PS Audio Releases ‘Windom’ OS Update for DirectStream DACs

Never a company to rest on their laurels, PS Audio today made available another Operating System update – Windom – for their DirectStream DAC and DirectStream Junior DAC.

According to the company these continuing updates allow digital designer and company audio-guru Ted Smith to continue to tweak and improve the sound of PS Audio’s DAC range. Many of the updates are based around Smith’s own continuing work and incorporate owner/user feedback on the DACs which allow Smith to improve not only audio playback performance, but software/hardware optimizations.

According to the company “…Windom reveals richness and natural detail within the music at levels formerly unattainable in any digital to analog converter we have auditioned. With its improved retrieval of reverb and ambience, Windom communicates with a glorious sense of openness and effortlessness, adding a sense of immediacy and ‘rightness’ without sacrificing honesty or transparency.”

With the recent circuit architecture improvements developed by Smith in bringing his Ted Smith Signature DAC to market there was room for trickle-down to streamline/optimize functionality for the DirectStream line. Smith said he “…learned ways of moving functions from noisier FPGA resources to quieter ones, and restructuring memory allocations. The result is an even lower digital noise-floor.”  

But what does this exactly mean? As someone who appreciates the audible benfits a lowered noise floor imparts to playback, I was keen to learn more. I reached out to Smith through PS Audio’s Director of Communications Bill Leebens and received this response to my queries:

Ted Smith: “The FPGA is mostly a sea of configurable gates (and flipflops) with a lot of configurable interconnects, but it also has some more specialized hardware: a few very configurable PLLs, some DSP modules that can do things like a multiply/accumulate in a single cycle (or more accurately they can be pipelined so that one result is available per clock at a very high clock rate), memory blocks that can be configured for various widths and depths, etc.  

“In particular I looked for opportunities to move some function from one of these resources to others. The targets I changed weren’t directly related to any specific function of the FPGA code like processing input or upsampling, etc. A major goal with each FPGA update is to learn more about the things that generate noise/jitter in the FPGA and to avoid them or retime them to generate less noise/jitter.

“I’ve never adjusted frequency curves, etc. I just see if I can find something that isn’t as close to ideal as possible and try to find a way to better that. In the last few releases I’ve been rewriting code that once used Xilinx “macros” like a PCM upsampler just so that I could have more control of what happens when.

“So I can’t really help a lot on describing exactly what I did: it was thinking about and scanning the code for opportunities to spread work around a little more evenly in space and time (literally.) But it was directed work, not randomly stirring the pot.”

The update, according to PS Audio, improves playback in the following ways:

  • Playback at high volume levels is clearer and cleaner than ever before
  • Soundstage is even better-defined due to increased channel separation and lower noise, providing  a clearer, deeper image of hall acoustics and decay times
  • Overall “sound picture” is more 3-D, more realistic
  • Bass is significantly more impactful and better-defined than with any previous OS

Windom is available for download HERE.

PS Audio

Everclear's picture

Windom Peak is the highest summit of the Needle Mountain range of the Rocky Mountains of North America located in Colorado, USA (Wikipedia) :-) ..........