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Danny Kaey

Article: Playback Designs MPS-8 CD/SACD player, DAC and Streamer Full Review

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Hey Danny - Nice write-up. It's good to see you keep the average price of stuff on the front page up there. It was getting a bit low with the $249 speakers and $299 AQ Cobalt DAC. I can hear Thurston Howell, III cringing without the MPS-8 on the front page 😂

 

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Founder of Audiophile Style and Superphonica

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LOL! hey, these days HiFi covers all price points... you can get great sound for ridiculously little money or scale up, way past what you'd ever thought possible... 😂

 

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“Stream-X is an option ....”

A price would be nice, however,  the specs appear to indicate that this unit is “begrudgingly” a streamer. Let’s say I chose to plug a USB HD music library directly into the back of the unit. My music format choices top out in PCM @192kHz & DSD64. Less than impressive IMO.

This appears to be a choice for someone who will mainly be spinning disks and will, maybe, dabble in streaming.

Has it possibly been kneecapped to steer potential customers up the product offerings? Not saying that is the case,  though one must wonder what is steering the unit’s feature list.

Edited by Doak
typos

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Stirs memories of the special Teutonic edition Lampi you can only get in a few of the other countries immediately attached to Switzerland (I believe).  Where DSD and high resolution formats are verboten if you are a serious music listener.  OK, less popular than among those with younger mindsets or less strict sense of what is considered advancement.  

 

My takeaway was you could be perfectly happy living with it if you've ever considered displaying every disc you own in a very organized fashion.  Anyone ever done acoustic testing on perfect room dimensions with three walls covered floor to ceiling with cd cases?  

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22 minutes ago, firedog said:

The above quote is only about the streaming module. The product specs say over USB it does 384k PCM and 4X DSD; over Ethernet 192 and single rate DSD. I don’t really see this as a problem. Especially as it works internally with its’ own algorithms and apparently converts everything to DSD. 

So this $28.5K Player/DAC/Streamer should not be taken seriously as a streamer. 

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18 minutes ago, Doak said:

So this $28.5K Player/DAC/Streamer should not be taken seriously as a streamer. 

Why?What is your point? What isn’t serious?


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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1 minute ago, firedog said:

Why?What is your point? What isn’t serious?

You noted that the DAC portion of this unit is capable of handling high resolution formats.

Fact is that the streamer portion is limited to PCM 192 and DSD64, therefore requires a user to stream from a computer or another streamer to access these capabilities. That is my point.  

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2 hours ago, Doak said:

You noted that the DAC portion of this unit is capable of handling high resolution formats.

Fact is that the streamer portion is limited to PCM 192 and DSD64, therefore requires a user to stream from a computer or another streamer to access these capabilities. That is my point.  

Chasing the highest specs frequently leads to subpar performance. 

 

How much content is available over 192 and DSD64? Sometimes one just has to say enough of the arms race and resample the highest rates to something accepted by the interface. 

 

If you use HQPlayer to filter and oversample outside the DAC, this may not be the unit for you. 

 

 


Founder of Audiophile Style and Superphonica

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Dude with such a fine player and system you should get a proper server such as a Innous Zen mk3 and feed the mps-8 directly with the innous ethernet output with at least a decent ethernet cable.
I would love to hear playback designs sometime.

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1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Chasing the highest specs frequently leads to subpar performance. 

 

How much content is available over 192 and DSD64? Sometimes one just has to say enough of the arms race and resample the highest rates to something accepted by the interface. 

 

If you use HQPlayer to filter and oversample outside the DAC, this may not be the unit for you. 

 

 

 

I appreciate your info about the "streaming option," Chris, on what is basically a very good Player/DAC. I see that the specs of the streamer option on this unit are quite similar to the "network bridge" option on the PS Audio Direct Stream (BTW: yet another model review from Austinpop). What I have been picking up from my readings is that a built-in streamer card in the DAC environment is prob not the best way to go, for very good reasons. A more indepth review might have discussed this. While I appreciate the effort, I do feel it glossed over a lot of things that could have proved more enlightening regarding this particular product offering.

The streamer option certainly would not be for me and I expect a lot of other folks who frequent this forum. However, it is an option and as such one may just eschew it and supply their own streaming solution. 

 

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1 hour ago, Doak said:

 

I appreciate your info about the "streaming option," Chris, on what is basically a very good Player/DAC. I see that the specs of the streamer option on this unit are quite similar to the "network bridge" option on the PS Audio Direct Stream (BTW: yet another model review from Austinpop). What I have been picking up from my readings is that a built-in streamer card in the DAC environment is prob not the best way to go, for very good reasons. A more indepth review might have discussed this. While I appreciate the effort, I do feel it glossed over a lot of things that could have proved more enlightening regarding this particular product offering.

The streamer option certainly would not be for me and I expect a lot of other folks who frequent this forum. However, it is an option and as such one may just eschew it and supply their own streaming solution. 

 

 

So you read those streaming specs and you know from them that it doesn’t sound as good as some streamer that does stream 8x rates, etc? Sorry, that doesn’t match reality.

Basically you’re saying that based on the specs, you’d buy a $200 streamer with the specs you demand to put in front of it, b/c  that, by definition, is superior. Really? Has the possibility that the internal handling of those rates and the elimination of another box in the chain might actually produce better results than adding an additional box, even an expensive one, into the chain? 

 

I’ve encountered plenty of units of various types that necessitate downsampling of extremely high rates that sound fantastic.Some even convert everything to 24/96. Ultimate sound quality has little (if anything) to do with the ability to playback 8x sample rate rates. 

 


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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The german hifi magazine hifistatement reviewed the MPD-8 and found the EXTERNAL streamer STREAM-IF the best sounding streamer for the Dream Series.

Even the USB input of the STREAM-IF is superior to the direct USB Input of the MPD-8.

The external STREAM-IF supports DSD up to DSD256.

AFAIK the STREAM-IF can be used with the MPS-8 as well.

 

Matt

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20 minutes ago, matthias said:

The german hifi magazine hifistatement reviewed the MPD-8 and found the EXTERNAL streamer STREAM-IF the best sounding streamer for the Dream Series.

Even the USB input of the STREAM-IF is superior to the direct USB Input of the MPD-8.

The external STREAM-IF allows up to DSD256.

 

Matt

http://www.playbackdesigns.com/docs/manuals/PlaybackDesigns_Stream-IF_Manual1v0.pdf

Again, acc'd to the manual, ethernet input allows only 192 PCM and single rate DSD. And if you use the USB as an input for high rates,  you don't have an output other than the proprietary PLINK for 8X PCM or more than single rate DSD.  Of course if you connect it to an MPD-8, you can use the PLINK)....Clearly an inferior product😄.

 

 


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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13 minutes ago, firedog said:

http://www.playbackdesigns.com/docs/manuals/PlaybackDesigns_Stream-IF_Manual1v0.pdf

Again, acc'd to the manual, ethernet input allows only 192 PCM and single rate DSD. And if you use the USB as an input for high rates,  you don't have an output other than the proprietary PLINK for 8X PCM or more than single rate DSD.  Of course if you connect it to an MPD-8, you can use the PLINK)....Clearly an inferior product😄.

 

This device is optimised for PD products via PLINK. The german review compared it to Aries Femto and vastly prefered the STREAM-IF.

Would be interesting to compare to something like opticalRendu.

 

Matt

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20 minutes ago, vortecjr said:

Based on internal images of the Playback Design MPS-8 on the internet it appears to use a Converse Digital model CDMCM-210 network card. This card supports 24/192 and DSD64 via DoP according the Converse Digital website. With the Converse Digital system the connectivity services are each selectable at some additional cost. 

 

Yes,

there is another review where the streaming board can be seen:

 

http://www.bm.rs/Playback/Playback Designs MPS-8 FIDELITY International No12.pdf

 

Matt

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18 minutes ago, matthias said:

 

This device is optimised for PD products via PLINK. The german review compared it to Aries Femto and vastly prefered the STREAM-IF.

Would be interesting to compare to something like opticalRendu.

 

Matt

The Playback Design Stream-IF also appears to use a Converse Digital network card so it will have similar limitations and features as the MPS-8 on that input. This unit also down samples input rates that are not supported on its coax output. The output of the device is PCM via coax and PCM/DSD via PLINK. Rather than compare a USB source into the DAC I would have used a USB source in combination with the Stream-IF in order to maximize the features and benefits of the PLINK output into the DAC.

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10 minutes ago, vortecjr said:

iThe Playback Design Stream-IF also appears to use a Converse Digital network card so it will have similar limitations and features as the MPS-8 on that input. This unit also down samples input rates that are not supported on its coax output. The output of the device is PCM via coax and PCM/DSD via PLINK. Rather than compare a USB source into the DAC I would have used a USB source in combination with the Stream-IF in order to maximize the features and benefits of the PLINK output into the DAC.

 

Certainly the best input of the Dream Series is the USB input of the STREAM-IF with output via the PLINK.This signal does not pass through the ConverseDigital board and supports DSD256.

 

Matt

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