CD Transports

PS Audio PerfectWave Disc Transport

ARTICLE INDEX

Setup

Since everything you need to know about setting up the PWT is easily accessible on the PS Audio website, I shall dispense with parroting it here.

I made several choices when setting up the PWT. The first was to not risk introducing noise into the unit by taking advantage of the internet connectivity option. I've got plenty of net connectivity via the computers in my house. Besides, I really don't want to go cross-eyed trying to make out cover art or track listings from across the room, especially when I have the CD jacket right now next to me.

I also replaced all internal fuses with aftermarket fuses from HIFi-Tuning, purchased through The Cable Company. When I bought my fuses, the best grade available was the SilverStar. I have yet to try HiFi-Tuning's newer Supreme level, which retail for $50 and higher per fuse. From what I'm told, my system will sound even more transparent.

My cabling is entirely Nordost Odin. I know -- the total cost of my power cables, speaker cables, and interconnects greatly exceeds the list price of the PWT. In fact, the cables cost far more than all my components combined. If that upsets you, please don't even consider listening to Nordost Odin. You might risk hearing how good it sounds. I know veteran dealers who have auditioned new equipment using other power cables, and then listened again with Nordost Odin. The verdict: the sound is so much better with Odin, you would think you were listening to different components. Hence, I use Odin to hear the ultimate that my equipment can deliver.

For a while, I also had the PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC (PWD) on hand. Though I tried PS Audio's best I2S / HDMI link ($500) between the PWT and PWD, I found the sound through my Nordost Odin AES/EBU cable more vivid and extended. Nor did I hear any loss of accuracy or detail by forgoing the I2S option. Hence, I stuck with my Nordost AES/EBU digital interconnect, both with the PWD, and currently with my Theta Gen. 8 Series II DAC (upgraded to 24/192 capability).

I also have also found that aftermarket equipment supports make a huge difference in the sound of the PWT (or any component, for that matter). Recently, after living with the PWT for a year, I was gifted with six Magico QPODS ($1700/four). When I replaced the supports I had long used under the PWT with the QPODS, I was astounded to discover the bass line at the start of Ivan Fischer's Mahler's Symphony No. 2, a DSD-native hybrid SACD from Channel Classics, grow in strength and solidity. What before had only been hinted at in muffled, unfocused tones now emerged as a fully cogent bass line with discernible pitches and far more weight. The QPODS have brought the sound of my system one major step closer to the sound of live music.

Perhaps the QPODS would make less of an improvement if my rack were anything other than an old MDF-shelved Michael Green UltraRack that I acquired used in the last century. I'm sure it's better than nothing, but ultra it is not. Nonetheless, it's what I've got until I win the lottery. I'm a mere six numbers away from Audiophile Nirvana.

Using the UltraRack, I've tried feet from four other companies, all well known and respected. All demonstrably reduce vibration, and some do a wonderful job with the air around instruments, but none has had anywhere near the same effect as the QPODS. The only feet that I own that I have not tried under my transport and DAC are the 16 Stillpoints Ultra SS (Stainless Steel) supports that make a major difference to the sound of my Eficion F300 loudspeakers (review forthcoming). I'd love to compare the Stillpoints to the QPODS, but I could only do by removing the Stillpoints from my speakers, which would skew my reference. Someday…