Review: PS Audio SL3 DA converter

Category: Digital

This being my first dac, I decided to wait a while and get used to it before listening to other external DACs. I'd been using a Rega Planet because I read a bunch of reviews from people that thought it was awesome. I always liked it, but it wasn't till the owner of a local audio shop made me take this home (along with the Lambda Two transport.)

Boy, what a difference a DAC makes. Before I even hooked up the transport, I put a coax between the Planet and the SL-Three. I also hooked the Planet into another set of RCA inputs so I could quickly switch back and forth. It was like someone was standing next to the speakers with a 40lb cotton ball when I was on the Planet's input. The soundstage immediately got about 10ft wider and the level of detail was remarkable. Never tedious though. I also like the ability to use XLR, Coax, or TOSLink as a digital connection. I've got the ZuCable Ash-110 between the Lambda and SL3 and it is truly remarkable. I love being able to try 3 different cables between them and switch out depending on my software selection. More often than not, I keep it on the XLR setting. Speaking of software...

The ability to play an HDCD is a pretty cool thing. I'd always approached them with a "bah-humbug" attitude and never really actively searched out a DAC with that available. I was immediately searching my entire collection to see what they sounded like. The first one I ran across was "Garth Brooks - Live in the Big Apple." It was like I was at the show. The extra little 'umph" that the HDCD encoding gives is a very nice addition. Later, finding more classical and jazz software in HDCD was on the agenda and I'm in love with this thing.

The case was a little "tinny" so I took it apart and used some deadening mat to cover the inside of the case. It now "thuds" like the transport and I'm not sure that I gained anything by doing that, but it matches so I'm happy. I'd reccomend this transport to anyone that is looking at it.

Associated gear
PS Audio Lambda Two transport
Classe' CP-47.5 preamp
Classe' CA-201
ProAc Tablette 2000 speakers
ZuCable Wax speaker wire
ZuCable Varial XLR Interconnects

Similar products
Conrad Johnson DA3
Theta Progany
Rega Planet (v1 - internal DAC)
Sony XA20ES (Internal DAC)
I've owned one of these for years. For the price (I think it was around $1,000 new around 1999), the performance is stunning. It was actually recommended to me years ago by Robert Harley at an in store appearance.