PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport/DAC experiences

I want to know your experience with the PS Audio Perfect Wave combo.
Could you compare with other CD Players ?
Do you use them with or without preamplifier ?
I will apreciate your opinions and experiences.
I have one of the first 25 PW combos in this world. After breaking-in the combo for about 200 hours using good HDMI cable like the Wireworld Silver Starlight 5.2, there is no point to keep my Ayre C5XE SACD player.

I am still using my ATC SCA2 pre with the PW combo. The sound is a bit better with my SCA2, but mind you that the SCA2 worth close to US$10K now. If you have a mid-fi pre, then I would suggest you to sell the pre to save some money.

By the way, using the PSA's own I2S-12 HDMI cable really improve the performance of the combo.

If you have a budget of US$6000 to spend on CD player, the PW combo is a no brainer. Plus the PW combo is a lot more flexible and a great potential if you are into music server.
I owned the Levinson Refercence 31.5 Transport and 30.6 DAC. I thought I'd keep them forever. However because of issues with Harmons poor service, I started looking for a new digital system that would sound better and not break the bank. So I took a chance and ordered the PWT/PWD from Music Direct.
Upon first listen I preferred the Levinson sound. But as the PWT/PWD broke in, I found myself listening to the PWT/PWD combo more and more. In fact I had to make myself switch to the Levinson stuff.
The fact is, I have enjoyed listening so much more since I sold off my Levinson front end and switched to the Perfect Wave. The PWD/PWT have a way of involving one in the music. It just sounds right. Also as I'm wanting to go the server route the PWT/PWD appear to fit the bill.
As for tweeks, I have found that placing 3 Mpingo disks on both the transport and DAC really made the combo sing. Other tweeks have been Herbies Tenderfeet under the transport placed as close as possible to the factory footers and to the right of each. The DAC didn't seem to like this arrangement so I'm now using 3 Vibracones two in front and 1 in back (middle). I'm going to have another group of tenderfeet sent out to try with the DAC.
As for the HDMI cable, I started with a Nordost (don't remember the model) and am now using a Signal Cable HDMI.
I'm hoping to try the PS Audio silver HDMI in the near future.
For powercords, I've tried the stock, Synergistic Research, Signal Cable Digital, and VH Audio Flavor 4.
Of these the VH Audios seems to be the one to use in my system. The bass gained more impact and was more transparent.
Give Bes a call at Music Direct, I'm sure they'll set you up with a 30 day audition. He is very easy to work with.
See my system if you'd like to see howeverything is situated.
Hope this helps.
Is it just me or do the displays on these units look,how say I say this,cheesy?Just my thoughts.
Sorry,should read:

Is it just me or do the displays on these units look,how shall I say this,cheesy?Just my thoughts.

I was peckin' faster than I was thinkin' !!!!!
Yes, I think they could have done better. A glass cover would have been better than the plastic. I would guess that the displays could be reprogramed and changed at some point. I believe they are considering it. However the units do sound better when the displays are turned off, like many other products. However, I've seen components that look a lot plainer, and whose looks might make me hesitate to purchase them. The sound is sure impressive though.
I recently purchased the PW combo on Audiogon and was instantly thrilled with the performance. I do not use a preamp. I am still testing HDMI cables between the DAC and the Transport. I have tried a single crystal copper cable by Harmonic Technologies. I have just purchased an Audioquest HDMI-3 cable which is a silver coated copper cable but I have not yet made the comparison. An Audiogon member advised me that pure copper would provide the best sound. A person from PS Audio swore that its I2S-12 silver copper cable could not be beat. I will let my ears decide. But in all events, my jaw dropped to the ground when I played Carmina Burana SACD. My wife and family members couldn't believe the quality of the sound. I am not able to describe the sound in the audiophile terms so frequently used on this site, but in laymen's terms, the detail of the music stood out in bold relief. For example, in one song bells are rung and the ring kept ringing and ringing and ringing.... I think they may call this sustain. Based upon my brief experience with the PW combo I can highly recommend it and do not regret the purchase.

Good luck.
I am using the Perfect Wave DAC with a Macbook. I purchased from Underwood, where Walter gave me a generous trade on a Musical Fidelity A5 CDP (with Underwood Level 2 mods). I was using a Marsh 2000b, which I sold off and am now going preless into an Odyssey Dual Mono.

Although the trade made it impossible to do an A/B, the PW set up sounds very distinctly better than the A5. Deeper and more articulate bass, better detail, less limited "sweet spot," etc. A more natural sound overall.

Upgrading a stock USB cord to a Locus Design Polestar between MAC and DAC made a noticeable improvement.

I also changed the powercord on the DAC, an entry level PS Audio, to Chris Hoff's new BPT design.

I upgraded the interconnects, Gronneberg RCA, to BPT's new silver interconnect, balanced.

The BPT cables improved things noticeably as well: more detail, better low end, more lifelike -- highly recommended.

In short, I am very pleased indeed with the Perfect Wave DAC. If you are contemplating making the move to "computer audio" -- IMO, an excellent idea -- the Perfect Wave is worth considering.

The DAC/Transport sound very good together. The DAC by itself used as a DAC/preamp (with other sources besides the Transport) is OK, but not great. Certainly, I thought my Manley Shrimp preamp + Northstar M192 DAC provided a much better soundstage than the Perfect Wave DAC. Also, keep in mind that if you buy the combo for CD playback, you get bells and whistles that are not necessary if you just want a CD player (the touch screen menus, multiple selectable digital inputs, a digital volume control). One dealer I know who carries both PS Audio and Cary said that he thinks the Cary 303T sounds better than the DAC/Transport, but he still uses the DAC/Transport in his office system because it provides a lot of flexibility. A few months ago, he was referring to the Perfect Wave combo as the best digital playback system under $10K, which in retrospect may have been marketing hyperbole.
i would have to agree with many of comments already made. at this point in time, they perform best as a pair via high quality hdmi connection. although good individually....they really play well together.

i think one of the biggest plus's of this combo is it's ability to play high res audio and dvd audio. this along with soon to be released super server capabilities make the duo a home run imho. someone looking for just cd playback....these features could indeed be unwanted extra's. maybe their funds would be better off spent else where?.

although the selection is rather limited, i've been downloading and burning alot of hi res dvd music lately (24/88. 24/96 and some 24/178 and 24/192). it's become addictive and i can't seem to stop. high res on dvd is truly an incredible digital sound. when played threw the pwt/pwd in a well set-up/matched system and room, it's as close to perfect digital as i've ever heard. background is black as black gets. sound-stage is enormous, deep and detailed. mids and highs are super crisp yet clean and smooth. incredible down low too with plenty of slam/hit. hi-res dvd is digi heaven for me

as Sgr put it, it's just really enjoyable/fun to listen to. he's also spot on regarding tweeks and set/up. good power supply and pc's along with isolation from vibration really seem to help.

i'm in the middle of comparing my Duo with and without a pre-amp. recently upgraded my amp (krell s300i integrated to levinson-432) and contemplating which way to go. the PWD Duo sounded fantastic going straight into the 432 *and* has an outstanding volume control mechanism. however, so far adding the pass aleph p sounds just as good/great?. at this point, i can tell no difference's what so ever?. not 100% sure yet but it looks like i'll be going with a pre. this mainly due to the added connectivity and control features, along with no discernible loss in audio quality (imo so far).

i can't get enough of this thing!

Hi Lev,
I think you'll need a preamp, too. I listend to PWT/PWD straight into the crossover, with the Levinson #32, and with the ARC Ref #. While the sound of the PWT/PWD direct was very good and I found it had great dynamics and punch, it was a little on the uncontrolled side. It also has to be (according to PS Audio) played at least half volume because with anything less a digital volume control loses some of its resolution. In my experiements things always sounded best with the PWD at full volume while using the Preamp to control the output. If you could swing it, and wanted a Levinson pre, I'd look at the #320s. You might also consider a tube preamp. I've really enjoyed coming back to a tube preamp. To me, it would be worth it to save for a Ref 3. However, I could easily live with using the PWT as a preamp if I had too!
Also, Cullen Electronics, who do design work and mods for PS Audio, are working on a mod for the PWD, and I believe I was told they thought they could improve the volume control on the PWD. So that may be something to check out in the near future.
you're right Sgr. my Pass Aleph P pre-amp needed break-in and on day really started to sound better. it's obviously an old peice but in really pristine condition. it could have been sitting in its wooden crate for 10 years, for all i know?. didn't think a lengthy break-in would be needed but i was wrong. really like the simplicity and the sound of this pre-amp so far. think i'm gonna keep it hooked up for now and see what happens.

and yes...keeping the pwd set up to run above 50% was a small problem too. it restricted the volume i wanted for certain disc's. i do understand that very little is lost below 50% but i(we) don't like to hear the word "lost" at all when it concerns digital playback.

will play around with different pre's down the road a bit, as the budget allows. i'm done spending big chunks of money for a while. finished a big room treatment project last weekend so i'm done for now. gonna sit back and enjoy the ride on a *perfect wave* for a good long while =).

I think that's a good strategy. The Pass Alpha Preamp reportedly sounds great and should do the job nicely. I've been impressed by all the Pass stuff I've heard. You've got a superb system already. Rome was not built in a day!

I've not downloaded any hi rez files yet. Where do I find them, (I know where to find the Reference Recordings HRX discs but I haven't seen a title that says "buy me".) and what is the procedure for downloading them to a DVD? What titles are your favorites?
Have a great day!
although i haven't generated 200 houurs on the combination i think that the dac and transport illustrate the maxim, "there is no free lunch". while i find that well recorded discs profit from the increased resolution, mediocre recordings sound worse.

perhaps, i will have a different perception after i have 200 hours on both units. incidentally, i am using both the ps audio silver hdmi interface and a silver coax. so far, i prefer the silver coax.

the combo reminds me of a good solid state amp--great on the bass and a bit brash in the upper mid/lower treble region. perhaps this will change after break-in has been completed.

i also own a tubed cd player from 1990--the audio note cd2.
Sgr, i've been using HDtracks for the most part. plenty of classical and jazz but very limited rock(almost non-existant rock of any type). just go to the to hi-res section. most are offered in FLAC only. these need to be converted to WAV. per PS Audio...the duo will play FLAC someday but they're still working on it. truth is... they're still working on alot of upgrades for the pwt/pwd regarding the software side. we're kinda beta testers at this point with alot of stuff in the works. luckily most upgrades will be software based and easy to download/install (at least that's what they tell me?).

not sure if you're using a pc or mac but instructions have been posted on PS Audio's web site in the discussion forums section. i'm the poster for the PC instructions and someone else chimed in with a mac how-to. gotta say that it was a nightmare getting started using windows vista. i'm sure mac users aren't surprised by this lol!. main problem was the UDF 2.0 format that's required. vista has alot problems with this. took me many hours and failed attempts to get a playable dvd.

go here for my post regarding pc/vista:

go here for a mac explaination/instruction:

lot's of good info on their forums and most of it is directed at the perfect wave gear.

if you need some help, just let me know. i can save you alot of suffering and pain. not sure what to do with all the bad/non-working dvd's i have. anyone need any coaster's?? =)

mrtennis: my pair was 80-90% there by 200 hour's. doubt you'll see anything too dramatic after that point. maybe the pwt/pwd is just not your cup of tea?. just goes to show you how this is all about taste and preference. interesting that you like the silver co-axial best. not sure what my buddy was using when we did some testing (i'm pretty sure it wasn't a silver co-ax line) but we really preferred the I2S-12 (ps audio silver hdmi). have you been able to compare a non-silver co-ax to your silver co-ax hook-up?.

FYI, my uncle has the PWT/PWD and he thinks it is the best he's owned period. It replaced the Wadia 931 processor. Before that he had the Esoteric P01VU and the D01VU with the G0-Rb (don't know if there was a VU version of the clock but if it existed - he owned it :).

He flat out told me that the PWD/PWT combo is better in every way. Before the Eoteric stuff he has the Metronome Kalista but I don't remember the dac he had teamed with it (I know he had the Vekian so it may have been that unit teamed with the Kalista). All this to say, I know someone I trust and has owned some of the best rated gear out there and he chose the PS Audio front end. Just food for thought.
i recently took my pair to a friends house to try some connection combo's out. he sounds alot your uncle regarding equiptement history (big esoteric fan). two days after our session, he ordered a pwt/pwd. he has since made similar comments like your uncle regarding the duo.

my exposure to top teir gear is very limited so i can't make such comments. just passing on the info for what it worth.
Levy03 I will be doing comparisons in the coming few months of the PWD with the MSB Plat dac 3 and my modified Bidat I will be posting my findings on this site.
Audiofun: look forward to reading your thoughts. i understand the mods turn out really nice.

New 6Moons review here
That was a good review, I think they liked it :)
Here's the resulting backlash from the review:
I agree they should have talked about the sound far more than they did. I will be purchasing one in order to test its' capabilities but I really want the bridge, I wish they would put a rush on it. People complaining about the screen makes no sense to me. If you don't like it, turn it off. I seriously doubt most of the most vocal opponents were even in the market for the unit. I think PS Audio has a unique product which has caught a good number of dac manufacturers off-guard. I would not be surprised at-all if some of the more negative talk is the off-spring of other dac makers.
12-14-09: Tabl10s
Here's the resulting backlash from the review:
I happen to like the screen. From my chair I can see the album info ok. I'm told the screen will be programable as to what is displayed eventually. One can darken it completly now. I don't know how much it cost them to incorporate this feature in the units, but touch screens have been around a while.

I wish it did have a better reomote, but I think the IPOD Touch will work well when the Bridge is available.

I do believe that a video out would have been a great feature. Then one could have hooked a monitor to the unit and easily viewed the album art from acrosss the room. This should have been a no brainer! After all, Paul thought it would be cool to see the album on the DAC so a large display would be even cooler.

I've also wondered, if Apple brings out a tablet I-Pod Touch as rumored, then the software should run on it as well finally providing the larger screen many people want. Wouldn't it be cool to use this device to control all the features of your system as well?

I was wondering if once the bridge is available, I'm probably going to add a MacMini to my system in the basement for ripping files to the server. I'm wondering if the album files would be displayed on the Mac monitor when the Perfect Wave accesses data from the server. Any ideas?

As for SACD and DVD Audio, from discussions I've had with PS Audio, one or both could be implemented in the future, though it may be a while.
Oh well, time will tell. Right now I'm enjoying listening to my system and one of the reasons it sounds so good to me, is the PWT/PWD.
not sure some folks understand how inexpensive an lcd display is now-a-days. nothing "fancy" or "expensive" about them anymore when considering equipment at this price point. doubt psa spent much more if anything at all going this route. one must consider saving in other area's of production when making a piece with an lcd.

seemed to me the review was about the "new technology" more then either piece of equipment?. can see why many who are considering a purchase where disappointed. being an owner since release, i actually enjoyed the write up and learned a few things (sadly, nothing about the pwt/pwd though).

i've been strongly recommending anyone in the market to give the pair a listen. words like "enjoying", "involving" and "no fatigue" have been used often and by many owners, myself included. not very objective and detailed descriptions, i agree. i too was(still am) looking forward to a detailed, comparative and professional review. this review was definitely not it. but in the end, it really doesn't matter what any professional reviewer or equipment readout says about the pair. i'm gonna keep enjoying them and the wonderful sound they produce. digi heaven imho.

blw...lots of the gripes and/or shortcoming of the intro models have been discussed on psa's discussion forums. remote control, delayed release of bridge, network issue's, ect... . suggest looking there for many of the answers and information. call the current models beta units if you wish, but there are still lots of things in the pipeline for the pair. i'm looking very forward to it all.


The 6Moons article – while not much of an equipment review - really helps to illustrate where the industry is heading. In the future, there will be analog (turn tables) and digital (as in file format). The CD medium is a lame-duck. The recent decision by Linn to discontinue producing CD players is further evidence of things to come. The 6Moons article helps put into laymen terms why the physical CD medium is flawed and why (true) digital has never really been effectively implemented - or commercially available, until the recent emergence of true digital-based server systems.

As a medium, the true digital file has huge potential. The real challenge seems to be with timing/clocking elements during the analog conversion stage. It looks as if the advances being made in these areas of time domain are the real ticket to the digital Holy Grail. I don’t believe that we are necessarily seeing anything (yet) – in terms of “digital” that will truly supplant analog as we currently know it. Clearly though, the “new” digital is already supplanting the “old” digital. For me, this is the most exciting thing to ever happen in this industry. The digital solution has always held great potential. Until now, the means of realizing this potential has been flawed. CDs – love them or hate them, have always been a flawed medium. There really is no arguing that fact.

The Perfect Wave devices are among the leading-edge digital devices. There are others, and there will be more to come. Jump on now and enjoy…or wait until the next solution arrives. It looks like we are experiencing the infancy of a great new digital era. One that I am glad to be a part of…..
forgot to comment on something Mrtennis said in an earlier post. i too have found certain sub-par recordings to sound bad using the pwt/pwd. after playing around with the filters and up-sampling rate, i discovered that much improvement could be had using these adjustments *with some* of these disc's. although 90% of my music sounds best in native mode and auto filtering, about half of the remaining 10% sound better in other modes/filter combination's.

the most obvious example for me was the psychedelic furs 1st release..."the psychedelic furs". sounded very dull with little detail up high along with muddiness down low. sounded horrible to my ears. after some experimentation, i found that using the filter 2 (MP-APOD) and upsampleing to 192 really improved things.

i could give more examples (lou reed "rock-n-roll animal" and new order "the peel sessions") but unfortunately there is no pattern and it's hit or miss via trying the various combo's. i do think it's worth a try if you have a favorite disc that is poorly recorded and sounds bad. you might be surprised with the outcome.
as an owner of cdplayers from around1986, itis myhumble opinion thattherearemany 16 and 18 bitplayerswhich aremore plesantsounding with a varietyof recordings than the ps audio combo or other attempts to by pass the traditionaltransport. as an example, the original cal tempest, while lacking inresolution is a loteasieron theearwith a variety of recordings.

progress is notalways subjectively better.

bythe way levy, what would yousuggestto do for cds whichare overemphasizng the upper midrange and lower treble ?
Mrtennis: two solutions for that situation imho. turn the volume way down or grab another disc =).

i had what was considered a top tier cdp back in the mid 80's as well. a carver unit that i enjoyed very much at the time. can't remember what it sounded like today but i thought it was awesome back then.

Ok, I just got a broken in Weiss Minerva (several hundred hours at least). It has been in my system burning in for about 18 hours (18 hours since arriving in my home, time to come to thermal equilibrium). I have done some comparative listening to the Museatex Dcc-1 (a rarely known digital preamp 19 bit dual differential type) using glass Tos on both and then glass on the DCC1 vs a very expensive (can't name it yet as the manufacturer has not released it...sorry :( ) Firewire on the Weiss. I have a Mac Mini (2007 model) 2.0 ghz Core2Duo with 4Gig of ram running Leopard (although this model can only see 3.01 gig of that (I used 4gig as the memory transfer is optimized when the mem modules are the same). I also have a 1TB NAS (all over wifi). I am of course going to reserve final judement until a bit later.

I will be comparing the Museatex Bidat with the Plus Mod later this weekend. As a teaser, I will go on record and say that honestly at this point I don't agree with the stellar reviews concerning the Weiss Minerva.

It is resolute, almost technicolor but just to give you a short glimpse of what I am hearing, I could imagine a well healed vinyl person listening to Holly Cole on vinyl and then listening to the Weiss (playing the same in CD format) and saying "this is why I will never leave vinyl". Now that may sound harsh, but this is a hobby and I don't have a dog in the race, I am just reporting my ears findings.

I listened to a few high resolution files 176.4/24 and 96/24 but what I heard was a really clear highly resolved soul-less rendition of the music. It never ever made me smile or relax into the music the way the DCC-1/Bidat or even my former (when I actually spun cd' time flies) stellar Dynavox Dynastation 2 (the finest CD player I have ever heard).

In a nutshell (at this point) it just sounds like digital and that aint good in my camp because I am not forgetting about the gear and just listening to the music. I don't like syrupy or dark, I have heard plenty of players try to use that trick to sound musical. No, I look for something that is more elusive and few their be that find that magical combination when forging through the nether regions of the digital domain. I will continue listening to see if the Weiss surprises me :)

More to come...
i haven't given up on the ps audio products. perhaps, as has been suggested, they need more break-in.
Mine sounds incredible. I like it MUCH better using the USB as apposed to Toslink.
Srwooten: Are you referring to the PS Audio or the Minerva? I do not recall seeing a USB port on the Minerva. Also I submit that ANYONE using plastic Tos-link cables has no idea what Tos can sound like when implemented with a good real-glass cable (you shouldn't have to spend more than say $50 for a good glass Tos :)
The Perfect Wave. Initialy that is what I thought you were writing about. Then I read your other post and re-read this one, and realized my error.

BTW- I am using a Glass Tos.
I think I might have found the reason for your reservations concerning the PWT/PWD. The other day, I put my two pieces in "standby" by pressing the two blue PS Audio buttons on the left top corners. I did this because usually putting equipment in standby doensn't effect the sound quality. However, on the PWD/PWT it does so drastically and it takes at least 24 hours in my experience to come back. This has happened twice to me and both times I wondered what the heck happened to my system. It sounded cold, hard, and without a lot of life.
Unfortunately, the first time I did this I attributed it to other factors. For some reason, I did this again Sunday night, and tried to listen again on Monday, and turned the system off in disgust. I made sure to leave the two pieces on, as usual. Yesterday, I had a chance to speak with PS Audio, and my suspicions were confirmed. They never turn the units off. So if you have been using the blue buttons this probably accounts for what you've been hearing.
Hope this helps.
P.S. The newest software updates for both the PWD/PWT are now availablet to download.

I wasn't aware that there was an update available for the PWD. I knew about the one for the PWT. I checked the PS Audio site, but I couldn't find anything on the PWD update. My PWD is registered, but when I click on my PS account, I don't see anything regarding the update.

Can you specify what does the PWD update entails and how I can download it?

I just happened to talk with PS Audio yesterday and they told me about it and sent it to me via e-mail. You handle it just like the PWT update. I believe you'll have to e-mail or call right now. I'm not sure what it is exactly supposed to improve, although I was told it would somehow improve the workings of the remote. I'm sure there must be more. If you find out what the update will do exactly, let me know.
Hope this helps.
i got the updates via email after i asked. i'm sure they'll be posted up soon.updates are still in a beta mode but will be released soon. they say all registered owners will be contacted when they are posted up. you can get it now if you want.... just email PSA .

as a side note....the updates are not idiot proof. after i completed the updates, i put the sd card back into the the PWT. did so without removing the PWD update files. this somehow updated/turned my PWT into a PWD. both screen displayed PWD controls so i had 2 DAC's and no transport.

PSA provided a quick fix once i contacted them. great support as i was up and running within an hour.

Sgr...i've never used the blue light logo switch. forgot it was even there until you mentioned it. now i know to stay away from it lol!.

The PWD doesn't ship with an sd card (only the PWT) - at least my PWD did not come with one. How then is the update implemented? Will any sd card suffice - or is there a special type?

Thanks for the info guys!
You're correct that the PWD doesn't ship with an SD card since it is not required for use. The PWT uses it to store album art when connected to the internet, so it ships with one. You can use any standard SD card that is 2GB or less, according to some posts I've seen in the past from Paul on the PS Audio forums.
Thank you Bill k.
I just received two emails -one each with the PWT & PWD firmware updates. So they are on their way to registered owners.

yes- you will need to supply your own standard only SD card for the PWD.
or just use the same sd and end up with 2 pwd's instead =) can use a single sd. just remember to remove the updated files before doing copying/loading updates for the 2nd peice.