I have the opportunity to get the PS Audio DAC gently used at a reasonable price. I am looking to pair it with the Wadia iTransport. Has anyone heard this combo? Should I go for it or look to another DAC at the $500 to $1000 price range?
The PS Audio is an outstanding choice, according to ears I trust. I haven't heard it myself, though.
The Digital Link III is sold at a reduced price of $699 now ... I'm curious to hear how it measures up against the Music Hall DAC (25.2?) that just came out at $599. Both have USB.
The PS Audio DL III is an amazing piece. I use it to convert CDs from a variety of transports, diredtv, USB output from a computer. The sound is detailed but not edgy at all. It sounds like vinyl. My advice is to buy it at this reduced price and later consider modification by Rick Cullen who helped design and manufacture the original unit. It will not accept high rez input. There are a few that can. Benchmark is one of them but it sounds different from the PS Audio unit. There are several multi-thousand dollar units as well. I think the PS is a bargain.
Which one is better Benchmark DAC Pre (or the new HDR) vs PS Audio Digital Link? Also anybody heard the new Perfect Wave DAC from PS Audio? How does it compare to the Benchmark Pre ?
Tossing my 2-cents in, I own a Cullen Circuits Stage IV Modded PSA DLIII which I purchased new for around $1,500 a little over a year ago. I've used its USB input to play uncompressed music files from my MacBook Pro laptop through both VSA VR4jr's and Usher Be-718's, I've used its coax input to play 2-channel sound coming from my Esoteric DV-50 with the speakers listed previously and I've used the optical input to play streaming audio from my Apple Airport Express wireless base station. In every instance it has sounded terrific. The stock unit sounds terrific, while the modded unit punches WAY above its weight class.
Now with the unmodded unit's price drop down to $699, it's a steal, it's a deal! In fact, I'll be listing my modded unit on Audiogon shortly for a G as I have to downsize due to job loss. I'm sure it will get snapped up in mere days as there aren't many, if any, units at twice or thrice the price that will provide you the kind of beautiful music the DLIII does.
I think the modded DLIII sounds better than the Benchmark DAC Pre but then again, it depends on what you are looking for in your unit. Even with the comparable sound of the stock DLIII or the superior sound of the DLIII aside (IMHO), the Benchmark gives you headphone capability and pre-amp capability but for almost twice the price.
I say take the money you save with a DLIII and also buy a nice headphone amp and you'll be ahead of the game!
As for the PSA Perfect Transport/DAC, I haven't heard them yet but people's whose ears and opinions I trust say it is a significant leap forward from the DLIII. As well it should be for quadruple the price for the DAC alone.
Music Fan / Gear Fan
Thank you so much Chris for your input, I really appreciate it ! It seems like the DLIII is a good compromise then at a great price ...
Just to expand on my comments regarding the DLIII, the difference in sound between the output of my Esoteric DV-50 through the 2-channel balanced outputs into my BAT VK300x SE and the coax output from the DV-50 into my modded DLIII then balanced out into my BAT was significant.
Most notable was the sudden ability to hear deeper into my recordings, some refer to it as transparency I believe. Also, image separation became even more clearly delineated but not in any over-analytical way, it was if all of the instruments had more room to breathe and the sound less congested. Keep in mind that the DV-50 is a very good sounding uni player so when I inserted the DLIII and did A/B comparisons switching between the two sources I was a little surprised in the level of audible improvement. I'm not the only one who heard a significant improvement. My close friend who is a music producer and engineer confirmed the improvement the modded DLIII made in my system. I am going to be sad to see it go.
Thank you Chris for your expanded and helpful comments ! How could I get a "modded DLIII". If I buy a DLIII who could do the transformation ?
I got mine via a listing on Audiogon by Walter Leiderman at Underwood HiFi. I have bought several pieces of gear from him (all new) and find him to be knowledgeable and trustworthy. Here is a link to a new modded unit listed on Audiogon - http://tinyurl.com/nvcymt - on sale for the same price I bought mine at about a year ago.
I'll be selling mine in the next month or so if I don't find a new job, not that I'm suggesting you wait. However, you usually can find used versions of modded DLIIIs for around $1K or under, depending on the level of modification. If you go to the link I provided and follow it through to Underwood's site, you can review the different levels of modification that they do to the unit and decide what's right for you. By the way, don't think you have to get the unit modded for it to sound good, the stock unit as Mr. Harley mentioned above sounds quite good in its own right. I don't think you can go wrong no matter which way you go. Going for the stock unit saves you some money so you can buy a separate headphone amp if you do much listening via headphones.
I recently bought a DL-III and have had it hooked up about a week so far. In my system, I can't hear any difference between my CD player straight and my CD player with digital output into the DL-III. My player is old - California Audio Labs Mk II. I find this very odd. I was told it needs to "burn in" for 100-300 hours. One week of continuous up-time is 168 hours. About half of that time I've had a CD playing on repeat all day. I've got an Adcom preamp an an Adcom amp from the early days of Adcom, and Magneplanar MG-IIIa speakers.
I've brought home CD players on home loan before and could easily tell the difference between my player and the new players - they were night-and-day different. For whatever reason, this DAC is not night-and-day different. I hooked up my laptop to the USB input of the DAC and played wav files from the computer, through the DAC and into the audio system just described. I listened one night for awhile and thought I could tell some differences in the tone of instruments and "openness" of the sound, but I have not repeated this experiment yet.
Unless I can see that something is wrong somewhere, I'll probably return this DAC and either try a different DAC or just spring for a new CD player. I was hoping that this $700 DAC would rival the $~2500 Rega Saturn in detail and tonal balance while keeping the bass I love and the warmth of the old CD player, but maybe the more expensive CD players are expensive for a reason. The transports seem like they'd be a dime-a-dozen, since it seems like there are only a handful of transport manufacturers (and most of the high-end manufacturers don't manufacture their own transport), so maybe all the extra money I would spend on a CD player rather than a DAC goes into engineering (of course, I'm not naive enough to think that a big chunk of money goes into "the name").
Hmmm, I find that quite surprising given my own personal experience with my modded DLIII and the host of others who have raved about the stock DLIII. However, we all have different systems, ears and acuity. Sorry it wasn't a good match for you. I found a new home for my modded DLIII just last week and the person who bought it off of me loves it with his Wadia 170 iTransport.
I have the PS DL III with the Cullen Stage 4 Mods. It made an already excellent DAC even better.
Have had mine, DIII DAC for about a week. I'm useing a Tascam cd-rw700 cd recorder I've had for about 6or7 years.
Also useing An NAD T535 universal Player I've had for about a year. The Tascam via Coax cable and the NAD thru
the toslink . The both are hooked up to A/B the Players stright from the analog outs of each unit and the DIII.
There was a real difference in both right out of the box! You may want to take a look at your Cables ,Digital and Analog.
good luck, Paul
Hello all, I have owned many DAC's and I sold my older Theta Gen Va with special digital option (propietary laserlinque into a theta transport , which must have the 800.00 laserlinque output digital option installed as well. Joined using the proprietary again(money making scheme for a class A sterephile match-Theta Gen Va with Theta DATA III transport) Laserlinque digital cable, which is basically a threaded AT&T glass cable. I bought the DLIII with stage 4 cullen mod and I upgraded from here having all 3 digital inputs made level 4 or coaxial with the balanced device cullen used as signal level 4 inputs on all WBT terminals. The DL3 level 4 outclassed the LEGENDARY CLASS A Theta MATCH UP ($10k+)HANDS DOWN or all areas od sound attributes with these tricked out gain cells. But that is almost 15 years of d/a advancements made though. but people still buy the Theta Pro Gen Va when the stock unit I used before sending to Rick sounding better than the Va. I also sent the Trio preamp and GCHA headphone amp) for his best mods.Money WELL SPENT, BUT, I am curious as to which is better matching my level 4 mod DLIII against the new top of the line DAC costing 2500.00! Does or has anybody owned or heard the two matched up?
I feel that is a good question to ask; :is their new "Perfect Wace DAC" exceed the level 4 modded DLIII? Reply ould be appreciated,
I just purchased the DL III last month April 2010.
Hooked it up thru coax cable my trusty old Illuminati D60 cable, now Illuminations by Kimber.
And now it;s plug into the Sony CDP-707 ESD player of 15 yrs.
It sounds great. The Sony has 16bit 8x oversample rate YUK!