CD Transports

PS Audio PerfectWave Disc Transport

ARTICLE INDEX

Design

The PWT is unique among transports in that it is a memory player designed to read both redbook CDs and DVDs encoded with high-resolution audio. In some respects, it takes the place of a computer, yet is devoid of computer parts.

The PWT first reads everything on the optical disc you insert into its drive, then transfers it to an internal PS Audio Digital Lens with 64mB memory. The unit then outputs a digital signal from the Digital Lens' memory. PS Audio claims that this unique arrangement circumvents many of the errors and most of jitter introduced by conventionally designed transports. It also purportedly elevates playback to the level achieved by a computer hard drive, and manages to do so without introducing computer-related noise.

Although the PWT is a true memory player, its memory is not that large. If a disc is ejected while it is playing and the transport's "Stop" function is not engaged, PS Audio says that the music will continue to play up for to several minutes, until the 64mB memory is totally discharged. It has never played that long for me, perhaps because I often listen to complex compositions that demand a lot of memory. That's just a guess. Regardless, the process of ejecting a disc and holding it in your hand while it continues to play is a jaw-dropper for first-time visitors.

The unit's digital outputs include RCA, AES/EBU, Toslink optical, and a proprietary I2S / HDMI cable interface. The latter is designed to connect to PS Audio's PerfectWave DAC using PS Audio's special dedicated I2S / HDMI cable. PS Audio claims that I2S / HDMI eliminates all jitter, and potentially delivers the best sound. More on that later.

Unfortunately, the unit lacks the most stable S/PIDF connection, 75 ohm BNC. Note that Toslink output is limited to 24/96, while all other outputs transmit signals up to 24/192.

The Perfect Wave Transport and its multi-purpose remote control (designed to simultaneously control PS Audio's Perfect Wave DAC) have most of the usual functions: play, pause, stop, repeat track, repeat CD, fast forward, rapid retreat, next track, previous track. What it lacks is a "program" function. If you, like me, often wish to play selected tracks in an unusual sequence, you have to remain alert and change tracks by remote control.

The unit also has an unusually large display that enables you to read tracks numbers from, in my case, over 11 feet away. IMHO, this is essential to listening ease and comfort. If you prefer to dim the screen, there is a "DIM" button on the remote control to do just that. What I have been unable to do is turn off the dimming function and restore the display to full brightness without turning off the unit entirely and starting from scratch. At least I don't lose my programming sequence.

The power cord is removable – a major boon to those of us who know what a difference a change of power cord makes. The two 5x20mm 1 Amp Slow Blow fuses (Type T) are also easily replaced, should you wish to use audiophile grade fuses to achieve even better sound.

The PWT is network capable, and can download cover art and song titles from the internet to its large front panel touch screen. The information is stored on PS Audio's GlobalNetTM servers and stored on SD card memory. An internet connection, either via a network enabled Ethernet cable or a wireless Ethernet bridge connected to a router, is required.