PS Audio prep NuWave Phono Converter [DSD/PCM ADC]


If you’ve been thinking about creating vinyl rips – having a dog and then barking yourself – PS Audio might have you covered with a VERY interesting analogue-digital crossover product. Soft-launched on the PS Audio forums in late May, the NuWave Phono Converter (NPC) is both dedicated phono pre-amp (analogue output) and ADC (digital output).


Look at the rear of the unit: I2S, coaxial outputs can feed a downstream DAC with PCM (up to 24/192), DSD or DSD128 [using DoP over coax], all selectable from a front-facing display panel.

Paul McGowan has been pushing converted ones and zeroes back into the PerfectWave MKII DAC with results he claims to be every bit as good as the analogue output the NuWave converter itself.  Balanced and single ended options on offer here.

The USB presumably allows one to write the DSD or PCM output stream to a file for hard drive archiving.

Take note: all digital paths see data run through a PS Audio Digital Lens to minimise jitter. It’s this buffer technology that gave the MKII PerfectWave DAC an upper hand over the original.  The fun doesn’t stop there: one can also play the digital conversion game with any line-level input. Welcome to the party cassette and 8-track lovers!

The PS Audio NuWave converter is slated to launch next month (August) and will sell stateside for US$1895.  Australian RRP is AU$2495.

Woof woof.

Further information:  PS Audio


EDIT (August 15th):  The NWPC has been formally announced – you can read the full press release here.

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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  1. I’ve been reading up about this on Paul’s blog, and I still don’t understand this product. Why take an analog signal, convert it to digital and send it to a DAC where it gets converted back to analog? What am I missing?

    • Hey Dan – I think it *might* show that a hi-res digital conversion of a vinyl rip is indistinguishable from the native vinyl playback?

  2. ADC’s are kind of hot right now, as is vinyl. There is alot of music that is only released on vinyl these days. For a multitude of reasons I can presume. Boutique labels like the vintage aspect, plus vinyl is really cool to have right now. But also, it is a much harder job to get a good rip to distribute across the net from vinyl than it is from a cd. So maybe they see it as an easier way to keep their music off of sharing sites. Alot still do end up being ripped and shared, but the quality is not too great.

    I have spent alot of time fine tuning my ripping procedure, I am at a spot where I am happy and not totally broke. Vinyl is so hot that I can get a very high quality lossless rip that sounds pristine and then sell off my physical copy if I want. The market is crazy, sometimes people willing to spend 5-10 times what the vinyl originally cost. I usually only spend money on music now that I have earned from selling. So it is a cyclical process but its also pretty fun.

    This seems like an interesting product, I have tried a half dozen adcs, and found that you have to get into stupidly high money territory to have much of a gain.

  3. Is it really worth it? You gotta spend a lot to extract the analog sound (turn table, cartridge/stylus) so that it would be converted into a hi-res digital file. The whole source chain needs to be hi-res or high end to justify the rip and say that it is at least equivalent to the vinyl sound.

    Or is it worth spending $2k to rip vinyls for music mobility / portability?


    • Only you can decide if it’s “worth it”. For me, it definitely is – I’m keen to get ripping, if only to see how close the digital file can get to the source playback.

  4. OK guys, here’s the poop. This thing is an analog ripper with it’s own phono stage. Handy for those with inexpensive phono stages but inadequate if you have GOOD equipment. My cousin has the $6k Playback designs DAC and when we compared DSD files to the same lp on my system, no contest. Vinyl won. Same thing on his system with lesser TT/phono pre but it was closer. BUT-ripping an lp to a digital file smoked the redbook cd even at 24/96. To have DSD recording of lp’s is great if you want to maximize the sound of your music in digital files (assuming you have a use for those files). The front end is the key. If you have a Rega 1 you just won’t get great results regardless what you do. OTOH if you have serious vinyl gear, that’s a different matter. I’m going to have access to a DSD ADC for a while and will be ripping all kinds of favorites since I can kill anything that isn’t already a DSD file with my table. I’ve got so much to do that I’m only going to test vinyl-DSD vs SACD-DSD for info purposes. I’m not going to duplicate DSD files I already have. Is this a good piece? I have no idea but @$1900 msrp that’s a pretty cheap DSD ADC so I would think it should be a fast seller. I’d certainly be interested if I had the $ which I don’t. My money is in my Basis/Triplanar and 19k lp’s. I’m planning to try the Teac UD501 for playback.

    • Steve – great post. What ‘table and phono stage did you use ‘against’ the Playback Designs DAC?

      • I’m pretty sure it was with the new arm-Triplanar VII and a 20 year old Basis Debut Vacuum. The old arm was a Graham 2.2 but I’m pretty sure the comparison was with the Triplanar. My cousin’s rig is VPI 19 MK4 with my old Graham. I agree with the comment about the PS Audio being expensive for “portable” music but I’m using computer audio differently. I have a set up at work and one at my desk at home. The home desk system is stupid good-Sonus Faber Electa speakers from the 1980’s, Perreux integrated and the $500 Parasound dac with Transparent interconnect among other pieces. Digital sounds great on this and it let’s me not warm up the main system unless I really want to listen on it (my Ref 5 pre takes 1.5 hours to warm up properly). The phono stage was/is an Aesthetix Rhea w/NOS Telefunken 12ax7’s and Amperex 6dj8’s. It sounds pretty damn good. Better than I ever thought I’d get out of my crappy room.

        Anyway, I’m listening to a lot of music that I simply didn’t know before rather than the recordings I already had. I have 2TB at the moment with redbook to 2xDSD so it’s a bunch of software with more DDS coming and it’s on all day at work. That system is Audiolab amp w/inexpensive Energy speakers and a Dragonfly dac. Good enough to enjoy listening. steven