Transport for PS Audio PW DAC

Hi all, a few months back I decided it was time to upgrade my digital system... ended up buying a PWD to replace my Exemplar-Denon 2900. To be honest, it wasn't a huge change but I kept the PWD because it also helped out with the sound of my DirecTV and PS3.

Since I was wasting the great tubed analog output of the Exemplar, I sold it and bought an Oppo BDP-93 to serve as a true universal transport. Unfortunately it sounds a lot worse in this role than the Exemplar (it does, however, destroy my PS3 for blu-ray picture quality).

Anyway, I'm considering finding another player to use as a CD transport... I've thought about just buying an unmodified Denon 3910 (available for $150-200) and also the old Pioneer Elite PD-65 which is somewhat famous for it's transport abilities(also available under $300). Any other suggestions in this price range for a pure transport to pair with the DAC?

Thanks for the input... it's appreciated.
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Purchase a PS Audio PWT it by far the best transport to use with the PWD that you have. Buy a HDMI I2S cable to connect the two. You will have great sound that will be difficult and expensive to better.
Northstar 192 transport is a very nice analogue sounding unit with the option besides regular digital out for using i2s connector that gives great sound and I think PWD accepts i2s.
I'd suggest getting a PWT or selling the PWD and getting a Oppo BDP95 or Sony XA5400ES or Marantz 8004.
i agree with sgr. they're made for each other.

any chance you could just suffer for a while using the oppo as a transport until you save enough to get a used PWT? at the $300 or under level, i suspect you'll just be making a sideways move.

out of tomcy6's recommendations, i have the sony xa5400es and it is excellent, but i don't have any illusions that it'd match the PWD/PWT combo for CD playback.

you're halfway home. just hold out for the PWT.
The PWT is excellent but Cal mentioned in the 300.00 price range. A used PWT is far more than that.
Another option - you could upgrade to the MK 2 version of the PWD and use the NativeX feature. This reduces jitter and should narrow the differences between transports.
Yeah, I'm torn. I could also just give up on disks and start burning everything to a hard-drive. Of course I only have a laptop without a CD drive, so I still have to pay even to start that monstrous project.

Really the only thing that makes me consider cheaper/formerly expensive transports (perhaps as a bandaid before getting an i2s option) is how much better my Exemplar was than the Oppo. I could easily live for a long time with that level of band-aiding.
you could probably start that monstrous project for about $200-300, with a USB external cd drive and and an inexpensive NAS drive.

it'd certainly keep you busy while you save for the PWT and/or the Mark II upgrade for your PWD. and i suspect it would sound better than a $200-300 transport.
PWD MK2 upgrade is essential. That upgrade and the Bridge will allow you to forego CD playback. You'll love question about it.
if you want a transport, get the PWT. beg or borrow because as others have mentioned, they are perfect for each other via I2S. also agree with the MK2 comments. it really is a must imho and takes the PWD up a notch.

the PWT is way over budget but worth every penny if you can make it work financially. i don't see much improvement coming from a $300 move here but could be wrong??. i do know the PWT/PWD sound fantastic together and the bridge comes really close via network. no regrets with this pair unless you have alot more money to spend.

good luck
Am I right in assuming that the MKII upgrade has very little effect on bridge playback?

If I go the music server route I could either stream over usb or use the bridge (which I don't currently have), so I don't think I would upgrade both. Since you can pick up used bridges, that's a little cheaper of an option...
There is a new review of the MK II linked in the community section of the PS audio web site. This review might be helpful because it talks about the various inputs.
The MK II has just as magical an effect on the PWT as the Bridge or any other digital input. All inputs must go through the PWD MK II.
After mulling over a lot of options, I ended up buying a 2010 MacMini with a built in optical drive (the newest ones need an attached USB drive) for $500. I figure that setting the mediaplayer's options to include a very long buffer will get me some of the benefits of the PS audio transport. And if I set it to autoplay, I think I can use it as a dedicated player without having to turn on a screen. Added benefits are the ability to also use it a media server and remotely controlling it so we can choose music from another room.

I really decided to go this route after using my girlfriend's old macbook to play a couple disks (on the PW Dac) and felt that that was at least the equal of my older Exemplar/Denon. It certainly killed both the Oppo and my PS3 as transports. For the sake of documentation/education, I will report back when I get it next week... even if this is a dead thread.
Just an update for those who find this thread in the future... I also don't really like the MacMini as a transport (or as a hard-drive based music server) with the PW Dac. I feel that it performs quite a bit worse than my Lenovo X201 as a USB source and my girlfriend's MacBook as a CD transport. I guess there's a reason it's less than 1/2 the price of either of those. In any case, the transport troubles eventually convinced me to try out the PW Dac Mark II upgrade. I'll find out in a week or two whether the asynchronous USB and digital lens features really do reduce the impact of transport quality. I still miss my old Exemplar every time I try to listen to a disk.
IMO, you are confusing the USB interface performance with the computer. Mac Mini is a fine source device if used with a good async USB interface. Newer ones are better, and always try all of the USB ports. They do vary in performance.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I guess my post did perhaps give that impression, but I've actually used all three of the Mini's output options and didn't really like any of them (hence saying I don't like it generally as a transport). I've tried the USB output, the optical output, and used an HDMI de-embedder with a coax output... all feeding my PW DAC. I know there are issues with each of these connection methods, but I didn't like any of them. The USB on my other computers was better and the optical was no-better than optical out of a PS3 (not a real good comparison because cables weren't matched, but still).

In any case, hopefully the new asynchronous USB interface on the Mark II will address these issues.
Well, that did it. Only one day of burn-in, but wow, that's the best music I've ever heard out of the system... stayed up all night listening. The Mark II upgrade completely changes the nature of the PW DAC, the imaging is just spectacular.

And for those using a mini in the future, here are a couple links to cd speed limiting software. If you're playing a disk directly instead of ripping, it's a necessity to keep the mini quiet.

Mac Side:
Windows Side:

I think I view the Mark II upgrade as mandatory if you're going with the PW DAC.
Now if I can just get a hold of a Thiel smart sub, I'll stop the equipment search and only spend money on music. It's nice to have the digital side finished.
Have you tried the Network Bridge option with the PWD? I prefer sending my flac files to the PWD via the bridge than using my Sony SCD777ES as transport.

I was able to try one out a while ago, but budget wise I was pretty much forced to chose between $500 for the bridge and $700 for the Mark II upgrade. I ended up choosing the Mark II for a few reasons: 1) it improves all of the digital inputs and I also run PS3 and direcTV through the PWD, 2) I frequently use the USB input to stream a Rhapsody subscription, and 3) I haven't ripped any of my CDs yet, and like the ability to just inserting a CD. I realize some of these are sound compromised solutions, but still, they're important from an everyday use perspective.

And honestly, now that the Mark II upgrade is in place, I'm extremely happy with the digital setup. To any other PWD owners (at least those who don't regularly use the bridge), I pretty much view this upgrade as necessary. I enjoyed the convenience of the PWD before, but it didn't really improve upon my tubed Exemplar DVD-2900. Now it most certainly does... really stunning sound.