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PS Audio NuWave DAC

NEW The NuWavetm DAC is an affordable high-end digital to analog processor from PS Audio, based on our acclaimed PerfectWave series.  

The NuWave DAC is the first of a new breed of affordable high-end digital to analog processor from PS Audio.  Based on our acclaimed PerfectWave series, the NuWave DAC (NWD) accepts inputs from any digital source including USB (up to 192kHz 24 bit asynchronous) from your computer and connects to your system’s preamplifier with either single ended (RCA) or balanced (XLR) connections.

Used with our free eLyric Music Manager software and iPhone app, iTunes, Bit Perfect, Amarra, J River or any music management program, the NuWave becomes your entry into the world of high-end digital audio music.

Performance is superb at anywhere near the NWD price and there’s good reasons why as you’ll discover.  In fact, the NuWave DAC is one of the best sounding products PS Audio has produced in our 23 years of building DACS.  Sweet, open spacious and effortless, this device will bring the life back into your music and all at the touch of a finger.


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The NWD is high-end all the way

The NWD features the latest fully balanced generation of 192kHz 24-Bit resolution Burr Brown engines with 123dB dynamic performance and rated THD a stunningly low 0.0005%. It comes with differential outputs, an 8 times oversampling filter, Native mode, XMOS asynchronous USB processor, new low jitter clocks providing exceptionally lifelike audio. Our engineers based the NWD around a solid high-performance DAC engine, state-of-the art XMOS processor and then designed an all new input circuit based on the PerfectWave low jitter clocks, a 100% discrete output stage and a huge power supply to finish it off. This is true high-end.  You won’t find any chip op amps in this product.

Native Mode

The NWD allows you to stream bit perfect digital audio in a number of different ways, including music stored on your computer.   Featured in the NWD is the choice of Native mode or upsampling mode. Native Mode decodes any resolution audio from 192khz/24bit and down, to it’s full integrity with no processing added by bypassing the NuWave’s upsampling processor completely; the resulting improvement to sound quality sets new levels of performance for DACS anywhere near this price. Should you wish to upsample, it’s no problem. A new high-performance upsampling engine and low jitter clocking mechanism has been added to the NWD providing 192kHz 24 bit performance for any input and any incoming sample rate, lowering jitter at the DAC to vanishingly low levels.

192kHz 24 asynchronous USB

The NWD features our new high-resolution USB path based on the same XMOS technology found in our PerfectWave DAC. Asynchronous and capable of 24 bit 192kHz performance, the NWD USB input sounds every bit as good as the best digital audio is capable of. Using a high quality USB cable between the NWD and your computer you create an instant media server that can be controlled through any number of hand held devices like an iPod, iPhone or Android using a 3d party controller program. Your entire music library can be managed by iTunes, J River, eLyric, Windows Media Player, Foobar, Pure Music, Bit Perfect, Media Monkey or Ammara (to name a few) for ease of use. And, if you haven’t experienced the pleasure of scrolling through your library of hundreds, perhaps thousands of tracks with full cover art on an iPad or Droid, you really haven’t experienced what so many are enjoying. With the NWD and a USB cable you can join the fun of streaming audio, up to 192kHz 24 bit resolution, using nothing more than your computer and a hand held device to control and play your entire music library.

Active vs. passive filtering

Once the digital audio data have been processed through the NWD’s input stage it’s time to turn them into music and this is the job of the analog filter and the output stage. Most DACS use an active filtering system to clean up the output of the internal DAC but this can add a harsh bright sound to the music. In the NWD we use all passive analog filtering and discrete current to voltage conversion giving our output a sweet open sound unencumbered with harsh digital artifacts.

FET discrete output stage

The real challenge to keeping the music open and analog-like is staying away from chip op-amps and current to voltage converters. Chip op-amps are used by the vast majority of all high-end DACS and while good, they just don’t have the openness and sweetness of an all discrete, high voltage class A circuit. The NWD features a 100% class A discrete, high voltage, FET based output stage. Here we use luscious, analog sounding FET’s at the input and low noise powerful bipolar transistors for the gain and high current low impedance output stage. Everything is direct DC coupled so bass is  stunning in its power and impact as well as the all important midbass region where the human ear is sensitive to any alteration in sound quality.

Balanced outputs

The NWD is a class A fully balanced design that uses an output stage configuration similar to that of a power amplifier. This is important to the sound quality of the DAC because driving even medium lengths of analog interconnect cables can be a sonic challenge if this critical stage is not designed properly. Offered on the read of the NWD is both balanced XLR and single ended RCA cables, driven from this high current low impedance output stage.

The all important power supply

If you want high-end performance you need a high-end power supply.

Inside the NWD is a huge transformer, coupled to many thousands of microfarads of capacitance, Linear Technologies regulators and high speed, low noise diodes.  We have taken every effort to make the NWD as good as it gets through careful power supply design.

It is here, in this all important power supply region, where voices and instruments take on what is known as proper “bloom” and give us the illusion of being right in the room with us.  The last thing you want is an anemic sounding musical presentation – but with the right power supply, you get the fulness of the music in all its glory.



Additional Info

Used with any music management software like iTunes, Bit Perfect, Amarra, or J River and an iPhone or Droid controller, the NWD becomes your entry into the world of high-end streaming digital audio.

  • Three digital inputs
  • 192kHz asynchronous USB
  • RCA and XLR balanced outputs
  • High current class A output stage
  • Native mode
  • 192kHz selectable upsample
  • Low jitter PerfectWave clocks
  • Class A fully balanced discrete analog electronics
  • Burr Brown 24 bit DAC chip


  • Weight: 12 lbs
  • Dimensions: 14 × 8.5 × 2.75 in
  • Reviews

    Merry XMOSReview by Whale
    I bought this under PS Audio's original promotion. I sent the vendor a cheap piece of gear I wasn't using ($25 ADC) and I got a brand new in the box nuwave, with the full warrantee, etc. for $695. Had been banging my head against the wall about buying a dac for a couple of years; read reviews of dacs that were once the shizz, and are now are gone or have been remade into something much more expensive or stripped down and cheap.
    The Nuwave's sound is great, a distinct improvement in most areas from my Cambridge 840c --though the 840 is still more laid back and airy for certain recordings. The Nuwave is just more lively, musical, warmer and at least as detailed as the 840. I have what I consider a very good usb to spdif converter (the peachtree x2 --marked improvement over the musical fidelity v-link that it replaced. with a high quality coaxial cable the windows 8 pc sounds almost as good as the combo of nuwave with 840c as a transport. The Nuwave is even better sounding (in my experience) direct from the computer to the Nuwave's usb port --using a lesser USB cable than the one going into the spdif converter. The music program I use is musicbee (which has excellent eq and can be made to sound amazingly close to the player/dac rig --though it stutters sometimes). On a brief sidenote, musicbee destroys the PS Audio music manager in sound quality --but I am new with the latter just having learned about it from this site, and have yet to play around with it to fully qualify my initial assessment of the software.
    I use ASIO + the perfect wave driver for USB, ASIO + the peachtree x2 driver for spdif. I just ordered an upgrade to the already great 75ohm cable I am using, but am seriously considering --strapped for cash as I am-- purchasing a blue dragon, which sounds like a perfect cable for my rig --10 feet.
    I totally disagree with jumping's assessment of the asynch usb/clock implementation on the Nuwave. It is identical to the one on the Perfect Wave (per the manual) and really sounds excellent to me. Also Jumping might have misunderstood the "digital lens" concept. I read Paul McGowan's reply upon its being called marketing jargon, something that he did not deny. But it is a design/function aspect of the Perfect Wave Transport, not the dac. It is not a tangible object that can be added to a dac without first being implemented in the design of a transport. Rega's post 2007 cd players use of a different technology to buffer the cd data sounds like it does something similar to the PW transport, i.e. buffering the disc. But I don't know if it loads in the whole cd or just goes track by track. As I understand it, the PW transport takes all of the data of the cd and sends that through the dac using the cd as insurance --or vice-versa, not remembering. Am pretty sure the rega saturn, for instance, plays the cd and uses the temporarily uploaded data in the buffer for any error correction, where the pw transport sort of smooths out any potential impurities in the data stream --hence focusing the data better, like a lens, which is a metaphor and not a device. Nonetheless as someone who can't afford a much more expensive dac, I am very happy with the Nuwave. I believe they gave it as much of the sound quality of the Perfect Wave as they could by excluding frills like a remote contro (does the PWD have a remote?), a display, various functions, circuits essential for the PWD's "perfect" sound etc.
    I have read a lot of reviews and comparisons of many dacs. One or two reviewers said that the Nuwave has, perhaps, a slight advantage over the PWD in the category of airiness. It is also described as slightly warmer, and PS call it "the most musical" dac they've ever built. Usually I take that to mean the dac will be mushy sounding or something similar, but the Nuwave is taut and well appointed with the British-coined PRAT (pace, rhythm and timing). Finally, the bass is quite deep & weighty yet taut and fast, with precise attack and flawless decay. If you can't or won't spring for one of the uber dacs that seem to be springing up everywhere after years of rapid technological advances ( phones, drones, insane work ethics in the shadow of wars and a frenzy for survival after a burst global economic bubble leads to an innovate or die ethos). ok done with the quasi-conspiratorial spew. In summary, the Nuwave sounds like a much more expensive dac than its $1k price tag indicates. (Posted on 3/21/2014)
    Hang on to your USB convertor.Review by jumping
    After a week of listening, I still find the NWD superior to the DLIII, but I have to admit, PS Audio still hasn't gotten the USB interface quite right.
    The M2Tech HiFace still provides a significant improvement over the USB interface built into the NWD, This is most evident with prolonged listening. The higher frequencies still have a brittle quality that contributes to listener fatigue. With the M2Tech HiFace interface, this is much improved. If you use your computer to stream music, hang on to your USB convertor. I would still get the NWD. Hopefully a digital lens is in the works that will take care of this problem. In the meantime, their are plenty of USB converters out there. (Posted on 12/1/2012)
    a quantum leap from the DLIIIReview by jumping
    When I first got my DLIII with Cullen mods, I thought that something was wrong with the unit.
    The USB input sounded like a bunch of cats in heat. I solved that problem with an M2TECH HIFACE interface, but I had some expensive headphones (Sennheiser HD 800) that just didn't measure up to their hype.
    Bass was anemic and sound stage sounded like it was is another room. From what I read, that seemed to be a trait of the HD 800's. Not so.
    Right out of the box, the NuWave blew away the DLIII. The usb input worked flawlessly. Running the Nuwave in native mode revealed that there was nothing wrong with the HD 800's. Suddenly, they had excellent base and an immediacy that had been lacking previously. For the first time, I had a system that I could find nothing wrong with.
    I realize that my setup, streaming digital content from hd storage through usb to an x-can heaphone amp and HD 800 phones is not going to appeal to everyone, but I figure if the NuWave made that much of a difference to my little system, it should be an improvement in any system.
    Now my only problem is deciding whether to try and sell my DLIII with mods and the M2TECH HIFACE interface or just settle.
    Sorry for the lack of technical detail, but I know when something sounds good. (Posted on 11/24/2012)

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