T+A PSD 3100 HV Streaming DAC/Preamp Page 2

The Chris Isaak song 'Wicked Game' [Heart Shaped World; Reprise Records 44.1kHz/16-bit] is ostensibly a simple piece: gentle bass and guitar parts, delicate percussion and soft vocals. But played through the PSD 3100 HV, via its USB DAC input and into my usual Primare A35.2 power amplifier [HFN Dec '19] and B&W 705 Signature loudspeakers, it sounded so much more than the sum of its parts. The rich bassline spread into every corner of the room, and Isaak's vocals were lifted clear of the background accompaniment without sounding unduly isolated. All the detail expected was there, from the faint sound of the backing singers to the twang of guitar strings, but the PSD 3100 HV held everything together, delivering the performance as a musical whole.

Full Stomp
This sumptuous bass delivery was also apparent with 'Angry', the lead-off single from The Rolling Stones' 2023 album Hackney Diamonds [Polydor/Rolling Stones Records, 96kHz/24-bit], where the bass – played by Keith Richards – maintained excellent drive and definition down to the lowest notes. The production here is less smooth and showed T+A's DAC/preamp isn't solely about nuance and subtlety – it hammered out this stomping, upbeat anthem with relish.

T+A was one of the first audio brands to introduce custom digital filtering, initially in its PreDA 3000 preamp from 1995 and then the CD 3000 disc player in 1996. Its Bezier and FIR filter algorithms have evolved, naturally, but audiophiles now have the benefit of the MusicNavigator G3 app to quickly switch between them all and explore the audible differences.


Separate IEC mains inlets for 'analogue' and 'digital' (switching/display) PSUs are fitted alongside one line in and balanced and single-ended pre outs. Digital ins include LAN, USB-A (HDD) and USB-B (computer, all to 768kHz/24-bit and DSD512) plus 2x opt/coax, AES/EBU (192kHz/24-bit), 2xHDMI, FM and W-LAN (control only)

Just as when I reviewed T+A's DAC 200 [HFN May '22], my preference was for the FIR modes; these had the Stones track sounding a little beefier, while the samples and electronic rhythms on Beats International's 'Dub Be Good To Me' [Let Them Eat Bingo; London Records] were projected more positively.

Credit Notes
On the other hand, I couldn't choose between the PSD 3100 HV's two DSD filters when listening to Christian Grøvlen's recital of Bach's 'Chromatic Fantasia And Fugue... BWV 903' [2L; DSD256]. Frankly, the performance here was so compelling that I was reluctant to interrupt it by picking up my smartphone… The rise and decay of the piano notes, the speed of Grøvlen's finger-work, and the sense of the recording environment were all confidently delivered by T+A's bespoke DAC.

This element of its performance – thrillingly revealing but not clinically so – is where the PSD 3100 HV partly earns its crust over more affordable competitors. There's also that volume control. A minor point in the grand scheme of things, but I absolutely loved this preamp's ability to find just the level I was looking for. Playing The Band's 'Up On Cripple Creek' from their eponymous 1969 album [Capitol Records; 192kHz/24-bit], the smooth, lush tone begged a higher and higher volume, whereas with Megadeth's 'Tornado Of Souls' [Rust In Peace, Capitol Records; 192kHz/24-bit], the PSD 3100 HV let me avoid the moment where the track's serrated guitars and mediocre production usually start to bother B&W's tweeters.


Full system remote governs input, volume, balance, mute and enables navigation of the PSD 3100 HV's various menus

Furthermore, on this rapid-fire thrash metal classic, T+A's high-performing DAC showed in a nutshell what it's all about. The rhythm section sounded tight and dynamic, the multiple guitar parts were neatly separated, and it found a layer of depth to the soundstaging that took me by surprise. The energy and clarity was infectious.

Indeed, be it with early-'90s metal or the fairy-tale instrumentation and layered harmonies of The Beach Boys' 'God Only Knows' [Pet Sounds, Capitol Records; 96kHz/24-bit mono], the PSD 3100 HV was up for the challenge of delivering the music with detail, focus and authority.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
This latest addition to the HV series will only further cement T+A's reputation for high-quality engineering and pristine sound. The lack of an analogue XLR input is perhaps unfortunate, but otherwise the PSD 3100 HV is well-connected, operationally smart and built to last a lifetime. And while it's a natural partner for the company's HV power amps, the insightful sound should pair well with anything.

T+A elektroakustik GmbH & Co. KG
Supplied by: Kog Audio, Coventry, UK
024 7722 0650