First Stop, PS Audio
Last year PS Audio teased us with a prototype disc player called the memory link which never quite made it to production. Instead, the company evolved the idea further and created a new line of products branded PerfectWave.
First up is the PerfectWave Transport Memory Player, likely to run $2,999 when it hits the streets in March. The TMP is essentially an optical disc player that can play any resolution WAV file (including Reference Recordings' new high definition HRX format DVDs) and FLAC files. MP3 decoding may be added to the mix in the future, but SACD won't be possible, since the transport is built around an IDE DVD ROM drive.
A couple things set this product apart. First is the use of an HDMI connection on the back to transmit digital audio data. Though it is indeed an HDMI connector, and uses standard HDMI cables, the connection is not compatible with your flat panel HDTV or Blu-ray player (PS Audio's Paul McGowan says it won't hurt anything if plugged into a video component by mistake), but instead uses I2S and so far only works with upcoming PS Audio audio components.
The HDMI connection contains the bit clock, word clock, master clock, and data. McGowan says this use of HDMI allows the transport to clock the entire digital path and eliminate the sample rate converter and jitter. "For the first time, you can render a perfect data stream," says McGowan.
When you put a disc in, it takes 10 seconds to dump the optical data into a buffer. As McGown puts it, "you never listen to the disc, you're always listening to the buffered data through a fixed low jitter clock." To emphasize this point, during a brief demo, McGowan pulled the disc out of the transport but the music continued to stream from the buffer.
The other feature which stands out is the album cover popping up on the front display after the CD is inserted. McGowan says that the company is working on a way to remotely store album meta data for their customers which is then accessed via a standard CAT5 internet connection on the back of the Transport.