I have been listening to a lot of vinyl as of late – we’re getting ready to launch a new phono preamp – and the evaluation process if ongoing. Unfortunately I do not have the big reference system setup yet […]

When it comes to audio gear, the biggest separation I can see is me and my bank account . . .

Whats with the new phono pre amp? what have i missed?

We haven’t actually announced anything yet but I’ll go ahead and give you a sneak peek here.

It’s the NuWave Phono Converter or NPC. We’re not sure how to classify this yet because it’s somewhat of a new category of products: a phono stage and a multi-input A/D converter all in one box.

So you have two parallel chains of amplification going on: a complete analog phono preamplifier from input to output and a complete A/D chain from input to output - and the ability to switch the A/D between the output of the phono stage or a set of RCA connectors on the back for a line input.

The A/D converter is a true DSD based device with a PCM, DoP and USB translator feeding a Digital Lens on the output side.

On the analog chain we have some major improvements to our classic phono design - using a 3-stage purely analog chain with our passive RIAA between the first two gain modules in the path. The last analog gain module is our new all FET discrete output stage we’re going to be using in the new power amp. The input is a new THAT programmable balanced gain stage, and the entire analog chain is fully balanced input to output. It’s pretty amazing sounding. You have full control over gain and impedance for the cartridge.

The output of the RIAA curve, before it goes into the third stage, is routed to the A/D input via a two-position switch that chooses either the phono output or the extra set of RCA connectors for line input. This allows you to choose either phono or line - where you can plug in anything you want, like perhaps a tuner or tape deck.

The output of the A/D, which as I mentioned is DSD, can then be selected to go straight out as DSD in either standard or double DSD rate through either the I2S outputs, the USB output or the S/PDIF coax output. If you go S/PDIF through the coax output it is translated into the DoP format which breaks the pure DSD into acceptable chunks that are enclosed in PCM agreeable chunks. If you then have a DAC that can recognize this format, the headers are thrown away and the pure DSD bits are put back together to form a pure DSD stream. For those of us without DSD capabilities we can also translate the DSD to pure PCM so any DAC can accept it. Choices for PCM are anything from 44.1kHz 16 bits up to 192kHz 24 bits. You can select, via the front panel display, any bit depth of any sample rate you wish. There’s no upsampling going on since the converter is always running at double DSD rate and we go do some math to get what we want.

After all is said and done digitally we then run it through a Digital Lens reclocking circuit to clean everything up and remove any last vestiges of dither.

I can tell you that what’s blowing me away is that there’s nearly no difference between all analog straight into the power amp vs. PCM through the PWD straight into the power amp. That’s an amazing feat pulled off by our engineering team. Hats off to our chief engineer Bob Stadtherr for pulling off a minor (major) miracle.

More to follow as we progress. Launch date August 2013. Price $1995.