PS Audio New DirectStream DAC – PS Audio of Boulder, CO has introduced a radical new approach to decoding PCM digital audio files which Gus Skinas of the SACD Mastering Center says is the best he has ever heard. Designer Ted Smith finds that all other PCM processors mask some of the subtle cues in music and a completely new processing method is needed. DirectStream converts all digital inputs to pure 1-bit DSD in a simple path that avoids the cluttered, circuitous path of most DACs, which have limitations due to multiple clocks, power supplies, inherent IC problems and other complex needs. The PCM feed from DirectStream becomes more linear, less edgy, and never-before-heard musical details in all digital audio recordings are released, saving billions of CDs from obsolescence and improving the sonics of hi-res downloads worldwide. DirectStream uses 66-bit fixed-point FIR filers, eliminates common headroom issues in PCM, flattens noise response in the 20Hz-100kHz region, uses coefficients optimized for best sound rather than faster processing speed, and optimizes hardware-specific operations not possible in software. It uses FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) which dissipates large amounts of heat, enabling intensive signal-processing impossible to achieve with off-the-shelf chips. PS Audio claims it will change viewpoints regarding ultimate sound quality, as well as reviving supposedly-obsolescent compact discs. The first iteration of the DAC is now being shipped at $5995 each.
Classical Music News – The New York Philharmonic has lost two principal clarinets in two years. Stephen Williamson has just left to turn to his position as principal clarinet at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It is customary when musicians move from one symphony to another that they take a one-year sabbatical from the first one to see how it goes with the second one. The MET has premiered Victor Herbert’s 1914 opera Madeleine, which concerns a lonely and temperamental prima donna whose friends insist upon spending New Year’s Day with their mothers. Frances Alda heads the cast. The Vienna Philharmonic has received the Karajan Music Prize (about $68,000 U.S.), which is intended to support young musicians. It was honored for how it had “retained its specific sound over many decades and made it unmistakable.” The orchestra was also noted for its “philharmonic idea” of passing down a position in the orchestra from generation to generation. In fact that was given as a reason for why the orchestra has always had so few minorities. (Hah!)
Sony Sells Off Buildings – As part of their major global corporate restructuring, Sony is trying to sell its former headquarters and surrounding buildings in Tokyo. It was the firm’s headquarters from 1990 to 2007. It is also selling off most of its Vaio computer business and spinning off its TV business into a separate unit. In the U.S. it is closing 20 Sony Stores.