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PS Audio's new DAC - NuWave - Page 8

post #106 of 128

Hmmm, so a couple of months down the road and I'm finding this DAC a bit too much on the neutral side of things. I quite liked it with my tube/hybrid headphone amplifier, but the neutrality gets a bit too much with the Emotiva Mini-X A100. The DAC was very impressive as it sounded very transparent and dynamic, but since trying out a couple of other DACs I'm not 100% certain whether this is my preferred sound signature. Think most of my criticism is when listening to CD material where it can sound quite flat and a bit harsh. With high definition sources the NuWave definitely jumps up in performance a couple of notches where I thought it sounded very good again. It remains excellent at detail retrieval.

 

Having demo'ed a DAC (Vivere) that was developed here in South Africa recently (Amanero USB based + ESS9018), I found its USB input easily surpassed that of the one on the NuWave. That particular DAC was also much more musical and smoother though it is in a more expensive category. Can anyone suggest some mods for the NuWave that they have tried? The coax input is rather underwhelming when connected to my CDP so I'm not sure whether a USB->SPDIF converter would be of any help here?


Edited by daerron - 9/18/13 at 9:03am

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post #107 of 128

The NuWave at $800 is good value for money. I also think its better than the Audiolab M-DAC and it has a ton of detail, but I have to admit I'm liking the Resonessence Labs Concero much more even though it hasn't as much detail, its presentation gels much more with my system and I'm finally enjoying my music which is what music listening should be about. The Concero also added some nice air to my system. The NuWave also has an advantage when it comes to quietness and it has some really impressive dynamics.

 

Honestly I only liked the NuWave with my classical music (I actually picked the DAC on this basis as most of my demo music was classical in nature which shows off its strengths) and when I returned to solid state amplification on my headphones it was too sharp sounding and only the Madrigal Gel-Z interconnects could really tame it. The NuWave really turned me off listening to modern music due to its flat and sharp presentation. It was a great DAC with HD music file formats and well recorded music. I am sure that there should be a lot of people who would like it, but it seems to be more geared towards speaker listening.

 

The RL Concero again is not as good with classical music (not bad by any means), but boy am I enjoying my electronic, rock, metal and jazz music again. The filters on the Concero is also very handy for tuning the DAC in terms what kind of music your are listening to. With poorly recorded music the IIR up-sampling filter appear to help to tame the sound somewhat. This was also something I enjoyed a lot on the Audiolab M-DAC (minimum phase and optimal spectrum depending on what I was listening to). The problem I had with the M-DAC was that it made music sound larger than life. This worked with well with certain genres, but it got a bit overwhelming with some genres. Its also more aggressive sounding which didn't gel that well with my Hifiman HE-500 headphones.


Edited by daerron - 12/1/13 at 2:36am
post #108 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by daerron View Post
 

The NuWave at $800 is good value for money. I also think its better than the Audiolab M-DAC and it has a ton of detail, but I have to admit I'm liking the Resonessence Labs Concero much more even though it hasn't as much detail, its presentation gels much more with my system and I'm finally enjoying my music which is what music listening should be about. The Concero also added some nice air to my system. The NuWave also has an advantage when it comes to quietness and it has some really impressive dynamics.

 

Honestly I only liked the NuWave with my classical music (I actually picked the DAC on this basis as most of my demo music was classical in nature which shows off its strengths) and when I returned to solid state amplification on my headphones it was too sharp sounding and only the Madrigal Gel-Z interconnects could really tame it. The NuWave really turned me off listening to modern music due to its flat and sharp presentation. It was a great DAC with HD music file formats and well recorded music. I am sure that there should be a lot of people who would like it, but it seems to be more geared towards speaker listening.

 

The RL Concero again is not as good with classical music (not bad by any means), but boy am I enjoying my electronic, rock, metal and jazz music again. The filters on the Concero is also very handy for tuning the DAC in terms what kind of music your are listening to. With poorly recorded music the IIR up-sampling filter appear to help to tame the sound somewhat. This was also something I enjoyed a lot on the Audiolab M-DAC (minimum phase and optimal spectrum depending on what I was listening to). The problem I had with the M-DAC was that it made music sound larger than life. This worked with well with certain genres, but it got a bit overwhelming with some genres. Its also more aggressive sounding which didn't gel that well with my Hifiman HE-500 headphones.

Hi, If you had the Concero and the Nuwave at the same time, did you try using the Concero as a converter to the Nuwave?  I used to have both at one time and tried that with great results.  It seemed to transfer over alot of the strengths of the Concero and eliminate the wonky flat, forward sound of the Nuwave, while still retaining it's excellent detail and dynamics.

 

My guess is that source of the character of the Nuwave that people seem to dislike is their Analog filter implementation, which is ironically one of the marketed features of the DAC.  I think Resonessence has an excellent filter implementation, while the Nuwave has excellent hardware that is bottlenecked by it's filter.  Perhaps PS Audio will release a Rev. 2 with a redesigned filter in the future.  I'd love to see them go the the custom FPGA route without raising the price too much.  I think the PWD does this, but I think that might put the Nuwave too close to the PWD in that case.

post #109 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by JWahl View Post
 

Hi, If you had the Concero and the Nuwave at the same time, did you try using the Concero as a converter to the Nuwave?  I used to have both at one time and tried that with great results.  It seemed to transfer over alot of the strengths of the Concero and eliminate the wonky flat, forward sound of the Nuwave, while still retaining it's excellent detail and dynamics.

 

My guess is that source of the character of the Nuwave that people seem to dislike is their Analog filter implementation, which is ironically one of the marketed features of the DAC.  I think Resonessence has an excellent filter implementation, while the Nuwave has excellent hardware that is bottlenecked by it's filter.  Perhaps PS Audio will release a Rev. 2 with a redesigned filter in the future.  I'd love to see them go the the custom FPGA route without raising the price too much.  I think the PWD does this, but I think that might put the Nuwave too close to the PWD in that case.

 

I 100% agree with your post. Unfortunately my NuWave DAC got zapped by a power surge and I used the money paid out by my insurance to settle some debts. I didn't want to spend as much money on a DAC again (the NuWave is quite expensive here since our currency depreciated by about 20% against the dollar) and I got the RL Concero as a cheaper replacement and so far I've been pretty happy with it. I agree that the NuWave DAC hardware is awesome, it has a seriously beefy PSU and analog implementation. Wish PS Audio would consider an ESS9018-based DAC on the same platform, but my guess is that they would be worried about it affecting their PWD2 sales.


Edited by daerron - 12/11/13 at 9:44am
post #110 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by daerron View Post
 

 

I 100% agree with your post. Unfortunately my NuWave DAC got zapped by a power surge and I used the money paid out by my insurance to settle some debts. I didn't want to spend as much money on a DAC again (the NuWave is quite expensive here since our currency depreciated by about 20% against the dollar) and I got the RL Concero as a cheaper replacement and so far I've been pretty happy with it. I agree that the NuWave DAC hardware is awesome, it has a seriously beefy PSU and analog implementation. Wish PS Audio would consider an ESS9018-based DAC on the same platform, but my guess is that they would be worried about it affecting their PWD2 sales.

If you want an ES9018 based Nuwave just get a W4S DAC-1 or 2 one day.

The Nuwave and W4S DACs are both evolutions of the PS Audio DL III design.  Cullen circuits which became W4S used to manufacture the PS Audio DACs. Take a look at this thread on another forum to see just how strikingly similar their internal layout is:

 

http://www.audioasylum.com/cgi/vt.mpl?f=digital&m=166233

 

You can easily see the family resemblance, though I think the Nuwave is much more attractive on the outside myself.  The biggest difference is the Nuwave uses mostly SMD components and the W4S uses the larger, through hole components.


Edited by JWahl - 12/11/13 at 4:06pm
post #111 of 128
EDIT: double post.
post #112 of 128
Striking similarities indeed. Interesting that my Nuwave was shipped with a much larger transformer. Unfortunately W4S have a different distributor in South Africa that charges even more of a hefty premium compared to PS Audio. I was looking at the W4S mPRE at one stage, but the price was more than the NAD M51 DAC and that was even before our currency depreciated by 20%. From the review the DAC-2 sounds like a different flavour and not necessarily and upgrade in sound. I'd rather get the NAD M51 at a later stage and use the Concero as a USB-SPDIF converter.
Edited by daerron - 12/11/13 at 10:08pm
post #113 of 128

After looking at all of the offering from Shiit, Emotiva, Parasound and others I am seriously considering the Nuwave. 

post #114 of 128

It's not a bad DAC by any means.  Especially if you can snag it under retail.  The sound signature may not be for everyone though.  It can tend be a bit forward.  It is however and fun and engaging sound.  Especially if you're pairing it with warmer gear.

post #115 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by john57 View Post
 

After looking at all of the offering from Shiit, Emotiva, Parasound and others I am seriously considering the Nuwave. 

 

With the equipment listed in your signature I wouldn't go anywhere near it. As JWahl said its a nice DAC and when paired with a warm amp, can be decent sounding. Have a look at the RL Concero too or the JKenny Ciunas DAC.

post #116 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by daerron View Post
 

 

With the equipment listed in your signature I wouldn't go anywhere near it. As JWahl said its a nice DAC and when paired with a warm amp, can be decent sounding. Have a look at the RL Concero too or the JKenny Ciunas DAC.

We have one thing in common. We both have the Emotiva Mini-X as a SS amp for the headphones. When I brought the Onkyo C-7030 I was impress by the quality of the analog output of the 3070. The 7030  sounded far better than the FLAC rip of the same CD going to the Emotiva XDA-1 to the Mini-X. The Onkyo made me realize how poor the sound from the XDA-1 was. I am using J,River playback software in WASPI event mode.  I wanted my FLAC rips of the same CD to sound as good as playing back the CD thru the 7030 with its analog output to the Mini-X. The Onkyo analog is a bit stronger, more natural and overall much more cleaner than the XDA-1. I want great clarity and neutral sound. It seems that the XDA-1 is the weakness link I currently have. I have read much on the Concero and the filters at this time and trying to keep cost down as well.


Edited by john57 - 12/12/13 at 11:45pm
post #117 of 128

Unfortunately I haven't heard the XDA-1 so far, so can't really give you any good comparisons. I have had the Audiolab M-DAC, PS Audio Nuwave DAC and RL Concero in a relatively short space of time.

 

If I had to rank them in terms of the following it would go as such:

 

Detail:

Nuwave -> M-DAC -> Concero

 

Sound signature (Most forward and aggressive sounding->laidback):

M-DAC -> Concero -> Nuwave

 

Bass:

Concero -> Nuwave -> M-DAC

 

Midrange:

Nuwave/Concero (tie), M-DAC

 

Treble:

Concero, M-DAC, Nuwave

 

Soundstage (most depth):

Concero (lots of air), M-DAC (has a quite sizeable soundstage, but its unnatural), Nuwave

 

My next DAC will tone a bit down on caffeine levels from the Concero and will have a touch more detail and then I will be entirely content! :D I'm loving the Concero with my rock and guitar music though!


Edited by daerron - 12/13/13 at 5:27am
post #118 of 128

Does anyone have any thoughts about this paired up with PS Audio's GCHA?  I am looking for a dac pairing for my HD800.  I don't listen at high volumes, so the "brightness" of the HD800s doesn't jump out at me. 

post #119 of 128

I think I would prefer nails on a chalkboard! :D On a more serious note, I would check out the Ciunas DAC. I think it would make a very nice and musical pairing with the HD800. If you are into classical music the NuWave could be a nice match and the HD800 should overcome some of the DACs soundstage deficiencies, but I have a feeling it's going to sound way too bright.

post #120 of 128

i heard the NuWave got more sparkling treble and more fun than the concero, so i got my eyes on it atm :P also the upper mid/female vocal seems to be nice on the nuwave,

i will have to choose between the concero or the nuwave now ;/ 

any suggestion people? ^^ and thanks :P 

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