• PS Audio DLIII DAC Follow-up

    It has been almost two months since I first reviewed the PS Audio Digital Link III DAC. In the time since that review I continued listening to the DLIII in between other DACs that have come and gone. My listening sessions lately have really been fun and I've managed to squeeze every bit of sound quality possible out of the DLIII. If you're wondering how I pulled a little something extra out of the DLIII, think full resolution 24/96 & DVD-Audio.
    I recently finished ripping all of my DVD-Audio discs to my iTunes library. For the longest time I thought these discs would turn into coasters to be used at the local Regal Beagle. To my surprise I successfully ripped 24/96 audio tracks off these discs. I converted the WAV files into AIFF and soon thereafter had them imported into iTunes. Since the DLIII supports 24/96 via Toslink I connected my MacBook Pro using a Mini-Toslink to standard Toslink cable. Sure Toslink has taken a lot of heat in the audiophile world and rightly so in many cases, but that doesn't mean you can't get great sound from some Toslink connections. The first 24/96 album I played back through the DLIII was Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. To be honest I was almost giddy when the first track started. The sound was great and I had a whole bunch of albums reclaimed from the depths of obsolescence.

    The DLIII handles these 24/96 albums with ease and produces some great sound. All the air around the instruments and the sense of atmosphere is all audible. Listening to Metallica's Black album at 24/96 is an excellent example. Lars' cymbals have a great sense of space around them and you can almost visualize him in the recording studio banging away on his Tama kit. One 24/96 album I pulled out of the mythical dustbin is Glen Phillips' Abulum. Fans of Toad the Wet Sprocket will recognize him as the lead singer of the band. His solo career hasn't been as commercially successful, but his music is equally enjoyable. Abulum sounds very stripped down and organic through the DLIII at full 24/96 resolution. If you're a fan of Toad I highly recommend picking up a DVD-Audio copy of Abulum.

    Now that I've spent a couple more months with the DLIII I am even a bigger fan of the DAC. Setting the resolution to 96 kHz on the front of the unit and hitting play on a fulle 24/96 resolution album is something you don't want to miss. If you own this DAC head over to Acoustic Sounds and pickup some DVD-Audio discs. Conversely if you own dome DVD-A titles and want to really hear them through you music server, the DLIII is a great choice. If you don't currently have the DLIII or any DVD-A titles you don't know what you're missing. Take it from me I purchased the review unit.

    Link to full product review.
    Comments 17 Comments
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Jimi - Thanks for letting me know it's working well for you. I usually tell people to try out an existing DAC if they have one because you never know the sound may be superb!<br />
      <br />
      If you do wind up getting a DAC I think you'll be surprised at the improvement though. I suggested trying one out from a local dealer when you get around to it.
    1. jimim's Avatar
      jimim -
      I'm going to wait for the Proton to come out and then jump on something. I have Benchmark in the back of my mind and hopefully I can compare the 2 when the other comes out.<br />
      jimi
    1. cubbie5150's Avatar
      cubbie5150 -
      Very nice... After an email exchange w/ Rick Cullen yesterday, I ordered a Stage 3 modified DL III from Cullen Circuits. I should have it sometime next week. Can't wait to use this w/ my now week-old Apple TV!!!
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Very cool, you'll have to let us know how it sounds.
    1. ondesx's Avatar
      ondesx -
      Hi,<br />
      <br />
      I also have the PS Audio DL III mod by Rick Cullen (Stage IV) and I think this is a great piece of gear ! But don't forget the quality of the Mac Book Pro as a very high end player indeed !<br />
      <br />
      All the best,
    1. minzyman's Avatar
      minzyman -
      Chris,<br />
      <br />
      There are lots of Dacs coming on the market used that accept up to 24/96 digital input. What happens if you feed a signal that is 24/192 into a DAC like this, for example the Theta GenIII Dac? <br />
      <br />
      You spoke of a Dac that does 192 natively, such as the Alpha Dac. I take it you mean that they accept 24/192 as a digital input and don't have to upsample it to get to this point: native being non-upsampled. I know that the Benchmark DAC doesn't do 24/192 "natively" and instead downsamples everything to 24/96.<br />
      <br />
      Just trying t understand this concept. Can you verify the above? Seems to me that at this point it might be limiting to buy a Dac that only does 24/96 when recordings are starting to show up that are much better.<br />
      <br />
      /LM
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Lee - Not all DACs handle all resolutions the same. Some 24/96 DACs may just downsample higher resolutions. The Stello DA100 Signature I recently reviewed will not play anything over 24/96, period. Trying to play a 24/192 file produces no sound.<br />
      <br />
      When I mention natively I do mean no up or down sampling. Once in a while natively can be used when describing a DAC that accepts 24/96 via USB without drivers etc... Benchmark, Wavelength, and Empricial come to mind here. I'm not quite sure what you mean by saying the Benchmark downsamples everything to 24/96. Maybe I need a little more direction or discussion on this one :-)<br />
      <br />
      Personally I wouldn't purchase a DAC that doesn't do 24/192, but that's because I have material at this resolution. Many people don't have anything over 16/44.1 and may never have anything over this resolution. Thus, a 16/44.1 DAC will be perfect.
    1. thequietman's Avatar
      thequietman -
      Hi Chris, This is my first post. Firstly many thanks for a great job on this site, im really enjoying it.<br />
      I downloaded some linn studio master files, converted using max, imported into itunes ..(followed your instructions) connected to ps audio dac with mini optical.<br />
      Can you just confirm the final steps on the audio/midi setup page.<br />
      Thanks<br />
      Damian
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Damian - In Audio Midi setup select Built-in Output next to the "Properties For" section. Then Select your sample rate such as 24/96 under audio output. That's it!<br />
      <br />
      Let me know if I skimped on this little explanation too much. I can explain in greater detail if needed.
    1. minzyman's Avatar
      minzyman -
      Hey Chris,<br />
      <br />
      Can you explain briefly how you are ripping DVD-A and what software?<br />
      <br />
      Also, are you liking XLD?<br />
      <br />
      /Lee
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Lee - I use a program called DVDAExplorer. Search for it in the forums here and there will be a link or two. It can be tough to locate on the Internet.<br />
      <br />
      I haven't spent any time with XLD yet. Too busy!
    1. g8k3pr's Avatar
      g8k3pr -
      Chris,<br />
      <br />
      So, I've had my PS Audio DL III with Stage IV Cullin Circuits mod now for about a month. I originally had it hooked up to my big rig via a Kimber Kable USB type B cable on my Mac Mini. All my content is ALAC and some is true 24bit/96khz purchased from various places on the internet (HDtracks.com, etc). <br />
      <br />
      Anyway, I was disappointed to learn the the USB port is limited to 16bit/48khz operation and did notice a lack of depth to the music on my big rig. So, like you, I decided to go the optical route and purchased a Hosa 5ft Toslink cable and a Mini Toslink adapter for output to the DAC using the digital out set at 24bit/96khz. I spend a good part of yesterday listening to a variety of music but mostly stuck to jazz during the afternoon. It sounds great, lot's of depth, airy highs, etc. However, later in the evening, I decided to put on the rock in the form of Dave Matthews Band (Under the Table.., Crash). The sound coming out of my system surprised me as it was not warm, the highs were sort of sizzling and way too prominent for my taste. All in all the music sounded intolerably digital. Is it possible that over time the TOSLINK lasers heating up could cause such behavior? Or is it due to the upsampling of 44.1khz/16bit content on the Mac? Am I just hearing the limitations of CD quality music? I wonder if the optical cable I am using is the issue? I was considering the purchase of the Kimber Kable OPT-1. Perhaps you can shed some light on this issue? Please let me know you thoughts.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks,<br />
      Stuart
    1. xenophilic's Avatar
      xenophilic -
      Dear Stuart,<br />
      <br />
      Are you setting the sampling rate on your Mac's output to match the music you're playing? Just in case you're not familiar with this: In Applications-->Utilities folder you'll find the Audio MIDI Setup application. If you open that, click "Audio Devices" at the top of the window, and then where it says "Propterties for" choose "Built-in Output". This will let you set the sample rate going out through TOSLINK. You'll see the pop-up menus for this part way down the right side. If you set those to match the music you are playing then the Mac will not do any upsampling or downsampling. If these settings do not match the song you are playing then the Mac will upsample or downsample as needed. I expect that might be where things are going wrong for you.<br />
      <br />
      If that's not it then it's a puzzler to me. I have a Cullen Stage III mod DL III in the mail to me, so hope there's not a serious issue here. I too would like to listen to some higher bitrate music on it (as Chris reported).<br />
      <br />
      Best regards,<br />
      <br />
      Charlie
    1. xenophilic's Avatar
      xenophilic -
      Dear Stuart,<br />
      <br />
      Also, I just purchased a mini Toslink to Toslink 2m cable from Cables To Go. It seems to me that it's much better to have one, uninterrupted fiber with the correct connectors built into each end than to get a pricey cable and then put a cheap adapter on the end. The connection between the adapter and the cable seems like a real opportunity for problems.I don't know if my concerns here are warranted, but just thought I would note it since you suggested getting a Kimber Kable OPT-1 which would need an adapter to connect to the Mac.<br />
      <br />
      Best regards,<br />
      <br />
      Charlie
    1. xenophilic's Avatar
      xenophilic -
      Dear Chris,<br />
      <br />
      Since you bought the review unit, are you going to add it to the CASH listing?<br />
      <br />
      Regards,<br />
      <br />
      Charlie
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      ssumeet90 -
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