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Redcloud - new DirectStream firmware release imminent

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If all goes well at PS Audio this should be released in the next few days, for the DirectStream Snr and Jr, and free as usual.

 

If the improved SQ is anything like the previous Huron release, it will be another big step forward.

 

Details from Ted Smith:

 

Some of the noise problems people have experienced with DSJ are about at an end. The latest release of firmware, called Redcloud, will fix the noise issues some have experienced with DSJ. Not only that but of course, Ted’s spun his magic web over this latest release (for both DSJ and DS) and it sounds utterly amazing.
Can’t wait to have you experience Redcloud. Expect to see a release in about two weeks.”
I’ll give you a preview of the next release of the FPGA code in Redcloud (I’ll leave it to Paul and others to talk about other parts of the Redcloud release.)
Redcloud continues the work done for Huron.  Huron had a few rough edges that were especially apparent on the DS Jr at lower volume levels.  It turns out that they were always there but were more exposed in Huron than previous releases.  A few DS Sr users noticed them as well.
Redcloud features much whiter background noise: this should greatly help those who listen at lower volume levels.  The system’s analog background noise floor hasn’t changed (that would require a change in the hardware) but the cause of the digital noise floor being colored differently with each release has been fixed, this also lowers THD at all signal levels less than -10dBFS (i.e. almost everything you’ll listen to.)
With this change some of the less effective ameliorations for low level noise/distortion have been removed.  This should firm up the bass, lower THD, lessen distortion at very high levels (> 3dBFS) and overall be less hazy than previous releases.  In particular the changes in the bass from Torreys to Huron were an adjustment of one of those anti distortion patches.  Now the whole patch is gone with another improvement to the bass.
Huron fixed some clicks and pops for a few users, but I think that almost everyone noticed some slightly louder clicks and pops switching between PCM and DSD that weren’t there in previous releases.
Some of those clicks and pops during transitions from one format to another have been treated.  A quick volume ramp down and then ramp up has been added at any change in sample rates, transition to/from PCM from/to DSD happens, or deemphasis being engaged or disengaged.  Also a source of some small ticks going from DSD to PCM have been fixed.
Here’s a quote from one of the beta testers (used without permission :) ): “I think FPGA131 is as big a step from Huron as Huron was from Torreys.  Voices etc are so focused now that I can decipher words that I couldn’t previously.   This also means that bass is much more real with real attack.”
We didn’t do a public beta, but I invited a few customers that had noticed some of the above problems to check that I was addressing their concerns and their feedback was very helpful.

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This weekend Redcloud, should be interesting- off to Officeworks for a new SD card. 

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Give the records a rest for the weekend

Edited by mtf

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We will release both DSJ and DS and Bridge code on Friday (Saturday for Oz) for a general release. No one need wait.

@bhobba

OTT post from Paul McGowan (below) but let’s wait and see. Torreys-> Huron upgrade was very good so this one could be just as impressive- more if Paul is correct. 

Qudos to PS Audio for another free upgrade. 

 

There’s no getting your head around this new release. Seriously. Badbeef won’t take a week and if he does I’ll get him an appointment for ear wax removal (sorry, Mark. Couldn’t resist).

We finished up Red Cloud for DS today. It was the easiest OS upgrade we’ve ever had the pleasure to work on. From the moment we put this on it was just perfect. Top to bottom better. I hesitate to say Huron sounds anemic and somewhat broken compared to Red Cloud so I won’t – though that is exactly what I think right now.

I also believe Ted may have gone to the dark side to achieve this. How in blazes can his wizardry extend to this level of improvement without having sold his soul? Kevin Jackson in our sales department commented that with Huron it sounded like half the ensemble was missing—restored with Red Cloud.

And let’s be clear. We ALL loved Huron!

I am not sure what Ted did though I can give you a brief laundry list if you’re interested. I for one refuse to believe this is all he did.

  • Better linearized lower level signals – removing some low-level THD
  • Removed some older linearization heuristics
  • Lowered distortion a little with grossly overloaded signals (signals way above 0dBFS only achievable in saturated DSD)
  • Fewer ticks/pops on sample rate changes and format changes.
  • Clear upsampler’s partial results on sample rate changes
  • Lowered noise and artifacts

Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah. In my opinion, Ted’s holding out on us to keep his secrets (or his bargain for his soul) close to the vest. This is too big to have only been the work above.

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On 12/7/2017 at 5:35 PM, frankn said:

In my opinion, Ted’s holding out on us to keep his secrets (or his bargain for his soul) close to the vest. This is too big to have only been the work above.

 

First I have chatted to Ted a fair bit on the PS Audio Forum.

 

He is a VERY nice and knowledgeable guy.

 

But they are in business to make money - nothing wrong with that either.

 

This means they will keep what they are doing, exactly that is, we know already overall whats going on, as their secret.   Its only to be expected.   They have also adopted a very smart marketing strategy.   Here is how it works.  I, or someone else does a comparison where their DAC is bested.   What do you do, or customers trying to decide what to buy do?  They are caught - will a future software version sound better?  They become conflicted - and perfectly understandably. Now the new version is going to be released soon so I will do the comparison again when its done.  But will that resolve it - of course not - maybe the next one will be better.   Its never ending.

 

But a few things to consider:

1.  The difference was really apparent when using HQPlayer to do up-sampling to DXD.  This largely takes the up-sampling done in the DS out of the equation and level's the field - the algorithms Miska, the maker of HQPlayer, uses are pretty sophisticated, and likely better than either what the DAC chip Clay uses does, or the DS.

 

2. The other DAC is  LOT less expensive - so you are not exactly doing a big hunk of dosh getting a Grob and waiting until if, and when, the DS gets better.  

 

So make up your own mind what to do - all I can report on is what I  hear.

 

If you want to hear it drop into Mikes factory - I have left mine down there so anyone can hear the difference - but Mike needs HQPlayer - I will lend him mine if anyone wants to go down.  Mike cant give an opinion because he sells both DAC's so it is a conflict - he can however allow anyone that goes to his shop/factory to hear them.

 

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba

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Feedback coming in from overseas says Redcloud is good.  My home computer died so I'm going to work😁 to download 😀

I'm happy with getting upgrades over time. Continuous improvement is a model many companies persue but most ask you to purchase a new model. 

Bridge11 update is also live so if you've got that then all the MQA stuff if you want it. 

Happy listening. 

I wouldn't change my system based on what is posted here. I'd do a comparison if someone brought a component to my house for me to listen to. As Bill says opinions are subjective. 

Edited by frankn
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Redcloud is a considerable improvement.

Less distortion resulting in better clarity from top to bottom, bass is tighter and better defined, that little cymbal off in the far back corner is clearer and better placed in the soundstage, and the soundstage appears to be wider.

l found the emotional connection went a bit missing in Huron, definitely back with Redcloud, I’ve had a few goosebump moments on some reference tracks,.

Lives up to all the hype from Paul :thumb:

Edited by awayward

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Hi Guys

 

Thanks for the posts Franklin and Awayward.

 

All I can do is report what I hear and will do the comparison as soon as I can get a machine loaded with Redcloud which should not take long.

 

I can load it on mine of course ASAP, but my setup right now is more geared towards HT and my DS is fed from the coax output of the Oppo.  That's why I asked Clay to build me a SPDIF only Grob.

 

My final system is taking shape - in my bedroom, where my arthritic condition mostly confines me (sorry guys it is getting worse) I will have my 2 channel HT setup.

 

In my smallish lounge/kitchen area I will have my main rig for critical listening -  but that is not setup yet.   Got the amp for it though being built:

http://www.perfectusaudio.com/

 

I will be pretty close to the speakers so 4w is fine for most things - but not my Magnesium Limited which are 83 db sensitive - gulp.   They are going to be my HT speakers and driven by something with heaps of herbs like my BHK or Arions.  My lounge speaker - well there is a thread on Mike's forum about high sensitivity speakers to match that amp - read that.

 

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba

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Redcloud provides significant improvements in transient definition, purity and sense of space - I'm still coming to terms with these changes.

In addition to the Redcloud release was the Bridge 2 update which provides full MQA unfolding via Roon and Spotify connect functionality (among other stuff).

 

Leaving aside MQA for a moment - which I still have to evaluate - I'm genuinely surprised at the massive leap in SQ of Spotify. With Spotify Connect the app on computer/tablet or whatever acts only as the control and the music file is downloaded direct to the DS Bridge 2 via the LAN connection. Clearly many of my complaints with the SQ of Spotify were due to the poor optimisation with my Mac core audio and usb output to the DSJ. Direct to the Bridge 2 in the DSJ, and with the Redcloud improvements thrown in, Spotify sounds amazingly good (yes higher res Tidal sounds better, but the gap in my system has closed dramatically).

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5 hours ago, Tobes said:

Leaving aside MQA for a moment - which I still have to evaluate

I haven't heard it through Redcloud yet, and am a big fan and supporter of MQA, but for those I have demoed it to, it is a mixed bag.  Some love it, some find 44.1 sound better.

 

The issue with MQA IMHO is Bob Stuart is keeping exactly whats going on very tightly to himself and those that need to know.

 

What you read about it on the internet is just a kiddy version of whats really happening eg:

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/mqa-time-domain-accuracy-digital-audio-quality

 

I have always thought they must be using splines of a higher order than a triangle (its a spline of order 1) as in other papers they have said it gives better performance, but never actually tell what they use.

 

Well the truth came out in the blurb about implementing it in DCS DAC's:

https://www.dcsltd.co.uk/news/dcs-launches-mqa-support-across-product-ranges/

MQA works by converting the analogue music to digital and back to analogue again. The conceptual framework models analogue as an infinite sample rate representation, which can be approximated by a hierarchical chain of downward and upward splines. The MQA encoder takes account of and corrects aspects of the original analogue-to-digital and studio preparation chain. Although a listener can enjoy the encoded stream at CD quality without a decoder, the best result comes with an MQA Decoder, or a combination of MQA Core Decoder and Renderer, which reconstructs exactly what was heard in the studio. The MQA Renderer performs sampling reconstruction under song-by-song instruction from the encoder, while at the same time matching and optimising the attached DAC to deliver an authenticated analogue output.

 

So my hunch was correct.

 

Sure I understand MQA not wanting their secrets stolen - I get that - I really do.   But my understanding is it's all tied up in patents so why not fully disclose it?  Methinks something fishy may be going on - hopefully not - but it just doesn't feel right.

 

That said I enjoy MQA a lot personally and think its a big advance.

 

Thanks

Bill

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21 minutes ago, bhobba said:

I haven't heard it through Redcloud yet, and am a big fan and supporter of MQA, but for those I have demoed it to, it is a mixed bag.  Some love it, some find 44.1 sound better.

 

The issue with MQA IMHO is Bob Stuart is keeping exactly whats going on very tightly to himself and those that need to know.

 

What you read about it on the internet is just a kiddy version of whats really happening eg:

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/mqa-time-domain-accuracy-digital-audio-quality

 

I have always thought they must be using splines of a higher order than a triangle (its a spline of order 1) as in other papers they have said it gives better performance, but never actually tell what they use.

 

Well the truth came out in the blurb about implementing it in DCS DAC's:

https://www.dcsltd.co.uk/news/dcs-launches-mqa-support-across-product-ranges/

MQA works by converting the analogue music to digital and back to analogue again. The conceptual framework models analogue as an infinite sample rate representation, which can be approximated by a hierarchical chain of downward and upward splines. The MQA encoder takes account of and corrects aspects of the original analogue-to-digital and studio preparation chain. Although a listener can enjoy the encoded stream at CD quality without a decoder, the best result comes with an MQA Decoder, or a combination of MQA Core Decoder and Renderer, which reconstructs exactly what was heard in the studio. The MQA Renderer performs sampling reconstruction under song-by-song instruction from the encoder, while at the same time matching and optimising the attached DAC to deliver an authenticated analogue output.

 

So my hunch was correct.

 

Sure I understand MQA not wanting their secrets stolen - I get that - I really do.   But my understanding is it's all tied up in patents so why not fully disclose it?  Methinks something fishy may be going on - hopefully not - but it just doesn't feel right.

 

That said I enjoy MQA a lot personally and think its a big advance.

 

Thanks

Bill

Hey Bill, if you think MQA is a big advance, you ain’t heard nothing until you upgrade to Redcloud, it elevates all audio formats to the absolute best your system can perform.

I’ve had a few hardware and software changes over the years, but I think Redcloud is the single biggest improvement in SQ and musical enjoyment to date, it is that good.

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6 minutes ago, awayward said:

Hey Bill, if you think MQA is a big advance, you ain’t heard nothing until you upgrade to Redcloud, it elevates all audio formats to the absolute best your system can perform.

I’ve had a few hardware and software changes over the years, but I think Redcloud is the single biggest improvement in SQ and musical enjoyment to date, it is that good.

That's the part I really enjoy about this hobby - checking stuff out - as my dwindling bank balance readily attests to - as well as the gear I have to sell.

 

We will see with Redcloud how it sounds compared to Clay's Grob.  The Grob bested it before - and it was not subtle once we used HQPlayer.   What's going on now - we will find out.

 

As of now I am selling my DS - but may change my mind depending on what I hear.

 

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba

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On 07/12/2017 at 10:18 PM, bhobba said:

1.  The difference was really apparent when using HQPlayer to do up-sampling to DXD.  This largely takes the up-sampling done in the DS out of the equation and level's the field

 

Hi Bill

 

It's not possible to take the DS's up-sampling out of the equation. Unless you can up-sample to 20 x DSD rates from a computer.

 

Even DXD rates still end up getting up-sampled to 20 x DSD rates by the DS's FPGA.

 

All sample rates from all inputs get up-sampled up to 20 x DSD rates.

 

 

Edited by Sean84

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2 hours ago, bhobba said:

I haven't heard it through Redcloud yet, and am a big fan and supporter of MQA, but for those I have demoed it to, it is a mixed bag.  Some love it, some find 44.1 sound better.

I'm  in the latter group.

I've heard nothing that convinces me MQA is anything like the new paradigm its being promoted as. If the improvement was as big and profound as being purported, it would obviously and consistently better sounding. IMO, that is not the case. Different perhaps, but not better. 

After all how could it be - this is a lossy compression format, employing 'leaky' aliasing filters. 'Master Quality' - what a joke!

Give me the original master in the format/sampling rate it was recorded - any day.

 

 

Now Huron > Redcloud - that is profound.

And it's free to DS/DSJ users. And it does not try to push a proprietary format into every aspect of the recording chain. And it is not a potential DRM trojan horse for the record companies.

Edited by Tobes

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Probably would be best if we don’t clutter up this thread with a lot of discussion of MQA - there are threads dedicated to that and Redcloud isn’t about MQA. MQA is Bridge11 and the inbuilt bridge in the DSJ. 

I did a quick comparison between Yale and Redcloud using Ottmar Liebert Nouveau Flamenco album. RC is much fuller, engaging, transients improved etc. Definitey a better listening experience. 

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2 hours ago, Tobes said:

I'm  in the latter group.

I've heard nothing that convinces me MQA is anything like the new paradigm its being promoted as. If the improvement was as big and profound as being purported, it would obviously and consistently better sounding. IMO, that is not the case. Different perhaps, but not better.  After all how could it be - this is a lossy compression format, employing 'leaky' aliasing filters. 'Master Quality' - what a joke! Give me the original master in the format/sampling rate it was recorded - any day. Now Huron > Redcloud - that is profound.And it's free to DS/DSJ users. And it does not try to push a proprietary format into every aspect of the recording chain. And it is not a potential DRM trojan horse for the record companies.

 

Well I own both a DS and DSJ that's how much I like it, but it was beaten by Clays Grob - but with Redcloud who knows.  If it still does will just keep the DSJ - but we will see.

 

I agree this thread should not be cluttered up with MQA but since Redcloud works with the Bridge I think a small comment is OK - I will keep it brief.

 

You are not alone in your view.  How can it sound better - they claim shorter impulse responce trumps aliasing components.  My observation is its a personal preference thing.

 

If anyone want's to discuss more than that - start a new thread - only too happy to go deep into its technical detail.

 

Thanks

Bill

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4 hours ago, Sean84 said:

It's not possible to take the DS's up-sampling out of the equation. Unless you can up-sample to 20 x DSD rates from a computer.

 

Very true in both the DS and whatever chip is in the Grob.

 

So I will modify my comment.   It is well known the earlier up-sampling in the cahin ie 44.1 to DXD is more critical than the later ones in terms of sound quality.  Both the Grob and DS benefited from the upsampling in HQPlayer.  Wthout HQPlayer the Grob to my ears was still better - but it wasn't drop dead better.  With the HQPlayer both were improved but the Grob seemed to benefit more so the difference was very obvious.  I conjecture this is because of the higher quality of the up-sampling in the DS, which is of course a great credit to Ted Smith.  However I have spoken a fair bit to the maker of HQPlayer on Computer Audiophile, Miska, and his up-sampling algorithms are really really good - its not surprising they are better than either DAC.

 

Thanks

Bill

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