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PS Audio NuWave DAC Review  Print E-mail
Home Theater Accessories Acoustics, EQ & Room Tuning
Written by Andre Marc   
Wednesday, 02 January 2013
Article Index
PS Audio NuWave DAC Review 
Setup and Listening
Listening Cont.
Conclusion


I also streamed a lot of symphonic stuff, like Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. I very much enjoyed the texture the NuWave DAC brought to orchestral music. Strings were woody and vibrant and, across the board, instruments rendered with a natural ease. At this point, it was becoming obvious to me the NuWave DAC was an exceptional component at the $1000 price point.

For the last phase of my evaluation, I concentrated on vocal music. I had just gone on a bit of buying spree, purchasing a bunch of older Johnny Mathis recordings that have been recently remastered on CD. The remasters are excellent, with a great analog vibe, and great pains were taken to preserve the sonics of the original tapes. Well, the NuWave DAC was just the sweetest match for Mathis and his absolutely velvety voice. Mathis in his prime had the ability to wring the deepest emotions from even well worn standards. His version of “A Taste Of Honey” from the 1966 album, The Shadow Of Your Smile, done as a slow, longing ballad, is just devastating. The NuWave DAC got right to the heart of the music.

In comparison to the wonderful Musical Fidelity V-DAC II, at $350, the NuWave DAC made the music sound a bit larger in scale. Backgrounds were noticeably quieter with the PS Audio, which was no surprise, given the quality of the NuWave DAC’s power supply. Tonally, they were similar, but at three times the price, the PS Audio had the overall edge in sonics, and its USB input handles up to 192kHz, as opposed to 96kHz for the Musical Fidelity. Lastly, I would give a slight edge to the NuWave’s XLR outputs. Of course this will depend on your amplification. The McIntosh MA6600 is a fully balanced design.

Conclusion

The sub $1000 DAC market is very crowded these days. PS Audio, with their Digital Link, up through version III, has been a player in this field for many years. The NuWave DAC is a game changer in that it uses trickle down technology from PS Audio’s flagship DAC, the PerfectWave DAC II. Quite a few budget DAC units have come through my listening rooms, and none had the build quality and the big, engaging sound of the NuWave DAC.

There was really no area, sonically, the NuWave DAC lacked. If I was to nitpick on the ergonomics, on my wish list would be a sample rate indicator and possibly an optional remote control for selecting input and upsampling. But again, this is a wish list, and these features are rarely, if ever, found at this price.

The PS Audio NuWave DAC simply must be auditioned by anyone looking for a DAC anywhere under $2000. It delivers the sonic goods, is ruggedly built in Boulder, CO, and has an excellent sounding USB input. Far from being the DAC flavor of the month, the NuWave DAC is based on decades of digital engineering. Highly recommended.




Specifications



PS Audio NuWave DAC: $995

PS Audio
4826 Sterling Drive
Boulder, Colorado 80301
720.406.8946
www.psaudio.com



Review System 1


CD Transport: Musical Fidelity M1 CDT
Server: Squeezebox Touch w/ CIA VDC-SB power supply
via Ethernet to MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate
external drives.
DAC: Bryston BDA-1
Headphone Amp: Pro-Ject Head Box II
Headphones: Grado SR60
Preamp: Audio Research SP16
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
Speaker: Martin Logan Ethos, Thiel CS2.4
Cables:  Stager Silver Solids, Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent  MM2 Super (IC), Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Shunyata Venom (AC) Element Cable Red Storm (Digital AC), DH Labs TosLink, DH Labs AES/EBU, Audiquest, Forest, WireWorld Ultraviolet, DH Labs USB(USB) DH Labs (USB)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner,Salamander rack

Review System 2


CD Player: Marantz 5003
Music Server: Squeezebox Touch via Ethernet to
MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate external drives.
DAC: Musical Fidelity V-DAC II
Integrated Amplifier: McIntosh  MA6600, Electrocomaniet ECI 3
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: Kimber Hero HB,  DH Labs White Lightning (IC),QED Genisis Silver Spiral (Speaker),PS Audio (AC), Mojo Audio (AC), DH Labs TosLink, Audioquest Forest USB, Wireworld Ultraviolet USB
Accessories:Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Sound Anchors Stands, Wiremold, Keces XPS, Audience Ar2p






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