** THIS ITEM IS A DEMO - Full Manufacturer's Warranty **
PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter
The NuWave Phono Converter Allows to Play All Your LPs with Its Incredible, Fully-Adjustable Phonostage
Transfer Your LPs into the Digital Domain - The Best Product on the Market of Its Kind
Revolutionary. That's what the new PS Audio NuWave Phono converter was
designed to be. Take the best all-analog phono preamplifier PS Audio has
ever designed, combine it with a state-of-the-art Analog-to-Digital
Converter, place it all in a gorgeous chassis, add a massive power
supply, provide fully balanced class A analog outputs as well as
multiple digital outputs that include both DSD and PCM and you get the
,strong>PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter or NPC for short.
PS Audio has been building high-end audio phono preamplifiers since 1974
and during that time they have come a long way – they certainly know
how to make a great performing and sounding device. And, since 1985,
they have been building great sounding high-end digital audio products
as well – in fact their current crop of NuWave and PerfectWave digital
audio products are amongst the most respected products in the audio
And it is with this background of design experience and innovation that
PS Audio addresses today's need for a no-compromise device that bridges
the gap between the very best analog and digital audio systems – and
that product is PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter.
The NPC Analog System
The NPC can be used as a standalone A2D converter, all-analog phono
preamplifier or both. Connections to a preamplifier, DAC, or computer
are simple and direct.
Using appropriate software on a PC, NPC owners can RIP their entire
vinyl collections to their computers at 24bit/192k PCM or DSD and stream
the high-resolution files to their loudspeakers at the touch of a
Re-clocked 24bit/192k as well as 64x and 128x DSD can be sent over
S/PDIF through either the USB or coaxial output and both direct DSD and
PCM streams are available through the I2S output. Use of the DoP
protocols are standard on the NPC.
Vinyl and All-Analog High-End
The future of high-end audio isn't limited to just digital audio, DACs,
streaming and computers. Analog sources such as tuners, docks and
turntables will continue to play major roles in the high-end home audio
systems. In fact, with the strong resurgence of vinyl, turntables and
vinyl LP's will continue to play major roles in tomorrow's high-end
The NPC is the perfect product to bridge the divide between analog and
digital. With the NPC it is now possible to keep a high-end DAC as the
heart of your system and play vinyl as well as any analog source without
compromise. Or, if you prefer, you can place the NPC in an all-analog
system and use its digital feature set just to record and catalog your
vinyl. The NPC is right at home in either setup, analog or digital. And
the NPC is ready for the future with a high resolution DSD, PCM and
analog engines built in.
Fully Separate Analog/Digital Signal Paths
Unique to the NPC is our design philosophy of isolating and separating
the analog and digital paths within the device. This means that the
phono preamplifier built into the NPC is a fully-balanced, Class-A phono
stage from input to output.
The general trend in A2D converter-based phono preamplifiers tends to be
a hybrid of an input analog step-up stage feeding an internal A2D
converter where the RIAA EQ curve (required for vinyl) filtering and
further amplification are all handled in the digital domain. Our
philosophy was quite the opposite: keep the vinyl amplification chain,
including the RIAA curve, completely analog from input to output, the
way LP's were intended to be reproduced.
Once we have a proper analog output we then channel that high level
signal to our state-of-the-art A2D converter for digital processing.
This ensures that vinyl amplification, EQ and filtering are all handled
as they were designed to be and the resulting sound is sweet, open
without any digital artifacts or issues to contend with.
High Resolution Re-clocked PCM and DSD
If you choose the digital path for your analog inputs, it is not only
possible, but actually amazingly simply to play your vinyl LP's (and
analog sources of all kinds) directly through your system's DAC. For the
first time, a high-end turntable or tuner setup is just another input
on your Digital-to-Analog Converter and you'll be amazed at how great
this sounds. Playing vinyl on your turntable, will sound glorious.
You can choose any sample rate from 44.1kHz all the way up to 192kHz and
select any bit depth from 16 to 24 bits for playback (or recording)
using standard digital audio PCM. You can also choose DSD (Direct Stream
Digital), which is a more analog-like digital audio format used on SACD
recordings. Here you can choose from standard or double rate DSD and
play directly into any DSD capable DAC or through USB into a computer
for recording purposes.
Plenty of Gain
The analog phono preamplifier PS Audio has designed in the NPC is the
finest they have ever built in their 40+ years. Phono cartridges the NPC
will work with range from a high output moving magnet or ceramic with
up to 220mv output, to a delicate low output moving coil cartridge with
as low as 0.3mv out. This is an extremely useful range of outputs that
can be selected from the front panel display in 3dB increments. Full
resistive cartridge loading options are available on the rear panel.
Passive RIAA Curve
PS Audio's design philosophy with respect to the RIAA curve found in all
phono preamplifiers is unwaveringly in favor of a passive approach to
ensure the gain product is even at all frequencies. Most competitive
designs rely on feedback-based RIAA curves but these have the
disadvantage of uneven gain produced throughout the audible spectrum,
and the end result is a different sonic character for all frequency
bands – a problem solved with the NPC's use of Passive EQ. Using PS
Audio's customized passive network (sandwiched between two linear gain
stages) provides EQ accuracy of 1/10th of a dB from 20Hz to 20kHz.
Differential, Discrete and FET
The analog phono preamplifier's two main gain stages consist of a
differential low-noise preamplifier input stage coupled through the
passive RIAA into a discrete Class-A FET output stage.
The phono preamplifier's input differential gain stage is a
beautifully-designed programmable low-noise gain stage from THAT
corporation. THAT 1583 is a major breakthrough in performance with 60dB
of programmable gain and noise specified at an incredibly low 1.9nV/√Hz
and wide bandwidth to well over 1mHz. This stage forms the interface
gain device between the phono cartridge and the NPC and its output feeds
our passive RIAA curve.
Following the EQ stage is a new Class-A all FET discrete gain block PS
Audio has been working on for several years. This stage features a
combination of JFET and MOSFET devices in a low open-loop design that
brings a rich, luscious and open signal path for music from your vinyl
This is truly one of the finest gain stages PS Engineering has produced
in over 40 years of designing such stages and presents an open, spacious
and effortless presentation of the music.
The Parallel Digital Path
The heart of the NPC's design philosophy is running parallel and
separate analog and digital paths, allowing each to be fully optimized
for best performance. Certainly there is some merit to running all the
phono amplification and EQ functions in the digital domain, as some
manufacturer's design approach dictates, but we have found greater
success keeping the two separate and faithful to the original recording
and mastering process.
Vinyl mastering is handled through filters and reverse RIAA EQ kept
strictly in the analog domain from the input to the final output of the
cutting lathe. To help faithfully reproduce this delicate analog path
when we playback our records, PS Engineering feels strongly that an
analog playback chain is the proper path to follow – which is why the
NPC is 100% analog through the phono chain.
Once the playback and EQ requirements of the vinyl path have been
properly amplified, it is now a relatively straightforward process to
quantize (make digital) the output through a state-of-the-art
Analog-to-Digital Converter (A2D Converter).
The All-Important A2D Converter
To handle the all-important duties of converting the final analog output
to digital audio for playback on your DAC or recording to your
computer, PS Audio chose an excellent product from Burr Brown, the
PCM4222. This high-performance A2D converter features dynamic range, low
noise and distortion characteristics that exceed 120dB.
The device allows us to provide the user with front panel controls that
select linear PCM or DSD formats. For PCM the NPC gives a full
24bit/192kHz output while the DSD option handles 64x or double DSD at
128x oversampled rates. We then take the output of the PCM4222 and run
it through PS Audio's own Digital Lens re-clocking solution to make sure
the clock that drives the A2D is isolated from the clock that outputs
the actual data. This removes any chance of added jitter to the digital
Both PCM and DSD can be sent over S/PDIF, I2S, or USB using the DoP (DSD
Over PCM) protocols that are standard in the industry. S/PDIF and I2S
are used to feed any DAC you might have regardless of its input
capabilities. If you have an older DAC that only handles, perhaps, 24/96
PCM, it's no problem you simply set the front panel of the NPC to match
your DAC's limitations or potential. If your DAC accepts DSD, that will
travel properly over the S/PDIF format and work seamlessly.
USB can be used not to feed your DAC, but rather to feed your computer.
Feeding Your Computer
If you wish to record analog sources from the NPC such as a, turntable,
tuner, microphone or recording console output, it is a fairly easy and
straightforward process. Simply connect through USB and our re-clocked
output will connect right up to your computer. You can record either DSD
or PCM through either Mac or Windows machines using an off-the-shelf
program such as Audacity. Because DSD is sent using what is known as
DoP, Audacity or other recording programs handle the files as if they
were standard digital audio WAV files. DoP does not alter the DSD data
in any way other than cutting it up into acceptable packets that look
like PCM, but of course are not. The pure DSD stream is maintained
perfectly for future playback.
When it comes time to playing back your recorded files, you can use any
number of DACs that can stream from a computer or you can play the files
directly on your computer using a program like Foobar for Windows OS
and Pure Music for the Mac operating system.
This setup allow you to stream either DSD or PCM directly to your DAC or
to your computer for storage. It's easy, simple and rewarding to begin
to build a digital audio library of all your analog based source
material with the NPC.
The Bottom Line
Whether you want to play the best sounding vinyl through your
preamplifier (audio system) or DAC, or if you wish to start building a
library of analog sources in your computer, then the PS Audio NuWave
Phono Converter is exactly what you want.
Two separate state-of-the art audio paths in one chassis with a massive
power supply to run both, sums up the physical aspects of the NPC, but
it doesn't do justice to what you can expect from this product. The NPC
give listeners an open, effortless and dynamic presentation to any
musical source connected to it. Its internal A2D Converter is so close
to the original source as to be virtually indistinguishable from the
Solid engineering, great features and an easy to use front panel
interface make the NPC a must-have product for those of us interested in
listening and recording analog sources through our high end audio