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Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD (Read 5411 times)
Pale Rider
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Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
02/15/13 at 15:51:23
 
PS Audio is offering quite the promo on their PerfectWave DAC w/ Bridge.
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beowulf
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #1 - 02/16/13 at 01:42:44
 
I know it's a cool piece of equipment and all, but it's still pretty expensive even with the trade in!

Is there anything a PWD can do that an Oppo BDP-105 can't do?  For about the same price you could get a Modwright modded out Oppo BDP-105 (not to mention it is a universal disc player) and from what I'm hearing this thing is super musical with the tube setup ... I think Modwright really ups the ante here.

Tube mod includes:

  • Total redesign and replacement of single-ended and fully balanced output stage with our own tube analog stage (6SN7 driver tubes).
  • External PS (new design) with one rectifier (5AR4, GZ34, 5U4, 5V4 and equivalents) and two voltage regulator tubes (13EM7,12EM7 and suitable subs.)
  • ‘Truth’ umbilical of our own design.
  • Upgraded Cardas GRFA series RCA’s for stereo outs.
  • Upgraded Furutech cryo-treated IEC.
  • Highest Quality resistors in key signal path applications.
  • All signal wire = 99.9999% pure, cryo-treated solid-core silver wire from Cardas metals.
  • Upgrades to internal stock power supplies (Linear power supply replacement for stock SMPS not included )
  • Damping mods for chassis and transport.
  • External supply available with optional ‘Hole’ to allow for use of taller, larger diameter tubes other than 5AR4/GZ34 (just ask).


This is a set of kick-a$$ upgrades to an already great player right out of the box as it is ... and can replace at least 3 pieces of equipment in your A/V rack.
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« Last Edit: 02/16/13 at 01:47:01 by beowulf »  
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Pale Rider
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #2 - 02/16/13 at 03:04:27
 
Beowulf, I think that is a fair question, but having decided not to go down the Modwright path myself, I can only tell you this: it is simply not the same quality of DAC.  And it's not because of the audio out section, and all the marketing-buzzwords quoted above. The Oppo is a very good DAC at a great price point, with a very good audio out section, and I have zero doubt that the mods will improve the audio, and certainly give it a "tube sound," whatever that may be. But for my signal extractor, I don't want any euphonic-buzzword sound modification. I want the bits extracted, preferably jitter-free. That is what the PWD does. And on the network, it does it significantly better than the Oppo. Hey Oppo, you do know AIFF files are pretty common, right?

I used to own several pieces of Van Alstine audio. What they did with a variety of OEM equipment was amazing. I am sure the Modwright mods extract the most out of the audio section in the Oppo, and then do whatever you want with the tubes they or you put in the socket. And if someone told me I could only have one front end for my entire system, I would definitely choose the Oppo [as I essentially did], and I might consider the Modwright mods, maybe, because not having heard one yet—as I gather you haven't either—I cannot actually attest to the quality of the improvement. I just know the Oppo is more than good enough, if I only could have one source component, and, as you point out, it is a disc player as well, and it is multi-channel. The PWD offers none of that.

But I do know this. I just got done this evening listening to some Redbook from the Oppo directly into my Torii, and then through the coax and optical outputs into the PWD. Cannot play SACD that way unfortunately. None of this is blind, of course, and it is all subject to psychoacoustic perceptions, but if I have my choice, I will play my music through the PWD.

There are no doubt folks who would disagree with that assessment, but all I can tell you is that, as an enthusiastic Oppo owner [both 95 and 105], the DAC is just not in the same league. And the Modwright mods don't change that, nor do they pretend to.

We're fortunate that we have so many choices in front of us, because none of us has to convince anyone. We all get to make our choices from an open market. And I completely agree with you that the PWD is not inexpensive, even with the trade-in. But if one settles on a PWD, and is in the market, there is nothing wrong with saving $1800.
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beowulf
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #3 - 02/16/13 at 07:35:46
 
Speaking to someone that has both pieces of equipment I value you opinion on the differences.

And I agree about the AIFF, that is a shortcoming ... since AIFF has been out for a while it had to have been a conscious decision to leave it out and who knows why a machine that can do so many things would go and leave an important format such as AIFF out of the loop is beyond me Sad

Either way I guess you couldn't go wrong, but for pure value I would have to give the BDP-105 the edge, but then again I've never had the pleasure to hear the PWD.  I thnk if they could get that down to a more reasonable price level it would be a better bargain ... yes I am a cheap bastard   Smiley
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Pale Rider
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #4 - 02/16/13 at 16:42:23
 
Beowulf, on pure value, it is a no-brainer. As I said above, and in the thread on $1000 DACs, it is near impossible to beat the Oppo as a single source unit. On that basis, the PWD doesn't even come close. With or without mods. And the nice thing about the Oppo is that the mods can always be added later as budget permits. Even a used PWD is typically going to cost twice the new stock Oppo. And if I was starting out, I would start with the Oppo, no question about it. But if someone is already considering a PWD, they should think hard about the promo.  Once you're in the market, it's a heckuva deal.

Still trying to decide whether to keep my BDP-95. Know anyone who wants a good starter universal disc player? Wink
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Lon
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #5 - 02/16/13 at 17:20:02
 
I agree that the Oppos are great bargains. I've heard a 93 and a 95SE and they sound good, but I preferred my then source (Sony SCD-XA5400ES) for SACD and Redbook, and then moved to the PWD then upgraded that, and the PWD was so much better a source (and also preamp) than the SCD-XA5400ES. . . . The Digital Lens in there alone makes a significant difference, and the output stage is excellent. I think the PWD Mk II is in another league, and ought to be, it's frickin' expensive.
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« Last Edit: 02/16/13 at 17:24:04 by Lon »  

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will
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #6 - 02/16/13 at 17:40:45
 
This may be irrelevant as my Oppo is old. I have and Oppo 83 modded by Ric Schultz in 2009. Took out a bunch of unnecessary circuit stuff, new output section, damping, better RCAs, cap changes...can't recall all he did but it was around 500-600 in mods. And Granted this is an old Oppo. But the sound is not even close to my Tranquility DAC in any way......If the Oppo were my main player, my system would not be all that amazing, in fact mediocre by comparison. But then, Oppo has come a long way since then...so I can't say not having heard the newer players.
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Pale Rider
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #7 - 02/16/13 at 18:07:56
 
Will, the 95/105 series are, in my view, on an entirely different plane in audio quality, and the DAC sections are years ahead of the 83. Your Tranquility is bound to be much better on that basis alone. The 105 really could be your only front-end, though. At least, for a while. The problem, of course, is that the DAC technology arms race is going to obsolesce equipment rapidly, so any "investment" in non-upgradeable hardware really is just sunk cost. Sit back, enjoy what one has, until something comes along sufficiently compelling to pry open the wallet. One of the great things about our Decware equipment is that it is more resistant than most to obsolescence.

And yes, Lon, you are right, the PWD ought to be good for its price. And is. Cheesy
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will
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #8 - 02/16/13 at 18:37:58
 
Quote:
Will, the 95/105 series are, in my view, on an entirely different plane in audio quality, and the DAC sections are years ahead of the 83. Your Tranquility is bound to be much better on that basis alone. The 105 really could be your only front-end, though.


I figured as much. Good to hear you like the 105. Interestingly, everyone raved about the 83 then the 95 and so on too. I need to hear a 105. It is odd to compare stuff with no reference between us....All I can say about the Tranquility at this point of how I have it set up, and with the upgraded output section Eric put in it many months back, is that the modded Oppo 83, a Rega Apollo and the ZDAC are not even close to the Tranquility....not even remotely in the same league. All sound good, but that last few % is worth the whole lot to me at this point.

And I see the obsilecence concept of DACs and chips...but when it is this good, it gets hard to figure that this matters in the big picture. There are always those revelations where you notice....yes, it can get better to a notable degree...but at some point it gets pretty hard to eek out. I feel like my sound is in that range now, but I have been surprised before!

Wouldn't it be fun to be able to audition a bunch of stuff in a good room together...What the Decfest is about no doubt....
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beowulf
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #9 - 02/16/13 at 20:39:56
 
Will
Quote:
But the sound is not even close to my Tranquility DAC in any way


Looks like Eric will be having a full battery powered 32/384 DAC ready in a few months that can play any resolution at native!   Smiley

Never heard a Tranquility, but there are some rave reviews about them ... the 32/384 should be stellar as well and since the only music I am collecting at this time is Hi Res and Vinyl this is another tempting product that should have a really long shelf life for them.
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will
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #10 - 02/16/13 at 20:46:11
 
Hey Beowulf,

Where did you gather this? I know Eric has been working to get high res going a long time. I bet it will be really good. Those guys have a good system for evaluation, for introducing new and creative stuff "outside the box" and extremely high standards.
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beowulf
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #11 - 02/16/13 at 20:56:08
 
PR
Quote:
But if one settles on a PWD, and is in the market, there is nothing wrong with saving $1800.


I'm not sure if anybody is aware of this, but I was playing with the PS Audio shopping cart and put a Perfect Wave DAC AND a "B Stock" P5 and then applied the promo code "pwdtrade" and it applied that coupon towards both products for a total discount of $2000 making the total for BOTH products only $4290!

That is a significant discount considering the DAC alone is almost that much!
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beowulf
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #12 - 02/16/13 at 21:03:01
 
Will
Quote:
Where did you gather this? I know Eric has been working to get high res going a long time. I bet it will be really good. Those guys have a good system for evaluation, for introducing new and creative stuff "outside the box" and extremely high standards.


He emailed me directly last week ... it took them over 2 years to develop their current DAC, so I'm betting this one will be a top performer.  Look for some news on it in late spring/early summer from what I gather.
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will
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #13 - 02/16/13 at 22:58:47
 
Interesting! I have been playing phone tag with him. Had the feeling something was up. I agree. If they decide to put it out, it is very likely to be time-proof for the most part.
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Pale Rider
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #14 - 02/26/13 at 16:10:11
 
beowulf shared:
Quote:
I'm not sure if anybody is aware of this, but I was playing with the PS Audio shopping cart and put a Perfect Wave DAC AND a "B Stock" P5 and then applied the promo code "pwdtrade" and it applied that coupon towards both products for a total discount of $2000 making the total for BOTH products only $4290!

That is a significant discount considering the DAC alone is almost that much!


That's a heckuva deal if it sticks, in effect discounting the P5 B stock even further. I will be getting a P5 shortly.

But I have also been researching DACs. I was prepared to pull the trigger on the PWD trade-in [I have a puny little computer DAC to trade in], but I realized that if there is anything missing from the PWD for me, it is the inability to play native DSD files [just like the PWT won't play SACD]. And the number of DSD-capable DACs is growing, some beneath even the price point of the discounted PWD. In fact, Teac recently released a sub-$1k DoP version [which I don't want].

Anyway, somewhere in the field between the Mytek and the Invicta, I think I am going to find my answer. Some path to resist obsolescence is nice, and most of these offer firmware upgrades, so it comes down to the reliability of the company. Right now, I am leaning toward the Invicta, in part because it gets strong grades for musicality from everyone who reviews it [am waiting to get an appointment for a listening session], and the company has excellent pedigree and reputation. The Lumin, as a network player is intriguing, but it appears to still be more a work in progress. MSB makes great stuff, but they start pushing into the price ionosphere.

And of course, all this digital good ness is destined for Decware tubes.
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beowulf
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #15 - 02/27/13 at 07:42:12
 
Quote:
PR
That's a heckuva deal if it sticks, in effect discounting the P5 B stock even further. I will be getting a P5 shortly.


I think something's wrong with their cart, because now I put in (1) PWD MkII "B" stock, (1) Bridge (free bridge with promo), (1) P5 "B" stock, (2) AC10 Power Cables ... put the same code in as above and the total came out to be only $3,290.00 !!!!!!!!!!! LOL, no way that's going down I could see putting an order in and then them calling me the next day saying sorry   Smiley

Quote:
But I have also been researching DACs. I was prepared to pull the trigger on the PWD trade-in [I have a puny little computer DAC to trade in], but I realized that if there is anything missing from the PWD for me, it is the inability to play native DSD files [just like the PWT won't play SACD]. And the number of DSD-capable DACs is growing, some beneath even the price point of the discounted PWD. In fact, Teac recently released a sub-$1k DoP version [which I don't want].


Is this for a second system or something because I thought you already had the mighty PWD anyways?  Also, do you think DSD may be the next thing?  I don't see too much of it around at this time...

Although you've probably seen this (since you've been looking into DSD DACs already), but this may be a useful link for your DSD search ... .

Interesting that the Oppo BDP-105 can play the DSD files, albiet at DSD64, not at Native, but I wonder if there is a big difference between DSD64 and DSD Native?

Not to mention that it seems as if the same Sabre DAC chip used in the Invicta is also used in the Oppo so ... wouldn't the Oppo and Invicta both sound similar due to using the same Sabre chip?

I know I've said this before, but wow, the more you look at the Oppo, although it has some short comings (but no piece of gear is perfect), the more I have to say it's got to be the best-bang-for-the-buck piece of A/V equipment on the planet!     Smiley
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« Last Edit: 02/27/13 at 09:18:36 by beowulf »  
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Fireblade
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #16 - 02/27/13 at 11:08:56
 
Both Resonessence Labs Invicta (flagship) and Concero (entry level) share the same chip, but they don't sound the same, according to several reviews. There's a lot more to a DAC than the chip. The price difference between these two DACs is huge!

Both in their own particular niche have had rave reviews. IMHO, Resonessence ought to develop a third unit, covering the middle ground DAC specs missing within these two extremes, like a somewhat compromised Invicta with much more to offer over the Concero but at a more affordable price.
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« Last Edit: 02/27/13 at 11:13:23 by Fireblade »  

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Pale Rider
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #17 - 02/27/13 at 17:33:15
 
Makes sense Fireblade. The price gap is indeed significant. And while there are less expensive DACs that do native DSD, one thing I would not want to lose is the quality of PCM I already get out of the PWD. The Invicta would clearly impose no such compromise.
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Pale Rider
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #18 - 02/27/13 at 18:08:26
 
@beowulf: Yep, the Oppo is an amazing deal for what it offers. Seriously, if you could only have one front-end, it's the one.

As for DSD, I don't know if it's the next big thing, but the availability of downloadable DSD is s-l-o-w-l-y growing [I read somewhere, maybe at Computer Audiophile, that as many as 500 titles are available], and I have a bunch of ripped SACD files stored on my NAS and my Mac mini server. DSD albums are honking big; all of mine are in the 1.8-3gb range. So the download market is not going to "explode" any time soon.

But the DSD SQ can be breathtaking. I mean truly breathtaking.

As for the second system, yes, I am looking for this box to probably be primary system, with the PWD becoming secondary, probably driving the new Taboo.
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #19 - 02/27/13 at 18:29:49
 
I don't know, Oppos really haven't appealed to me, but they do look like big bang for buck if they sound better now than what I heard before, and if you really want computer audio et al. (I don't).

For me, with a lot of time now with both Mk I and Mk II PS A PW DAC, the digital lens in this (and in my PW Transport) makes the difference. I wouldn't change DACs until there's a stand-alone Digital Lens to use in concert with the DAC. Those lenses really make a difference. (And as Greg mentions, coupled to the killer analog output stage of the PW DAC). For Redbook and for my video sources that's the sound still amazes me and I can upgrade around it and receive sonic improvements.

More and more I find vinyl to be the most pleasant listening experience and I anticipate spending more and more time spinning records. Thanks in part to the ZP3. What a machine.
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« Last Edit: 02/27/13 at 18:38:58 by Lon »  

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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #20 - 02/27/13 at 19:50:54
 
I love Lon for his renewed romance with vinyl. And there but for the grace of God......... Wink

Anyway, I am a huge fan of the PSA Digital Lens. I think it is an unmatched tool for addressing the digital problems of timing, jitter, etc. It is both amazing and no surprise that the original Genesis Digital Lens is still much sought after in the used market, even though it is nearly 20-year-old technology.

Still, the technological assault on timing and jitter continues, and it is not likely to be resolved in only one fashion. That's why I plan to give the Invicta and a couple of other DSD-capable DACs a listen.
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #21 - 02/27/13 at 20:16:07
 
I don't blame you, I would if I were at all interested in digital files, but they actually repel me, I'm not ever planning on going that route.

Spinning a record I bought thirty-five years ago and it never sounded this good! I am loving vinyl. If I didn't have 15,000 plus cds I'd probably be an analog only guy now.
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #22 - 02/27/13 at 20:18:46
 
You know me: vinyl is just another analogue abstraction of the true digital nature of reality. Grin
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #23 - 02/27/13 at 20:21:45
 
:D

Me, if I were a better musician I'd probably just have a boombox. Smiley
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #24 - 02/27/13 at 22:59:41
 
Quote:
PR
As for the second system, yes, I am looking for this box to probably be primary system, with the PWD becoming secondary, probably driving the new Taboo.


So with the DSD DAC you have in mind you are going back to USB or SPDIF connections rather than over a network for playback?  Do you think that may host another set of issues that aren't present using the PWD?

To me one of the strongest selling points for the PWD is the Digital Lens and playing over ethernet to forego the jitter problems associated with USB.

Would you currently be looking for another DAC if the PWD did native DSD? (Look at all these acronyms ... an ordinary person listening in would be like wtf???)   Smiley

Quote:
Lon
Spinning a record I bought thirty-five years ago and it never sounded this good! I am loving vinyl. If I didn't have 15,000 plus cds I'd probably be an analog only guy now.


Does anybody think that the pleasure we get out of vinyl may be due to vinyl (being analog) hasn't been chopped up into 1's and 0's, so it is the most unadulterated form of music still?

Perhaps there is something we notice subconsciously about digital playback that makes it less soothing even though there are peaks that vinyl can't seem to match?



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« Last Edit: 02/27/13 at 23:00:25 by beowulf »  
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #25 - 02/27/13 at 23:39:18
 
Lon quipped:

Quote:
Me, if I were a better musician I'd probably just have a boombox.


Good words Lon; wouldn't we all!

beowulf asked:

Quote:
So with the DSD DAC you have in mind you are going back to USB or SPDIF connections rather than over a network for playback?  Do you think that may host another set of issues that aren't present using the PWD?

To me one of the strongest selling points for the PWD is the Digital Lens and playing over ethernet to forego the jitter problems associated with USB.

Would you currently be looking for another DAC if the PWD did native DSD? (Look at all these acronyms ... an ordinary person listening in would be like wtf???)  


I have narrowed my DSD-capable DAC down to two: the Mytek and the Invicta [price gap of over 100%]. I wish PS Audio would roadmap a DSD-capable PWD, but Paul has explained several times he does not intend to. Sooooooo, looks like we're headed that way. I already have almost 300gb of DSD files, so this is starting to become a no-brainer. So, anyway, one answer is that, if PWD had a DSD-native roadmap, i wouldn't even be considering this.

The other part of your question, the connection, is interesting. Invicta can use SDXD cards, which theoretically can hold 2tb of files, but commercially, I think only 256gb ones are available, and they are pretty expensive. So, yes, in all likelihood, USB or SPDIF will be the connector. I wish I had more confidence in the Lumin network player, because from a feature set, it is pretty complete.
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #26 - 02/28/13 at 01:39:56
 
beowulf wrote on 02/27/13 at 22:59:41:


Does anybody think that the pleasure we get out of vinyl may be due to vinyl (being analog) hasn't been chopped up into 1's and 0's, so it is the most unadulterated form of music still?

Perhaps there is something we notice subconsciously about digital playback that makes it less soothing even though there are peaks that vinyl can't seem to match?





There's something to that I think. Just as there's something to the possibility that SET sounds so good because the signal is not split and amplified as it is in push-pull.

The way that the phono signal is created with the needle and amplifying magnets or coils, the rotating platter that spins at a more imperfect speed. . . it really can playback some amazing sound. I respond to the music more in many cases. Why that is I don't know. I'm very used to the sound from childhood and adolescence and early adult life? It's less mysterious a process to me than digital is and thus perhaps more human or realistic, natural feel to it? The micro-fumes from the vinyl vaporizing under the diamond tip has a soporific effect? Smiley I don't know, but I like it.

I do know that one reason it sounds so good to me right now is that I have a decent turntable going into Steve's amazing ZP3. (That signal chain of ZP3 into CSP2+ into Torii Mk III --- Whoa!)  If I could have somehow had a ZP3 in '87 or so I probably would not have bought a cd player!
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« Last Edit: 02/28/13 at 01:45:29 by Lon »  

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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #27 - 03/02/13 at 15:07:26
 
I got a chance to hear some native DSD recordings on a fine system through the fairly reasonably priced Mytek 192, and I have to admit, it was very impressive. Whether there is enough prospect for commercial success of the format remains to be seen, but there is enough good material out there to make one want to play it. And I have almost 300gb of DSD files that I would now prefer to play natively, rather than converted to PCM as I now do.

Based on the current review of the exaSound e20 in The Absolute Sound, I have added it to my list. That review sums up nicely the significant source material advantage that DSD files have over even hi-res PCM files.

All these mid-to-higher-end DAC makers offer 30-day in-home trials, which seems a good compromise to address the widening product base, in the face of a shrinking retail market and networks. I plan to start with the exaSound.
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #28 - 03/02/13 at 15:35:49
 
Pale Rider,

You may already be aware of it but Invicta will be supporting DSD quite soon, according to the report in the following link:

http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2013/01/resonessence-labs-invicta-software-upd...

Expensive, but this DAC seems unbeatable ...

Units that ship after 14th January 2013 will be equipped with version 4.0.0 of the Resonessance software which allows for DSD playback over USB and via the SD card reader.
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« Last Edit: 03/02/13 at 15:38:16 by Fireblade »  

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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #29 - 03/03/13 at 20:27:08
 
Fireblade, thanks. As noted above, the Invicta is already on my list. And it does already support native DSD.
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #30 - 03/04/13 at 00:34:37
 
I'm sorry, my mistake. For some reason, I thought you said somewhere you liked the Invicta in spite of it not supporting DSD.
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #31 - 03/04/13 at 02:34:31
 
Hey, I appreciate the input. Keeping up with this stuff can run one ragged. Cheers!
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #32 - 03/06/13 at 07:07:53
 
Hi PR, I'm not sure what your budget is, but you may want to hold off before you commit to buying another USB DAC as the Lumin Audiophile Network Music Player is out and can do DSD via Ethernet which can bypass the USB problems.  I read that it has in introductory price of $3980.00.

It looks like a SOTA piece of audio engineering, it comes in 2-3 parts, the actual Network Player, a separate Power Supply and an optional Independent External Storage Device , and it can use an iPad as an interface ... this may be the piece that could be a great alternative to the DAC you had in mind and/or replace the PWD altogether.

It looks like it does it all and was reviewed at 6moons only a couple of days ago and got their highest award "Lunar Eclipse Award".  This review is a good read in general for anybody who wants to know a little more about DSD, I know a learned some good things from it.





A couple of quotes from the review:

Conclusion. This Chinese newcomer is set to radically alter the current hierarchy of dedicated audio computer solutions. It's the first if its kind that had me seriously contemplate to permanently switch to virtual media without any compromise in sound quality. The Lumin outclassed the very best CD/SACD transports where it could have safely stopped and grinned. But it pushed onwards and up by opening the doors to what for me was the most exciting audio experience I've yet had: DSD streaming? To complete the picture, the Chinese streamer also offers a very convenient iPad UPnP app that found itself highly appreciated by many diehard Linn users.

In short, this DSD streamer outclassed anything I've heard at home or beyond. Whilst I dislike such expressions, it proved to be a keen Linn killer. About 10 listeners who heard my loaner sold off their Linn streamers to buy the new kid in town. A few prerequisites like configuring a NAS with Minimserver are mandatory and will call for minimal IT skills from the installer or user. It's no harder than any other streamer setup except perhaps the Squeezebox which remains the king of easy. Beyond its outstanding sound quality, the Lumin also gets the most elevated marks for user-friendliness, aesthetics, versatility and evolutionary capacities – not bad for the maiden release from a rising Hong Kong company I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more of in the near future! My experience with it became such a personal enjoyment that it proved impossible not to convert my loaner into my new digital reference. Considering the nearly unbelievable price/performance ratio, I give it a most enthusiastic award!



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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #33 - 03/06/13 at 15:27:38
 
Thanks beowulf. I know about the Lumin; in fact I mentioned earlier that I had taken it off my list, because I did not feel confident in the maker. Part of that lack of confidence came from the manner in which one of their astroturfers completely carpeted an audio forum with promotional posts about the product. Part of it came from the "promises everything including a better sex life" approach. But if you read where they are from actual users, they have a ways to go. The 6Moons review indeed illustrates that fact as well; there are many "gotchas" waiting for the early adopter.

I used to put more stock in 6moons, but over time, I have gotten tired of wading through their purple prose that passes for erudition, and the endless gobs of data that does more to mask the lack of meaningful information than anything else. Still, it is a very positive review, and I will continue to watch the Lumin to see if it continues to make progress. I am marginally concerned about its reliance on the minimserver architecture. I have downloaded and tried minimserver as a server for my PWD, and I was less than impressed. 6Moons pointed out some of the idiosyncrasies of the Lumin software ecosystem, and it well illustrates the adage that the 'U' in 'UPnP' doesn't stand for what you think it does. Software development seems to be the bugaboo of many of these devices, and it is a significant challenge [witness the JRiver offering of a Mac OS X version of their media center]. I suspect that like most such things, long term success will depend in great part on market traction.

I also have learned the hard way that as great as network streaming can be, and as problematic as USB can be, neither is good or bad, just different. My PWD over network can be great, or over USB, because it really solves USB with the Digital Lens, but over network, it can actually be occasionally flaky due to software interactions and the challenges of gapless playback. PS Audio is working to solve all that, but it's something of a work-in-progress. So, ironically, USB is a rock-solid alternative on the PWD, and many other DACs.

On the Mytek, which supports USB, the alternative is Firewire [a la the Weiss and others]. Firewire is not as difficult as USB, but when properly implemented, both sound very similar. The Invicta offers an SD card interface, which solves the computer interface problem altogether, albeit on a smaller storage scale for now, but also provides very good audio performance.  The exaSound addresses its jitter issue differently, but quite effectively.

I am starting out my trials with the Mytek, in part because Blue Coast has a great promo [same 30-day trial, plus a $200 credit for DSD downloads], they are local in the Bay Area, they and Sony use the Mytek as their demo rig, the aforementioned Firewire interface is nice on the Mac, and I expect it will make a nice headphone DAC/amp for my desktop computer, if I eventually settle on a different machine for the main listening station.
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« Last Edit: 03/06/13 at 15:33:57 by Pale Rider »  

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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #34 - 03/06/13 at 20:42:23
 
Oops, must have overlooked that ... but hey a better sex life ... I'll take 2 LOL  Grin

I'm just wondering why the PWD doesn't include DSD as a file format, since it seems like it does everything else so great?  For the price and what it does I'm sure it wouldn't be that big of an engineering feat for them.  Maye in the future if it becomes a stronger format.

... I guess it's just like you mentioned that the Oppo leaving out AIFF files, it just seems like they dropped the ball on that. Hmmm!
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #35 - 03/07/13 at 14:06:37
 
beowulf wondered:
Quote:
I'm just wondering why the PWD doesn't include DSD as a file format, since it seems like it does everything else so great?  For the price and what it does I'm sure it wouldn't be that big of an engineering feat for them.  Maye in the future if it becomes a stronger format.

... I guess it's just like you mentioned that the Oppo leaving out AIFF files, it just seems like they dropped the ball on that. Hmmm!

McGowan has recently indicated that DSD may be on the update/upgrade path, and from a chipset architecture perspective, it is certainly feasible. But I have no doubt there are challenges, so I am not expecting it "any day now." I sure wish they would, because as far as SQ goes, I haven't had any other reason to seek out alternatives or additions to the PWD.
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #36 - 03/08/13 at 03:00:21
 
Just a couple thoughts regarding network based DACs vs USB DACs. IMO, rather the data is coming through an ethernet pipe or a USB pipe the problem as it relates to audio quality is essentially the same.

Any stored or streamed data coming from a computer is going to bit perfect (or at least bits will accord with what the software is telling to hardware to do), unless very poorly implemented. Data integrity is absolutely necessary in the computer world for obvious reasons.

What separates good digital audio design from mediocre is how the data is then clocked. Ideally data from the computer will then go to a component which handles timing of the bits (low jitter) and serves as the master clock for the DAC (transport).

Computer integrated HIFI is still emergent tech.

DACs have been around for a relatively long time and their behavior given certain technologies (oversamping vs non oversampling etc) has become somewhat predictable. And the format of the digital audio signal itself doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. Much of the differences in flavors of DACs are derived from various types of output stages (tube or opamps etc), and various methods of supplying power.

It seems wise to invest in a DAC that has the sonic characteristics you like and maintain a separate solution for transporting from a computer.

I've modded the crap out of my DAC and love the way it sounds, so rather than replace it I have bought a separate USB to SPDIF solution.

While at the moment this USB to SPDIF solution is state of the art, there will no doubt be a new standard around the corner. Perhaps USB 3, or lightening bolt, or who knows what.

OTOH there will not be radically innovative DAC tech. Heck my DAC uses a NOS chip from the 90s that is still considered one of the best sounding DAC chips out there. None the less a serious DAC is not easy or cheap to implement. Thinking about throwing all that away for this new all in one box makes me cringe

Finding an all in one solution that checks all the right boxes would mean crazy money, if such a product exists. Only to have all that slick computer transport tech will be outdated within a couple years.
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #37 - 03/08/13 at 05:20:08
 
Brett,

What USB to SPDIF solution do you use?

Thanks,

Will
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #38 - 03/08/13 at 06:47:26
 
Empirical Audio Off-Ramp 5.



I upgraded from an Off-Ramp 3 and the improvement was stark. Most of this is due to asynchronous USB which alleviates the computer from having to perform as the master clock. So rather than being a digital lens, the OR5 is behaving like a really good CD transport. Some say better.

There are a lot of async USB to SPDIF converters now, but the OR5 has tightly regulated power supplies for the clocks as well as the SPDIF transmitter. Apparently the Hynes regulators are good enough they stopped selling their battery power supply.

The computer merely has to provide the data, which it what they excel at. It's awesome being able to queue up many difference sources of digital. Music, Netflix, YouTube, DVDs, BluRay. All from one box. Good software is better. Foobar with kernel streaming is audibly better than ASIO and DS plugins. Amarra on Mac. But even music off of YouTube is absolutely listenable. Zero fatigue.

I2S output as well which is exciting tech.
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #39 - 03/08/13 at 09:47:43
 
Colin from Chord Electronics wrote me back and this is what he had to say when I asked him to clarify because the Lumin and Linn products can do DSD.

Quote:
Our DSX1000 is ready for DSD playback however all streaming products will have to wait for Asset and Twonky to recognise these files. Until then no one will manage it over Ethernet.

The way Linn has managed it is playback via the HDMi input so you automatically require another source.

As for the Lumin, details are so sketchy that I would imagine their problem is getting round using HDMi (which is very expensive and constantly evolving/changing) and also waiting for Twonky and Asset as we are.

Fingers crossed for the near future though, it would be great to have it. You will, however need to make sure your network can cope!

Regards

Colin Pratt
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #40 - 03/08/13 at 09:52:08
 
Quote:
Brett
Empirical Audio Off-Ramp 5


Hi Brett, I have been hearing a lot of good things about this product.

Can you explain your setup and hookup using the offramp and how it's integrated into your system with software and your DAC, etc.?  

Thanks!
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #41 - 03/08/13 at 15:06:44
 
@beowulf: Interesting comments from Chord, so it sounds like they were talking about their stuff, not the industry in general. I also did not realize they were dependent on the Twonky ecosystem, so that makes sense. But I think Colin Pratt is spot on with this; my network is now feeding some large hi-res files very reliably, with increasingly rare hiccups:
Quote:
Fingers crossed for the near future though, it would be great to have it. You will, however need to make sure your network can cope!

But it is true that in an abstract sense—as Brett notes above—the data problem is a data problem whether over USB or Ethernet. In my case, I need to tweak my network layout to make sure the full audio chain is on its own little subdivision of the network, and not bothered by other stuff, and generally going through like switches. This is analogous to the problem of choosing and setting up a computer to not be distracted by other stuff like keyboard interruptions, WiFi, background processes, etc., so it does not add to the inherent USB problems. Conceptually similar, but pragmatically different with very different solutions [though all benefitting from a musical DAC with sophisticated jitter reduction capability].

@Brett: Nice rig. I really like the Empirical Audio line, and their approach to the computer audio field. BTW, for some very good "starter" tips, check this page at their site, including this somewhat surprising assessment: "Mac Mini has the least problematic USB ports." I demo'ed both an Off Ramp and the Pace Car [replaced by the Synchro Mesh re-clocker]. I thought both were pretty good, but I ultimately preferred the Audiophileo at that time going into my PS Audio Digital Link III [itself heavily modded, and a very very good DAC], and eventually ended up preferring the approach of the PWD altogether for solving the clocking problem. Rather than re-clocking, I chose what I would call PSA's "de-clocking" approach with the Digital Lens.

Not sure I would go as far to say: "the data is coming through an ethernet pipe or a USB pipe the problem as it relates to audio quality is essentially the same." I think this is conceptually correct, because computer data streams in general are not designed for music playback, and every version of those data streams requires some serious "reconstructive effort." But the two approaches are very different, and USB is a more difficult problem to solve in my view. And with all due respect, USB->SPDIF is not state of the art, but given the improvements in the 5th generation of the OR, my guess is that it probably is the best of that class. Like I said, I am a fan of EA, and their engineering but USB->SPDIF is part of the problem itself. Indeed, if one can use the Off Ramp in HDMI I2S mode to a DAC that has that protocol [PWD, W4S], it's going to provide a better result. I never got to try this with my PWD, because I was moving away from USB in my move to the PWD, but given the approach of the PWD, I would bet the OR impact would be less, if perceptible at all. In theory, any jitter reduction upstream should be a good thing, but if one component actually removes the computer-induced jitter altogether, irrespective of whether the computer is a good or bad USB source, does it matter if an additional in-stream device [the OR] has made it better before it gets to the Lens? Don't know. I am a big believer that "everything matters," even if I cannot hear it, but my wallet cares. This very question was raised by John Darko in his Digital Audio Review of the PWD:
Quote:
This introduces a paradox for the consumer: why spend big on a best-in-class USB-S/PDIF convertor when you could put that money toward a DAC that’s better at hosing jitter? With NativeX at your fingertips, the PWD MKII proves it is one such beast. At around US$2k (depending on mods), Empirical Audio’s Off-Ramp USB convertor is consistently reported to be superior to the Audiophilleo and JKSPDIF. Would feeding the PS Audio DAC from such a low jitter source sound superior to a Native-X’d high-jitter source? (That’s a question that can only be answered as and when I get my hands on an Off-Ramp).
My guess Brett is your answer is to divide the component requirements up into manageable options and invest in the best of each that one can afford, e.g., transport, reclocker, DAC, etc., because, as you say, there is no one perfect do-it-all box. I think this is a valid strategy. The Off Ramp solves a problem that only exists if one is using USB playback from a computer, and one does not have a digital lens or its equivalent. Of course, if you have a wonderfully musical DAC, that is not async, then the OR or something like it is absolutely essential. I had a delightful Promitheus DAC, NOS, and it sounded beautiful. It benefitted significantly with outboard USB control. Same with the PSA DL III.
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #42 - 03/08/13 at 16:14:14
 
FWIW, I contacted Lumin to purchase a unit, and was told today the price is now $5480USD. Sorry, a $1500 price hike—coincident it seems with the rave 6Moons review—now puts this player in the wrong price range. Just me. YMMV.
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #43 - 03/08/13 at 22:10:34
 
Beowulf,

the OR5 is hooked up to my Win 7 PC using a standard belkin 5ft usb cable. It sounds best when running Foobar 2000 with the kernal streaming plugin. Streaming from the kernal bypasses the audio manipulation of the Windows 7 mixer. Most of my audio files are ripped using exact audio copy to uncompressed WAV files.

I've got a lot of FLAC files as well and convert those back to WAV before listening through Foobar. Foobar can play FLAC files on the fly, but interestingly this does not sound as good as playing WAV converted from FLAC. Low bitrate MP3s sounds the worst, but all in all it is a matter of detail loss. Nothing coming out of this setup ever sounds harsh or irritating.

As for the computer itself, I got a wild hair and the crazy notion that it would be a good idea to build a computer that could run Crysis as well as pull double duty as a machine quiet enough to be worthy of a serious audio room. Obsession took hold and what follows was the result.



The first order of business was to consider a way to provide adequate cooling and ventilation while keeping the noise down. It was decided that water cooling was the way to go for most of the computers heat generating components. Still, within the case would be two fans and a water pump. The HDD also was a noise consideration.



My solution was to design an intake and exhaust muffler so to speak. The chambers above and below the large middle chamber are the intake and exhaust mufflers later to be lined with sound absorption foam. You can see two fan holes on the bottom right and top left.



The side panels bolt into place with countersunk weather strips to keep it air tight. When closed the side ports are the only way for air to get in and out.



The primary method of heat exchange is done by this little radiator. It has four quiet fans, yet they are noisy enough that I decided to place it outside of the audio room. It sits mounted on the wall in the hall way and is inaudible from the room. Kind of neat to pump the computers heat away via water like that. BTW this computer is a space heater. The power supply is by necessity 1000 watts. The audio room stays nice and cool though.



Here is the right side with adhesive acoustic foam placed on the door and inside the case.



Here's a larger pic of the innards http://i.imgur.com/UWfnpWj.jpg

Even the power supply, motherboard, and RAM is water cooled. Yet still the internal temp sometimes reaches 90F. On board sensors are monitored and fan speeds depend on how warm it is. I have two saved bios modes. One where everything is at normal clock speed and minimal voltage for keeping it cool and quiet. The other setting is super blasto overclocked for running games and stuff. Even at full blast this computer stays cool and is relatively quiet.

Weighting around 100 pounds this computer is easily the least practical thing I own. It's actually the second computer case I've built using wood (in this case maple). Some day I want to build another using CNC and good plywood.






The OR5 is powered by a wall wart which is plugged into a Power Plant Premier. It does it's thing and pushes SPDIF through a DIY silver interconnect with BNC jacks. VHAudio has an terrific 75ohm silver coax cable at $100 a meter.



The digital input of my DAC has a silver wired torroid transformer with a 100v teflon  protection cap. The input transformer feeds a CS8412 or CS8414 receiver chip. The DAC has two switchable inputs each with their own transformer.



Audio Note DAC Kit 1.2

Larger picture http://i.imgur.com/iMMhU2z.jpg

I bought it about 8 years ago and have studied and modded just about every aspect of it. I practically have the schematic memorized now.

The power supply feeding the digital board is all Black Gate FK and N caps and Cree diodes. The power regulation uses ultra low noise AD797 op amps. I rolled through about 5 different kinds of opamps and surprisingly they have quite an effect. The AD797s really cleaned everything up and made for more dynamics.

The cans between the digital board and tube output stage are silver wired transformers which serve to convert the current (rather than amplified voltage) outputs from the DAC chip into voltage (I/V conversion) for the tube grid. This way from the moment the digital stream is converted to analog there is no transistor amplification. The DAC chip has no oversampling and no digital brick wall or analog filter. The limited bandwidth of the I/V transformers acts as a filter to prevent ultrasonic distortions. They also provide galvanic isolation keeping grounding paths pure. Adding these brought the DAC to a whole different level.

The tube output board power supply uses a 6x4 rectifier tube, polypropylene filter caps, choke, and gas tube regulators. The tube filaments are heated with DC.

The tube output stage has 6922s running in SRPP. The 3 volt output is hot enough to drive my Zen directly.

All teflon coated silver plated copper hookup wire, and cotton insulated silver signal wire.
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Lon
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #44 - 03/08/13 at 22:31:43
 
Amazing work! Cheesy
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #45 - 03/08/13 at 23:08:28
 
Pale-Rider,

I like the way you mention conceptualized. I think with so many sources of information about audio that conceptualizing audio systems in to granular processes is the best way to cut through a lot of the BS we are subjected to in reviews etc.

I'm not privy to the the real world shortcomings of USB vs Ethernet as it relates to providing data to the clock. Conceptually though, it would seem the job of the USB or Ethernet receiver (on the master clocking component) to buffer the incoming data so that it is then presented to the master clock in such a way that it can perform it's job well.

In other words if the receiver is doing its job, then the master clock will behave the same regardless of how the data was received.

Another way to look at it is to consider that all digital clocks that perform according to the SPDIF standard are essentially the same. Some are simply better at timing than others. Some claim that a CD transport is the only way to go, but even here data from the CD drive is received, buffered, clocked, and then transmitted as SPDIF. And knowing that makes the concept of belt driven CD transports seem a kind of silly. After all a CD is not very well balanced and any vibration is a huge deal when we are talking about accurate timing in pico seconds. Thus the necessity of the buffer.

A pico second is one millionth of one millionth of a second.

For reference the OR5 master clock keeps timing accurate to within 390 pico seconds. 250 pico seconds if using the I2S output.

The main reason that jitter is reduced in I2S is due to the data and clock being transmitted on separate channels, where as SPDIF is sent as an infusion of data and clock on a single channel. The added complexity of processing into SPDIF fudges the timing a bit.

Re-clocking and digital lenses are band aids that are often necessary but to be avoided if possible. Assuming you have a happy master clock, the digital stream from that point on should be very carefully preserved all the way to the DAC chip. By carefully preserved I mean minimal alteration or interaction.
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« Last Edit: 03/08/13 at 23:18:25 by Brett »  
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #46 - 03/09/13 at 14:33:35
 
Brett, good discussion, and I like your bandaid reference. All these devices are attempting to solve—or more accurately, help address—the timing accuracy issues addressed by the very act of digital. the finely chopping up of waves into bits. This process of increasing sampling rates and bit depths won't stop any time soon. And as we get better at this, and the ability to measure exceptionally small and short bits and bursts (love your reminder of just how short a picosecond is), while our personal computing capability becomes more powerful and simpler, we'll see some of these approaches merge I expect. Mass adoption of sophisticated technology is usually well behind the curve of the leading edge, but when one considers how quickly async USB penetrated the industry (and it's not done of course), and where the PWD, the Lumin, the OR and other devices are now, how jitter control is orders of magnitude better now than just 5 years ago (compare the Empirical OR models generationally), it's not hard to believe we're going to see or hear the near-elimination of the distinction between digital and analog sound in our lifetime. Fun stuff. Wonderful music.
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #47 - 03/09/13 at 16:03:37
 
Brett,

Great work and achievements, congrats!

I'm curious why you don't take advantage of the latest version WASAPI Event style Plug-in for FB2K, designed precisely for lowest latency, best sound streaming from FB2K in a Win 7/8 based PC environment.  As in Kernel streaming, it bypasses the mixing processes from Windows altogether, allowing for an external DAC's exclusive mode of utilization.

I've tried several approaches (not Kernel, though), and the Event Style is the best I've found. It allows for very low buffering, therefore virtually eliminating latency issues (important, especially for a laptop), and the sound quality is just great (other things being equal).
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« Last Edit: 03/09/13 at 16:06:07 by Fireblade »  

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beowulf
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #48 - 03/11/13 at 04:23:01
 
Quote:
PR
FWIW, I contacted Lumin to purchase a unit, and was told today the price is now $5480USD. Sorry, a $1500 price hike—coincident it seems with the rave 6Moons review—now puts this player in the wrong price range. Just me. YMMV.


Wow!  I would agree, they just put themselves into a price range where I bet a lot of people would have to draw the line ... that's too bad.

Still a cool concept and I would imagine that more "Universal Players" are in the pipeline from a host of other high performance DAC companies (especially if Twonky can get it together).
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #49 - 03/11/13 at 04:32:37
 
Quote:
Brett,
As for the computer itself, I got a wild hair and the crazy notion that it would be a good idea to build a computer that could run Crysis as well as pull double duty as a machine quiet enough to be worthy of a serious audio room. Obsession took hold and what follows was the result.


Wow, simply amazing wood work and attention to detail!  Are the other componets on maple blocks as well?  What are the specs of the PC and is it networked or the only way you pull music off it is through the OR5 via USB?

Awesome again, thanks for sharing!

p.s. I was just thinking that this thing must sound awesome for gaming as well! Grin
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