Thanks... we try. Just need a few "more" of me to keep up is all.
I doubt there will be any future upgrades available for the DDA-100. Unlike our Reference Series products, that some models of which do get upgraded from time to time (like our Ref Series amps), it's a model in our Home Series. I don't expect any of those models will be upgradeable. Then again, I don't work directly in product development, so what do I know? The engineering gurus manage to surprise me every once in a while. What I have heard though is rumors of another model based on the same technology that *may* be on the drawing table. Don't know if it will have more power or less though. Truth be told, I really don't know enough of anything certain to make it even worth mentioning. "Ignorance" never seems to stop me though - hasn't yet anyway. If interested, just keep watching our website. We'll all (including yours truly) probably find out at about the same time.
As far as why the thing is reported to sound better at higher volumes goes... your guess is as good as mine. I know that data isn't being dropped due to digital attenuation, so what the heck is going on has me puzzled. Being a speaker designer, I wonder if it isn't the speakers and the ulta-low distortion from the DDA-100 at low levels. I know from my own speaker designs that they offer exceedingly low levels of distortion over the whole range and a dynamic capability that will leave your ears ringing while the speaker barely breaks a sweat. You know what, no matter the electronics ahead of them, they don't "come alive" until they're playing at a certain level. I can measure anything you want - THD, IM, Phase, Spectral Waterfall, Burst Decay, Dynamic Linearity... you name it. All the specs look more like a good amplifier than a speaker at ANY level (which few would believe unless they'd seen the measurements for themselves). Makes no difference. They don't "sing" until they hit "XX" dB SPL - period. In fact, my smaller models (monitors) that DISTORT sooner (at lower power levels) actually sound BETTER than my bigger "better" models at lower listening levels. The big floor-standers just have to be "pushed" harder to start really sounding good. Go figure.
The only explanation I can think of - and God how this grates on my engineering brain - is that we must all "like" or "need" a little distortion to fill in for what's lacking in the recording process??? As much as I hate the very thought of that concept, I don't know what else is left to explain the effect.
A funny thing happens on the other end of the volume spectrum though too. The lower the speaker's distortion (electronics quality being a fixed constant and no amplifier clipping), the LOUDER you can play the music without it actually SOUNDING loud. This was always the bane of my speaker designs because folks thought they needed a lot of power. They didn't "need" any more power than any other speaker of the same sensitivity and impedance. But because they played so cleanly at such high volumes, they didn't SOUND as loud as they were actually being played. Therefore folks never realized how loud they were listening and pushed their amps to the limit. THEN... when they could clearly begin to hear AMPLIFIER CLIPPING kick in, they thought, "Gee... these speakers really need a lot of juice." If they had used an SPL meter so they could have seen how LOUD the music really was, they would have freaked out and turned the volume down just to save their ears from damage.
So I suspect our brains are "wired" such that distortion is a necessary part of our hearing experience. I also think it has something to do with dispersion too and how it relates to volume. I've always noticed how wide dispersion speakers (especially omnidirectional types) seem to sound better than others of narrower dispersion at lower volumes. Without the added room reverberation that results from wide dispersion speakers, maybe our brains get confused and loose their sense of "spacial recognition" when listening to speakers at lower volumes.
Makes sense because the ambient cues in the recording would be at such low levels when listening at low volume that they would be "buried in the mix." Maybe our brains need a certain ratio of direct to reflected sound in order to process the spatial location of instruments and voices. When listening to a stereo system (i.e., an artificially reproduced sound stage) at low volumes and with speakers of moderate dispersion properties, the ambient cues just aren't of sufficient volume to impart the illusion of "real-ness." Spray the same sound at the same volume around the room a bit more (with wide dispersion/omni speakers) in order to "synthesize" a proper direct-to-reflected energy ratio... and VIOLA!!! Everything sounds as it should.
Could be wrong, but Bose sure made a name for themselves starting out with the original 901... for some strange reason. In lieu of a "synthesized" sound stage, then when using more "typical" speakers of average dispersion, maybe all that's left is to... TURN UP THE VOLUME so you are able to hear the real sound stage captured in the recording. In addition, if the amp and driving electronics are of exceptionally low distortion (read: DDA-100), then *maybe* you have to turn up the volume even MORE.
But I'm just a hack, so what do I know? By the way, did you know that human hearing is very non-linear such that certain ranges/frequencies have to attain a certain minimum volume to even be heard AT ALL??? It's called the Fletcher-Munson hearing curve, with bass being the hardest to hear. Hence, the old "loudness" controls you used to see on stereo receivers. Heck, a 20Hz tone has to be a minimum of 80 dB to just be barely audible. Try that at 3kHz and see what happens. You'll be sticking your fingers in your ears and wincing at the same 80 dB level. So in light of the above, is it any wonder why we all like to "turn up the wick" once in a while? In some cases... it might even be necessary just for a given combination of components to start sounding what we all call "GOOD." Hey, maybe there's nothing wrong with that new digital gizmo after all! :-)