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PS Audio Proclaims PCM DAC Advance

Boulder, Colo. — PS Audio plans April shipments of a $5,995-suggested DAC that it contended will overcome the flaws of PCM processing to “reveal all the missing information buried within PCM-based digital recordings.”

The PCM decoding process itself masks subtle musical cues, PS Audio said, but “the missing musical information is still buried deep within our audio libraries waiting to be revealed.”

With PS Audio’s DirectStream DAC, “billions of CDs and high-resolution downloads worldwide will gain new life and be saved from obsolescence,” the company said.

DirectStream converts all digital inputs, including PCM, to pure 1-bit DSD through a simple circuit path. As a result, the company said, a PCM feed becomes “more linear” and “less edgy,” and “never-before-heard musical details are released from all digital audio recordings.”

The company believes it’s the first to offer a PCM-to-DSD DAC, whereas it called the reverse — converting DSD to PCM — “commonplace.” The design took seven years to complete.

 The “cluttered, circuitous” signal paths of top-end PCM processors, the company said, “mask music’s subtle details” because of their “complex needs,” which include multiple clocks, power supplies and limitations inherent in ICs.

“Converting PCM to DSD can be an easy exercise using any number of computer software programs or IC solutions,” PS Audio said, but “converting PCM to DSD properly, and in such a way as to reveal missing details in the music, is a serious technical challenge.”

To accomplish that goal, the company said DirectStream unifies all inputs (PCM or DSD) at 10x DSD, then uses a single-bit double-rate DSD core engine, which deliver “ advantages in simplicity, linearity, and in analog-like overload characteristics that avoid PCM’s ‘hard-clipping’ potential and a PCM processor’s propensity to mask subtle details.”

The device also uses FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) instead of off-the-shelf chips because it “is capable of dissipating large amounts of heat, enabling intensive levels of signal-processing that are impossible to achieve with an off-the-shelf chip,” the company said.

The design’s simplicity and use of an FPGA is responsible for the DAC’s “affordable price,” the company said, noting that some DSD/PCM DACs cost as much as $130,000.

Details of the DirectStream’s design and features are available in a PS Audio white paper. A video of lead designer Ted Smith discussing the design can be found here.