PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC without the transport

I am eagerly awaiting release of the bridge and lens and plan to get the whole turnkey PS Audio music server package once it comes out. I was wondering if it is worthwile to get the DAC earlier and use it with my digital transport (using Marantz UD9004). All I read about is the PS Audio DACs performance when used with the PWT. Is anyone using just the DAC with other transport over S/DIF and how good is it? I am currently using the Xtreme DAC card in my Theta casablanca III.
Me. It's an incredible DAC. Have mine hooked up to my computer via USB (Cardas Clear). It's the 2nd best digital I've heard. 1st was it with the PWT. It sounds much better than my MF Tri Vista SACD player, even when it was playing SACD's. Better bass, smoother, more liquid sound. I'm VERY happy with mine. I'm glad I have it while I await the Bridge.
I have had the PS PWD for about three months. After my initial misgivings and after some experimentation with interconnects, I can say without any hesitation that this is the best Dac I have ever used in my system. For what it is worth, my last Dac was a Levinson#36. Also, I am using the PS PWD with a regular old transport and not with the PS PWT using the I2S12 HDMI cable, which supposedly is the best connection. How much better can this Dac get using the HDMI connection or the bridge, I don't know. But all I can say is that I am enjoying my CD's more then I have in the past.

My system.

Sota Sapphire, SME 309, Micro Benz Glider, Proceed PDT, PS PWD, Musical Surroundings Phonomena, Sonic Frontiers Line 3, Plinius SA100 III, Martin Logan Request, Martin Logan Grotto, Illuminati Digital Interconnect XLR, PS Audio Xstreme Statement XLR Interconnects and Roger Sanders speaker cables. Not the greatest system in the world but it sounds good to me.
i own the perfect wave dac, and perfect wave transport. i also on an ess dac designed to demo the 32 bit sabre dac. it features analog devices op amps, digi key linear power supply, xlr and rca outputs, and coax and usb digital inputs. the dac is mounted on a piece of acrylic with a dedicated power cord.

while the ps audio dac is no slouch , i find the ess dac more balanced in frequency response.

oh, by the way, the ess dac retails for $450. both the ess dac and ps audio dacs are appropriate for tube systems. if you have a highly resolved ss system, i wouldn't own either dac.

i have also listened to the latest format hrx (refereence recordings 24 bit/176.4 khz) using the ps audio combination.
I use a Cullen modified Sonos and a laptop with mine and it has been superb. The fact that you can choose native resolution or upsample (or downsample high res) plus the ability to rotate between filters allows you to tweak for your room a little bit. It helped me in my previous room, but I'm back to defaults in the new room.

I'm running ProAc Response 1SC speakers with a Red Wine integrated amp right now.
I am burning my PerfectWave DAC. Right out of the box, however, this DAC is fantastic. I also love the front panel with the touch-screen lcd. It is rich, liquid and full bodied: the perfect fix for my upgrade addiction.
Sota Sapphire, SME 309, Micro Benz Glider, Proceed PDT, PS PWD

Magnih, boy would I love to hear your thoughts on the sound if you could try the PWD with a PWT. I'm still using a Proceed PDT3, and for the life of me have not yet found a better transport for my system (within the limits of what I'd want to spend). If the PWT were to really blow away the PDT it would give me something to think about.
04-21-11: Tonyptony

Sota Sapphire, SME 309, Micro Benz Glider, Proceed PDT, PS PWD

Magnih, boy would I love to hear your thoughts on the sound if you could try the PWD with a PWT. I'm still using a Proceed PDT3, and for the life of me have not yet found a better transport for my system (within the limits of what I'd want to spend). If the PWT were to really blow away the PDT it would give me something to think about.

The PWT will blow away the PDT for the following reasons:
1) The PWT is a 24 bit memory player with a built in digital lens to reclock the data (reduces jitter). This is very similar to the old Genesis Digital Lense, which PS Audio actually designed and manufactured for Genesis.
2) The PWT is a memory player. The data stream is read in, buffered, then error corrected and jitter reduced via the built in digital lense prior to output to the DAC. You can actually eject the cd and it will continue playing for up to 30 seconds. Most other players read data on the fly and error correct on the fly which is inferior to a buffered data stream.
3) The PWT reads up to 24 Bit 192 kHz music files. You can burn 24 bit wav files directly to DVD for playback on the PWT. Red book players can't.

It's a great sounding combo. It's my go to when I listen to digital.
You forgot arguably the most important thing. The PWT uses the I2S interface with the PWD.
agree with Edorr (and Rockitman). have had the perfect wave combo since intro almost 2 years ago. the I2S connection took it over the top imho. sounded great using xlr....sounds out of this world using I2S. am streaming from a pc now but still hanging on to my PWT because it sounds so damn good (yes...i still prefer it to the stream). PWT/PWD makes for an outstanding front.
To Levy, Edorr, Rockitman...and other PWD(+)PWT users:

How do you compare the PWD/Bridge vs the PWD/PWT (on all files - 44/16; 88/24; 96/24; 176/24; 192/24...)? Some users are reporting a difference in sound between the two setups, while others report very little (if any) difference. I am very interested in your opinions on this matter...


From what I have read on the PS Audio forums on their website, those that have both seem to indicate the PWT may beat the bridge by a bit. The president of PS Audio disagree's however. The PWT with I2S hdmi connection to the PWD is a great combo....natural sounding and unfatiguing for longer listens..., imo
I don't have the PWT but to me the PWT would have to beat the bridge by a dramatic margin to offset the loss of convenience of controlling the entire library from the iPhone. Throw in the additional cost of a PWT and for me it is a total non starter. Others may feel different of course.
I don't have the PWT either and I too like the way the PWD/Bridge sounds. I would however like to hear from those who own both since there seems to be quite a few folks who feel the PWT bests the Bridge.

Thanks for your responses and big Friday cheers to you...!

Have a great Easter weekend.

The bridge has other issues,,,growing pains like problems with gapless play for continuous live music for flac files (The usual way to lossless compress wavs on a hard drive). They almost have it figured out. PS Audio provides firmware updates when needed for the bridge, dac and transport loaded via an SD card. The other issue is ripping all those cd's, setting up a NAS array or another computer to store the files and then locating that out of the listening room. You don't want to hear computer fans while listening to quiet passages in music. Some say server based music is the way to go. For me, being old fashioned, I like the feel of cd's and dvd's...hence the PWT was it for me.
Here's a good info source for those considering the PW system. There is alot of information being discussed particularly about bridge.
hi Ben. the differnce is sound between the two is not always apparent and very small when it is. seems that certain disc's sound better then the stream while others sound identical. when i can hear a difference, it's sound-stage depth for the most part. this translates to sounding more "live" imho. one redbook disc also seemed to have a smoother, slightly less fatiguing high end then when streamed. again...a vast majority sound identical.

two that i found sound better with the PWT are eric clapton "backless" and muddy waters/howlin wolf "muddy and the wolf". have not heard any difference in music produced recently so far(the last 10 years or so).

again...the differences can only be heard during critical listening/direct comparisons and only in about 5% of the disc's i've compared (roughly 40 so far). don't want to start a big stink over this as this is one mans opinion with specific tastes in music/sound and on a specific system. plus...i'm no expert by any means.

regarding hi-res dvd's: have compared 5 so far and can tell no difference what so ever(24/96 flac). both sound fantastic (as you know). it's to the point now that i can't even imagine it sounding any better. closing your eye's and feeling like a band is front and center is what the bridge/pwt both do to high res. it's also what this hobby is all about to me.

cheers buddy
Thanks Levy.

Have you ever encountered any latency-type dropouts? I have been putting up with random dropouts from day one. Since this is not a phenomenon experienced/reported by all Bridge owners (some do, but I believe most do not), I have been going on the assumption that it is a network issue.

What is your server setup? Once I resolve this issue, I will be nearly 100-percent satisfied (when gapless is implemented, I will “feel complete”).

Dang…A Bloody Mary sounds good. Extra spicy, two cherry peppers, one dill spear, a sliver of lime, fresh-ground black pepper….It was a “festive” evening and I am feeling the residuals….
enjoy the bloody mary Ben. i have some issue's with my stream as well. periodic drop outs on both redbook and high res as well as TnP locking up once in a while. i still have a problem with TnP not seeing my PWD from time to time to. this last issue is my biggest problem as it requires rebooting the PWD to correct. lots of tweeking left to do on the bridge imho

i had hoped these problems would be resolved by now but understand there is way more to it then i know. purchased the bridge knowing/expecting problems has helped me get through the frustration but still.... . anyone not ready to put up with this kinda stuff should hold off on the bridge imho.

my set up is pretty simple. new pc running windows 7, j river and a linksys wireless n adaptor. iphone and TnP as well.

That's interesting that you, Levy, have similar dropout issues. It makes you wonder if the dropouts are a latency/streaming/network issue or a Bridge issue...?
I own both the PWD/Bridge and the PWT. While I enjoy the sound of both, and feel the PWT sounds a little bit better on some discs, even with the occasional issue with the Bridge, the little inconveniences are easliy overcome by the ease of using the Bridge with an iPad to control it. I use the PWT when friends bring discs over to play that I don't have yet in my collection. I do have less issues when I use the DNLA built into JRiver than eLyric. But I do like the layout of eLyric better. I'm waiting for more eLyric issues to be solved with the latest software.
Levy, Isn't the bridge a joy to use. Wait till you get an iPad. I now have all 1036 CDs ripped. I'm having trouble ripping HRx discs from Reference Recordings.
Have fun all!
no doubt Steve. the bridge is a game changer imho and a true joy to use. access to every single song in my 1200+ collection is at my finger tips. am listening to stuff i forgot i even had. the word "priceless" comes to mind. there is no turning back for me.

hope all is well buddy.

I don't seem to be in the majority, but I much prefer the PWD/Bridge combo to the PWD/PWT. More pure and open sounding to me, just slightly less veiled. Once I got the bridge, I sold the PWT. Just sounded plain better in my system IMHO.

Think about it, when you use the Bridge, you are removing the sonic influence of the digital connecting cable between the PWT and PWD, the power cord of the PWT, and vibration of the transport (or any anti-vibrational tweaks used). Simplify and you are normally rewarded.
04-25-11: Mekong56
Think about it, when you use the Bridge, you are removing the sonic influence of the digital connecting cable between the PWT and PWD...

The connection of your music server to the PW DAC/Bridge is either via wifi router or hardwired ethernet cable. The Is2 connection between the PWT and the PWD is superior to that. Your assertion doesn't hold water, imo.
Goes to show that no amount of engineering can take the voodoo out of high-end audio, and the only way to make good buying decisions is to listen to your favorite recordings after 5 rum and cokes and trust your subjective and fatally biased instincts (works for me all the time).
04-26-11: Rockitman
"The connection of your music server to the PW DAC/Bridge is either via wifi router or hardwired ethernet cable. The Is2 connection between the PWT and the PWD is superior to that. Your assertion doesn't hold water, imo."

I am only asserting what my ears tell me, not really anything more. It just sounds better in my system IMO. My point about taking the power cord, HDMI cable, and vibration of the PWT out of the equation is speculation on my part as to why I think it sounds better to me with the Bridge.

If the the Is2 is really superior, why does Paul McGowan himself say they should sound identical (PWT/PWD vs PWD/Bridge)? Maybe from a technical standpoint it is superior to ethernet, which I am not knowledgeable enough to argue one way or the other. Technical superiority often does not translate into things you can actually hear.
Hi Mekong56,

Irregardless of what Paul says, I don't think they sound indentical (splitting hairs perhaps) could they ? The music reaches the DAC in a different way ie: Server/Bridge vs. PWT). I agree...what one hears on one system may not necessarily apply to another person's system....YMMV
Cheers !
I totally misinterpreted your post. You are absolutely right that there is still a cable influence whether it be i2s or ethernet- my bad. However, there still is influence of the PWT transport power cable, and vibrational issues to consider.
For the record, the issue is not "I2S" verus "bridge" - the bridge is also I2S. You can see the PWT as a tranport with a bridge build in. Instead of bits coming in through ethernet the bits are read from a disc. The reason it should sound the same is the bridge (either the one in the DAC or the one in the PWT, and in the future the one in the lens) buffers and then completely rebuilds the signal (I2S) and is agnostic to the quality of the bits coming in.

One could hypothesize that the bridge should sounds better because the I2S protocol is very sensitive to transmission and cable lenghts, so having the bridge directly plugged into the data bus in the PWD should be superior to sending the same I2S signal over an HDMI cable. The fact that according to PS Audio the quality of the HDMI cable is paramount is consistent with this hypothesis.
Both the PWT and Bridge act as memory players, both process digital information via a digital lens and both utilize the Is2 protocol. What makes you think transferring pure digital data from a disc into a memory buffer is any different than transferring pure digital data from an Ethernet cable into a memory buffer?
That is exactly the point. Theoretically there is no difference between the bits being read into the buffer (from ethernet or disc drive). So the only difference in SQ can be attributed to how the I2S signal is generated from the bits in the buffer, and how the I2S signal is transmitted to the PWD data bus. On both these counts the bridge has a leg up.

First, the bridge is directly plugged into the data bus while the PWT sends the I2S over an HDMI cable. Bridge 1 - PWT 0.

Second, the I2S is generated from the bits in the buffer is based on the algoritms in the firmware. PS audio is focusing its ongoing development of the firmware on the bridge - sonic differences are reported with new bridge firmware releases. Eventually this may trickly down into the PWT, but for now the bridge is ahead of the firmware curve. Bridge 2 - PWT 0.

I'd trust my ears any day over this purely thoeratical argument, but the point is there is a plausible explanation as to why the bridge may sound better than the PWT.
Unfortunately, the Bridge firmware updates do impact the sound quality. Currently however, PS Audio is working on optimizing the next update(s) based on the two best sounding firmware updates (to date); the 0.2.08 version and the 0.2.10u version.

My rebuttal to Rockitman was based on the fact that he made an incorrect statement regarding interface connectivity. His overall point – that the PWT sounds better than the Bridge – has been observed by many PWT/PWD/Bridge owners. I believe that there is something to these observations. I do not own the PWT so I cannot make any conclusions.

I am very glad though, that the PS Audio team has identified the existence of SQ differences in Bridge firmware upgrades. Many owners have reported that firmware version “…08” sounds nearly identical to the PWT, while others, including Paul himself, have identified the “u” version as sounding the best. This is good news for Bridge owners because it means that the Bridge can be “tweaked” for better SQ - with the PWT a likely reference source.

I listened to version “u” for more than an hour last night and I can tell you that the soundstage is noticeably better than with previous firmware versions (although, I have yet to go back to “…08” to verify….). With “u” one can hear well into the very wide soundstage and the overall tone is anything but digital-sounding. The Bridge – which is already an outstanding “transport” – is getting even better. I can’t imagine having to get up to load a disc anymore…!!
Even though I only have the PWT and not bridge, I'm still not convinced they sound the same....and that the PWT sounds better from the various discussion by owners of both on the PSA Discussion Bd. ie:

It’s been a while since I heard 2.08 such that I can’t remember how it sounded, but I can say u is a definite improvement over t (24/192 dropout issues aside). Better detail/soundstage than t, and generally a more realistic soundstage. “t” build had a flatter, more lifeless soundstage and not as good detail. “u” build is definitely a step in the right direction.

That said, I get magic playing CD’s from my PWT via my PWD that is missing from hi-rez FLAC via the bridge. I consistently get excellent detail/soundstaging playing CD’s via PWT. Everything tells me that the higher bit-rate recordings should blow CD’s/PWT away, but I honestly have felt a bit underwhelmed from what I’ve been getting from hi-rez FLAC over the bridge, or even FLAC’s ripped from my CD’s.

I just A/B’ed Dave Matthews/Tim Reynolds Live at Radio City flipping between playing the original CD on PWT, and a bit-perfect/AccurateRip2 FLAC rip from dbPowerAmp played over the bridge. The rip from my CD is a guaranteed bit-perfect copy of the original CD via AccurateRip2 validation. In any case, even with this latest “u” build of the bridge firmware, the soundstage and finest details are better resolved by the PWT vs. FLAC played over the bridge. I played both albums simultaneously, flipping between bridge and I2S1 inputs, with music within a second of each other on both sources.

Consistently, resolution/detail of guitar strings played during the concert recording is finer with PWT, as is soundstage of the concert hall. You can really hear the difference when listening to bridge source for 20 seconds, and then you flip to PWT. “u” definitely beats “t”, and it’s not like “u” sounds bad- it’s quite good, it’s just that I have to give the nod to the PWT for cases where I can do a direct A/B comparison. That said, given that PWD is doing the digital-analog conversion in both cases, the expectation is that sound would be identical.

I’d be interested if staff at PS Audio or folks with a PWT and a bridge (with a well broken in PWT and similarly broken in quality silver-coated HDMI cable) can hear a similar difference. At any rate, it’s another good comparison point beyond just comparing firmware versions with each other, and is one that is also I2S.

Here's someone who compared to Bridge 2.08 & 2.08U and PWT:


Just waking up as my experiment kept me up till 3am

Last night I played for 2 hours comparing 2.08 to “u”. To my ears, 2.08 is the winner, in every respect. I understand things are subjective, however, particular with cymbals, sopranos and violins there is an edge with u that makes it a little irritating to listen to. I also find more dimension with 2.08.

Another hour of comparing 2.08 v. PWT with all the same music and 2.08 is closer to the PWT than “u: but the PWT is still superior. However, both have an ease and are more listenable, the edge gone. In particular the PWT images beautifully, well focused with better layering. Percussions on both are superb.

The PWT is the standard, period. This is what we need them to focus on, in my opinion.

Not trying to start controversy. Just sharing experiences.
These guys have both the Bridge and the PWT. I communicate with them via the forum all the time and I can say without hesitation that they are impressed with the Bridge. That's not saying the PWT doesn't edge out the Bridge. I think it probably does.

Here's the deal though, I can sit down in my listening chair and never have to move a muscle (except to raise my beverage to my lips). I have more than 3,000 CDs ripped - that's about 35,000 songs available to me via my iTouch. Considering the Bridge delivers true high end sound, this is pretty amazing. Some people actually prefer the Bridge over the PWT, so obviously there’s not a big discrepancy in sound quality. Additionally, it now looks like the PS-A techs may have figured out a way to tweak the Bridge’s sound quality.

Since you already own the PWD, I cannot image why you haven’t jumped on ordering the Bridge…?

By the way, it’s all good; you’re not starting anything controversial. I totally respect all your input.
Hi 2chnlben,

The convenience of music access via the bridge is certainly a benefit. I too have close to 3000 CD's. I don't relish the idea of all the time it will take to rip and catalogue them all, especially when close to 2000 are non studio live DAT recordings of various bands and have no embedded xml data for organizing. Perhaps I will find the time someday. As a of now, analogue has been occupying most of my listening time. Cheers !
Oh how I wish I had a nice analog setup. More than that, Rockitman, I wish I had the time to enjoy one. My wife and kids pretty much dictate what my schedule is. In my case, a music server is the ideal setup and the PS-A Bridge is among the better choices. I prefer a network solution, so I don't mean to stir up any controversies with the PC/USB sector.
04-28-11: 2chnlben
Oh how I wish I had a nice analog setup. More than that, Rockitman, I wish I had the time to enjoy one. My wife and kids pretty much dictate what my schedule is. In my case, a music server is the ideal setup and the PS-A Bridge is among the better choices. I prefer a network solution, so I don't mean to stir up any controversies with the PC/USB sector.

I completely understand FAF (Family Acceptance Factor) limits time. I have a live in hi-maintenance emotionally wise girlfriend. She's a bit troubled by my frequency and length of listening sessions. This I fault with analog. I just sit there with a dazed deer in the headlights expression as my favorite bands are playing before me with absolutely no fatigue. I have become a listening marathoner now...LOL. If I had kids, no way would I get away with it. Cheers mate !
I have a live in hi-maintenance emotionally wise girlfriend.


Very well stated. I'll have to remember that when describing my "emotionally wise" wife!

Big cheers to you as well my friend!

I thought only dacs used internal I2S?

I'd get a Pre-nup that includes your "alone time" before getting married as I see trouble for you down the road. If she doesn't want to listen with you, oh well. High maintenance...and emotional issues, can't make for a peaceful cohabitation.
i just fired a high maintinance girlfriend who didn't like listening to music. she asked me one to many times to "turn it down please". don't think she understood her place on my priority list.

Rock should give his gal a warning....then the boot =)
Hum...well Levy, it depends on how fast you can get a quality replacement! A man shouldn't go or the good thang!
LOL guys...she's staying and just has to accept my musical reality. If not, she can depart for greener pastures...Cheers !
I'm guess she wasn't standing behind you when you wrote the last part.
If my wife was into the whole music thing as much as I am, I'd no doubt have to share the sweet spot...That would suck!!!!
you nailed it Ben (so to speak =) ). the replacement is working out nicely. music lover who enjoys her own space...and gives me mine.

still to early to tell but this one could be around for a while. truth is....there's a reason i'm in my late 40's and have never been married. way to late in life to compromise or change my ways. i yam what i yam!.
05-04-11: Levy03
i'm in my late 40's and have never been married. way to late in life to compromise or change my ways. i yam what i yam!.

Exactly...I'm that old and decided why marry ? Who wants contractual obligations without benefit ? If I were young and had kids it would be a different matter. My Hi-End rig is not community property !
Cheers !
Ah...Mr. Levy...a replacement already. Good man!
I've been experimenting with the various Beta bridge upgrades. I've gotten very mixed results. It still seems like 2.8 gets the nod sonically. Has anyone found a version that sounds better than 2.8?

I'm concerned that there may be a problem with the bridge hardware. A software fix for all the issues might not get it done, since PS Audio has worked on this for almost a year.

I hope the bridge can have all of its issues solved, (it does sound great for what it does and I love listening to it) but maybe PS Audio bit off too large a project? Do other similar systems have these issues still too?
i was thinking the same Sgr. i won't be surprised to find myself buying a new bridge for $1000+ down the road sometime (after psa discovers the current hardware can't cut it).

i'll guess that the target price point played into the design a little to much regarding the hardware design. like you, i'm using and enjoying the thing. it still has way to many bugs for me to believe software tweeks will get it all sorted out.

however....i know nothing about this sort of stuff so my opinion might not be worth the standard 2 cents =)

we'll see.
I believe PS has acknowledged that the CPU used in the Bridge isn’t robust enough for decoding FLAC (or might I say, “could be more robust”). I may be wrong. I do know however, that many folks with an understanding of these matters consider the CPU the weak hardware link. Decoding FLAC requires more “processing power” (memory…“whatever” it takes…) than other codec’s and hi-res FLAC (e.g.: 24/192) requires even more than 16/24 FLAC.

I believe that PS is working on the FLAC codec and writing new code in an effort to make the FLAC decoding process more efficient. In theory, this may very well resolve the issues involving the decoding of hi-res FLAC files. Hopefully, the software solution will indeed resolve these issues. If it does, then the main hurdle will be the implementation of gapless playback.

Obviously, sound quality is of vital importance and it does appear that PS is aware of the correlation between firmware upgrades and sound quality – so hopefully, they will be able to duplicate the SQ of the very best versions (e.g.: “.08”), or perhaps even surpass older versions, in the final firmware version.

Once these major areas have been addressed – and remedied –then PS can concentrate on tweaking Tag-n-Play, eLyric, and all other interfaces and forthcoming protocols.

Bottom line is that I do not believe the current Bridge is a lost cause. I may be wrong, but I am very hopeful that PS is truly on the brink of perfecting the Bridge. I guess the real question (or concern) is just how much longer will it take them to finalize execution…