PS Audio Directstream Memory Player (CD Transport)
Locked inside your CD, HRx, BluRay, and SACD collections is a wealth of music you’ve not yet heard. The DirectStream Memory Player uncovers the musical treasures long-buried in your library. Eight years in research, two years in development, the DMP is our crowning achievement in musical reproduction of optical media. Breathe new life into your CD collection played through any DAC. Send the raw DSD layer of SACD into your DirectStream or DirectStream Junior DAC so you can hear, for the first time, what’s long been unavailable to external DACs in these high resolution discs.
DMP is a universal transport, capable of playing multiple types of optical discs including, Blu-ray audio, DVD-Audio, AVCHD, SACD, HRx, CD, CD-R/RW, DVD±R/RW, DVD±R DL, BD-R/RE, as well as stored data through its USB digital input.
CD performance of DMP has been enhanced to a degree once thought unobtainable, narrowing the gap between Red Book CD reproduction and high resolution PCM and DSD. Played through DMP, ordinary CDs take on new life, with improved dimensionality, soundstage width and depth, improved dynamics (both micro and macro), increased low level harmonic information, and richer tonal balance.
Plus, hear SACD for the first time
The protected DSD layer of SACD has long been available only through D/A converters built in to players and a few receivers and surround processors. These internal D/A processors, while adequate, were never capable of playing back stored music at the quality and performance levels enjoyed by mastering engineers. Now, with the introduction of PS Audio’s revolutionary new memory player, DMP, owners of our DirectStream series of DACs can uncover all that they have been missing. Based on a proprietary handshake protocol between DMP and PS Audio DACs, through our advanced I²S interface, pure DSD is streamed to, and processed in, the same reference quality DAC used by mastering engineers.
At the heart of DMP is an advanced version of core PS Audio technology, the Digital Lens. Invented in 1993 by PS Audio founder Paul McGowan and chief engineer, Bob Stadtherr, the Digital Lens focuses digital data into a perfect stream, unaffected by the transport’s mechanical and electrical properties.
In digital audio, timing is everything. Jitter, noise, and a lack of isolation have major impacts on sound quality, especially affecting lower resolution media such as CD. DMP’s advanced Digital Lens technology solves timing, noise and isolation problems through a unique combination of buffer memory and FPGA based digital processing.
Up until DMP’s advanced Lens technology was introduced, the internal Digital Lens found in the older PerfectWave Transport, relied on an intelligent RAM buffer to isolate digital data from the mechanical optical drive and laser mechanism. Separated from the CD reading device, data accumulated in the Len’s buffer until output through a fixed low jitter clock to the DAC.
After eight years of research and two years of development, PS engineering has been able to shorten the memory requirements and improve the timing of digital audio data. The new Lens takes advantage of advances in semiconductor architecture, found in FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Array). Using a single large scale integrated FPGA, PS chief DMP architect, Bob Stadtherr, devised a segmented structure including intelligent RAM, two-way isolated communication with the drive, and near-field output latches controlled by an ultra-low jitter fixed clock. The results are extraordinary.
DMP’s advanced Digital Lens and low-jitter fixed clock perfectly focuses the isolated datastream to the I²S, coax, or AES/EBU outputs directly to your DAC. The results of this fine, perfectly timed data stream must be heard to fully appreciate its full implications.
New life to Red Book CD
The Compact Disc was first introduced in 1982, nearly 35 years ago, as of this writing. Over the years, steady progress has been made improving its musicality. But retrieving all that is possible from this optical medium has remained somewhat elusive until the introduction of the DMP.
Most engineers in our field, including our own, failed to recognize the critical need for timing perfection to appreciate all that is available on CD. Not until 2009, with the introduction of the PerfectWave Transport, did we begin to understand that there was more to CD than we had ever imagined. The PWT demonstrated that careful extraction of data, coupled with isolation of the output clock, yielded unexpected benefits: more information than we knew existed.
Our next uncovering of what treasures lay hidden in the CD was even bigger. DirectStream DAC. DirectStream DAC’s inventor, Ted Smith, opened our eyes to what was possible to render (playback) from the original optical storage method—once believed to be so lacking that only higher resolution upgrades could salvage the sound.
The PWT opened our eyes to what could be extracted, the DirectStream DAC turned the lights on for what could be rendered, and the DMP has finally opened wide the door to what is possible when extraction and timing are near-perfect.
Cover art and song titles
DMP enjoys a new user interface that includes song titles and tracks that can be read from a distance. Like its predecessor, the PWT, album art can be automatically downloaded when DMP is connected to the internet.
Every time you play a disc (and are connected to the internet) a copy of the cover art and song titles are kept for you on your own private library page, accessed through our website. From your personal page it is a simple matter to correct any of the CD’s information, change cover art and polish your CD collection.
Sony and Philips corporations introduced the CD’s successor, the SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc) in 1999, 17 years after the original launch. Instead of downsampled PCM from higher resolution original recordings, which many Red Book CDs are based upon, SACD held the promise of access to the original master tape or recording through a new format, PDM (Pulse Density Modulation) that Sony and Philips rebranded as DSD (Direct Stream Digital).
Because this new high resolution digital format was essentially identical to the master tape, strict copyright protections were put in place to protect the rights of artists and recording labels. Those protections remain in place today, as well they should. Most collections of SACD have only been heard through Sony/Philips authorized DACs, internal to the players, unavailable as a separate digital audio datastream to external DACs.
PS Audio’s DMP is one of the first transports to provide external access to the pure DSD layer on SACD. DMP can do this, legally, because the raw data stream cannot be copied. DMP owners with PS Audio’s DirectStream DAC, or DirectStream Junior, can access this encrypted layer through our unique I²S interface. Once connected, DMP authenticates the presence of a PS Audio authorized DAC and, for the first time, listeners can get closer to master tapes than ever thought possible.
DirectStream DACs are pure DSD based and nothing sounds quite as magical as DSD copies of master tapes processed into exquisite analog through DirectStream DACs.
I2S through HDMI output
There are three ways to get digital audio data out of the DMP: S/PDIF, AES/EBU or I2S HDMI. I2S is the preferred method if you have a PS Audio DAC or any manufacturer’s DAC that can receive it. Three such I²S interface are provided, allowing for 6-channel high resolution audio to be streamed from DMP.
S/PDIF (and AES/EBU) are the standard delivery methods found on all transports and, while excellent, remain a compromised format.
Standard digital outputs take three separate internal clocks along with the raw music data and combine them into one stream to the DAC. This mashup of music and clocks causes the audio to sound flat and harsh compared to I2S.
A much better way of delivering the music is what I2S does, by transferring the clocks and data on separate wires within the HDMI cable, and the audible results are impressive. Simply use any HDMI cable between the DMP and appropriate DAC and you are transferring data perfectly, through I2S.
A growing number of DACS and devices are adopting the PS Audio HDMI standard for digital audio transmission because of its superior audio quality.
Playback of stored data
The front panel USB input on DMP is available for small music collections stored on USB drives. Plug in a USB thumb drive and its contents can be accessed and played back through DMP. While the instrument itself is capable of handling large numbers of tracks, selection can become cumbersome if there are too many.
Tracks from the data drive are displayed in small groups on DMP’s touch screen, and navigating larger libraries can be time consuming. PS engineering added this input as a courtesy port offering quick access to a friend’s favorite album or track. We imagine being at a consumer audio show and customers wishing to hear music stored on their thumb drives will find this input convenient and excellent sounding.