Nail biting

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When we start a design process for a new product there’s always a lot of high hopes and nail biting. Investing as much in the design as we do, it’s always a bit of a crapshoot how many times you might have to redo a design until it comes out the way you hoped for.

Such is the case with the new SACD Transport scheduled to begin its round of beta testing this September. Along the way, we’ve had a few chances to test our design assumptions—its galvanically isolated output stage, new Digital Lens buffer, opto-isolation, separate power supplies, new drive mechanism, etc.—and each time we were rewarded with good sound. Yet, in all this time we’ve yet to have a chance to listen to the final PC board layouts, the finished product.

That is until a few days ago.

Chief engineer Bob Stadtherr, the unit’s architect of bitstream and FPGA, brought in the final PCBs for Darren Myers and me to have our first listen to a full production-ready set of electronics. The command software modules are still not ready so Bob had to control the unit through its CLI using a laptop with commands like :SACD/Open etc. but, klunky as it might have been, the signal path has been nailed down and we were biting our nails in the hopes it wouldn’t disappoint. What if we didn’t like it? Start over? Could we tweak it?

It didn’t disappoint.

Man oh man alive. The new PS Audio SACD Transport has the quietest presentation Darren and I have ever heard from any digital source bar none. Yeah, yeah, all the superlatives you like are there: full-bodied, extended upper harmonics, open, natural, and perhaps most exhilirating of all was just how velvety perfect the sound was. On Octave Record’s next release, Clandestine Amigo’s Temporary Circumstances, Jessica’s opening piano notes were always good, but never remarkable—which is ok because when she and Giselle begin singing, your heart melts at the clarity, presence and just raw emotion that come through. But with the SACD Transport, there’s now not only a real piano in the room but the two ladies touch your soul in the most intimate way possible. I wish I had better words to tell you what we experienced. Darren turned to me with the biggest grin I have ever seen and said, “now that’s not even close!” I could not agree more.

Grins all around. Back slaps. Nails still intact. I can’t wait for you to hear this.

Stay tuned for details in early September of the beta testing program to begin. This is one honey of a new product.