Huron, the revolutionary new upgrade for DirectStream is finished and ready for release. Here’s some background.
DirectStream and DirectStream Junior are FPGA based DACs. This means that instead of an off-the-shelf DAC chip as most DACs are, DS products are completely handled in code through a complex arrangement internal to the device. This means the designer, Ted Smith, can pretty much design and redesign the DAC at will. Which is exactly what he’s done.
Huron is startlingly better than Torreys (the last OS in DS). For one thing, Ted was able to wrestle a whopping 21dB of noise out of DS—3dB lower noise in the audible band and 18dB of ultrasonic noise. That’s extraordinary on any number of levels.
When you hear Huron for the first time you’re immediately aware of a blacker background. Instantly obvious. Instruments and voices appear out of the seeming blackness of space. What you’re hearing is that 3dB of lowered noise. But, more than the blackness, is a cleanliness and lack of hash I never anticipated—and the reason for it is obvious. Lowered ultrasonics.
High bandwidth power amplifiers and preamplifiers like BHK are capable of passing ultrasonics. “But wait!” You say. “So what? We can’t hear ultrasonics and speakers aren’t affected by them.” You’d be correct except for one thing. Amps and preamps are impacted by ultrasonics. The fewer ultrasonics they deal with, the sweeter they sound.
And Huron sounds sweet—perhaps because Ted has increased the DAC’s ten times upsampling-to-DSD to twice that: twenty times. Extraordinary.
And Huron has top-end extension I’ve never known the IRS capable of. On Daft Punk’s Within you can hear what sounds like another octave of extension to the cymbals. And horn blats are now as real as if they were live. On the San Francisco Symphony Mahler collection, the opening blasts of the horns have just the right amount of blare without harshness.
And Huron has depth and a correctness to instrumental placement that renders everything else wrong.
And Huron has bass. OMG, the bass thump of the kick drum sends shudders through your chest.
Huron also is MQA and Tidal ready for Bridge II owners. Once Huron’s installed and we release new Bridge II code later this month, DS owners will be treated to a full unfold of MQA (up to 192kHz) and access to Tidal.
We’ll do an official Huron for DS release on Friday, June 9, just in time for the weekend.
Less than one week later, we’ll release Huron for DirectStream Junior.
Huron, MQA, and access to Tidal are free. Indeed, a year of Ted Smith’s life has gone into this miracle of programming and lucky DS owners get it for free.
We all owe Ted Smith a big thank you.
Thank you, Ted. Job well done.