T+A PSD 3100 HV Streaming DAC/Preamp

hfnoutstandingComplete with a new streaming module, T+A's latest network-attached DAC/preamp is the perfect partner for its PA 3100 HV integrated and A 3000 HV power amplifiers

Tipping the scales at a hefty 26kg, measuring a portly 46cm deep and 17cm tall, and selling for £14,900, T+A's PSD 3100 HV appears every inch the flagship DAC/streamer/preamp. Except that it isn't – that accolade is reserved for the German brand's SDV 3100 HV [HFN Oct '19], which has been deemed its 'reference' model since its arrival in 2019 and remains available for £26,040.

The latter model features a more sophisticated power supply – though all 'HV' separates employ a high rail voltage – preamp and DAC section and will handle up to DSD1024 in place of the PSD 3100 HV's DSD512 limit. However, in its favour, this more affordable model benefits from an entirely new digital streaming board.

Described by T+A as its 'Gen 3 platform' and making its first appearance here, this leverages a powerful Stream1955 module from StreamUnlimited, promising improved ease of use and more comprehensive file handling compared to the Network Audio Adapter technology of the SDV 3100 HV. Importantly, T+A says it will soon begin rolling out its Gen 3 upgrade to older 'Gen 2' models in its R and HV series.

Simply Gorgeous
The customary all-aluminium construction, in silver white finish, of T+A's top-of-the-range HV models is in evidence again here, and it looks gorgeous. Engineering quality is also superb, as brand devotees will expect, right down to the heavyweight system remote control. Beyond the sheer size of its source/volume and menu rotaries, the PSD 3100 HV maintains a sophisticated, minimalist air and it's only once powered up that a row of soft-touch 'buttons', under the display, illuminate.

This is a cool feature but while the on-screen text menus that appear are informative and easy to read, album art is not displayed. Navigation of its settings via the right-hand rotary is also quick and pleasant, though the company's new G3 MusicNavigator app, for both iOS and Android, is far more convenient when it comes to many tasks, including channel balance, source disabling/renaming, phase invert, etc.


Separate PSUs for housekeeping [right side] and main audio [left side] feed the four TI PCM1795 DACs [centre], T+A's 'True 1-Bit DSD converter' matrix [below] and fully balanced preamp. The LAN/digital PCB is underneath

While the fascia of the PSD 3100 HV is uncluttered, the rear panel is impressively busy, albeit missing a balanced XLR line input to complement its balanced XLR preamp outputs. Single-ended (RCA) inputs and outputs are included, but only the costlier SDV 3100 HV model has XLR ins and outs. This curiosity notwithstanding, the PSD 3100 HV offers great digital flexibility alongside its wired Ethernet connection and two Wi-Fi antennas.

Digital inputs include BNC, coaxial, two optical and AES/EBU, with a coaxial digital output, and even a two-input, one-output (with ARC) HDMI feature for adding this networked hub to a TV set-up. There's also a USB-B input, USB-A for external drives, and T+A's proprietary 'IPA' (Isochronous Precision Audiolink) hook-up for its PDT 3100 HV SACD/CD transport [HFN Oct '19].

Window Gazing
As with other T+A models, the PSD 3100 HV has two separate DAC stages – PCM inputs are routed to four TI PCM1795 DACs, in a double-differential configuration and conferring the benefits of 705.6/768kHz operation, while DSD streams are handled by T+A's custom 1-bit converter. For the latter, there's a choice of two filters, while PCM playback can be fine-tuned via four digital filters and two NOS (non-oversampling) modes. New filter selections are applied immediately, not after the menu is closed, simplifying A/B comparisons.

A circular window in the top of the PSD 3100 HV's 10mm-thick aluminium chassis provides a hint of the exquisite production engineering within. Dual-mono in configuration, it separates analogue and digital power supplies (there are two IEC sockets to be found on its rear), and, via top and bottom compartments, isolates the analogue mainboard, preamp and input stages from its streaming module and digital inputs.

The sheer breadth of this model's specification (there's an FM/DAB tuner here too) means spending time with its detailed manual is worthwhile. That said, seasoned audiophiles will have little trouble getting it up and running and will soon be enjoying the PSD 3100 HV's volume control. A genuine stepped attenuator, it offers precise adjustment, each turn of the dial or tweak via the G3 app accompanied by a definitive 'click/click' of relays.

sqnote Lush Life
I won't beat around the bush – the PSD 3100 HV's performance is as lush and large as its casework. It delivers music with exceptional levels of finesse, crafts an expansive soundstage with a sense of depth, and revels in both unearthing real bass weight and tiny high-frequency detail. Perhaps best of all, there's an organic, smooth nature to its sound that some might not expect, especially from a device with such a 'digital' bent.

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