PS Audio Bridge: First Impressions

I installed my PS Audio bridge friday, had a firmware upgrade hickup that prevented me from using it until monday morning, but have now been up and running for three days. First impressions:

Stability, ease of configuration: Having had some nightmarish experiences trying to getting iTunes, J River, Media Monkey and Windows Media Center set up to share a library on a network from two PCs, and controlling remotely from an iPhone app, and playing over USB, I was prepared for the worse with PS audio's first batch post beta testing. Very pleasant surprise, their architecture designed around the network is inherently far superior and works better than any of the other mentioned music servers IF YOU USE THE RIGHT UPNP SERVER WHICH IS ASSETTUPNP. Apparently the Netgear ReadyNAS also works very well.

Ease of use once up and running: For a first production release the TagNPlay controller app is a delight. You need to use it with the right UPNP server though or you will have limited functionality. I use MediaMonkey to maintain my library (tagging organizing and adding new music) from the PC, and TagNPlay to control the library in listening mode. Works perfect and could not be happier. Supposedly things will get better still when PS audio release its own UPNP server.

Sound Quality: Compared with using the Marantz ud9004 as a tranport over S/PDIF this is a toss up. Anticipating the bridge would take things to PerfectWave transport over I2S level this was a bit of a disappointment, but thenagains - may be the UD9004 is very close to the PWT. Other possibility is I am tonedeaf. Some music I hear a bit more depth and note decay on the bridge, but it is subtle enough I don't think I would be able to pick a winner in a double blind A/B test.

Overall: The bridge give me the convenience of having my collection at my fingertips for the cost of the AC cable on my ud9004. Throw in ability to play high rez and the bridge is an absolute winner. Sure would have been nice to say it trounced the ud9004 sonically, but in all honesty it does not. I find myself listening to favorite tracks I have not been listening to for years. Next thing I will do is create personal virtual "best off" compilation albums and store them in my library.
thank you for sharing this info. I've been eager to hear some first hand experiences.
I don't think the bridge has any "sound quality" in and off itself, and as such will not "improve". All the bridge (and PW Transport) does is realize the full sonic potential of the PWD by sending it essentially jitter free digital information over I2S. The bridge + PWD will never sound any better than it currently does, which is absolutely stellar.

The point I was making is that with very good non I2S (S/PDIF or AES) digital source, you get 95% of the way there as well, and to some people's ears the missing 5% is not material.
I’d like to know where anyone in the world can find anything better or for that matter even rival the PWD/Bridge for the same money…I don’t think it is possible. Remember, this is a network music server (computer not needed). While the PWD/Bridge is by far the best digital source I’ve ever owned, I have never owned anything really exotic (e.g.: dCS, MBL, top-of-the-line Meridian, etc.).

I don’t have any illusions that there might not be other available digital sources that sound as good (or possibly even better) than the PWD/Bridge, but for the money this has to be the greatest deal in high-end audio. The sound must be on par with even the best gear on the market (or at least very close), but when combined with its sonic virtues what makes the system so unique is the functionality of the Network Bridge itself. The hype (objectives) of PS have been realized – this is a true high-end music server.
Soundgasm - I mentioned TagNPlay (the user interface/controller) for a first production version far exceeded my expectations and works excellent. Far better than all the iPhone based remote control apps I have tried for MediaMonkey, J River and the like. The problem with TagNPlay is you are at the mercy of the UPNP server - AssettUNPN works very well as it is desigend for music libraries, but it still runs on a computer. I have a small ASUS PC behind my rack, but with automatic reboots and other disruptions this is still inconvenient. Once PS Audio comes with its own NAS based UPNP server this will be fully solved though.

2chnlben - I agree with you here. I'm sure you can spend 20K and get better sound, but to get 95% of the way to absolute best in class sonically AND have the convenience of the entirel libraty at your fingertips, stored on a $200 mass market storage device is unbeatable, and I believe sets the new standard. In honesty I don't know how an Ayre or Wired4Sound over USB compares, but I'm sure reviews will be forthcoming soon.