Which DAC should I pair with my new Perfect Wave Transport?  After that, which phono stage?


#1

Good day, all.

I am a new owner of a PWT and I’m very happy with it. The PWT has been an ear-opener, eventhough I don’t own a DAC worthy of it. (Confession: The PWT has me playing CDs more than I have in a long, long time.)

The PWT is now feeding an Audio Alchemy DAC-in-the-Box. (Don’t laugh, please. The power supply for the DITB comes from Dusty Vawter and Channel Islands Audio.:wink:

Hey, just kidding (sort of). As you can see from my newly added signature line, I’m not one who needs (or can let himself buy) the latest and greatest.

However, I do care greatly how my music sounds.

I’ve searched the Forum archives and looked at all the threads about the new Stellar DAC. I am very, very interested.

Unless I missed it, nobody on these Forums has testified about using the Stellar DAC with a turntable and phono stage.

(If I go the Stellar DAC route, I’ll need a phono stage. Today I use the internal phono stage module on my PCA-2 preamp.)

I own a couple of inexpensive phono stages (an AA VAC-in-the-Box, a Hypnotoad-modified Cambridge Audio 640p [which, unfortunately, lacks a power supply because the Pangea that I bought with it crapped out in 3 months!]).

After I choose a new DAC, I plan not to be penny-wise, pound-foolish with the phono stage.

A couple that I’m considering are: the Pro-Ject Tube Box S and the iFi Micro iPhono2.

Not high-dollar kit by any means, but it’s my understanding that both of those phono preamps are well-regarded and do give bang-for-the-buck. (Please advise if I’m wrong.)

I’ll stop now before I bore you to tears. But perhaps the above details help guide you about the kind of advice I need.

I would especially love to hear from Forum members who own the PWT and the Stellar DAC (or a comparable piece of gear). Also, of course, those who play LPs as well as CDs with this kind of gear.

In summary, I need DAC advice. Then I also need advice about a phono stage.

Anybody willing to help me through this audio two-step?

Thanks for looking at this thread, Chaz


#2
chazz said

The PWT is now feeding an Audio Alchemy DAC-in-the-Box. (Don’t laugh, please.


I’m not laughing because I used to down one of those – what a blast from the past. Certainly decent sound at the time it was made, but I think the Stellar DAC will be a good step up.

I own a PSA NPC (Nu-Wave Phono Converter). PSA has (unfortunately, in my opinion) discontinued this product but that means you can get it at half off. This combines a very good phono stage with an ADC so you digitize vinyl or tapes if you ever wish to. A friend of mine who is more into vinyl than I am and who has owned some really high-end phono stages is suitably impressed with its SQ. It has a lot of flexibility in terms of gain and cartridge loading. Check it out.


#3

I think the Stellar GCDAC would be a good choice for the PWT.

As for phono preamplifier. . . I have to recommend the one that I have that has satisfied my phono needs completely. I had been using a PS Audio GCPH before this Decware ZP3 and the GCPH has sat on a shelf since, the Decware amazes me every time I use it:

http://www.decware.com/newsite/ZP3.htm


#4

Hi, depending on budget, The Directstream Jr would be a real upgrade. Sell or trade in all the old digital and unused phono gear. See PS Audio’s liberal trade in program. I don’t think you can be a card carrying audiophile if you didn’t own at least one Audio Alchemy component, mine was a DTI.

Contact Audio Advisor, they are good people who stand by their products, the power supply should not have quit working, unless you did something. If not ask them for help. If you get a new power supply, pick out the best phono setup you own, sell the rest. Then, after getting the DS Jr, consider the PSA Nuwave phono preamp, see here: http://www.psaudio.com/products/nuwave-phono-converter/

The PWT with Directstream Jr hooked up with a HDMI cable through the I2S connection will be wonderful.upgrade.


#5

Thank you, Magister, for remembering the DITB as a worthy performer. (I’m always surprised how good that little box makes things sound.)

And, yes, the NPC, I will add that to my list. . . .

Thanks again, Chaz


#6

Thank you, Lonson. (I’m pretty sure that we’re both shf.tv members too.)

Mercy, that Decware ZP3 is beautiful. (Once upon a time, I owned some tube gear - loved the glow and the sound.) The phono stage list grows!

Now, anybody hereabouts who has a TT/phono stage hooked up to a Stellar DAC?

Cheers to all, Chaz


#7

Hey JeffStarr,

I’ve got to admit that even if I won the lottery, I would probably be unable to spend the kind of bucks (even with a full trade-in) that the Jr. would cost. And I’m a big fan of the trade-in program - it’s how I convinced myself to leave behind all my $500 CD players and try the PWT!

(I’ve even got a working, near-mint AA DTI Pro32 that retailed for $1495. . . .)

But how about a used PW DAC?

Or would you avoid those?

Thanks for your help, Chaz


#8

Chazz, if I win the lottery, I’ll be buying Directstreams for gifts.

I would call PSA and see if the y have any b-stock. Or look for a used Directstream Jr or Snr. The Directstream is supposed to be so much better than the PW DAC.

On the Jr you could get $1200 off, with trade ins or Music Direct has a financing program, I believe 0% interest if you pay off in three years. They take trades too.

Go nuts, you will not regret it.


#9

“I don’t think you can be a card carrying audiophile if you didn’t own at least one Audio Alchemy component, mine was a DTI.”

LOL, mine was a Digital Decoding Engine :slight_smile:

Chaz, I also am a very recent owner of a PWT (i.e., since last Friday) and am blown away by the music it is making in conjunction with my Stellar Gain Cell Dac. I picked up the SGCD earlier this year because it struck me that it placed equal emphasis on the analog and digital sides. I was thinking Brooklyn DAC but felt it was digital first with analog as a convenience (a perception from the company’s background, not backed up with an audition). Since I’m more vinyl than digital (ratio about 3:1) I felt the SGCD was the right product. It reduced the box count combining DAC and pre, and with the trade in program the cost of entry was about half of a Brooklyn - bonus! I think the SGCD has enough tech in it to future proof me should I really get into hirez CA but right now with all the LPs and good old CDs I’m very content to not tweak. I don’t think you will be disappointed with a SGDC since you have a PWT - the synergy is clearly there (I’m using the I2S connection). Plus the remotes are compatible!

Regarding phono stages, I am using a Jolida JD9. Works great and very flexible in terms of loading and gain. I think I’d have to step up to a Parasound JC-3 or Ayre to beat it in a substantial way. Tempting because the SGCD does have balanced inputs.

cheers,

Dan


#10
chazz said

Thank you, Lonson. (I’m pretty sure that we’re both shf.tv members too.)

Oh yes, Chaz, same you and me at SHTV.

#11

To Dan (danm),

Wow, great testimony - most helpful. Do you mind specifying the I2S connector that you are using?

Thank you big-time, Chaz


#12
chazz said

Hey JeffStarr,

I’ve got to admit that even if I won the lottery, I would probably be unable to spend the kind of bucks (even with a full trade-in) that the Jr. would cost…But how about a used PW DAC?

Or would you avoid those?


The PerfectWave DAC is still a world-class performer IMHO – just enough out of date to not be SOTA. It would probably be a great upgrade and provide you with years of satisfied listening (or not, if you are a typical “Audiophile Ahab”).

Full Disclosure: I have a PW DAC MKII up for sale on Audiogon (I upgraded to the DS Sr.), which I have posted in these forums. See the A-Gon link and go to the site for details, if you are interested.

Enjoy the hunt and the music.


#13

+1

The PerfectWave remains more than competitive. It is wonderful DAC.


#14
chazz said

To Dan (danm),
Do you mind specifying the I2S connector that you are using?


Nothing fancy - an audioquest 0.6 m Pearl HDMI cable. Seems to do the job!

#15

I didn’t mean to imply that the PW should be avoided. In fact you could buy a PW, and later buy the Directstream upgrade kit.

Has anyone compared the PW and the Stellar? My moneys on the PW, but I am a terrible gambler.

I just think the Directstream with it’s regular firmware upgrades is the DAC to own.


#16
jeffstarr said

Has anyone compared the PW and the Stellar?


Ah, great question that would help me pair the correct kit with my PWT.

Anybody here done this A/B?

Thanks, Jeff!


#17

As good as Stellar is, the PWD as a stand alone DAC is slightly better.