Beta Tester’s Impressions of the New PerfectWave SACD Transport

Similar to a long road trip with the family and arriving at a beautiful destination, the beta test certainly had its “are we there yet moments,” but we are darn proud of the outcome!

I welcome our PST beta testers to leave their impressions of the new transport here. We found a great group of testers this time around which myself and the PS Aduio family want to give a big thanks to you all! Enjoy the discussion!

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I’ve thought long and hard about how to describe what I hear, because it’s difficult to find the words that serve the story. The most salient thing I can report is audio now sounds “right.” And I didn’t know it didn’t until now. As impressive as the former unit was, until I heard the new transport, I had no idea this level of realism could be had.

I can understand more lyrics.
Voices are improved. No edge, glare or artificiality.
Transients wow.
Instruments or voices in the background are more obvious.
Everything on CDs and SACDs is more clear, nuances are more enjoyable.

Older, not state of the art CDs still don’t sound as wide or impressive as better ones do, but even they are improved and enjoyable. Better quality CDs are stunningly reproduced. SACDs don’t sound much different than CDs now. Everything is great, not a euphonic stunt, just closer to real.

I2S into DS DAC to BHK pre, to BHK mono amps to Wilson Sasha 2 speakers. P10s on the amps. Audience sx interconnects and speaker wires. Room treated with bass traps, diffusers and absorbers. Dedicated ac lines.

Every session has brought a wide smile to my face.

Music is important to me, and I am listening to the music, not the ‘sound’, though I can’t count the number of times I have thought, gee that sounds great!


Reading reviews of new audiophile products can often strain credulity - what was perceived as great is relegated to okay and the new great is inevitably replaced by the newer great until the reviewer loses credibility. For me the SQ on the previous DMP was always great and I could have lived with it ad infinitum except for the interface between the PSA built machine and the Oppo SACD drive which was terrible, made more so by Oppo quitting the drive business. Every listening session was fraught with issues - disc not playing, sticking, stopping, skipping, getting captured in endless cycles in the tray and so on such that the pleasure of the music exponentially decreased until it was not worth the effort. There were many times I went through the math of junking the DMP and reworking my budget to see if there was an Esoteric, Luxman or dCS unit in my future - but I could never justify the cost.
In the 4 years I had the DMP, I listened to it very little - maybe a couple of hours a week (although the tube timer on my BHK Preamp indicates far less) - preferring the rock steady reliability of my Marantz/PSB system.
When the SACD-P release date was finally announced, I actually had a trade in quote on an Esoteric K-03xd. But emailing with Scott McGowan and having waited so long I decided to be a beta tester on the SACD-P. In this role I was actually able to do a 6-7 hour side by side SQ comparison between my DMP and the new SACD-P using the same AQ HDMI cable and PSA DSD. The SACD-P was certainly as good SQ-wise as the DMP and apart from glitches with the drawer mechanism - now resolved as part of the beta test process - was a delight. The DMP was traded against the SACD-P pretty early on. Since then, the time on the preamp tubes has sextupled in the couple of months I’ve had the unit as compared to the previous four years. Also while Paul is of the opinion that the SQ does not improve with time, I found that at about 80 hours, there was a major, unsubtle improvement in depth/space, more definition in instruments and voices and that many of my Redbook CDs sounded as good as - if not better than - SACDs on the SACD/DSD combo. Actually to tell the truth, with the exception of Elton John’s ‘Captain Fantastic’, the 2L, Blue Coast and PSA’s Octave DSD series - I really don’t appreciate the SQ of the SACD - the SQ on Otis Redding’s ‘Otis Blue’ SACD does not compare well with the various redbook remasters. And while I could argue that the SACD-P redefines the sound of redbook CDs - I digress.
Back to the SACD-P - even issues with the firmware that were resolved this week with the release of FW 2.1.6. did little to detract from the enjoyment factor. So I was more than satisfied with the superior SQ of my SACD-P.
However, along with the firmware fixes on the drive, FW 2.1.6. came, per Paul, some changes in the FGPA that could not be ignored. In downloading the new FW and checking if it was installed and was working, I was amazed that the SQ had been further improved to the point that what was a 10 minute check out of the FW morphed into an hour of unanticipated listening pleasure. Indeed, I feel compelled to say something hackneyed that I thought I never would - namely that with FW 2.1.6. well recorded, well mastered/remastered CDs (Jacques Loussier Satie, 2L Magnificat and Lux, Chesky HQ, Birds of Chicago, Shelby Lynne) made the performers sound like they were in the room.
This improvement was immediate and like the initial SQ perception of the SACD-P took my system (PSA DSD, BHK Pre, BHK 250 amp, Legacy Calibre speakers, Legacy Xtreme subwoofer, AQ Mocha HDMI cable, AQ Columbia XLR interconnects, Morrow SP6 speaker cables) to new levels of performance.
Beta testing the SACD-P was an interesting and far from dull experience with an interesting group of fellow audiophiles and was greatly facilitated by James Herod’s patience and good natured feedback, with Barry, Paul, Bob and the FW group (not forgetting Kevin J) in the background fixing the beta issues as they arose.
I’m so glad I waited for a new standard of audio enjoyment that I can justify price wise.
Thanks PSA.


Thanks M! I really appreciate the feedback and the pleasure is all mine.

Like Mr. Burger, I thought long and hard on how do describe the sound of the new transport,
but in the end, it was more a feeling that grabbed me than an analysis of what is better. I have found that was is the true test of a breakthrough system change is not in measuring the gain but just listening to, and being immersed in, the music. On the start of my go-to reference disks, there wasn’t any strain to hear nuanced differences, just a smooth ride to the finish. The best gear begs you to keep
the tunes spinning. I have a PST/DACSR/BHKPre/300’s/P20/lconoclast/Shunyata/Magnapan system
with dedicated 20amp lines. I have spent years beating down system noise from crappy power and
digital leakage. The first thing I noticed with the PST was how quiet it was. Instruments are better
defined, separated in space, with more air around them. You can insert all the standard audio adjectives of praise but this one will make you smile. It just sounds natural. An added bonus was
a software upgrade recently that took the SQ up another notch. A nice gift, like the gems we have
gotten from Ted in the DAC. The bottom line is the DMP is good but the PST is on a other level.
The digital vs. analog wars will rage on but this transport has for me closed, or maybe surpassed,
the divide.


Excellent post! I enjoy your writing style.

Thank you for your kind comment.

I completely agree with my previous speakers. So I will give you a very brief description of my sound experience with my PST Beta.

To do the summary first: With any kind of music PST is on the one hand side more relaxed in presentation and on the other hand side much more involving, more coloured, more natural, very realistic with better dynamics and more room information: always precisely arranging the musicians in the room. The insight in music is much deeper compared with DMP.

Why “relaxed”? Well, listening to digital sources cause in my opinion normally more stress inside than listening to analogue tapes or records. Digital Playback is sometimes straining, aloof and with edges. PST is the first digital source I ever listened to, which does not create this digital stress, this lack in musical flow. The Music is just there at home. To quote a book title about the life of the famous conductor Günter Wand: “So und nicht anders” meaning: just that way and not elsewise.

I listened to vocals, choirs, orchestra, sarod and sitar music, mostly natural instruments such as lute, cembalo, viola da gamba and so on. For instance try listening to a trumpet via PST: very natural, very “open” with greater dynamics and more overtones. Or Voices: Very clear with perfect transients.

DMP was a very good digital source. PST is a very good musicplayer.

My listening sessions had been passed with PS Audio DSD using Nordost Valhalla 2 for HDMI contact, preamplified by Funk MTX Monitor and amplified by active Neumann KH 420 speakers.

Very great job done at PS Audio; thank you very much indeed Paul and Team!


Some of the above Gentlemen are far better writers than me and have really captured much of what i had been thinking. To those of you who have the DMP player and are thinking about upgrading, I would say it is worth it. I still could live with the DMP as it was a great sounding unit, but Frank Visser was correct about the differences. If anyone reading this has the older PWT player, then it is a no-brainer. Get it and get it now.

The bugs are 99% gone and I am very happy with both the functionality of the unit and the “analog” sound quality. If anyone does have a glitch, just reboot the unit and it will be fine.

I for one, am literally rediscovering my collection of cds and SACD’s. Truly we are all blessed to have a company like PS Audio, producing the kind of products that they do. Add in “made in the USA”, a phenomenal customer support team, and a visionary like Paul at the helm, and you have the best Audio company in this country. I still get both TAS and Stereophile, but mostly because of the music reviews, as i am not looking at any other gear :slight_smile:

I bet even Michael Fremer could be happy listening to this.

my system:
Thiel 3.7 speakers (truly incredible)
REL subs
BHK mono amps
BHK preamp
P20 PP
PST transport
Oracle Delphi II circa 1981 (just for show, do not use at all)
Mapleshade Samson rack


Only five reviews ? How many beta testers are there ?
I have a DMP and I am considering an upgrade, so additional feedback would be interesting.

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Why only 5 reviews here? because they have put out excellent reviews, and, as a beta tester, I cannot put anything more than what they have said. I don’t own DMP, so nothing to talk about it. I come from ARCAM Alfa 7SE and later, while waiting for PST, Sony cheap DVD as transport pairing with DSDAC. Before PST, I don’t think transport can make difference since DSDAC is very good, but with PST+DSDAC, I only have one sentence to say about it - all my redbook cds come to live.

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I am with @Terrence, but if you have a specific question please ask.

I’d like to focus my impressions with PST over the last ten days by telling you three most relevant characteristics from my point of view:

  1. 3-Dimensionality
  2. Energy
  3. Ease.
    Great improvement in SQ by a digital source …

I don’t know how many Beta testers there are but I also was struck by how thin the number of reports.
Even to say, yes I like it or no I don’t.
btw, mine is en route! Yay!


I have seen only positive reports.

I have no idea how many Beta testers are following this thread, but my guess is most conclude it has already been covered and feel no need to add “Me, too.” :slight_smile:

Let us know your opinion after you have had a chance to listen for a bit.

Ok. Here is a negative one. :slight_smile:
For me, PST is specifically designed for pairing with DSDAC (or any other PSA’s future DAC). And only with DSDAC, PST can have the best performance (via hdmi/I2S link).
For those who does not own DSDAC, at $6k range, there are plenty good sacd/cd players to choose from.

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All my Redbook CD’s come to life with the DMP too!


I don’t own DMP, but, for me, DMP was also specifically designed to be pairing with DSDAC, with PST as the successor of DMP, I guess PST might inherit DNA from DMP, and might bring it to another level, as frankvisser described in his post above. Beta Tester’s Impressions of the New PerfectWave SACD Transport - #8 by frankvisser


It should be remembered that beta testing is customer testing of a unit before commercial release to make sure it actually works (functionality, usability, reliability, and compatibility according to the web), rather than to assess how good it is.

Darko, who I think has a DSD DAC, said this:
However, for this listener, the PS Audio optical disc transport’s value lies in its ability to nudge out the majority of standalone network streamers on audible performance when playing Redbook/CD content. And ponder this: if the PS Audio player only dealt SACDs, would any more than a handful of people buy one?

If he is correct (and it seems to make sense), and if sound quality is an issue in beta testing, has anyone compared this device with a similarly priced streamer set-up playing the 16/44 file?

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Do agree with you that in general beta testing is on functionality, however, PSA beta program also asks for “ …The specific questions & parameters are as follows: … 6. Sound quality and sonic performance…”. So, beta testers here put a little bit extra effort trying to evaluate this under their hifi environment. So far, I like it and other testers seem like it too. Of course, what I say here apply only to my setup (My system is not highend and is not highly resolving. P12/SGCD/M700/DSDAC/PST/LINN Keilidth + JLAudio D110s in a room of 12Wx19Lx8H in ft) and my ears. The best approach is to get a PST and evaluate under your environment.
As for the gear review, sometimes I wonder, a new gear review follows a long term review might be good. With DSDAC, even for a non-audiophile person like me, I found after months of listening (“burn in”), DSDAC seems sound better.

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