Originally Posted by Solude
All of them?
Just like the Ayre QB-9 is always well received but dinged for being light handed. We are talking audiophile level products here so its not like comparing some tiny bookshelf speakers to that 16 year old kid's vibrating car. Just within the range of neutral, PS falls on far side of warm and Ayre of the lean side. Or to quote Stereophile...
warm The same as dark, but less tilted. A certain amount of warmth is a normal part of musical sound.
lean Very slightly bass-shy. The effect of a very slight bass rolloff below around 500Hz. Not quite "cool."
The MK2 DAC ships with firmware version 2.1.0. With that firmware, the DAC is not warm in the least. I found it to be bright, edgy, and fatiguing. I have an upgraded version of the MK1 DAC, so was able to install an older version of the firmware, 2.0.2, which is a lot more listenable. If you have a new MK2 DAC, not one that was upgraded from an MK1, you are stuck with 2.1.0. There is a six page thread on PS Audio's forum where owners post reviews, impressions, gripes about 2.1.0 -- the vast majority do not like 2.1.0 because they also find that with that firmware installed, the DAC is not easy to listen to, i.e. not warm or dark. If you want to infer from the Computer Audiophile review that the DAC is warm, go ahead, although the reviewer never uses that term. You can also listen to what actual owners have to say. The DAC has been around for four years now, with the MK2 version out for about a year, so there are plenty of legitimate reviews and impressions out there from people with skin in the game.
Regardless of firmware or version (MK1 or MK2), the Perfect Wave DAC sounds lean compared to both the Ayon CD-2 and the North Star M192, both of which have better, deeper bass than the PWD.