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Redcloud - PS Audio's New DirectStream Operating System

12-17-2017 | By Gary L Beard | Issue 94

Named for Redcloud, a 14,035' high peak in Colorado's San Juan Mountains, PS Audio's latest firmware update for the DirectStream Digital to Analog Converters, was officially released December 8th, 2017. Redcloud is PS Audio engineer Ted Smith's next evolutionary step in code development for the Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) used in the DirectStream series DAC's.

My reference Digital playback component, the DirectStream Junior (HERE for more), was updated shortly after the download became available. As with earlier iterations, there is a further reduction of noise, which unsurprisingly, results in a quieter background. This allows for more detail to be heard, and the soundstage to open up even more. One thing that is surprising, is the bass performance, which is even better than the obvious improvements of its immediate predecessor, Huron.

After several days of listening, I find an improvement in resolution, and clarity. There is a more distinct separation of individual instruments and voices, and noticeably better decay. There is a clear increase in micro-dynamic energy, especially during low volume playback. Redcloud is more powerfully detailed and upfront than Huron. I've now updated Mr. Smith's code three times, and in my opinion, each update has been a significant positive change to the sound of the DSJ. It's quite remarkable really. 

In addition to the sonic advances, there is a new firmware update for the Bridge II network card (built in to the DSJ, optional for the DS), which now allows streaming of vTuner, pay services Qubuz, and Tidal using the M Connect Control App, as well as support for premium Spotify through its own Connect app. I quickly downloaded the free Android version of M Connect, and had vTuner Internet Radio playing flawlessly within five minutes. 

I applaud PS Audio's continual development of the DirectStream software at no cost to the end-user. These firmware updates are not simple tweaks to correct operational bugs, but rather true sound quality advances without costly hardware revisions. I certainly hope PSA and Ted Smith have more tricks up their software-sleeves, but for now, Christmas has come early to the Tune Saloon!

PS Audio