DA Converter and Preamplifier
The Director is our remote controllable reference preamplifier. Its digital to analog converter is unique. It is the first high voltage DAC in the audio world. The converted analog signal unfolds directly within our VOLTAiR technology.
Being the centerpiece of your stereo the Director receives all sources. Analog sources are connected via balanced XLRs or via RCAs (e.g. the phone preamplifier Phonos), or digital via USB (PCM up to 384kHz and DSD up to Double Rate) as well as coaxial, optical or via AES.
The outputs are provided as balanced XLRs and RCAs. The specialty here is that you can disengage the volume control for each output seperately allowing the connection of a power amplifier (volume engaged) and a headphone amplifier like the Phonitor e (volume disengaged).
- DA converter (DAC)
- DAC with VOLTAiR
- Coaxial (SPDIF)
- Optical (TOSLINK)
- DSD over USB
- PCM & DSD
- Remote Control
At the output side a power amplifier or active loudspeakers can be connected balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA). We recommend the Performer s800 as power amplifier in order to maintain a 120V Rail audio chain from the DAC to the speakers for best audio performance.
A great feature is a small DIP switch at the bottom of the Director. DIP switches number 3 and 4 allow to decouple the volume control and to deliver a unity gain output at the XLR or the RCA output or both. You can connect a headphone amplifier like the Phonitor e and have individual volume control for the headphones. Another application is that connection of a digital recorder.
The output of a DAC chip is either a voltage or current (as in our design) that represents the value presented on their digital inputs. This output is to be converted to voltage (in case of a current output) and filtered with a low pass filter. These two stages are typically designed with the same reference voltage of the DAC chip at e.g. 5V. Think about this: the first stage that the analog waveform is exposed to has a headroom limited to 5V. Now imagine this to be 120V! This is what we have done in the Director. The current to voltage conversion as well as the low pass filter are both running on a 120V rail - our VOLTAiR technology. The incredible headroom and the enormous power lets the analog wavefront come to life and evolve without limitations. And that is audible. Very much so.
When connected to a PC the Windows driver must be installed to playback audio files with a higher resolution than 44.1kHz or 48kHz. In a Mac environment the install of a driver is not needed. Apple natively supports USB class 2 with sample rates up to 384kHz.
The USB audio 2.0 specification defined several formats for the more common PCM approach to digital audio, but did not define a format for DSD. In 2012, representatives from many companies and others developed a standard commonly known as "DSD over PCM", or "DoP" to represent and detect DSD audio within the PCM frames defined in the USB specification.
Direct-Stream Digital (DSD) is the trademark name used by Sony and Philips. They developed DSD for SACD (Super Audio CD) which should have become the designated successor of the CD (that was also designed by these two companies).
Since PCM and DSD are digital formats, there are other ways to play back high-resolution music. The highest possible resolutions are available on download portals like HD Tracks, Qobuz, HIGHRESAUDIO, primephonic, HDMusicStore, Bleep, Cybele, Gimell, HD-Klassik, 7 Digital etc.
DSD differs fundamentally from conventional PCM. While in a PCM stream, the amplitude of the analog signal is sampled regularly at uniform intervals, and each sample is quantized to the nearest value within a range of digital steps, DSD stores a sequence of single-bit values before applying a "decimation" process that converts the signal to a PCM signal.
A PCM stream has two basic properties that determine the stream's fidelity to the original analog signal: the sampling rate, which is the number of times per second that samples are taken; and the bit depth, which determines the number of possible digital values that can be used to represent each sample. In the Director PCM audio is supported up to sample rates of 384kHz (8 times 48kHz) and bit resolutions of up to 24 Bit.
In DSD audio the fidelity is determined by the rate of the 1-bit stream. The Director supports up to double-rate DSD also known as DSD2 or DSD128. Single-rate DSD is the typical SACD/BluRay resolution and it is referred to as DSD1 or DSD64 because the sample rate is 64 times that of CD (44.1kHz) namely 2.8224 MHz. DSD2 samples at 5.6448 MHz, twice the SACD/BluRay rate. This is also referred to as DSD128 because the sample rate is 128 times that of CD.
The long-term average of a DSD signal is proportional to the original signal. DSD uses noise shaping techniques to push quantization noise up to inaudible ultrasonic frequencies. In theory, it only requires a lowpass filter to reconstruct the original analog waveform. In reality it is a little more complex. A one-bit signal cannot be dithered properly: most modern sigma-delta converters (like the DAC in the Director) are multi-bit.
Because it has been extremely difficult to carry out DSP operations (for example performing EQ, balance, compression) in a one-bit environment, and because of the prevalence of solely PCM studio equipment such as Pro Tools, Nuendo, Cubase, Logic, the vast majority of SACDs and DSD downloads—especially rock and contemporary music, which rely on multitrack techniques—are in fact mixed in PCM (or mixed analog and recorded in PCM) and then converted to DSD in mastering. It is kind of rare to find or identify a recording being multi-tracked and mixed in the analog domain. Merging Technologies has invented the DXD format with which theoretically a production can be recorded, mixed and mastered entirely in the DSD domain.
The Director: High-End In Compact Design
- 2 x RCA, unbalanced (single ended)
- Impedance: ca. 10 kohms
- Max. input level: +32,5 dBu
- AES/EBU (XLR), balanced
- Coaxial SPDIF (RCA)
- Optical TOSLINK (F06)
- USB (B)
- 0 dBFS = max. 24 dBu
- Converter Chip AD1955
- Encoded PCM (kHz): 44.1, 48 , 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352.8, 384
- DSD: DSD1 (DSD64), DSD2 (DSD128)
- 2 analog stereo outputs
- Neutrik XLR, balanced, Pin 2 = (+)
- RCA, unbalanced (single ended)
- Impedance: ca. 1 ohm (unbalanced), 75 ohms (balanced)
- max. output level 32,5 dBu
- Frequency range (analog): 4 Hz to 300 kHz ( -3 dB)
- Crosstalk at 1 kHz: -95 dB (analog); -100 dB (digital)
- THD: 0.0008 % (analog 0 dBu); 0.0004 % (digital -1 dBfs)
- Noise (A-weighted): -105.1 dB (analog); -96.8 dB (digital)
- Dynamic range: 137.6 dB (analog); 120.8 dB (digital)
- Analog: +/- 60 V
- Digital: + 5 V and + 3.3 V
- Mains voltage (switchable): 230 V AC / 50 Hz or 115 V AC / 60 Hz
- Fuses: 230 V: T 500 mA; 115 V: T 1 A
- Power consumption: max. 40 VA
- Standby power consumption: 0.7 W
- 278 mm W x 57 mm H x 330 mm D
- 10.95 in W x 2.24 in H x 13 in D
- 3.3 kg; 7.28 lbs (unit only)
- 4.4 kg; 9.7 lbs (shipping)
0 dBu = 0.775 V. Subject to change without notice.
Mac OSX / iOS
No driver installation required when operating the Director with a Mac or an iDevice.
PC Driver: Win XP/7/8/10
SPL DAC driver for audio playback with sample rates higher than 48kHz.