First Listen: PS Audio PerfectWave Memory Player Transport

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PS Audio PerfectWave Memory Player Transport
First Listen: PS Audio PerfectWave Memory Player Transport

About a week ago, I wrote a blog on PS Audio’s somewhat unorthodox, DSD-centric DirectStream DAC.Consider this a Round Two. This blog will highlight the network-attached, disc player/transport the firm offers as a companion for use with its DACs: the £2,999 PerfectWave Memory Player Transport (or PWT for short).

While the DirectStream DAC is a relatively new offering for PS Audio, the PerfectWave Transport has been available since about 2009. At the time, the PWT was envisioned as the ideal complement to the firm’s then reigning flagship DAC called—you guessed it—the PerfectWave DAC (which, unlike the present-day DirectStream DAC, used purely PCM-based technology). But even though the PWT comes from an earlier generation of product development, the concepts used in its design are still technically valid and musically worthwhile, meaning the PWT remains a fine potential companion to the new-generation DirectStream DAC.

The Basics
The PWT features a robustly constructed chassis and is styled to match both the earlier PerfectWave DAC and current DirectStream DAC. By design, the units are configured so that they may be stacked atop one another, simply by unscrewing and removing the upper unit’s rubber feet (aluminium guides moulded on the bottom of the chassis help align one unit with the other for stacking purposes). The PWT front panel presents a Ready/Operate pushbutton switch, a disc drawer, and a medium-sized, full-colour touchscreen. The rear panel provides coaxial and optical S/PDIF digital outputs, an AES/EBU output, and an I2S output, plus an RJ-45 type Ethernet jack, an SD card slot, and an RS-232 port.

The full-colour display typically shows Play, Stop, Repeat, and Eject touch controls, plus a window that shows which disc track is presently playing, along with a progress bar that shows elapsed time and time remaining for the track. In circumstances where the PWT is network-connected, the display will also show cover art plus basic metadata (artist, album title, etc.) for the album in play. Finally, the PWT comes with a remote control that is nearly identical to the one supplied with the DirectStream DAC. I found it was easy to control the PWT from the DirectStream DAC’s remote, so I left the PWT’s remote unopened in its box.

On the surface, the PWT appears to be a straightforward ‘CD transport’, but the PWT can also play WAV-format, PCM files at resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz from either CD or DVD-format discs. Ponder that last sentence for a moment or two and you can begin to imagine the possibilities. You could, for instance, buy high-res downloads of your favourite music, then burn those files to a CD or, more likely, a DVD, and then play them through the PerfectWave Transport. Similarly, you could burn a favourite high-res playlist to a CD or DVD and play the material through the PWT, and so on.

But why would you go to the bother of burning and then playing discs, if you could just as easily play those high-res files directly from your computer to the DirectStream DAC? The answer, in a nutshell, is that there is the possibility that the PerfectWave Transport might actually be a better sounding ‘delivery vehicle’ for your digital audio files.

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