As mentioned above, the PerfectWave ‘Memory Player Transport was originally conceived as the companion to the original PerfectWave DAC—the precursor to the DirectStream DAC reviewed here. Interestingly, though, all three components share a common physical form factor and were designed so that they can be stack atop one another.
The PerfectWave Transport comes from an era when computer-based music servers were not as common as they are today, and when DSD digital audio files were rarely if ever discussed. What PS Audio sought to create was a CD/DVD disc reader/transport that anticipated the sonic benefits of contemporary music servers.
To this end, the key idea behind the PerfectWave Transport was that it would not play digital audio data directly from discs, but rather from a 64MB buffer, which PS Audio termed a ‘Digital Lens’. PS Audio 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.”
Thanks to this buffer memory, the PerfectWave Transport’s DVD disc drive mechanism has ample time to use what PS Audio describes as “a multiple read technique, which reads the data on the disc until it’s verified as bit perfect.” What is more, the digital audio data is fed into the Digital Lens with, “no clock information attached to (the files).” Instead, the output of the Lens is, “forwarded to the PWT output though a fixed high‑precision, low-jitter asynchronous clock.”
As a result, the sound quality associated with playback of data from the PerfectWave Transport is fully competitive with that of playback from a well-sorted modern day, PC-based music server. In fact, if anything, the PWT might enjoy a very narrow edge in terms of resolution of low-level musical information. The PWT can read CDs or DVDs on which PCM-format digital audio data (at resolutions up to 192/24) has been stored; the PWT does not, however, play Blu-ray, DVD-Audio, or SACD discs. Even so, the PerfectWave Transport makes a worthy companion to the DirectStream DAC—especially for listeners with very large CD collections.
PS Audio PerfectWave Memory Player Transport
Type: Solid-state CD transport with memory playback
Disc Types: CD, DVD-ROM with WAV-encoded PCM digital audio files at up to 192/24 resolutions, or DoP-encoded DSD files (note: does not play DVDs, DVD-Audio discs, or SACD discs)
Internal storage: 64MB ‘Digital Lens’
Digital outputs: TOSLink, coaxial S/PDIF, AES/EBU, and I2S
User interface: PS Audio remote control plus on-board full-colour touchscreen controls
Dimensions (HxWxD): 10 × 42 × 36cm
Weight: Approximately 12.2 kg
Available finishes: Silver or black
PS Audio DirectStream DAC
Type: Solid-state PCM, DXD, and DSD-compatible DAC
Digital Inputs: Two I2S, coaxial S/PDIF, TOSLink optical, AES/EBU, USB, and Network bridge slot
Supported Formats: PCM: 44.1kHZ–192kHz, 16–24 bit. DSD: DSD64 and 128
Analogue Outputs: Single-ended (unbalanced) via stereo RCA connectors, balanced stereo analogue via dual 3-pin XLR connectors
Frequency response: 20Hz–20kHz ± 0.25dB
Distortion (THD + Noise @ 1kHz, full scale): <0.03%
Output voltage: Two user selectable settings:
Low output setting: 1.41 Vrms (+5dBV)/3.15
High output setting: 2.81 Vrms (+8dBV)/5.3Vrms (+12dBV)
User Interface: PS Audio remote control plus on-board full-colour touchscreen controls.
Dimensions (H×W×D): 10 × 42 × 36cm
Weight: 13.5 kg
Available finishes: Silver or black
Price: £5,250, or £5,550 with optional Network Bridge module installed
Manufacturer: PS Audio
UK Distributor: Signature Audio Systems
Tel: +44(0)7738 007776