Thought I’d add a post here. I find the forum very informative, read quite a lot, even if I hardly post.
PS Audio seems to be an established brand in the UK in recent years, probably thanks to a very enthusiastic and clearly effective distributor called Kevin from Signature Systems. I met him at a show (my first in 30 years) and ended up with a P3 regenerator to replace a conditioner.
A bit of background to my main system choices. The world of audio recording and sound reproduction owes a huge amount to British innovation, often state funded, such as loudspeaker development by the BBC and ffrr recording by Decca (the latter to do with detecting German U-boats). One of the truly revered names is Quad’s PJW, a Londoner whose work on loudspeakers was also funded by Ministry of Supply during WWII, designer of the Quad II (still in production 60 years later), the first commercial full range electrostatics (ESL57), Class A current dumping amplifiers and the 33/303 transistor amplifier. The 33/303 was first reviewed by ‘Gramophone’ in 1967 when reviews were on measurement rather than listening. The first thing the reviewer had to do was go out and spend £400 on new test equipment that was sensitive enough to measure its distortion. The ESL57 was adopted by the BBC for studio monitoring until it mostly used its own designs such as the LS3/5, the design being lead by Dudley Harwood, who joined in 1948 and founded Harbeth in 1977 with his HL-1. Alan Shaw took over Harbeth in 1986, designing all the products alone without a leader (that’s an English joke). Possibly the main development was the Radial driver in the early 1990’s, also with government support. Rumour has it that all Harbeth speakers have been designed with a Quad 50 pro amplifier, but it’s only a rumour.
British Audio still seems to have a proliferation of small and financially questionable companies, dependent on export sales for survival.
So using Harbeth and Quad is a no-brainer. It’s about as honest an natural a sound as you can get. About 300,000 of the 405/606/909 amps were made, there are plenty around. I paid $750 for a Quad 909 stereo (160w into 8 ohms) and $1,650 for a pair of serviced Quad 909 mono blocks (300wpc into 8 ohms). A full service and recap is $150 and they come back like new.
In my main system I use the 909 mono’s with Harbeth SHL5+ (the 7th iteration of the HL-1, which Art Dudley recently described in his Stereophile review as “truthfully beautiful”) and in my office system the 909 stereo with Harbeth P3ESR (the latest version of their LS3/5a licensed design).
The PWD Mk2 is the first standalone DAC I’ve ever bought and hopefully the last. It just delivers. I originally used a usb ripping/storage/server. Thanks to reading this forum, I’ve just bought the Auralic Aries Mini for my small system and immediately bought the Aries with external power supply for my main system. The Aries is an astonishingly good product. I bought a Mac Mini to implement the post/blog about building a server for $1,000, but I found the sound smeared. I recall reading that Mr McGowan’s Mac Mini has an external power supply. Paul Hynes is just up the road, but I didn’t face the hassle. All the digital music is on a QNAP connected with Airport Extreme and a few thousand of those round black plastic things. Most of the time I stream from Qobuz in CD or HD quality, a bit like Tidal but focussed on classical and not available in the USA (your loss, our gain). I also used the Mk2 very happily with Airplay via optical, not necessary with the Aries. I also use a $150 blu-ray via coaxial.
http://quad-hifi.info/public/pwintnow96.pdf for those interested. Anyway, my audio is usually heard but not seen, rather the opposite of other posts here and, by the looks of it, rather cheaper.