First Listen: PS Audio PerfectWave Memory Player Transport

Disc players,
Multi-format disc players
PS Audio PerfectWave Memory Player Transport

Memory-based Playback
For starters, it is important to grasp that the PWT does not so much ‘play’ discs as it reads them and then loads their contents sequentially into a 64MB solid-state buffer memory that PS Audio terms a ‘Digital Lens’. This means that disc contents are played solely from memory (hence the name ‘Memory Player’)—never directly from the disc. A PS Audio background document flatly states,

It is the fact that you are listening to the stored version of what’s on the disc that helps the music sound so lifelike and spacious. CD players all stream music directly off the CD while a PerfectWave Memory Player always plays out of its memory; never the disc.”

Astute readers will point out that many of today’s better computer music software packages (e.g., jRiver Media Center and others) also provide settings that allow music to be played exclusively from memory, and not from storage drives, which raises the question of whether the PWT offers meaningful sonic advantages or not. PS Audio responds by pointing out that, in contrast to a computer-based playback system, the PWT offers lowers noise, a simpler data flow-path, plus a higher precision clock (and a simpler clocking schema overall).

Before designing the PWT, PS Audio says it experimented extensively with “modified PC motherboards and output cards to extract and manage the data from both a hard drive and a ROM drive,” eventually concluding that PC-based systems were sonically unsatisfactory. PS Audio observes that PC-based environments proved “too noisy and the peripherals (sound cards and interfaces) measured well but relied on massive data manipulation and sample rate conversion to achieve low jitter.” To address the shortcomings observed in these PC-based experiments, the firm decided to move forward with its purpose-built PerfectWave Memory Player Transport, stressing that that, “no computer parts were used in the building of this remarkable system.”

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