How can a PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC enhance my system?

How can a PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC enhance my system? I just don't know how to integrate a PS Audio DAC into what I already have.

The meat and potatoes of my system is a McIntosh preamp and a McIntosh power amp.  I have all my music digitized in FLAC and DSF, stored on a Popcorn Hour A-500 networked media tank (built-in DAC) connected to my pream.

I also have a Marantz SACD connected to the preamp.  I am able to access the DAC in the Marantz directly with either a USB or Toslink cable.

Since I have a NMT, I have no need to store or stream music from a PC.  Where could a PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC help me?



Presumably the PS Audio DAC would sound better than the DAC of the Marantz.

I suggest auditioning one in your own system to find out.  If your ears don’t detect an improvement, your wallet will thank you

It is a nice sounding DAC.  Like everything else, you should audition it, if you have the opportunity to.  I believe there is a new version of it coming out soon, though I may be mistaken.  



So if I was to use the PS Audio DAC in place of the DAC in my Marantz, wouldn't I just be improving the playback of my SACDs only?  My SACDs are a very small part of my digital collection on my A-500 NAS.  The PS Audio DAC is $8500 in my country which seems like a lot if all I am able to use it on is my SACD transport.  I'm hoping I've got this right.

Through the course of my reseach, it seems the DAC is best served when you have a music collection on a PC and the PC connected to the DAC by USB.  From what I can tell assuming I have this right, I don't fit this setup.

Thanks for the replies.

I would call PS Audio. They pride themselves on customer service, so they should be able to walk you through any issues. At least that’s what Paul claims. Can’t hurt. 

I have a PS Audio DSD DAC. It plays all the standard digital formats. If your Popcorn unit has a usb output that would make for an easy connection between it and the PS Audio DAC.

Make the call to PS Audio.  As Iwin stated the PSA DAC will play your digital formats.  The raw DSD layer of copyright protected SACD goes directly into your PS Audio DAC through I2S only.  



My Popcorn Hour A-500 has an ESS SABRE ES9023P audio DAC and plays all my digital formats including my library of DSF files.  Same with my Marantz SA-14S1 SACD.  It has a Cirrus Logic DAC and performs as you would expect from Marantz so I am not sure why I would want to bypass the Marantz DAC on the notion that it might sound better.

I'm sure if I called PS Audio they would take great pleasure in telling me why I should use their DAC.

I had an opportunity to pick up a PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC.  I read the DAC connects directly to the power amp, in my case a McIntosh MC500, so what do I do with my McIntosh C48 preamp?

It connects either way unlike your claim of getting DSD out of that Marantz. Notion? Sounds like you're in the wrong hobby.

I ran my my PSA DAC with a Sony UBP-X1000ES with a Chinese HDMI to HDMI I2S adapter so it would decode the SACD Layer of any disc or DSD file.


1) the PS Audio DAC can be used with CDs, SACDs, and other digital sources.

2) many DACs can be used as digital preamps, because they supply enough gain to amplify the original signal of a digital source.  I owned a DAC like that and definitely preferred the sound with the preamp still in the system.  These DACs are not designed as pre amps and therefore tend not to sound as good as having a traditional pre amp in the system, but ymmv.

  As per my first post in this thread, I suggest you attempt to audition the DAC in your own system and let your ears decide.  There is an element of subjectivity in this hobby 

Thankyou mahler123.  I feel more comfortable not having to discard my McIntosh preamp.  Just trying to  understand the I2S as this is new to me.  I have the opportunity to buy the PSA DAC so that would be an expensive way to audition if it is as subjective as you suggest.

You can get the streamer module in the PS Audio DAC and use it instead of your popcorn streamer. So you will have a dac for streaming and your CDs. As mahler123 is saying try it and see if you hear any improvement. That is at the end the most important. You can call PS audio and they will help you figure this out.

I2S transports the DSD output from SACD . TheTransport device--the extractor, in this case the Perfect Wave-needs to be able to send it to a DAC that has an I2S input.  The PS Audio DAC can also replace the DAC in your server for Red Book and other digital sources.


I play SACDs from an Oppo 105 Universal Player that sends the DSD via HDMI

to my DAC which has HDMI inputs. That isn’t your situation, since PS Audio doesn’t deal with HDMI, but for your information to let you know that it is available as an alternative.


Most dealers have a 30 day return policy. I can vouch for Music Direct being very good in this regard. You can order the DAC, try it for a week or so, make up your mind. You may have to pay some sort of shipping or restocking fee. I believe that PS Audio has recently gone to an Internet only purchase system, direct from the manufacture ( I may be wrong about this).. I haven’t bought any of their stuff since this happened but as bewgow above notes it is in PS Audio interest to allow their customers to audition their products so it is worth contacting them.  The major hiccup for you might be that you are not in the US; again calling PS Audio seems like you best bet currently to see what your options are

Thanks for the grea info mahler123.  My Marantz SACD has coax and Toslink digital outputs.  Can they be utilized?  There is no HDMI or I2S.


I am presuming that the PS Audio DAC has S/PDIF inputs so yes you can play Redbook CD.  You won’t be able to play the SACD layer of your small SACD collection so just continue to play them as you currently do

I run my PSA DSD through my VTL 7.5iii preamp. It sounds miles better than directly from DAC to amp. Cannot spoeak to your preamp talents. Try both.


I have used digital from the first CDP - the Magnavox CDP 650 -- since around 1986, and have had CDP's and numerous DAC's throughout. The PSA DSD is a first rate, top-of-the-line DAC, not least of which included the free upgrades from PSA. I have not been moved to look into a newer DAC in a few years, especially when I installed the Bridge II as a streamer. It all sounds glorious and functions very well. The Shunyata Sigma IC's were the topping on the cake running  from DAC to pre and pre to amp. Neal


PS Audio preamp section can be bypassed. You will run it into your McIntosh preamp. You Marantz SACD player will be connected to another input on you preamp and you can use it to spin CDs. Your Popcorn server can be connected to the PS Audio DAC via coax. You need to research if popcorn outputs all your music formats thru coax and if PS Audio is capable of processing these formats via its coax input. If all this checks out the odds are the PS Audio DAC will be a nice improvement over the dac in your Marantz. Will it be a big difference only you can draw that conclusion. 

I would like to thank everyone who has contributed and helped me with my decision to add a DAC to my system.  My window of opportunity was closing so I went ahead and purchased the PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC Mk II with Bridge.  I am currently waiting for shipment.

If no one objects, could we use this same thread while I look for your advise on integrating this into my setup?

I plan to keep my McIntosh C48 preamp in my system.  Knowing the PSA has a bridge card will make it easy to stream my digital files on my Popcorn Hour A-500.

The C48 has several digital inputs apart from the conventional RCA inputs.  There is a USB, optical, and cable input.  Also, there is an XLR balanced input and I believe you can take something like PHONO1 or PHONO2 and swap that source to balanced input.  I will check the manual.

I would like to run my Marantz SACD through the PSA too.  The only digital outputs on this are optical and coax.  I just learned the optical connection is limited in its sampling rate.  

In advance, thanks to everyone.

Research if you can configure the PS Audio to read the music on the popcorn HDD via network. You should be able to specify the ip address and folder of the popcorn in the PS Audio set up. I hope it’s possible. That would eliminate any format limitations associated with coax interface. 

I am quite optimistic that will not be an issue with the PSA bridge as as the Popcorn Hour A-500 supports DLNA (UPNP) and I can already see the files across my network on a variety of devices.  Just being able to stream across the LAN makes everything a lot easier.  My music file are mostly FLAC and DSF.

My only other digital source is my SACD and to be honest, I don't use it that much.  My hi-res SACD collection is not large and I notice the selection and prices on Discogs are less attractive recently.


I took my PerfectWave Mk II DAC and upgraded it to a DirectStream Sr. with a Bridge II card.  I retired my A-500 music server and got a good deal on an Aurender N100H 4GB.  I'm back in business and the DSD sounds amazing.  Thanks for all the input.