What makes the NuWave DSD so great? We’ve taken the lessons learned from one of the world’s best DACs, the DirectStream, and applied them to a smaller-scale, lower-cost unit. Like the DirectStream before it, the NuWave DSD produces a seamless 3D soundstage from even normal CDs. Hand-tuned and personally voiced by Paul McGowan, the improvement in sound quality over other DACs is astonishing. The NuWave DSD accepts inputs from any digital source including I2S and USB from your computer and connects to your system’s preamplifier with either single ended (RCA) or balanced (XLR) connections. Used with music server software like JRiver, Bit Perfect, Amarra or Pure Music and an iPhone or Android app, the NuWave DSD becomes your entry into the world of high-end digital audio music, both PCM and DSD. Performance is superb at anywhere near the price and there’s good reasons why, as you’ll soon discover. In fact, the NuWave DSD is one of the best sounding products we have produced in our 23 years of building DACs. Sweet, spacious and effortless, this device will bring the life back into your music and all at the touch of a finger.
The NuWave DSD is fully asynchronous and accepts PCM up to 192kHz/24 bit from any digital source, including I2S, coax, TOSLINK and USB; DSD (single or double rate) can be input via USB and I2S.
All input signals are taken into the NuWave DSD in Native Mode, without Sample Rate Conversion (SRC) and fed directly into a simplified FPGA known as a CPLD (Complex Programmable Logic Device), which discovers sample rate and format, reclocks all incoming data, reduces jitter, waveshapes data output to the DAC chip, and utilizes high speed/low gate count logic to reduce propagation delay for faster throughput.
The DAC chip itself is the acclaimed 32-bit ESS Sabre Hyperstream architecture, the output of which is passively filtered to reduce transient distortion. the NuWave DSD’s power supply includes a massive analog transformer, 7 regulators, properly-bypassed high-speed switching diodes, and a massive 15,000 mFd of storage capacitance.
The output stage is a unique Class-A configuration, fully balanced and direct coupled hybrid array (utilizing both discrete semiconductors and ICs), with an extended bandwidth of -3dB at 60 kHz!
The NuWave DSD allows you to stream bit perfect digital audio, both PCM and DSD, in a number of different ways, including music stored on your computer. All incoming musical data are fed directly into a simplified FPGA in Native Mode, without the degradation typical of sample rate converter chips, common among DACs. Native Mode decodes any resolution audio from 44.1kHz/16 bit all the way up to double rate DSD with no processing by an SRC. The resulting improvement to sound quality sets new levels of performance for DACs anywhere near this price. The incoming data are identified, organized and prepared for proper delivery to the ESS Hyperstream DAC by the custom CPLD on the NuWave DSD’s input.
Asynchronous USB for PCM and DSD
The NuWave DSD features a high-resolution USB path based on the same XMOS technology found in our DirectStream DAC. Asynchronous and capable of 24 bit 192kHz performance for PCM and single or double rate DSD, the NuWave DSD USB input sounds every bit as good as the best digital audio is capable of. Using a high quality USB cable between the NuWave DSD and your computer creates an instant media server that can be controlled through any number of handheld devices like an iPad, iPhone or Android using a 3rd party controller program. Your entire music library can be managed by iTunes, JRiver, MConnect, Windows Media Player, Foobar, Pure Music, Bit Perfect, Media Monkey or Ammara (to name a few) for ease of use. If you have yet to experience the pleasure of scrolling through your entire music library and selecting the next track at the touch of a finger, you’re in for a quite a treat. With the NuWave DSD and a USB cable you can stream both PCM and DSD high resolution audio, using nothing more than your computer and a handheld device to control and play your entire music library.
For the first time in an affordable DAC from PS Audio, we have included an I2S input. I2S is the native format of all CD transports and many servers. I2S (pronounced I squared S) features separate clock and data signals from the source. Typically, these clock and data signals are multiplexed together to be transmitted over a single cable in a format known as S/PDIF (Sony Philips Digital Interface), or AES/EBU (Audio Engineering Society/European Broadcast Union). Once received in multiplexed form, the DAC input must untangle the clock and data and once again separate them. I2S solves the problems associated with unravelling data of S/PDIF and AES/EBU formats. I2S outputs are sent via an HDMI cable and sources with I2S outputs can be purchased from PS Audio as well as other manufacturers.
Active vs. passive filtering
Once the digital audio data have been processed through the NuWave DSD’s ESS Hyperstream 32 bit DAC, it’s time to turn them into music and this is the job of the analog filter and output stage. Most DACs use an active filtering system to clean up the output of the internal DAC but this can add a harsh, bright sound to the music. In the NuWave DSD we use all passive analog filtering giving our output a sweet, open sound unencumbered with harsh digital artefacts.
The chassis of the NuWave DAC is a fine metal sculpture made from a combination of aluminum and steel and based on the DirectStream’s construction. It’s half the width of the DirectStream and the full length. This beauty feels just right when you pick it up. It’s built as solid as it gets, and best of all, it’s hand crafted, programmed and tested in Boulder, Colorado. There is a measure of pride of workmanship that goes into every one of these products and it shows from the moment you open the unit up and plug it in. This is one great and affordable Digital to Analog Converter. Enjoy.
Unit Weight: 11.5 lbs [5.4 kg] Unit Dimensions: 14” x 8.3” x 2.4” [ 36cm x 21cm x 6.1cm] Shipping Weight: 20 lbs [9.1 kg] Shipping Dimensions: 22.5”x 13” x 6” [57cm x 33cm x 15cm]
Input Power: Model specific 100VAC, 120VAC, or 230VAC 50 or 60Hz
Power Consumption: 15W
Digtial audio inputs: Coax, TOSLINK, USB, I2S
Coax Input: PCM 44.1KHz – 192KHz
Optical Input : PCM 44.1KHz – 96KHz
I2S : PCM 44.1KHz – 192KHz, DSD single rate (2.8KHz) and double rate (5.6MHz) raw or DoP
USB : USB2.0 Asynchronous Audio, PCM 44.1KHz – 192KHz, DSD single rate (2.8KHz) and double rate (5.6MHz) DoP
Analog Audio Output
Connector : RCA/XLR Unbalanced /Balanced (X2)
Output level, maximum: Unbalanced 2.8VRMS, Balanced 5.6 VRMS
Output Impedance: 100Ω/200Ω
Frequency Response: 10Hz – 20KHz +0/- 0.3dB
THD: 1KHz, 0dBFS < 0.01% , 20-20KHz, 0dBFS < 0.2% , 1KHz, -10dBFS < 0.01%
Format: PCM, DSD