PS Audio NuWave DSD DAC
The NuWave DSD is an affordable breakthrough digital to analog processor. Based on the acclaimed Sabre 32 bit Hyperstream architecture, the NuWave DSD accepts inputs from any digital source including I2S, coax, TOSLINK and USB, playing both asynchronous PCM (up to 192/32) and DSD (single or double rate) through our exclusive class A hybrid output stage with either single ended (RCA) or balanced (XLR) connections.
Sometimes good things come in small packages and that’s certainly the case with the NuWave DSD. Our most affordable D to A Converter gives up little in the way of features from our larger and more expensive version, the DirectStream. Fully asynchronous on its inputs, the NuWave DSD can take just about any type of input, at sample rates and bit depths to match current high resolution standards and output pure analog through a class A hybrid output stage.
Used with any CD player or transport, the NuWave DSD produces a seamless three dimensional soundstage from your entire CD library. Connected to your computer, running music management software like iTunes, Bit Perfect, Amarra, or JRiver and an iPhone or Droid controller, the NWD becomes your center for streaming high resolution music at the touch of a finger. Performance as well as musicality are never compromised. Hand tuned and personally voiced by Paul McGowan, this fine audio instrument will bring the listener years of musical bliss.
The NuWave DSD handles USB, I2S, coax and optical digital PCM up to 192kHz 24 bits, single and double rate DSD, and features a class A hybrid output stage with remarkably sound quality.
The NuWave DSD allows you to stream bit perfect digital audio, both PCM and DSD, in a number of different ways, including music stored on your computer. All incoming musical data are fed directly into a simplified FPGA in Native Mode, without the degradation typical of sample rate converter chips, common among DACs. Native Mode decodes any resolution audio from 44.1kHz/16 bit all the way up to double rate DSD with no processing by an SRC. The resulting improvement to sound quality sets new levels of performance for DACs anywhere near this price. The incoming data are identified, organized and prepared for proper delivery to the ESS Hyperstream DAC by the custom CPLD on the NuWave DSD’s input.
Asynchronous USB for PCM and DSD
The NuWave DSD features a high-resolution USB path based on the same XMOS technology found in our DirectStream DAC. Asynchronous and capable of 24 bit 192kHz performance for PCM and single or double rate DSD, the NuWave DSD USB input sounds every bit as good as the best digital audio is capable of. Using a high quality USB cable between the NuWave DSD and your computer creates an instant media server that can be controlled through any number of handheld devices like an iPad, iPhone or Android using a 3rd party controller program. Your entire music library can be managed by iTunes, JRiver, MConnect, Windows Media Player, Foobar, Pure Music, Bit Perfect, Media Monkey or Ammara (to name a few) for ease of use. If you have yet to experience the pleasure of scrolling through your entire music library and selecting the next track at the touch of a finger, you’re in for a quite a treat. With the NuWave DSD and a USB cable you can stream both PCM and DSD high resolution audio, using nothing more than your computer and a handheld device to control and play your entire music library.
For the first time in an affordable DAC from PS Audio, we have included an I2S input. I2S is the native format of all CD transports and many servers. I2S (pronounced I squared S) features separate clock and data signals from the source. Typically, these clock and data signals are multiplexed together to be transmitted over a single cable in a format known as S/PDIF (Sony Philips Digital Interface), or AES/EBU (Audio Engineering Society/European Broadcast Union). Once received in multiplexed form, the DAC input must untangle the clock and data and once again separate them. I2S solves the problems associated with unravelling data of S/PDIF and AES/EBU formats. I2S outputs are sent via an HDMI cable and sources with I2S outputs can be purchased from PS Audio as well as other manufacturers.
Active vs. passive filtering
Once the digital audio data have been processed through the NuWave DSD’s ESS Hyperstream 32 bit DAC, it’s time to turn them into music and this is the job of the analog filter and output stage. Most DACs use an active filtering system to clean up the output of the internal DAC but this can add a harsh, bright sound to the music. In the NuWave DSD we use all passive analog filtering giving our output a sweet, open sound unencumbered with harsh digital artifacts.
The chassis of the NuWave DAC is a fine metal sculpture made from a combination of aluminum and steel and based on the DirectStream’s construction. It’s half the width of the DirectStream and the full length. This beauty feels just right when you pick it up. It’s built as solid as it gets, and best of all, it’s hand crafted, programmed and tested in Boulder, Colorado. There is a measure of pride of workmanship that goes into every one of these products and it shows from the moment you open the unit up and plug it in. This is one great and affordable Digital to Analog Converter. Enjoy.
The real challenge designing the NuWave DSD was making sure both PCM and DSD were handled in a way that sacrificed as little as possible through the playback process. Entry level DACs that accept both PCM and DSD typically favor one format over another when it comes to voicing the device. The two designers of the NuWave DSD, chief engineer Bob Stadtherr and CEO Paul McGowan, worked together for nearly a year making decisions on power supplies, overall architecture, developing a custom, simplified FPGA for the input stage and voicing the output stage in a balanced and musical manner that honors both PCM and DSD formats. The first choice was easy. Both Stadtherr and McGowan chose the ESS line of Hyperstream 32 architectures for the chip’s unrivaled sound quality. Important to both designers would be bringing as much musical detail as possible out of Red Book CDs, and reducing the sonic gap between 44.1kHz/16 bit performance and high resolution PCM and DSD. Lessons learned from years of building DACs aided design decisions critical to the mission of few musical compromises. We believe that one audition of a simple CD, played through the NuWave DSD, will open your eyes to the magic these design efforts have brought. And once you hear what the NuWave DSD does on ordinary CDs, we can’t wait for you to hear what the NuWave DSD can do for higher resolution PCM and DSD.
The NuWave DSD is a class A fully balanced design with an extremely low impedance output stage configuration and powerful driving capabilities. This is important to the sound quality of the DAC because driving even medium lengths of analog interconnect cables can be a sonic challenge if this critical stage is not designed properly. The NuWave DSD offers both balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA on the rear, driven from this low impedance output stage.