Over the years I have become very familiar with the Waversa product line and have auditioned or owned most of their equipment at one time. Their approach to digital audio in unique and I have enjoyed watching this technology evolve. One challenge I enjoy is tying quality with affordability and Waversa may have done just this with their new sub-$5000 DAC, the DAC3c (compact). This dac is the newest of their product line and the culmination of years of innovation where the trickle-down theory actually outperforms the rest. My impression: the DAC3c performs better than its big brother and on par with their current flagship dac, if not better. This unit has been sonically optimized using Audiomagic current top of their line bees wax fuse and an industrial rated single layer capacity (SLC) 8 GB microSD card by Panasonic. After testing a plethora of microSD cards, this performs best.
This dac replaced one client's Berkeley Reference, described as being more refined, better focus and layering, overall more transparent.
For a detailed summary of the technology unique to Waversa Systems involved in the DAC3c design:
All signal processing has been optimized, including a proprietary USB input circuit, network renderer, digital processor and DAC, and is controlled and operated precisely by a clock system unified by an in-house design digital processor (termed Waversa Audio Processor, WAP). This method has a lower error probability, higher stability, and ideal digital signal processing than the method of circuit design using commercially available modules.
Dual WAP captures all signals In order to dramatically increase processing speed and efficiently manage signal processing. The first WAP (P1) processes all input signals, and the second WAP (P2) receives signals processed by P1 on I2S and decodes signals with clocks according to sampling rates. In this way, by assigning a unique role to each digital processor, signal interference is minimized, more sophisticated clock management is performed, and sound quality benefits from accurate signals that do not compromise digital signal integrity. The heart of WAP lies in signal restoration. 32Bit 1.5 MHz, processing huge information
The WDAC3C does not use the FIR built into the general ES9038, but uses multiple stages of FIR with proprietary logic to perform high-resolution upsampling. Instead, the heart of the technology is included in WAP, and the newly developed WAP has greatly increased the amount of data that can be processed. This new WAP has succeeded its predecessor (24Bit / 368kHz) with 32Bit 1.5MHz data processing. In comparison,16Bit, 65,532 digital signal processes are performed, and in 32Bit, there are 4 billion digital signal processes, and the sophistication of signal processing is dramatically increased. This has made it possible to generate digital signals that are closer to analog, and the subsequent digital restoration technology has become more accurate.
Channel separation technology for sound range and (WMLET – Waversa Multi-Layer Energy Transfer)
Rather than using the commercially available ES9038PRO chip as it is, WDAC3C has an algorithm that passes the circuits of the input stage and the oversampling filter stage and instead uses the WAP chip to process each process individually. It is then passed on to the ES9038PRO by another key technology, the range channel separation technology (WMLET). Range channel separation technology (WMLET-Waversa Multi-Layer Energy Transfer)
As the name implies, the auditory frequency band is divided into high, mid-high, mid-low, and low bands at the digital stage for each of the left and right channels, and passed through eight channels of ES9038Pro for processing. In conventional signal processing, the energy is concentrated in the middle band due to the characteristics of the analog element. Instead of 8 channels, only the left and right channels will be processed together, and more energy will be concentrated in the mid-band. To prevent this, WDAC3C distributes the energy evenly for each band and improves the sound quality. The advantage of separating the channels for each range using WMLET is that the WDAC3C has an ingenious technology that regulates energy in four channels per frequency band, thus improving distortion caused by energy bias and reviving subtle musical elements, a band balance that cannot be felt with conventional DACs has been realized. This approach to digital processing is unique only to Waversa products.
-The energy concentrated in the mid-band is evenly distributed, and the band balance is excellent.
-The resolution increases with each band, taking advantage of the nuances of band separation and presents music naturally.
-Implementation of a wider music signal dynamic range and broadband frequency reproduction.
-Natural balance of the sound can be maintained, and the originality of the tone is maintained.
The Waversa DAC3c can operate from any generic Apple remote or a Waversa specific remote can be purchased separately, but is yet to be released. User-friendly firmware updates through any on-network web browser. External word clock capable and external battery power supply option; (product currently under development.) Dual toroidal power supplies with isolation between digital and analog signal paths. Sales limited to North America. Excellent pairing with both the Waversa Wrouter and ROON Wcore.
Main features of WDAC3C
- Equipped with dual 32Bit 1.5MHz WAP chip of next generation design
- High-end DA chip adopted: ESS Saber 9038 Pro
- External clock input terminal
- Battery power input terminal
- Full balance circuit
- Analog output with discrete structure
- Uses WNDR protocol with the best sound quality
- Uniquely designed network renderer board for streaming (DLNA, Airplay, ROON Ready, WNDR)
- Monocoque cutting chassis
- Floating circuit board design for vibration suppression
- Digital and analog stages are separate dual transformer power supply design
Even if only these elements are considered, such as a true discrete full-balanced analog circuit, a monocoque cutting case, a separate power supply, and a built-in network player, such a design and quantity input have comparable targets in the same price range. No. In addition to this, WDAC3C has also introduced the best proprietary technology such as proprietary WNDR protocol, 32-bit WAP (Waversa Audio Processor), and proprietary renderer board to enhance its value.
32Bit Dual WAP (Waversa Audio Processor)
- WaversaSystems proprietary audio signal processor, WAP processed in 32 bits (conventional 24 bit)
- Upscaling of 65,532 (16 Bit) digital signals to 4 billion (32 Bit) digital signals
- A new dimension of natural sound quality woven by ultra-high precision sound particles
Highest quality DAC chip adopted
- ESS9038 Pro D / A converter adopted
- Fourteen internal channels of the DA converter are separated (high, mid / high, mid / low, low) to achieve dynamic range and excellent bandwidth
Sound quality that overcomes the limitations of digital
- Eliminate digital rigid sound quality shortcomings
- Natural texture, overtones, nuance and richness of music, smooth sound quality, enough for analog (LP) enthusiasts
Full balance circuit and expandability
- True full-balanced analog circuits not found in the same price range
- External clock and battery power supply can be connected (WaversaSystems dedicated clock and battery power supply will be developed)
- Roon Ready: Supports ROON RAAT and WNDR protocols
- Abundant interfaces: Ethernet, USB, Coaxial, AES / EBU. Balanced (XLR), Single-ended (RCA)
WAP / X (Waversa Audio Processor Extension) that reproduces the sound of vacuum tubes
The characteristics of a vacuum tube amplifier that has been deeply loved for its warm tone are reproduced using digital technology. These overtone characteristics of WAP / X were developed focusing on the 1940's WE300B.
The technology adds a sense of overtones in WAP / X and WAP, realizing the sound of a transparent and warm vacuum tube, digitally reproduced technology designed to be upgradeable in future firmware updates.
High-end audio processing is a fairly complicated process involving a huge amount of data in real-time. Waversa addresses this in two parts. The most recent breakthrough is to task the new generation field-programmable gate array, which unknown to most of us, including myself, is an exceedingly complex fast logic circuit that has proven to handle these resource-intensive algorithms. By tasking the FPGA to take on the overtone processing algorithm [WAP/X], this processing can be done accurately to many harmonics in real-time.
Some say that analog sounds are bright and warm, while digital sounds are cool and crisp. It is also thought that harmonics are masked by jitter and electrical noise inherent in digital equipment. All DAC manufacturers have understandably focused on minimizing these issues. Waversa over the years was able to characterize the harmonics of a classic 1942 Western Electric 300b and digitally replicate using a hardware-based algorithm integrated into both the new generation FPGA and Waversa Audio Processor (WAP). As a result, you can feel warm overtones without the vacuum tube. If you want to hear higher harmonics, the only way to get them is virtual because there is a limit no matter how good a vacuum tube is. Currently, the end-user can select this type of processing or bypass it. In future firmware updates, the degree of harmonics will also be adjustable.
Both USB and Ethernet use the same mechanism to transmit data internally and the USB Audio path is fundamentally a PCM path. DSD over PCM (DoP) uses a repeating 8-bit marker to indicate DSD processing of the digital stream. This standardization was established with 24-bit capable processing chips, whereby the 24-bit data stream consisted of an 8-bit marker, 16-bit information, and when applied to a modern 32-bit processor, the last 8-bit segment is ignored. With the advent of 32-bit processing, DoP is limited to only half of the capable bandwidth. Native DSD uses a non-standard PCM path in USB at a 32-bit stream without the need for a marker and the full 32-bit stream is dedicated to digital music. Therefore, DSD64 can be transmitted in PCM 88.2kHz format, DSD128 can be transmitted at 176.4kHz, and DSD256 can be transmitted at 352.8kHz. A PCM352.8kHz compatible system that supports Native DSD can stream DSD256 in its native format.