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"Editor's Choice" Award Winner - Hi-Fi News Magazine
The Last Optical Disc Player You Will Ever Need
PS Audio's groundbreaking PerfectWave Transport (PWT) Memory Player is the ultimate optical disc player. Built from the ground up as a dedicated high-end CD and DVD audio transport, the PWT will read almost any optical disc and output near-perfect digital data to any D to A processor. It's designed to be the last optical disc player you will ever need.
"One Of The Finest CD Players That I Have Heard"
In his joint review of the PS Audio PerfectWave transport and DAC in the August 2009 issue of England's Hi-Fi News magazine, Keith Howard notes, "The PerfectWave combination proved to be one of the finest CD players that I have heard. Effortless detailed and yet never cold or clinical, it spits in the face of all who say that CD is inherently unmusical." The combo won the magazine's coveted Editor's Choice award.
"Future-Proof And Field Upgradable"
Future-proof and field upgradable, the PWT can read high resolution WAV files or standard resolution CD audio files directly and feed the perfected data to your DAC through standard AES/EBU, S/PDIF or PS Audio's exclusive I2S through HDMI connection for unprecedented performance. Cover art, song titles, track times, sample rates and bit depth are all automatically displayed on the beautiful color touch screen for any inserted disc.
The PWT does its job this task in a manner quite different than other CD transports and players. Using an optical ROM reader, the PWT extracts the data off any CD or DVD in bit-perfect condition without using error correction and places that data into a special version of the PS Audio Digital Lens. Once inside the Digital Lens, the musical information is stored in pure form without clocks or any reference to time. The stored musical information is then retrieved by the PWT's asynchronous fixed timing clock and output to your DAC with perfect timing and extremely low jitter through its digital audio outputs, or jitter-free through the HDMI connector.
The results are remarkable. Based on comparisons with any standard technology CD or computer-based system, the PWT produces hands-down noticeably better performance for any listener on any system. This transport unlocks all the musical magic stored in your CD library and hidden from you all this time.
The PWT's gorgeous color touch screen displays the cover art for each CD and eliminates forever the traditional track selection by number. Song titles are displayed just as they would be on the CD cover making the PWT a joy to use and own.
As technology transcends the limitations of CDs and we enter the next evolution in high-resolution digital audio, the PWT is ready for the challenge. Without the need for a computer, the PWT plays high-resolution audio files, lossless stored music, standard CDs and homemade compilations on either CD-R or DVD-R with the ease and grace of a beautifully built machine.
The Digital Lens Advantage
Since the early days of CD players and transports, PS Audio engineers understood that both CD mechanisms and computer hard drives are mechanical devices trying to perform in a world of precise timing. It is, in fact, a minor miracle that a CD mechanism works at all. The mechanical devices that control the laser reading mechanism, the varying rotational speed of the disc, the wobbling of the CD and the errors that must be corrected for even the best CD's all need separate feedback based systems to correct for their errors.
Until the advent of the PerfectWave Transport, every CD player ever built relied on the same mechanical technologies and suffers from the same problems as every other. PS Audio designed an entirely new system that accepts any quality digital audio data and outputs perfect data in its place, unaffected by disc, data, or mechanical/optical performance issues.
Unlike a traditional CD transport, you are never listening directly to the data from the optical disc. Instead the data is pulled off the disc and sent to the internal Digital Lens where it is rebuilt and stored for up to three minutes and then output by the asynchronous (unrelated) clock.
The Color Touch Screen Display
Since 1948, when the vinyl LP was first introduced, music lovers around the world got used to reading album covers and liner notes associated with them. When CDs came into popularity they were housed in miniature copies of albums with small cover pictures and even smaller lists of song titles and liner notes.
Sixty years after the introduction of the vinyl LP, there are still very few players that recognize and display cover art and song titles from the disc itself. Once connected to an internet-capable network connection, the PWT touchscreen will display the cover art and song titles of just about any CD or DVD you place into it. No longer do you have to have the CD case in-hand to figure out which track you wish to listen to. Simply scroll through the actual song titles on the disc itself and touch the track you wish to hear. The PWT will instantly play the selected track.
High Resolution WAV Files On DVD
The future of audio is to be found in higher resolution media than CD's. CD's are limited to 44 kHz and 16 bits. WAV is an uncompressed audio format for Windows computers (AIFF is the Macintosh equivalent). The advantages of WAV are many but perhaps most important is that the format is open to the public, can handle high resolution audio files easily, and is being adopted by many record labels as the format of choice.
The disadvantage of WAV is that, up until the introduction of the PerfectWave Transport, you had to rely on a computer to read the WAV files from a disc or from downloads; all that has changed with the introduction of the PWT.
The PWT can read WAV files directly off a DVD and present jitter-free digital audio data to your DAC with resolution up to 24 bit and samples rates as high as 192 kHz. This is a stunning achievement for PS Engineering. The ability of a standalone dedicated transport to read DVD discs is unheard of and the PWT is the only product in the world with this ability.
Ready for Future CODECS
The PWT is future-proof. Through either its rear-mounted SD memory card, or through online access, the PWT's operating system and feature list is upgradeable by PS Audio for its customers. This allows PWT owners to keep up with any future upgrade paths without returning the PWT to the dealer.
CDs and DVDs can store more than just their native formats. They can be used to store different formats such as WAV, FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format), MP3, etc. All these formats use what engineers call a CODEC to translate files into something your DAC can use to play music. The word CODEC is a portmanteau of 'compressor-decompressor' or, most commonly, 'coder-decoder'.
The first CODEC scheduled for release with the PWT will be a FLAC decoder. This upgrade will be free and available to PWT owners sometime in late spring 2009.
Inside the PWT
Your disc is read from a computer style disc drive known as a ROM (Read Only Memory) drive. Unlike a conventional CD disc drive that you find in any transport or CD player, a ROM drive is completely controllable from an operating system and is independent of any standard disc extraction and error correction methods built into CD and CD transports.
The use of an independently controllable optical disc drive is a critical element in the PWTs success. With a standard optical drive, even a great one like the Philips CD PRO2 top loader (used on only the most expensive CD players and transports), the data is read and error corrected by the mechanism itself without allowing any choice over how it is done.
Using a ROM drive, we can read the data using an entirely different approach that requires no error correction. Standard error correction uses a predictive system that "guesses" what the data should be if there is an error detected on the disc. A better system, such as the PS Audio Multiple Read Error Correction system (MREC), reads and then rereads the data as many times as necessary until a bit-perfect match is achieved. Once the data has been taken in bit-perfect form from the CD or DVD, it is sent to the PWT's internal Digital Lens.
The Digital Lens is a device that takes digital data in and focuses it down to a single perfect point at its output. The Lens allows the ROM drive to have enough time to read and reread the data as many times as it wants and equally important, allows the output asynchronous clock to operate at a fixed and independent rate.
The Digital Lens has a large and smart memory storage buffer. It's big enough to handle any speed variation of the optical disc reader. Because it is an intelligent buffer, the length of the memory is automatically adjusted to fit anything the optical disc reader is doing and feeds the master clock what it needs and wants. The system is really quite simple.
The results are amazing. With a fixed asynchronous clock fed by the intelligent Digital Lens, the output master clock is accurate and jitter free supplying perfectly timed data to any DAC connected. The results are immediately apparent the first time you sit down to listen. In fact, this new architecture means the use of sample rate converters in DACS is no longer necessary or even desirable.
I2S Through HDMI output
There are two ways to get the digital audio data out of the PWT: standard S/PDIF/AES/EBU digital audio outputs or I2S. I2S (pronounced "I squared S") is the preferred method if you have the PS Audio PerfectWave DAC that can receive it.
To understand I2S it is necessary to first understand S/PDIF, which is the standard digital output. S/PDIF takes three separate internal clocks along with the raw music data and combines them into one stream sent out with an RCA, XLR or optical cable to the DAC. Once that single stream is received by the DAC it must be separated back into the multiple clock and data streams in exactly the same timing and form it started. The problem is the encoding and decoding of these complex critical clocks is never perfect and leads to jitter and timing errors.
A much better way of delivering the clocks and the data between the transport and the DAC is to not mix them up in the first place. This is what I2S does. Instead of trying to stuff these clocks and data into one stream, I2S simply transfers the three clocks and the data on separate cables to the DAC. Done in this way, there's no chance for error or increased jitter and the audible results are simply stunning. An HDMI cable is the best multi-conductor digital cable made today and it was the obvious choice for the PWT.
Outside the PWT
The chassis of the PWT is a metal sculpture that rivals the best ever built. A combination of aluminum and steel, the PWT weighs in at 20 pounds of elegance and beauty. The top cover is a hand painted, hand polished piano black cover that has been lavished over for hours.
"Editor's Choice" Award Winner - Hi-Fi News Magazine
In its joint review of the PS Audio PerfectWave transport and DAC, England's Hi-Fi News magazine praised the duo for "offering a dynamic alacrity and resolution of fine, musically telling detail that the other interfaces could not match, sounding somewhat clouded and diluted by comparison."
"Differences between the five filters are not large, but they are perceptible - as subtle changes in image focus and dynamics - and allow the sound quality to be fine-tuned to taste."
"With all my favored options enabled - PS interface, Native mode, filters 1 or 2 - the PerfectWave combination proved to be one of the finest CD players that I have heard. Effortless detailed and yet never cold or clinical, it spits in the face of all who say that CD is inherently unmusical."
- Keith Howard, Hi-Fi News & Record Review magazine, August 2009
Audio Advisor Review - PS Audio PerfectWave Transport