the amp matches well with the HD800’s high end?  I want to like these ‘phones by find them a bit much with every tube or SS amp I have tried.”

I have owned the HD800 headphones for about 6 years and I love many aspects of its sound reproduction, but I hate its treble brightness/brittleness….

Jeff.

Elk and Jeff, I am using the HD800 exclusively for my auditioning here. For many a year I was aware of their reputation for what many feel is a fatiguing, “over-bright” signature. But over half a year ago I acquired a highly-thought-of headphone amplifier (Bakoon HP-21) that was reported to have a special synergy with the HD800, moderating its edge, and decided it was time to finally give the HD800 a try. Since I have not auditioned these headphones on any other amplifier, I can’t swear that the Bakoon would improve your listening experiences with them. But with the HD800 plugged into that amp’s current-mode output, there was no second-guessing on my part. I kept the new headphones and have not looked back.

November 20, 2016
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Neat.

I know of Bakoon but have yet to hear any of their products.

November 20, 2016
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JeffreyMann said

Like other beta testers, I am obliged to decide whether to keep the DMP or return it for a full refund.
. . .  I strongly suspect that the DMP is likely going to be as operationally unreliable as my PWT

Jeffrey, thanks for the thoroughness of your review and break-down of your decision here. I am still on the cusp of deciding whether I will keep the DMP. While I relish the expansion of the sonic palette that it so delightfully brings to the ears, and while I personally have experienced only one operational issue with my PWT during the entire 7+ years that I have had it, I have to take heed to accounts like yours and others of unreliability of your PWTs. Then I compound them with some of the functional frustrations that I am still having with the DMP after a couple of firmware updates now, plus a more-than-doubled out-of-pocket expense because I had to purchase a DSD to qualify as a beta tester here (also to enjoy the full sonic benefits of the DMP), plus my uncertainty about making such a large investment in performance from playback of optical media when I know that my real druthers would be for same or similar musical magic from a device that plays from mass storage instead (and that can be directed to do so with seamless and elegant simplicity).

I will be making up my own mind in the coming week…