One Man's Perfect Adventure - Part I


#1

My Perfect Adventure – Part I



After many problems with ordering/shipping, my transport and DAC arrived.

One can not argue with the great two-for-one deal! It pushed me from the fence to the meadow.



I did a temporary placement, wired everything up and pressed play. Hum. Bad hum. It would only disappear if both transport and DAC were unplugged; the power-on switch didn’t do it. Support recommended I move the pair off my (PS Audio) preamp. Still didn’t solve the problem. On a whim I tried a different outlet – problem solved. The ground-loop gremlins? Ground-loops still mystify me.



First listening impression: much more sense of “air” around soloists (I listen to classical music almost exclusively). Also a great sense of front-to-back soundstage – very noticeable when listening to an orchestra.



Internet time. While PnP stands for “plug and play”, those of us with some computer experience know it really means “plug and pray”. I have a NetGear N-band wireless system in my house. Purchased a NetGear Access Point. Set it up with a laptop machine and then tried to use the Access Point to connect the laptop (I disabled the built-in wireless). No go. After some three hours and two different tech support chats I now speak Hindi much better and learn that my router won’t work with the Access Point. So much for NetGear’s family of wireless… The second support guy finally decides I want the NetGear Range Extender. I find one on eBay.



It arrives and is simple to install – it actually communicates with the router, extracts the appropriate settings and was ready to rock in under five minutes. Again I tested it by connecting the laptop to the Internet via the Extender. Success!



I move the Extender to the shelf holding the Wave pair, connect the ethernet cables and – nothing. Seems the Bridge needs reseting, a bit of alchemy not covered in the all-too-brief “manual”. I reset the Bridge and somehow it “disappears” from the input selection. Takes a secret download (and 40 minutes) to recover the Bridge.



Oddly, the Bridge still isn’t there – at least not by name. When I touch an input labeled “PerfectWave DAC0” it takes me to what is obviously the Bridge. Four different attempts to change the name to “Bridge” or similar fail. (When I asked Support about this I was told this is a known problem and will be fixed later. Having spent a career in the software business, I am a bit taken aback that product is shipped with such an obvious bug. Along with shortchanging the consumer, it costs both vendor and customer time and phone calls. Not good).



Bridge is back and still won’t connect. I venture another reset. This does the trick – if you allow a little time for the connection to occur. Finally all is right with the DAC/Bridge.



The transport however, still doesn’t display track info nor album art. As I’m unclear if this feature should always work – or if it only works when music is accessed via the Bridge, another call. Or maybe it was an e-mail. I am told to be sure the SD card is inserted contacts up. The unit arrived with the SD card in place – contacts down. One would expect some factory testing that would have found this problem.



So I correct the SD card placement and try again. My first three attempts say “file read/write error”. No covert art, no track info. Finally on the fourth CD the cover art appears! No track info. The error message appears several more times. Another e-mail. Format the SD card. Off to the Windows 7 machine to reformat.



It still works sometimes, sometimes I see tracks but no art. And I still see the error message. No idea what to do next.



One day just as cover art is displaying, I touch the display. The unit freezes. Doesn’t finish display, won’t play, won’t eject. Power-off, unplug – nothing resets the unit. The manual says one can jimmy the carrier open with a paper clip. Unfortunately there is exactly zero clearance between the carrier and the chassis. If I push up on the (closed) carrier, I can finally get the paper clip in. Thirty minutes of poking and no luck in popping the door. Finally I get it to release and the unit resets itself.



So this is where I stand: what seems like good sound, semi-functioning art/track info. Some disappointingly buggy software. One gets the idea this product pair was not adequately tested before first customer ship. The PS Audio website should have a list of known problems – and projected fix dates. That would at least save some time on both sides.



Next I will install JRiver and see what new problems – and delights – are ahead.



Less this “sound” too negative, I’ll repeat again: the sound – and the deal – are good. I always measure human factors by the Mom Test: could my Mother – in her 70s – install and enjoy the unit. The answer is a pretty clear no.


#2

I am very tech saavy but dont necessarily want to spend my free time that should be spent listening to music fiddling around trying to make things work. This is why I am still using Sonos connected to my DAC. Setup is a breeze, the interface is easy, and most importantly I spend my time listening. I am intrigued by better digital transports though that have less jitter and perhaps produce better sound but until someone comes out with something as easy as Sonos I will continue to wait.



That being said, many users have had success with the PWT and PWD. This is a great forum to ask for help. Keep at it and I am sure you will be rewarded with great sound and listening pleasure.


#3

The PWT and PWD combination is unarguably excellent.



The challenge awaits with any form of server. There appears no easy solution other than one box pre-packaged options, such as the Sonos, BDP-1, Olive, etc.


#4
ampicoj said: I always measure human factors by the Mom Test: could my Mother – in her 70s – install and enjoy the unit.

A reasonable test for a microwave or similar mainstream product, but hardly appropriate for a high end enthusiast component which, perforce, requires additional knowledge, expertise and skills.

The average septuagenarian probably should not drive my Z06 or Ducati, pick up a target rifle or randomly handle a ribbon microphone - somebody or something is going to get hurt.

Regardless, I fully agree the Bridge is not a mature product in a number of ways.