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is a Revelation system superior sonically to a tradiotional
While we have a few patents pending and many trade secrets
used in the Revelation, there are a few basic things we can tell
you. We follow a purist approach and do as little to the signal
as possible . Our sound card and hardware customization contributes
a lot to the refinement of the sound. We provide a cleaner conduit
to the DAC in the sound card than any other hard-disk-based
system that we are aware of.
The VRS system
extracts music from CDs in a byte by byte, ‘bit
perfect’ fashion. A CD player catches the bits in a stream
from the laser which is less exact and can induce jitter into the
signal. We like the analogy comparing CD extraction as removing
an single apple at a time from a bin to put in a basket as opposed
to CD playback as pouring the apples into a basket from the bin
(there is room to lose some apples off the sides, and to damage
the apples as they fall). There is much less control of bits in
a CD transport system. This is not to say our extraction method
is perfect, it’s just much better than the traditional CD
mechanism. We suspect that further advances in CD ripping will
yield fairly small gains in the future.
Once a track is in the VRS system as a Wave or Flac (lossless
compressed format) file, it is handled as a discrete object and
no jitter or distortion occurs. This is unlike what happens inside
a CD player where every hardware and transport step has the potential
for distortion and added jitter. The software player in the system
then manipulates the file in order to cue it up, run DSPs on it
and send it to the sound cards software drivers. There is no jitter
in this process as it is a software process. All software players
add their own sonic stamp to the sound through DSP and resampling.
Many of the best known software players are built poorly from a
purist point of view. We customize our player to minimize the manipulation
of the sound files.
player sends it’s information to the sound
card drivers which manipulate the bits more and ultimately send
the bits to the DAC on the sound card. This is where the traditional
distortions and jitter inherent in digital sound can occur. The
VRS card is exceptional in it’s ability to keep outside influences
such as jitter, RFI and EMI out of the signal.
using SPDIF or AES/Beu or USB as the transport mechanism to the
DAC chips risk added distortion and jitter to the signal
in the same way as the traditional CD transport mechanism. This
is one reason why all of our customers with the Gold or Platinum
Revelation prefer the analog outputs of the system over an external
Once the signal
is output in the analog domain it hits our patent-pending output
modules. This circuit blocks residual noise (RFI, emi etc.),
lowering the noise floor, and also changes the output from a voltage
output to a current output, and smooths the output impedance of
the signal allowing it to interface better with the inputs on preamps/amps.
It also has an effect of counteracting the lenticular effect of
the analog output from the output op amps. Our proprietary output
modules make a significant improvement to the sound.
The VRS preamp/volume control option has another complimentary
proprietary circuit (also patent pending) that further improves
the analog signal and adds 6 db gain to the circuit eliminating
the need for an active preamp section.
Using an external DAC with the VRS Revelation
It is possible to use an external DAC with the VRS system. It is also possible
to slave the VRS clock to an external DAC or use a DACs clock with the VRS.
However, none of our customers who have purchased a Revelation Gold or Platinum
have found a DAC they felt was superior to analog output of the VRS itself.
The VRS Silver configuration is our entry-level system and it is a good match
to use as a transport to an external DAC.
Why lossless audio?
Audio formats like MP3 or AAC are called lossy because a lot of data from a
music file is removed to reduce the files sizes. Many people are happy with
the increased convenience these small file sizes bring. However, there are
sonic consequences with these formats that serious music lovers don't accept.
Lossless music formats might take up more space and need more care in transport
and playback, but they offer sound quality that meets or exceeds the typical
CD. FLAC is a lossless format that VRS most often uses.
FLAC and other audio formats
FLAC stands for 'Free Lossless Audio Codec' and is a file format we use in
our Revelation series. It compresses typical Wave files to about
50% of the original size and allows the inclusion of metadata about the music
file inside the file itself. This makes the file easily transportable to
different devices along with information such as artist, album name, track
title etc. In addition the FLAC format is easy for audio devices to decode,
meaning small portables and other devices can play them. Many other lossless
formats require intensive processing to decode (like lossless Windows Media
files - WMA), preventing playback on portables etc. In addition, FLAC is
an open-source format, so no royalties are paid and no restrictive licensing
is required to include FLAC compatibility in devices. In our opinion, a file
format should remain open-source in order for many different companies to
support and develop with it. This increases the adoption of the format across
many operating systems and devices. To find out more about FLAC visit it's
home page HERE.
Copyright issues and the DMCA
The following information focuses on United States Copyright law. We believe
in strong copyright protections for artists and business. VRS audio and video
products are sold with the implicit consent that our customers will use them
only for lawful purposes. Taking a Compact Disc or Record that you own and
ripping it into a computer for your own personal use is a legal and protected
right in the United States (this is called fair use rights). Downloading
or copying media or files you do not own is not legal unless the owner of
the files or music grants you specific rights. The Digital Millennium Copyright
Act (DMCA) further restricts the use of digital media. We do not believe
that software or file formats that include limiting or crippling code are
a good idea. They typically inhibit a consumer from using media they may
actually own and is protected under fair use law. In addition, these types
of systems stifle innovation and creativity in development and sometimes
the very artists they were designed to protect.
DVD-Audio and SACD
The VRS system can playback DVD-Audio, but currently cannot store files. SACD
disks are not compatible with VRS systems. The SACD format is closed to
and Sony intends to keep it this way in order to avoid copyright infringement
and ripping of audio files. There is a professional SACD/DSD computer card
available from Sony for around $15,000, but it's use is restricted to professional
audio applications. Most of our customers who have SACD or DVD-Audio systems
prefer the sonics of Redbook Digital (the CD standard) played back through
a VRS Gold or Platinum system.