How to update PerfectWave firmware

July 11, 2013
 by Paul McGowan

One of the beauties of the PerfectWave products, DirectStream, PWD, PWT, P5 and P10 Power Plants, is the ease of which we can add features, update software and keep your device current and operating flawlessly. This is accomplished through updates to the firmware inside each unit. The firmware is the operating instructions the PerfectWave system uses to run the device.

Installing new firmware on the PerfectWave products is a really simple procedure. The entire update is stored on an SD memory card (similar to what you might find in a digital camera for memory). The necessary files are loaded onto the SD card, placed in the rear of the PerfectWave product when the AC power is off, then the files are automatically loaded as soon as the AC power is connected. It’s really that easy.

The simplest way to handle the update is to ask your dealer to either assist you or actually perform it for you. If you want the dealer to handle everything, this will most likely require you to return the unit to the dealer for the few minutes it takes to upgrade the software.

You can easily handle the upgrade yourself if you wish. To do this upgrade yourself, there are two options: download the software, add it to the SD memory card and install it.

Installing the firmware upgrade yourself

Most customers will simply install the firmware upgrade themselves because it is so easy to do. Here is an overview of the steps and then we’ll do it step by step.

Overview

Download the files, copy the files to a blank SD memory card using your computer to do so, making sure the power is off on the PerfectWave product, insert the SD card into the PerfectWave and turn the power back on. The front panel logo light will blink indicating the upgrade is taking place and when the unit is ready to play again, simply remove the SD card and you’re done.

Check to see what version you have installed

To check what firmware is currently on your PerfectWave product you need to access the setup screen. Turn the power to the PerfectWave off through the rear panel switch. Then turn it back on. As soon as you see the PS logo appear on the front panel touch screen, touch and hold your finger on the logo until the setup screen appears. From here you can see the unit ID, the firmware installed and set the front panel touch screen brightness if you wish.

Download the files

You can download any update firmware from our download site. Go to Downloads and find the version you wish to use.

Download the files onto your computer. It’s easiest in many cases to place them on the desktop of either your MAC or Windows computer. This just simply helps locate them. If you received the files in a zip folder you must first unzip the files. Do NOT try and add the zip file itself to the SD card. The PerfectWave cannot read a zip file.

You will need a standard SD memory card to load the files onto. You can only use a standard SD card that does not exceed 2gB in size. Ultra, Ultra II SDHC SD cards cannot be read in the PerfectWave. Make sure the SD card is a standard version.

Place the SD card in an SD card reader connected to either your MAC or Windows computer. SD card readers and low cost and easy to acquire. They typically plug into your computer’s USB connection and self install. Most computer setups already have access to this type of card reader. Some cards have a lock on them that prevents data being removed or added – make sure this is unlocked.

Once the computer recognizes the SD card in the reader, double click to see the contents. Make sure the SD card is empty and formatted. Most are. If there is content on the SD card, it’s best to erase the content and clear the card.

With a cleared SD card, simply drag the PS Audio update files you downloaded from our servers onto the card. Make sure you see all the files on the SD card. Make sure there is not a zip file on the SD card.

Load the firmware

Turn off your system’s power amplifier. This will make sure that when you turn the power off on either PerfectWave product you don’t get any unwanted pops and noises.

Turn power off on the PerfectWave product. To do this, reach around the back of the unit and switch off the power. Check to see if there is an SD card installed already. Typically, the PWT is shipped with an SD card either included or installed. The PWD is typically shipped without an SD card.

If there is an SD card installed, push on the card to get it out. The card will pop out for you. Note that the card is installed upside down.

Install the new card with the firmware on it. Make sure the card goes in upside down as shown in the picture. Make sure it click into place.

Turn the rear panel power switch on. If everything is going properly, the front panel logo light will begin to blink, indicating the firmware is being loaded. It will keep blinking until the entire code has been loaded. Once fully loaded, the PerfectWave will restart and be ready for operation.

Remove the card and you’re done

You can now remove the SD card. If it is a PWT, install the original SD card back into the slot so you can get cover art and song titles to appear on the front panel (if you’re connected to the internet). The PerfectWave DAC does not have an SD card installed.

You can check the front panel setup screen to verify you have the latest update completed successfully if you wish. If the logo light on the front panel did not start blinking then the firmware was not installed. Call us for help or email our service department.

As always, we are here to help you in any way we can. Thanks for the support!

88 comments on “How to update PerfectWave firmware”

  1. Hello.
    Do I have to follow the whole series of upgrades or can I directly jump from the actual to the latest firmware version of the DS DAC omitting the upgrade versions I between?

    Regards

  2. My newly purchased P20 notes that I have firmware 1.06 installed, but the PS Audio download page says FW version 105 is the latest released version. Which is the correct latest version?

  3. Paul and Team
    Hi
    Just back from Munich HiEnd Show that was a blast.

    Streaming Tidal to my PW DAC is giving me error messages that say ‘user does not have a valid session’. Whole albums do not play. One track plays and once finished then gives error message.
    Any ideas please?
    One reference pointed back to the renderer software, another mentioned having more than one instance of your account open at one time. Currently running 3.04 machine s/ware and
    I’ve no idea…

    Thanks in advance for your kind support.
    John
    Dr John Read

    1. Double check that you’re running the latest Bridge firmware. Should be version 3.6.17. Also as cliche as it may be, power cycle everything in the system from your phone, router, and all of the way to your DAC.

  4. Hey dear Adminstrator.
    When i tried to update firmware and fix dac can not reconize bridge 1 by sd card, the dac can not flash again the sd card (now 3.0.4 firmware in). And it stuck in initialized screen, and it can move on any more. I tried unplug and turn on many time but it didnot flash like it should. I can tell more detail. Seem like I have used a wrong firmware to update for my DAC PWD MKII (I used direct stream firmware insteal).
    Please help me!!!
    many thanks!

  5. So Paul has shared wisdom from a lot of rooms. You can hear those – do it.

    We have venues such as the Lariat in BV, check it out if you’re up there.

    Acoustics is a balance between what you are given on one hand / and what you can afford on the other. Diffusers are many times the cost of absorption per sq ft while absorbers require careful, bounded application.

    Mainly no one person can give you a recipe or tell you precisely how to proceed – that’s ridiculous as they do not know your room and tastes. There’s all kinds! Follow Paul’s guidance and start with simple, baby steps. Use your ears, experiment. As a byproduct, you will find you learn a lot along the way.

  6. This is a common logical fallacy:

    1. Tubes sound better

    2. Tubes have more second order distortion

    Conclusion: second order distortion improves the sound.

    Hearing is much more complex. Wood has second order distortion, apertures have second order distortion and EARS have significant second order distortion, so our brains have very sophisticated cancellation of second order distortion. This means that second order distortion does not sound bad, because we can hear through it with great clarity. 1% 2nd order distortion is inaudible to even the best ears.

    Tube preamps sound better because they are all class A with supply rails at hundreds of times the signal level and no crossover distortion; preamp tubes are ten to a thousand times faster than preamp transistors so there is no slewing limit, especially the P type or common emitter on monolithic opamp outputs; there is only local feedback; and they only load the source, cable and RIAA networks with 1 MegOhm instead of 20K-100K.

    If you used FETs with 100 Volt power supply and 100MHz corner frequency that should sound more like the virtues of tubes.

  7. I want to clarify that real audio purity starts with a zero knob recording. It shall have no splicing, no overdubbing, no more microphones than the number of output speakers, no mixing, no mastering, no panning, no equalization, no compression, no limiting, and no added reverb, especially statistical DSP reverb algorithms.

    This preserves the organic purity of the human content in music, like a drink from a well on an un-populated watershed upwind from industry, generators and highways. We used to have an A frame chalet a few miles out of Breckenridge on a pristine mountainside. The well was rock filtered high altitude precipitation. YUM!

  8. Off topic but includes the word "absorb".

    I just saw an article that says the average cost of tickets to the Super Bowl on the resale sights, )and this is for the ones actually selling not what they are asking) is $6,002. The market seems willing to absorb this kind of pricing. What a frickin’ waste of money. For those of us here that would buy a lot of high class audio gear we could get more than four hours of enjoyment out of.

    Better yet, take that money and use it to help the Australian Bush Fires or other funds (mentioned earlier), or pay for the local kid’s school lunch bill so that kids can get a hot meal or two (even if it now is pizza instead of fruits and vegetables).

    End of off topic comment.

    As to on-topic, the more I read on this subject the more I am leaning toward just making all my kits nearfield to keep the room out of the equation at all times 🙂

  9. Important details:

    The mirror needs to be flat against the surface, a selfie pole may help. A really long selfie pole or movie-making mic fishpole can make this a one person operation. You could also map the room and determine the acoustic treatment positions geometrically.

    Remember to account for both tweeters and all preferred listening positions, and consider the ceiling, floor, and back walls as well. This is 12 first reflection points per seat for stereo and 60 points per seat for a 5.1 surround system.

    The acoustic treatment needs to be at least a wavelength in transverse dimensions, 1/4 wavelength in depth, and under 1/2 wavelength in granularity. For vocal frequencies (400Hz-4KHz), this translates to 85cm H x 85cm W x 20cm D (34" H x 34" W x 8" D) with grating aperture width of 5cm (2"). I design media storage shelving to tame the room acoustics, which can fill a lot of wall space without looking too alien.

    Older readers may remember when text and images came on paper sheets bound into "books". These have been deprecated as information storage, and are now the cheapest effective acoustic treatment. They can be configured as diffusion, absorbtion, Helmholtz bass traps and bass diffusors. They have enough mass to stop sound waves from penetrating walls. You may have other physical information storage already like CDs and LPs, which also can be found used at large discount if you are not concerned about content nor condition.

    As Soundminded implied, the goal is to delay and soften specular reflections. In a real concert hall, the path length difference between the direct sound and the first reflections off the side walls is at least 5m (17′) for Prime Parquet seats and the bulk of the reverb is hundreds of feet delayed. For a full orchestra there will be some image reflections from the stage walls in the same initial time frame, but there are at least 15ms clear of reflections; and all the individual reflections have different spatio-temporal patterns for every musician location – so they should be in the recording, NOT in the listening room! *

    This is why two channel stereo is completely fake in modern architecture and interior design. Bare walls, ceiling and floor generate strong focused reflections of the entire orchestra at precisely the same time – because it is all coming from two physical locations.
    The goal of mainstream recordings and audio setups appears to be scrambling the signal in time as much as possible. Multi-miking, multi-tracking, processing, distant miking and artificial reverb all contribute to this artificiality.

    Speakers are designed by ear to scramble time and off axis frequency response as much as possible to break up these strong reflections. The designers are not deliberately trying to incorporate high order crossovers and cabinets with diffraction based time and space distortions, they just sound better than time coherent room reflections of 2 channel sound to ears untrained to real music (but not to musicians). It is still considered visually onerous to adequately treat walls, even by cleverly designed acoustic furniture. Everyone expects audio to be something you bring home in a box, plug in and hit play – but good sound takes considerable time and expertise.

    I maintain that bare walls are bad for your hearing and vision; and further, that the multi-mode cognitive dissonance of bare walls causes stress that is bad for your health.

    OTOH, just like purity, I have never heard TOO MUCH diffusion given an good recording. I have heard too much absorption and too much bass trapping, but that sounds better than too little.

    *UNLESS you create multiple delays from multiple source locations in all the reflections, i.e. hand tuned electro-acoustic reverb system. This works better with a multi-track source, because you can create a different reverb pattern for each instrument or section. I am talking more about multi-channel created by close multi-miking, rather than array microphone recordings divided by directionality or near coincident spacing in rooms – the latter requires multiplying the first reflection point treatments until there is no bare wall at all. I am sorely disappointed by most "surround" recordings, even more so by Atmos. This approach doesn’t really work until you get to finer than one degree.

  10. I used to believe in treating first reflection points, something I started doing back around 2000 after reading Everest’s "Master Handbook of Acoustics", and was very impressed with the results. Some years later Floyd Toole published his "Sound Reproduction" and I read his comment that most people preferred leaving first reflection points untreated but that some, including recording engineers, did prefer them treated. I left them treated for years but eventually got around to trying things with them untreated. I was surprised to find that I preferred the first reflection points untreated. One of the benefits I noticed from leaving them untreated was a much livelier sound. It wasn’t that I now had less absorption in the room, I moved the absorption panels to locations other than first reflection points so the amount of absorption in the room remained unchanged. It was that the first reflections arrived within the "fusion period" and were perceived as part of the first arrival sound, contributing to the first arrival sound in various ways and also contributing to a greater sense of space. There is definitely an element of personal taste plus what you’re used to when it comes to how people respond to first reflections.

    On the subject of diffusion I can remember reading on the RPG site (they make a range of well respected diffusors) that you need to place diffusors some distance from the listener in order for the diffusion to develop properly if you wish to avoid undesirable audible artefacts and they recommended a minimum distance of 10′. If you’re placing diffusors at the side walls first reflection points that means you’re looking at a minimum room width of close to 20′ plus whatever the width of your seating area is, taking into account that the side wall first reflection points are somewhat forward of the listening position so the distance to the side wall level with the listening position is going to be a bit less than the distance from the diffusor’s location to the listening position. Toole recommends diffusion on front and/or rear walls if you’re going to use it and also makes the point that you can’t create a truely diffuse sound field in small rooms and most of our listening rooms are small rooms. Many of us don’t have the space to achieve a minimum distance of 10′ between diffusor and listening position in our rooms, I certainly can’t in my room. I’ve never had success with diffusion in my rooms which have both been on the small side but I’ve only used DIY diffusion which probably was not particularly effective.

    Add to that the fact that what we’re doing when we physically treat a room is to alter the behaviour of sound waves in the room in ways which directly impact on the sense of spaciousness we perceive as well as the size of the soundstage and the size and preciseness of individual images within that soundstage. Individual preferences are quite varied when it comes to those effects and what one person likes can be anathema to another.

    After 20 years of playing with physical acoustic treatments in my room I’ve come to several conclusions. First, room size is a significant factor in relation to what works and what doesn’t work, and other room factors such as shape of room (many of us including me don’t have one of those nice, rectangular rooms shown in all of the diagrams you come across showing where to treat a room) and whether it is permanently open to other areas or not (open plan spaces are common these days). Second, once we get past the room variations which play a big part in what treatment and treatment location is most effective, there’s a wide range of individual preferences when it comes to what kind of presentation of the sound we each individually prefer. The end result is that I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no single treatment approach that will satisfy everyone. You have to take your own specific room and your personal tastes into account.

    I’m a member of a local audio club which holds meetings in members’ homes so I’ve had the opportunity to listen in a lot of different rooms. One of the club members is an architect who has taken an interest in listening room design and I’ve now listened in 4 different rooms he’s designed and I’ve been very impressed by what I’ve heard in those rooms but what he does definitely does not follow the normal set of guidelines you see. He favours placing the speakers along a long wall rather than a short wall, a sloping ceiling increasing in height as you move from the wall the speakers are placed along to the wall behind the listener, and angled reflective panels at locations along the walls to reflect sound up towards the ceiling which is higher than normal. Placing the speakers along a long wall allows you to leave more space between them and the side walls and that helps control the strength of the side wall first reflections without the need for treatment at those locations. His rooms seem to require minimal treatment apart from bass trapping in the corners to achieve really excellent results, at least to my ears.

    In my own case, listening in an L-shaped room with 2 open archway entrances opening into other spaces and an 8′ ceiling height, I’ve found I’ve got my best results using bass traps in the corners, a single absorption panel midway between the speakers on the front wall, and more absorption on the back wall behind me, a wall which isn’t as wide as the front wall. It’s not an ideal room in some ways but after a lot of experimenting with the amount and placement of the treatment I use (4 RealTRAPS corner Mondo panels and 4 RealTRAPS high frequency Mondo panels), I’m getting the best results I’ve ever had. All of the treatment is on the front and back walls and the side walls are untreated, largely because one of those side walls has the bend in the L-shape in it so its wider at the front than at the back behind me and the 2 archway entrances are along that side which places severe limitations on where I could place treatment along that side of the room.

    In my experience you get the best results when you learn how to work with your room and its particular characteristics, and when you pay attention to your own personal preferences when it comes to things like how much sense of spaciousness you want and the kind of soundstage and imaging you prefer. I think it’s possible to get good results in most rooms but its easier when the room is used only for listening so it doesn’t have to cater to other activities which restrict setup options and treatment placement. If I were asked for a general set of rules applicable to all rooms about the only thing I’d really say was that bass trapping is always beneficial and the corners tend to be the best places for bass trapping. After that, I really don’t have any firm guidelines. I have a personal preference for leaving first reflection points on the front and side walls untreated and confining treatment to the front and back walls but that’s a personal preference and I would not recommend it for everyone.

    Apart from that, YMMV and take anything you read or are told with a grain of salt, including what I’ve written above. The best thing you can do is to experiment, listen, and pay attention to what you notice. Free standing treatments on stands which you can easily relocate rather than treatments you have to physically fix to walls are much easier to work with if you’re going to experiment and the space they allow you to provide between an absorber and the wall behind it increases the effectiveness of the absorber and allows you to use less absorption as a result.

    Acoustic treatments really do make a difference but the devil is in the details and the details are what determine whether you get a result which works for you in your particular room. There is no universal set of point by point instructions that everyone can follow and be assured of good results.

  11. Back in 2008 I was a sales manager for a Tweeter store in Connecticut. We just began selling Audioquest products and all of the salespeople really loved upgrading to these products. The one product that none of us though would make a difference was the AC cords. To prove that they actually worked and that we could sell them with a clear conscience I tried switching out the stock AC cord on a Pioneer Elite plasma tv we had on display near the front counter. The difference the Audioquest AC cord made on this set was nothing short of astounding. The picture that was amazing with the stock cord improved exponentially when we connected the entry level Audioquest AC cord. From then on all we had to do to convince a customer that they really needed to upgrade their AC cords was to show them this demo. It worked ever time because there was no doubt that the picture was better with the Audioquest AC cord.

  12. Hey dear Adminstrator.
    When i tried to update firmware and fix dac can not reconize bridge 1 by sd card, the dac can not flash again the sd card (now 3.0.4 firmware in). And it stuck in initialized screen, and it can move on any more. I tried unplug and turn on many time but it didnot flash like it should. I can tell more detail. Seem like I have used a wrong firmware to update for my DAC PWD MKII (I used direct stream firmware insteal).
    Please help me!!!
    many thanks!

    1. Hi.
      I have the same problem as you described other software, I think I threw it by mistake and the image is still as you described. Still image does not respond to anything. You may have a rescue program that unlocked the screen and you can upload the original software to the SD card. Please help

  13. So Paul has shared wisdom from a lot of rooms. You can hear those – do it.

    We have venues such as the Lariat in BV, check it out if you’re up there.

    Acoustics is a balance between what you are given on one hand / and what you can afford on the other. Diffusers are many times the cost of absorption per sq ft while absorbers require careful, bounded application.

    Mainly no one person can give you a recipe or tell you precisely how to proceed – that’s ridiculous as they do not know your room and tastes. There’s all kinds! Follow Paul’s guidance and start with simple, baby steps. Use your ears, experiment. As a byproduct, you will find you learn a lot along the way.

  14. This is a common logical fallacy:

    1. Tubes sound better

    2. Tubes have more second order distortion

    Conclusion: second order distortion improves the sound.

    Hearing is much more complex. Wood has second order distortion, apertures have second order distortion and EARS have significant second order distortion, so our brains have very sophisticated cancellation of second order distortion. This means that second order distortion does not sound bad, because we can hear through it with great clarity. 1% 2nd order distortion is inaudible to even the best ears.

    Tube preamps sound better because they are all class A with supply rails at hundreds of times the signal level and no crossover distortion; preamp tubes are ten to a thousand times faster than preamp transistors so there is no slewing limit, especially the P type or common emitter on monolithic opamp outputs; there is only local feedback; and they only load the source, cable and RIAA networks with 1 MegOhm instead of 20K-100K.

    If you used FETs with 100 Volt power supply and 100MHz corner frequency that should sound more like the virtues of tubes.

  15. I want to clarify that real audio purity starts with a zero knob recording. It shall have no splicing, no overdubbing, no more microphones than the number of output speakers, no mixing, no mastering, no panning, no equalization, no compression, no limiting, and no added reverb, especially statistical DSP reverb algorithms.

    This preserves the organic purity of the human content in music, like a drink from a well on an un-populated watershed upwind from industry, generators and highways. We used to have an A frame chalet a few miles out of Breckenridge on a pristine mountainside. The well was rock filtered high altitude precipitation. YUM!

  16. Off topic but includes the word "absorb".

    I just saw an article that says the average cost of tickets to the Super Bowl on the resale sights, )and this is for the ones actually selling not what they are asking) is $6,002. The market seems willing to absorb this kind of pricing. What a frickin’ waste of money. For those of us here that would buy a lot of high class audio gear we could get more than four hours of enjoyment out of.

    Better yet, take that money and use it to help the Australian Bush Fires or other funds (mentioned earlier), or pay for the local kid’s school lunch bill so that kids can get a hot meal or two (even if it now is pizza instead of fruits and vegetables).

    End of off topic comment.

    As to on-topic, the more I read on this subject the more I am leaning toward just making all my kits nearfield to keep the room out of the equation at all times 🙂

  17. Important details:

    The mirror needs to be flat against the surface, a selfie pole may help. A really long selfie pole or movie-making mic fishpole can make this a one person operation. You could also map the room and determine the acoustic treatment positions geometrically.

    Remember to account for both tweeters and all preferred listening positions, and consider the ceiling, floor, and back walls as well. This is 12 first reflection points per seat for stereo and 60 points per seat for a 5.1 surround system.

    The acoustic treatment needs to be at least a wavelength in transverse dimensions, 1/4 wavelength in depth, and under 1/2 wavelength in granularity. For vocal frequencies (400Hz-4KHz), this translates to 85cm H x 85cm W x 20cm D (34" H x 34" W x 8" D) with grating aperture width of 5cm (2"). I design media storage shelving to tame the room acoustics, which can fill a lot of wall space without looking too alien.

    Older readers may remember when text and images came on paper sheets bound into "books". These have been deprecated as information storage, and are now the cheapest effective acoustic treatment. They can be configured as diffusion, absorbtion, Helmholtz bass traps and bass diffusors. They have enough mass to stop sound waves from penetrating walls. You may have other physical information storage already like CDs and LPs, which also can be found used at large discount if you are not concerned about content nor condition.

    As Soundminded implied, the goal is to delay and soften specular reflections. In a real concert hall, the path length difference between the direct sound and the first reflections off the side walls is at least 5m (17′) for Prime Parquet seats and the bulk of the reverb is hundreds of feet delayed. For a full orchestra there will be some image reflections from the stage walls in the same initial time frame, but there are at least 15ms clear of reflections; and all the individual reflections have different spatio-temporal patterns for every musician location – so they should be in the recording, NOT in the listening room! *

    This is why two channel stereo is completely fake in modern architecture and interior design. Bare walls, ceiling and floor generate strong focused reflections of the entire orchestra at precisely the same time – because it is all coming from two physical locations.
    The goal of mainstream recordings and audio setups appears to be scrambling the signal in time as much as possible. Multi-miking, multi-tracking, processing, distant miking and artificial reverb all contribute to this artificiality.

    Speakers are designed by ear to scramble time and off axis frequency response as much as possible to break up these strong reflections. The designers are not deliberately trying to incorporate high order crossovers and cabinets with diffraction based time and space distortions, they just sound better than time coherent room reflections of 2 channel sound to ears untrained to real music (but not to musicians). It is still considered visually onerous to adequately treat walls, even by cleverly designed acoustic furniture. Everyone expects audio to be something you bring home in a box, plug in and hit play – but good sound takes considerable time and expertise.

    I maintain that bare walls are bad for your hearing and vision; and further, that the multi-mode cognitive dissonance of bare walls causes stress that is bad for your health.

    OTOH, just like purity, I have never heard TOO MUCH diffusion given an good recording. I have heard too much absorption and too much bass trapping, but that sounds better than too little.

    *UNLESS you create multiple delays from multiple source locations in all the reflections, i.e. hand tuned electro-acoustic reverb system. This works better with a multi-track source, because you can create a different reverb pattern for each instrument or section. I am talking more about multi-channel created by close multi-miking, rather than array microphone recordings divided by directionality or near coincident spacing in rooms – the latter requires multiplying the first reflection point treatments until there is no bare wall at all. I am sorely disappointed by most "surround" recordings, even more so by Atmos. This approach doesn’t really work until you get to finer than one degree.

  18. I used to believe in treating first reflection points, something I started doing back around 2000 after reading Everest’s "Master Handbook of Acoustics", and was very impressed with the results. Some years later Floyd Toole published his "Sound Reproduction" and I read his comment that most people preferred leaving first reflection points untreated but that some, including recording engineers, did prefer them treated. I left them treated for years but eventually got around to trying things with them untreated. I was surprised to find that I preferred the first reflection points untreated. One of the benefits I noticed from leaving them untreated was a much livelier sound. It wasn’t that I now had less absorption in the room, I moved the absorption panels to locations other than first reflection points so the amount of absorption in the room remained unchanged. It was that the first reflections arrived within the "fusion period" and were perceived as part of the first arrival sound, contributing to the first arrival sound in various ways and also contributing to a greater sense of space. There is definitely an element of personal taste plus what you’re used to when it comes to how people respond to first reflections.

    On the subject of diffusion I can remember reading on the RPG site (they make a range of well respected diffusors) that you need to place diffusors some distance from the listener in order for the diffusion to develop properly if you wish to avoid undesirable audible artefacts and they recommended a minimum distance of 10′. If you’re placing diffusors at the side walls first reflection points that means you’re looking at a minimum room width of close to 20′ plus whatever the width of your seating area is, taking into account that the side wall first reflection points are somewhat forward of the listening position so the distance to the side wall level with the listening position is going to be a bit less than the distance from the diffusor’s location to the listening position. Toole recommends diffusion on front and/or rear walls if you’re going to use it and also makes the point that you can’t create a truely diffuse sound field in small rooms and most of our listening rooms are small rooms. Many of us don’t have the space to achieve a minimum distance of 10′ between diffusor and listening position in our rooms, I certainly can’t in my room. I’ve never had success with diffusion in my rooms which have both been on the small side but I’ve only used DIY diffusion which probably was not particularly effective.

    Add to that the fact that what we’re doing when we physically treat a room is to alter the behaviour of sound waves in the room in ways which directly impact on the sense of spaciousness we perceive as well as the size of the soundstage and the size and preciseness of individual images within that soundstage. Individual preferences are quite varied when it comes to those effects and what one person likes can be anathema to another.

    After 20 years of playing with physical acoustic treatments in my room I’ve come to several conclusions. First, room size is a significant factor in relation to what works and what doesn’t work, and other room factors such as shape of room (many of us including me don’t have one of those nice, rectangular rooms shown in all of the diagrams you come across showing where to treat a room) and whether it is permanently open to other areas or not (open plan spaces are common these days). Second, once we get past the room variations which play a big part in what treatment and treatment location is most effective, there’s a wide range of individual preferences when it comes to what kind of presentation of the sound we each individually prefer. The end result is that I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no single treatment approach that will satisfy everyone. You have to take your own specific room and your personal tastes into account.

    I’m a member of a local audio club which holds meetings in members’ homes so I’ve had the opportunity to listen in a lot of different rooms. One of the club members is an architect who has taken an interest in listening room design and I’ve now listened in 4 different rooms he’s designed and I’ve been very impressed by what I’ve heard in those rooms but what he does definitely does not follow the normal set of guidelines you see. He favours placing the speakers along a long wall rather than a short wall, a sloping ceiling increasing in height as you move from the wall the speakers are placed along to the wall behind the listener, and angled reflective panels at locations along the walls to reflect sound up towards the ceiling which is higher than normal. Placing the speakers along a long wall allows you to leave more space between them and the side walls and that helps control the strength of the side wall first reflections without the need for treatment at those locations. His rooms seem to require minimal treatment apart from bass trapping in the corners to achieve really excellent results, at least to my ears.

    In my own case, listening in an L-shaped room with 2 open archway entrances opening into other spaces and an 8′ ceiling height, I’ve found I’ve got my best results using bass traps in the corners, a single absorption panel midway between the speakers on the front wall, and more absorption on the back wall behind me, a wall which isn’t as wide as the front wall. It’s not an ideal room in some ways but after a lot of experimenting with the amount and placement of the treatment I use (4 RealTRAPS corner Mondo panels and 4 RealTRAPS high frequency Mondo panels), I’m getting the best results I’ve ever had. All of the treatment is on the front and back walls and the side walls are untreated, largely because one of those side walls has the bend in the L-shape in it so its wider at the front than at the back behind me and the 2 archway entrances are along that side which places severe limitations on where I could place treatment along that side of the room.

    In my experience you get the best results when you learn how to work with your room and its particular characteristics, and when you pay attention to your own personal preferences when it comes to things like how much sense of spaciousness you want and the kind of soundstage and imaging you prefer. I think it’s possible to get good results in most rooms but its easier when the room is used only for listening so it doesn’t have to cater to other activities which restrict setup options and treatment placement. If I were asked for a general set of rules applicable to all rooms about the only thing I’d really say was that bass trapping is always beneficial and the corners tend to be the best places for bass trapping. After that, I really don’t have any firm guidelines. I have a personal preference for leaving first reflection points on the front and side walls untreated and confining treatment to the front and back walls but that’s a personal preference and I would not recommend it for everyone.

    Apart from that, YMMV and take anything you read or are told with a grain of salt, including what I’ve written above. The best thing you can do is to experiment, listen, and pay attention to what you notice. Free standing treatments on stands which you can easily relocate rather than treatments you have to physically fix to walls are much easier to work with if you’re going to experiment and the space they allow you to provide between an absorber and the wall behind it increases the effectiveness of the absorber and allows you to use less absorption as a result.

    Acoustic treatments really do make a difference but the devil is in the details and the details are what determine whether you get a result which works for you in your particular room. There is no universal set of point by point instructions that everyone can follow and be assured of good results.

  19. Back in 2008 I was a sales manager for a Tweeter store in Connecticut. We just began selling Audioquest products and all of the salespeople really loved upgrading to these products. The one product that none of us though would make a difference was the AC cords. To prove that they actually worked and that we could sell them with a clear conscience I tried switching out the stock AC cord on a Pioneer Elite plasma tv we had on display near the front counter. The difference the Audioquest AC cord made on this set was nothing short of astounding. The picture that was amazing with the stock cord improved exponentially when we connected the entry level Audioquest AC cord. From then on all we had to do to convince a customer that they really needed to upgrade their AC cords was to show them this demo. It worked ever time because there was no doubt that the picture was better with the Audioquest AC cord.

  20. A piano is a hand-crafted instrument and each one will be slightly different. In particular, the largest element, the soundboard, is a huge hand-shaped piece of wood. There is a story that Arthur Rubenstein (I think) used to require Steinway to provide three pianos for his concerts and he would decide shortly beforehand which one he preferred. Stephen Isserlis said at a concert that if he had to return his loan cello to the Royal College of Music he’d kill himself. Not everyone thought he was joking. I went to a talk by the head technical guy of Steinway and they now have computer controlled manufacturing, soundboards measure with lasers, to get everything as close as possible.

    On the other hand, I have a Huawei P20 mobile phone and, in so far as engineering can detect, is almost certainly identical and indistinguishable from the millions of others made.

    My audio unit is made using mobile phone technology. I hope it sounds the same as the thousands of others.

    If you buy from Audio note, every component has been hand made in a factory process that would have been familiar in the 1960s. They aim for them to measure the same. If they do not, and there is variation in performance, it is more due to accident than design. I call it bad manufacturing.

    I sincerely hope all modern audio products do sound the same, tell me which ones don’t and I’ll avoid them.

  21. “You might just have a gem”

    That’s great positive thinking which I fully endorse but equally you can’t ignore the fact that you might have a dog!

    I must confess I had never considered this aspect but now I have something else to worry about, more insecurities that my system is up to scratch. Thanks for that.

    Okay, like most of this post it’s tongue in cheek. It’s not something over which I have any control so I’m not going to bother about it. As jazznut said “something to completely ignore”.

    But then can we, the seeds have been planted!

  22. Due to the high tolerance of modern components, it would take a great pair of ears and a really revealing system to be able to discern the minor difference between any two of the same model components produced today. That being said, I did notice a significant difference between, say, the Redcloud and Snowmass updates for the Directstream DAC. This is due to the fact that these are entirely different designs — essentially different products — and not variations between the same model of DAC. FPGAs are unique in that completely different circuits can be had without changing any components. All in all, I think jazznut has the proper attitude here.

  23. Soundmind, You summarized a collection of good points. Thank-you.
    I prefer to judge my very good/not extravagant system based on live orchestras in good halls. It is rare that I get the same emotional high from my system as I do from The Philadelphia Orchestra live
    (I am lucky to live a block away) or unamplified jazz in a good club. In contrast, I frequently prefer the sound of rock recordings to live concerts. The live venues and sound reinforcement have more energy, for sure, but frequently excremental sound that is entirely too loud.

  24. The Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra is among the greatest in the world. It has a long history of outstanding musicians, conductors, recordings. It had what came to be known as "The Philadelphia Sound." I’d heard it had gone through bankruptcy. I’m glad to see it is still around. I think it got a new concert hall some years ago. I hope it’s a good one. Concert hall acoustics makes all of the difference. That’s what I’ve focused my attention on these past 46 years. The sound of a great live symphony orchestra in a great concert hall is IMO the pinnacle of what music can sound like. There have been a lot of disasters like Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. Such high hopes dashed and not satisfactorily fixed for nearly 60 years. By contrast Boston Symphony Hall is one of the two or three best in the world. You’d think anyone who wanted to design and build a concert hall would copy it exactly right down to the last nail. Duplicating these sounds from a recording is a challenge. The best the industry can do is what one audiophile called "canned music." And he was right on the money with that assessment IMO. The live sound in the hall has everything audiophiles want but can’t get. You want to talk about "the same?" The industry has had the same design since 1958 in endless variants. They’ve refined every detail of a failed concept to perfection. The problem has beaten them down so badly for so long they’ve given up even trying and no longer making claims of concert hall realism. Audiophiles are only fooling themselves if they think they’ve got it.

  25. I remember buying a great sounding Hitachi cassette deck in the 80’s. It sounded perfect but there was a blemish on the front panel so I returned it to the store and exchanged it for same model. It didn’t have the blemish but also didn’t sound as good. No doubt for a number of reasons two of the same model will sound different including not using the same internal wiring or the quality of the workmanship and tweaking which varies. You have to get lucky to get that gem and when you do don’t part with it. It just sounds superior to everything else.

  26. Another point to be made is how do you know which component needs to be upgraded unless you have other models available to swap in and out? This is why I load up on used equipment at reasonable prices for comparison.

    An amplifier, preamplifier, turntable, cartridges, tuner, CD player, cables, etc cannot be played without being hooked up to each other so if you think your system needs upgrading the only way to tell the weak link is to have many components available to swap in and out.

    If you bought everything new all at one time you would never be able to tell what the weak link is. Having the same models sounding different due to tolerances and workmanship complicates it.

    Comparing well made receivers might be something to consider. There’s no better synergy then a well made receiver which is why the well made vintage receivers of the 70’s and early 80’s are sought after.

    Reading reviews of trusted magazines is also a good starting point. Reviewers sometime get a bad batch component and have to send it back. Usually the new one the manufacturers sends back sounds much better.

    Good cables which is really a component, clean connections, room placement of speakers, how room furnishings and their position in the room effect the sound are the top tweaks in my system. Have your ears cleaned too. There’s a lot to consider.

  27. Thanks for your comments, Craig. Comedy, music (and love, of course), are my greatest pleasures in life. I still subscribe to a newspaper as much for the comics as the news. I have over 200 comedy LPs, including several National Lampoon discs. If you’ve never heard San Francisco’s Little Roger & the Goosebumps doing "Stairway to Gilligan’s Island" (for which they were sued) and "Kennedy Girls" (a parody of Neil Young’s "Cinnamon Girls,") check them out on YouTube. I have the original 45.

  28. Hello highstream,

    Another way to look at it is ‘pure marketing genius’. Get everyone or at least a percentage of everyone to question what they have, A gem or a facsimile of. Let that brew in people’s heads for a while, and a percentage of the percentage will gamble on getting a new piece with the hope of receiving the gem.

    I’m not saying that was the intent of the post, but certainly it’s a plausible outcome. Or maybe the purpose of the post was just to point out a cold hard fact.

    Like you, I question how much the hope of getting a ‘gem’ of any given product really is an incentive to purchase. 🙂

  29. As I said, "..like the lottery." Except lottery tickets are a lot cheaper. It’s hard to fathom what the point of today’s post is — or if it was actually thought through. If customers are to be believed, there’s apparently already enough variation in the functional quality of units without pointing at small variations in caps and such.

  30. A piano is a hand-crafted instrument and each one will be slightly different. In particular, the largest element, the soundboard, is a huge hand-shaped piece of wood. There is a story that Arthur Rubenstein (I think) used to require Steinway to provide three pianos for his concerts and he would decide shortly beforehand which one he preferred. Stephen Isserlis said at a concert that if he had to return his loan cello to the Royal College of Music he’d kill himself. Not everyone thought he was joking. I went to a talk by the head technical guy of Steinway and they now have computer controlled manufacturing, soundboards measure with lasers, to get everything as close as possible.

    On the other hand, I have a Huawei P20 mobile phone and, in so far as engineering can detect, is almost certainly identical and indistinguishable from the millions of others made.

    My audio unit is made using mobile phone technology. I hope it sounds the same as the thousands of others.

    If you buy from Audio note, every component has been hand made in a factory process that would have been familiar in the 1960s. They aim for them to measure the same. If they do not, and there is variation in performance, it is more due to accident than design. I call it bad manufacturing.

    I sincerely hope all modern audio products do sound the same, tell me which ones don’t and I’ll avoid them.

  31. “You might just have a gem”

    That’s great positive thinking which I fully endorse but equally you can’t ignore the fact that you might have a dog!

    I must confess I had never considered this aspect but now I have something else to worry about, more insecurities that my system is up to scratch. Thanks for that.

    Okay, like most of this post it’s tongue in cheek. It’s not something over which I have any control so I’m not going to bother about it. As jazznut said “something to completely ignore”.

    But then can we, the seeds have been planted!

  32. Due to the high tolerance of modern components, it would take a great pair of ears and a really revealing system to be able to discern the minor difference between any two of the same model components produced today. That being said, I did notice a significant difference between, say, the Redcloud and Snowmass updates for the Directstream DAC. This is due to the fact that these are entirely different designs — essentially different products — and not variations between the same model of DAC. FPGAs are unique in that completely different circuits can be had without changing any components. All in all, I think jazznut has the proper attitude here.

  33. Soundmind, You summarized a collection of good points. Thank-you.
    I prefer to judge my very good/not extravagant system based on live orchestras in good halls. It is rare that I get the same emotional high from my system as I do from The Philadelphia Orchestra live
    (I am lucky to live a block away) or unamplified jazz in a good club. In contrast, I frequently prefer the sound of rock recordings to live concerts. The live venues and sound reinforcement have more energy, for sure, but frequently excremental sound that is entirely too loud.

  34. The Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra is among the greatest in the world. It has a long history of outstanding musicians, conductors, recordings. It had what came to be known as "The Philadelphia Sound." I’d heard it had gone through bankruptcy. I’m glad to see it is still around. I think it got a new concert hall some years ago. I hope it’s a good one. Concert hall acoustics makes all of the difference. That’s what I’ve focused my attention on these past 46 years. The sound of a great live symphony orchestra in a great concert hall is IMO the pinnacle of what music can sound like. There have been a lot of disasters like Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. Such high hopes dashed and not satisfactorily fixed for nearly 60 years. By contrast Boston Symphony Hall is one of the two or three best in the world. You’d think anyone who wanted to design and build a concert hall would copy it exactly right down to the last nail. Duplicating these sounds from a recording is a challenge. The best the industry can do is what one audiophile called "canned music." And he was right on the money with that assessment IMO. The live sound in the hall has everything audiophiles want but can’t get. You want to talk about "the same?" The industry has had the same design since 1958 in endless variants. They’ve refined every detail of a failed concept to perfection. The problem has beaten them down so badly for so long they’ve given up even trying and no longer making claims of concert hall realism. Audiophiles are only fooling themselves if they think they’ve got it.

  35. I remember buying a great sounding Hitachi cassette deck in the 80’s. It sounded perfect but there was a blemish on the front panel so I returned it to the store and exchanged it for same model. It didn’t have the blemish but also didn’t sound as good. No doubt for a number of reasons two of the same model will sound different including not using the same internal wiring or the quality of the workmanship and tweaking which varies. You have to get lucky to get that gem and when you do don’t part with it. It just sounds superior to everything else.

  36. Another point to be made is how do you know which component needs to be upgraded unless you have other models available to swap in and out? This is why I load up on used equipment at reasonable prices for comparison.

    An amplifier, preamplifier, turntable, cartridges, tuner, CD player, cables, etc cannot be played without being hooked up to each other so if you think your system needs upgrading the only way to tell the weak link is to have many components available to swap in and out.

    If you bought everything new all at one time you would never be able to tell what the weak link is. Having the same models sounding different due to tolerances and workmanship complicates it.

    Comparing well made receivers might be something to consider. There’s no better synergy then a well made receiver which is why the well made vintage receivers of the 70’s and early 80’s are sought after.

    Reading reviews of trusted magazines is also a good starting point. Reviewers sometime get a bad batch component and have to send it back. Usually the new one the manufacturers sends back sounds much better.

    Good cables which is really a component, clean connections, room placement of speakers, how room furnishings and their position in the room effect the sound are the top tweaks in my system. Have your ears cleaned too. There’s a lot to consider.

  37. Thanks for your comments, Craig. Comedy, music (and love, of course), are my greatest pleasures in life. I still subscribe to a newspaper as much for the comics as the news. I have over 200 comedy LPs, including several National Lampoon discs. If you’ve never heard San Francisco’s Little Roger & the Goosebumps doing "Stairway to Gilligan’s Island" (for which they were sued) and "Kennedy Girls" (a parody of Neil Young’s "Cinnamon Girls,") check them out on YouTube. I have the original 45.

  38. Hello highstream,

    Another way to look at it is ‘pure marketing genius’. Get everyone or at least a percentage of everyone to question what they have, A gem or a facsimile of. Let that brew in people’s heads for a while, and a percentage of the percentage will gamble on getting a new piece with the hope of receiving the gem.

    I’m not saying that was the intent of the post, but certainly it’s a plausible outcome. Or maybe the purpose of the post was just to point out a cold hard fact.

    Like you, I question how much the hope of getting a ‘gem’ of any given product really is an incentive to purchase. 🙂

  39. As I said, "..like the lottery." Except lottery tickets are a lot cheaper. It’s hard to fathom what the point of today’s post is — or if it was actually thought through. If customers are to be believed, there’s apparently already enough variation in the functional quality of units without pointing at small variations in caps and such.

  40. Hey dear Adminstrator.
    When I tried to update the firmware and fix the DAC cannot recognize bridge 1 through the SD card, the DAC cannot flash again the SD card (now firmware 3.0.4 in). I got stuck in an initialized screen and can keep moving. Tried to unplug and turn on many times but not blinking like it should. I can tell you more details. Seems like I used the wrong firmware to update my PWD MKII DAC (I used the insteal firmware direct stream).
    Please help me!!!
    thanks a lot!

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