I have the Bryston, and have heard the PS Audio extensively, and would say that sonically they are very close, with the PS Audio have a bit better upper end and extension (but smooth, not harsh) and the Bryston a bit warmer. The PS Audio is a bit more flexible, and that's what you are paying for in the price differnce. They are both excellent sonically, and I really couldn't pick a winner.
I have never heard the W4Sound, didn't know they made one.
I've tested the Bryston in my home and found it excellent, that is, both highly detailed and highly musical (which is unusual in my experience). HUGE caveat: the USB input REALLY needs a preprocessor / reclocker, which you can get for several hundred dollars. This is probably true for most DAC's that don't implement the Gordon Rankin algorithm. The other digital inputs seem fine.
Easy choice, having ownwed the PS Audio DAC III and then the PS Audio DAC III Cullen Mod IV and now the Wyred 4Sound DAC 1 it is an easy choice, Wyred4Sound!
It isn't even broke in yet. Rick Cullen and EJ Sarmento have done a fantastice job!
the PS Audio Perfectwave is in no way, anything like the PS Audio DAC III including any mods that could be done to it. It is a completely different machine and shares nothing with the DAC III.
I don't think that's a good comparison.
Yes, I was a little perplexed by the responses too. The question concerned the Perfect Wave DAC vs. the Bryston, vs. the Wyred4Sound, not the older (and now discontinued) PS Audio DAC III. Since I've not heard any of the other DACs referred to except the PWD I would not even hazard a guess as to which sounds better. I will stand on my own experiences and state that I really find the PWD to have exceptional sound compared to others I've heard in my system. I'm not saying it is a contender for SOTA, (though it very well could be). I suspect that the Bryston and Wyred4Sound are good DACs, maybe even great via the reputation and the press they are getting.
Let's keep the topic of the postee in mind.
I would read all the info about the DACs you are interested in considering your needs now and in the future and the DACS flexibllity. Then either arrange to audition them in your system via a company like Music Direct, or purchase used pieces on Audiogon, listen to their merits and then sell the ones that didn't cut the mustard in your system. Sound tedious, yes, but worth all the trouble in the end.
Of course, if someone has compared the actual pieces of equipment you are intersted in their system, and you feel their opinions are legitimate, this can also be helpful in making your decision.
Hope this helps.
I can only speak for the BDA-1, It's now playing in my room.
I think the Bryston is a safe bet especially if you can find one used, the sound is very impressive with my Mac Mini and Accuphase amp giving out smooth refined music that does not sound too digital or fatiguing but still very revealing. It's also very flexible with 8 inputs. I'm not sure I would call it warm. My system is very revealing and even more so now with the Bryston.
I have not heard the PS Audio PW but it does not have BNC connectors if that matters to you but it does have HDMI I2s inputs which the Bryston does not. I'm using the BNC input with a HIFace and I'm very happy.
I do have to add that the Bryston is louder (more gain) than other dac's, I think I read somewhere 1.5-3db which seems like a lot. It's not a problem for a lot of people but it can be annoying when switching inputs on your preamp, the volume level will have to be adjusted. The Bryston does not have it's own volume control.
I think the Bryston does have volume control via the remote. I am using it right now, so I am sure it has it.
Well, it's actually not full volume control, it let's you adjust the gain to 4 levels, from 0 to minus 3 db.
Not to hijack but I'm very curious how your changing the gain/volume on your Bryston. I have the remote and have read the instructions and I still have been unable to achieve this.
I'm also curious to hear about the Wyred 4 Sound dac2 after it becomes available.
Considering that the Perfect Wave DAC can be purchased new for as little as $2,100 from some e-tailers (hunt around and you will find one), this should be a no-brainer. It is a great DAC that sounds wonderful using the coaxial digital input and is absolutely stunning using the I2S input. The latter can be accessed with the PW Transport or (when it is released) through the network Bridge. I owned the Ayon CD2 in a second system (now dismantled). The PW DAC + Transport sounded far superior to the Ayon. And many here on Audiogon carry a torch for the Ayon CD-2. If the PW DAC + Transport is far superior to the Ayon CD-2, I doubt the Bryston or W4S DAC-2 are better than the Perfect Wave DAC.
I have to second Mcondon opinion regarding the PerfectWave DAC. I am blown away on how good my system is now that mine is burned in.
I use it with the Oppo BDP83SE digital out and a Squeezebox 3. Amazing. But here's a funny story.
We had/have/going to have again hopefully today, the PW Transport. First unit had control issues and IMHO has a terrible bug that needs to be fixed. We listened to 2 disc's. First one was Alison Krause/Robert Plant "Raising Sand" in Hi Rez. At first I thought I screwed up the burn and I burned this music from HD Tracks.com. It sounded weird. I didn't like it somehow. I let it play and left the room. I came back with "3 Guitars", another hi rez download cued up and playing. We were stunned. It was absolutely amazing. We are listening to a one of the tracks when the heating unit turned on. My wife got up to shut it off and I wondered why the &$#! heater turned on, it was warm in the room from my Pass Labs heater! She walks by the left speaker and stops. It was in the recording. Now understand, this isn't one of those dissect your music for fun and leave the musicality for another day source's. There was such a balance and flow, continuity in the music for lack of better descript, that I've rarely if ever heard.
I went back to the Raising Sand disc. What I realized then was how different it sounded. The actual flow of the music was now at a different level. It was displayed almost as if at a slower pace where the music flowed from note to note. Sorry, I'm no reviewer and I'm struggling to find the proper adjective to decribe what I heard. I'll try to write a review when I get this thing back into the system. Just not enough time with it.
But if I have to find a tool to eject every offending disc that my wife or Dad or whomever (myself?) inserts on a 3K Transport, I take issue. How hard can it be? if; "invalid disc" then; eject disc, Not freeze machine :-|
i'll third the ps audio gear. have not heard the BDA-1 but have no doubts it's a fine DAC. have owned the pwt/pwd since release and compared it to several other digi front ends (2 that where much more expensive). nothing has sounded better imho. every comparison i've done has resulted in the owner of the other source buying or wanting to buy the pw duo. i'll spare you all the accolades but until i hear something better....the pw combo is IT for me.
Really looking forward to hearing about the comparisons of the three DACs listed in this thread. I ended up purchasing the Wyred 4 Sound DAC 1 due to it's price. I have the new Magnepan 1.7s with a Bada tube hybrid preamp and separate 300w 4ohm Bada amplifier.
The sound is incredible through the system. Very detailed and very realistic sound. For the first time in my experience, Magnepans are sounding great with rock music. It could be the new 1.7s but I do feel it is the combination of the Wyred 4 Sound DAC 1 with the new Maggies. I don't get the same feeling from my previous Pacific Sound modified DAC which is very good, but not up to the standards of the Wyred 4 Sound.
I can't tell you if one is better than the others (I have not heard the other two) but I will tell you the Wyred 4 Sound DAC should be listened to if you are considering purchasing either of the other two.
just a comment about the digital interface between the ps audio pwt and pwd.
i own the pair and have compared the hdmi (top-of-the line), coax and fiber optic.
for my taste the hdmi was producing a spectrally unbalanced sound. there was too much treble in comparison to midrange and bass. i preferred the coax, as it seemed to generate a balanced frequency response.
i have found just the opposite regarding the hdmi hook-up for the pwd. the hdmi was sonically better in almost every regard to the tos or coax in my system. i found this to be true even when a cheap hdmi was used and even more obvious when i switched to a hi-grade hdmi line. no comparison to my ears.....night vs day.
different strokes....different folks.