My Epiphany: Pass Labs, Sony, Kimber, and DSD Files
Gus was sourcing multichannel DSD files from a large hard drive sitting underneath his laptop, which was running the Sonoma pro-audio software. The DSD datastreams were fed to a Meitner DAC 8 Mk.IV 8-channel DAC.
I sat in a chair surround by a wide arc of five Sony SS-AR1s, each paired with a Pass Labs Xs300 amplifier. The speakers were arranged in the ITU-recommended positions, with the rear channels positioned at about 270° to the side and back. The sound was magnificent! The electronics and speaker disappeared and I was enveloped in a cloud of music that had tremendous clarity and dynamics while instantly communicating the ambience of the recording venue. For once, there was no sweet spot, just a sense of being immersed in the sound. Gus and Cookie played the San Francisco Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas playing Mahler’s Symphony No.1. I was transfixed. This was definitely the best audio reproduction I heard at the show!
Just to make absolutely certain I had now unknowingly been subjected to a Ken Kesey-type Kool-Aid Acid Test, I checked with Stereophile’s experts in digital audio, John Atkinson and Kal Rubinson. They both agreed I was hearing a different type of audio which might be as good as I claimed it to be! I later read on the DSD-Guide.com website that others had had a similar experience, including musicians and recording engineers.