February 2015

  • Major upgrade is free
  • Reactions to Pike
  • Sprout winner announced!
  • Failed music revolution
  • Learn how to listen
  • Fourplay
  • Horns, Part 1

Major upgrade is free



By the looks of the headline we’re giving away a free upgrade to freeze your tush off on top of a mountain like the two folks shivering on this bench. But no, we’re actually helping your DirectStream DAC sound significantly better, for free.



Pikes Peak operating system is a free update to DirectStream, a DAC that’s won more awards than nearly any other, including multiple awards for product of the year

Vade Forester, an audio reviewer for the Absolute Sound Magazine, wrote this about the Pikes upgrade:

“Was it worth it? Absolutely. Were the changes subtle and hard to hear? Neither the slightest bit subtle, nor hard to hear. Should you update your PS Audio DirectStream DAC to the Pikes Peak OS? Well, would you like a noticeably better DAC? For free? It’s a no-brainer. What was originally an excellent DAC has become way better.”

If you own a DirectStream DAC you can go here, or just click the button below, download the new operating system for free and install it. There’s a quick video on the page with instructions, as well as a PDF included in the download. You’ll love the improvement to the sound: more open, detailed, three dimensional and real than you have ever heard it. If you still haven’t auditioned a DirectStream in your own system, or upgraded your PWD, give us or your dealer a call to arrange it.

Download Pikes

Reactions to Pikes

They say there’s always opinions on improvements, both for and against. That is particularly true on our forums where the emotions run high. In fact, the new Pikes operating system has generated more talk than any recent subject in memory.

Twenty two pages of posts giving both high praise and concerns over the new operating system for DirectStream. It’s a long and interesting read from DirectStream owners on the merits of the new software and what it has brought to the sound. I, of course, am interested in both the good and the not so good, but I wanted to share those comments that really stood out to me. Here’s a smattering of reactions to the latest version of DirectStream.

“Wowwwwwwwwww. There was stuff just crawling out of the corners of the music that I hadn’t heard before — low-level stuff, interesting sounds that were always there but didn’t call attention to themselves or that got lost in the eddys of the rest of the music.  I found myself, time and time again, grinning.  Forget Ted’s toe-tapping test.  This brand-new DAC had me rocking my entire torso to the beat.”

“Boy was I in for a surprise. This is equivalent to inserting a high caliber new component in the system, say a five figure preamp.”

“If I had quibbles with the original DirectStream they were tiny ones. Sounds like the “thwack” of a drum being hit or the plucking of a bass seemed a bit soft and cottony. Some details I’d come to appreciate in some recordings were put a bit far into the distance for my liking, making me strain on occasion to hear them. Pikes fixes both of those issues for me. Very nice for a free OS. But wait, there’s more! I’m a soundstage slut and Pikes pushes all the boundaries out by at least a foot or two. By audiophile standards, this is a sonic home run.”

“First of all… What were you guys thinking of out there in Colorado? I can’t believe you all took a perfectly fine dac and turned it into a dac that,well,is so far beyond my digital dreams of audio nirvana [with 44.1 cd…no less]  that I will admit to outright gushing… In my system for my tastes, Pikes Peak raises the bar for all comers. This OS update is akin to a major hardware improvement…hands down. Sound quality improvements from the lower registers to the highest are in a word.. superb.”

“I wanted to install it and give a quick listen. It is now 3 hours later and I still haven’t pulled myself away from it. It’s like a whole new music system! My original plan for the day (now abandoned) was to ski a beautiful bluebird day at Vail with 3 inches of fresh powder. Curse you Paul and Ted!”

“I believe Pikes has put the final coffin nail into my vinyl collection.  Well done Ted!”

“I didn’t think you can improve much on the 1.2.1 firmware upgrade. Was I wrong! The new Pikes Peak OS brings the DS DAC to a whole new level: the high gets higher, the low gets lower and the soundstage gets wider. Redbook CDs sound equal to or better than SACD or DVD Audio Disc.”

“Changed to Get Lucky by Daft Punk (24/96) and was blown away by the deep and powerful bass.  My wife came into the room and started dancing!  Proceeded through a whole playlist of favourites with total enjoyment.”

“I was sceptical of the seemingly OTT comments but after hearing it I am convinced. Ted, you’ve somehow added something I could not describe but was somehow missing, and it’s the MAGIC in the music.”

And my favorite:

“Welcome to club sleep deprivation.  Each morning I rise at 4:30am to prepare to leave for work.  Last night I retired for the evening this morning at 1:30 this morning. Why so late, you ask?  I’ll tell you why.  It’s called PS Audio’s Pikes Peak. All evening and into the morning hours, I sat in utter amazement, disbelief and ecstasy as I continually shook my head from left to right over and over (saying to myself repeatedly “I don’t believe this, I don’t believe this”).”

Sprout winner announced

Congratulations go to twenty year old Sarah Klein, @sarahspot, who managed to get 3,925 likes for her photo of Sprout.

Many of us talk about helping young music lovers but Sarah’s father, along with our own Scott McGowan, are actually making it happen. 

This is my first year having my own apartment. As a music enthusiast, my dad was very generous in setting my twin sister and I up with a very nice set up including a Rega turntable, wharfedale speakers, and a sprout of course. I love it!

Sprout’s the perfect gift or investment in an affordable music system. And, I have to tell you, getting the younger among us into quality music reproduction is something we should all be happy when it happens.

Sprout’s also been in the news lately.

Michael Lavorgna, audiostream.com

Awarded “Greatest Bits” Award—AudioStream’s highest ranking.

“The Sprout Vision:
I see it, I hear it, I like it. Sprout plays vinyl and digital (up to 24/192), lets you stream to it via Bluetooth from your smartphone while pumping out 32 watts of Class D power per channel into 8 Ohms (50W into 4). It delivers all of this in a small, simple, attractive package and it costs $799. What more do you need to know?”

Karl Sigman, Audiophilia.com

Awarded “Star Component” Award—Audiophilia’s highest ranking.

“When the Sprout arrived, I was immediately taken by how tiny it was….I was quite amazed….The top is a beautiful walnut wood, while the front and sides are a sleek silver colored metal. Visually and operationally, it is as simple as can be, a welcome change from the sometimes hopelessly overly complex high-end electronic devices we normally deal with in high end audio.”

Steve Guttenberg, “The Audiophiliac

“This little guy is easy to understand and play; few consumer electronics are as user-friendly — kudos to PS Audio for that!”

Failed music revolution



“Once upon a time, the coffee chain represented hope that record-buying could remain a physical experience for most people. What happens when it stops selling CDs? Spencer Kornhaber’s article in the Atlantic is a great read.



“Starbucks will stop selling CDs at the end of the month, and it isn’t hip to cry about it. Last week’s news that the coffee chain would do away with its register racks was met on Twitter with many a condolence to Norah Jones’s career.

At Vulture, Lindsey Weber mock-mourned, “Oh no, how will we know what adult contemporary stations are playing without having to listen to the radio?”

The profound middlebrowness of Starbucks and many of its music offerings can’t be disputed; the first CD the store offered, in 1994, was by Kenny G. But it’s worth remembering that not too long ago, Starbucks was seen as a record-industry rebel, and the effective shuttering of its retail-music arm suggests that one vision for the future of music is dead.”

Read the entire story here

Learn how to listen

Harman International is a big company who is famous, or infamous depending on your viewpoint, for acquiring audio companies and then commercializing them. Their stable of brands includes Infinity, JBL, Mark Levinson, AKG and Lexicon. Last year’s annual revenue was more than five billion dollars. A small company they are not, but perhaps a bit of Audiophileness may have crept in.

It was brought to my attention by reader David Blank that they produce and distribute freely a program that purports to teach people how to become good listeners. Over on Paul’s Posts we’ve been discussing how a good listener is a learned skill, one that takes a bit of effort and a few years to achieve. I have not taken The Harman class but if you are interested, you can click here and download the course. If you do, let me know how it goes and if it was of value to you. I think we’d all be interested to know your opinion.
 

Fourplay



Is it possible to combine the likes of four first-call studio musicians who are enjoying their own stellar careers into one cohesive group without individual egos getting in the way?  It’s been done before-but very few have lasted as long and enjoyed the success and acclaim as Fourplay.

Keith Copeland’s latest foray into the jazz venue so many of us love features on of the great jazz groups of modern day music, Fourplay.

Read the article by clicking on this link.

Horns, Part 1

“Although there’s nothing essentially French about it, it’s often called the French horn. Today we distinguish between the “natural” horn, and the modern or valved horn, which comes with three to six valves that enable or greatly simplify the task of playing a chromatic scale throughout the instrument’s range.”



The horns in an orchestra or band add the zest, the snap and blare we all have come to appreciate. Whether it’s listening to the brass section of a rock band like Chicago, or a major orchestra, the horn is a key instrument. 



Read our resident musicologist’s first part of the horn by clicking here.

Until Next Month

Thank you for reading our newsletter and for sharing and giving to the world of music. If you have news items or ideas for stories this newsletter can publish, feel free to drop me a line via email. As always, be well and keep listening!

Paul McGowan