Life is about building bridges.

Bridges unite opposites

and make them one.

Playback Designs unites analog and digital audio

About us

Playback Designs imagines, creates and manufactures the highest performance, highest resolution, jitter free digital playback systems available for the most discerning of listeners.

Each and every person involved with Playback Designs is first and foremost a lover of music. Without this appreciation no company involved in either high-end audio or the professional recording industry can truly measure how good the products are that they are bringing to market.

Sure, we measure each and every unit that we ship, but the most important step is the final listening session that occurs just prior to packaging the unit for shipment. We believe that Playback Designs’ systems represent the finest audio playback in the world for the finest listening system in the world… your ears!

Playback Designs unites Swiss-German engineering with American entrepreneurship

Merlot DAC - Front angled - Playback Designs Merlot DAC - Front - Playback Designs Merlot DAC - Back - Playback Designs

Merlot DAC

Playback Designs Digital Analog Converter

Integrated DAC / Headphone Amp

  • Up to 384kHz PCM and up to 11.2MHz DSD
  • USB, AES, Coax, PLink inputs
  • Headphone output with separate volume control
  • Balanced and unbalanced line level outputs
  • Differential discrete DAC (standard “Playback Designs” architecture)
  • Software upgradeable by end user
  • Recording software for file creation on computer
Learn more
User manual
Syrah Server - Front angled - Playback Designs Syrah Server - Front - Playback Designs Syrah Server - Back - Playback Designs

Syrah Server

Playback Designs Music Server

Integrated Music Server

  • Connects directly to Merlot (or any other Playback Designs DAC) via USB
  • Easy and intuitive remote control via iPad or Android
  • Plays any audio from internal, external or NAS storage
  • Internal 2TB HDD standard, optional SSD
  • Streaming via DLNA
  • Automatic ripping from external drive (included)
  • Automatic retrieval of cover art, meta data from data base
Learn more
User manual
Pinot ADC - Playback Designs Pinot ADC - Playback Designs Pinot ADC - Playback Designs

Pinot ADC

Playback Designs Analog Digital Converter

Integrated A/D Converter

  • Up to 384kHz PCM and up to 11.2MHz DSD
  • USB, AES, Coax, PLink outputs
  • BNC clock I/O
  • XLR inputs with adjustable gain
  • super low distortion
  • Software upgradeable by end user
  • Recording software for file creation on computer
Learn more
User manual
OpBox - Front - Playback Designs

OpBox

Playback Designs D/D Converter

Modification Kit for Oppo Player

  • Adds PLink output to Oppo103 Player for direct digital link to Merlot DAC
  • Captures all native audio data from any source supported by Oppo Player and sends it to Merlot for conversion to analog
  • Supports very long distances between Oppo Player and Merlot DAC
  • Galvanic separation between player and DAC
  • Very easy installation
Learn more
Sonoma Recording Software - Playback Designs

Sonoma Recorder

The Sonoma Recorder is a free software application for the Windows platform that allows you to record natively any digital audio being generated by the Pinot A/D Converter or being played through the Merlot D/A Converter. It creates .wav (PCM) or .dff (DSD) files that can then be played on the Playback Designs Syrah Server.

Windows Recording Software

  • Very easy installation
  • Up to DSD 4x recording
  • Up to PCM 384kHz recording
  • Direct monitoring option through Pinot/Merlot
Learn more
SonomaAudioRecorder_Installer_v113

Accessories

Extend your audio experience

USB-XIII - Front angled - Playback Designs

USB-XIII

Playback Designs Digital Interface

USB-XIII Interface

  • new generation USB interface for PCM up to 384kHz and DSD up to 4x
  • USB compatibility with newer versions of Apple OS
  • Multi channel support via USB and PLink input for PCM up to 384kHz and DSD 2x
  • PLink I/O compatible with Classic and Sonoma line products
  • Newest generation PDFAS clocking technology for ultra low jitter performance
  • Connection to 5-series products via optical PLink
  • Connection to 3-series products via AES with proprietary protocol to support higher DSD sample rates
  • USB connection supports recording via Sonoma Recorder software on Windows computer
  • Software can be updated by end user
Learn more
User manual
IPS-3 Integrated - Front - Playback Designs  - Front - Playback Designs

IPS-3 Integrated

Playback Designs Integrated Playback System 3

Integrated DAC / Pre-amp / Amp

  • Digital inputs: USB, AES/EBU, RCA, PLink
  • Analog inputs: 2x unbalanced (RCA), 1x balanced (XLR)
  • PCM input up to 384kHz, DSD up to 4x
  • Support for DoP on all digital inputs
  • Native DSD converter, dual differential
  • 130W per channel on 8Ω
Learn more
User manual
MPS-5 SACD - Front view - Playback Designs MPS-5 SACD - Front view - Playback Designs

MPS-5 Signature Limited Edition

Playback Designs Music Playback System 5

SACD/CD Player and D/A Converter with external USB interface

  • Available for China and Hong Kong markets only
  • Total of 15 units in black / gold color
  • upgraded clock generator for better jitter control and improved sonic performance
  • serial number and signature on top cover
  • Digital inputs: USB, AES/EBU, RCA, TosLink, PLink
  • Digital outputs: AES/EBU
  • Analog outputs: 1x balanced (XLR), 2x unbalanced (RCA and BNC)
  • SACD and CD disc playback
  • Support for DoP on all digital inputs and outputs
  • PCM input up to 384kHz, DSD up to 2x via external USB-X interface
  • fully discrete and dual differential converter
Learn more
User manual
MPS-5 SACD - Front view - Playback Designs MPS-5 SACD - Rear view - Playback Designs

MPS-5 SACD

Playback Designs Music Playback System 5

SACD/CD Player and D/A Converter with external USB interface

  • Digital inputs: USB, AES/EBU, RCA, TosLink, PLink
  • Digital outputs: AES/EBU
  • Analog outputs: 1x balanced (XLR), 2x unbalanced (RCA and BNC)
  • SACD and CD disc playback
  • Support for DoP on all digital inputs and outputs
  • PCM input up to 384kHz, DSD up to 2x via external USB-X interface
  • fully discrete and dual differential converter
Learn more
User manual
MPD-5 DAC - Front view -Playback Designs MPD-5 DAC - Rear view -Playback Designs

MPD-5 DAC

Playback Designs Music Playback Digital to Analog Converter 5

D/A Converter with external USB interface

  • Digital inputs: USB, AES/EBU, RCA, TosLink, PLink
  • Digital outputs: AES/EBU
  • Analog outputs: 1x balanced (XLR), 2x unbalanced (RCA and BNC)
  • Support for DoP on all digital inputs and outputs
  • PCM input up to 384kHz, DSD up to 2x via external USB-X interface
  • fully discrete and dual differential converter
Learn more
User manual
MPS-3 CD Player - Front view -Playback Designs MPS-3 CD Player - Rear view -Playback Designs

MPS-3 CD Player

Playback Designs Music Playback System 3

CD Player and D/A Converter

  • Digital inputs: USB, AES/EBU, RCA
  • Analog outputs: 1x balanced (XLR), 1x unbalanced (RCA)
  • CD disc playback
  • Support for DoP on all digital inputs
  • PCM input up to 384kHz, DSD up to 2x
  • Native DSD converter, dual differential
Learn more
User manual
MPD-3 DAC - Front view -Playback Designs MPD-3 DAC - Rear view -Playback Designs

MPD-3 DAC

Playback Designs Music Playback Digital to Analog Converter 3

D/A Converter

  • Digital inputs: USB, AES/EBU, RCA
  • Analog outputs: 1x balanced (XLR), 1x unbalanced (RCA)
  • Support for DoP on all digital inputs
  • PCM input up to 384kHz, DSD up to 2x
  • Native DSD converter, dual differential
Learn more
User manual

Technology & Design

The goal at Playback Designs was an easy one to set and incredibly difficult to achieve:

Most people consider digital playback to be sonically inferior to analog playback, whether tape or vinyl. We wanted to match or better the critical areas where we felt analog had superior advantages without losing the benefits of great digital playback.

Challenges

  • Most digital playback systems produce high frequencies that tend to sound processed or harsh. It is commonly referred to as “digititis” or “digital hash”. It is an unnatural sound that can cause listener fatigue and irritation during long listening sessions.
  • There tends to be a much more visceral experience when listening to analog. Listeners tend to be less analytical and just accept and enjoy the musical experience more so with tape or vinyl playback.
  • Sonically there is less immediacy that one tends to experience with analog playback.
  • System flexibility and upgradeability to prevent equipment obsolescence.

Solutions

Technological Firsts

We are proud to annnouce these technical breakthroughs first seen in our products:

Reviews

2016

2015

2014

2013

Older

Awards

PF Brutus Award 2016 - Merlot
PF Brutus Award 2016 - Pinot
PF Brutus Award 2016 - Syrah
PF Brutus Award 2016 - OpBox
PFO Audio-Oasis at Axpona
Writer's Choice Award 2015 for the IPS-3
Brutus Award 2015 for the IPS-3

Playback Designs unites Sound and Design

Product Drivers

The USB audio interfaces for all Playback Designs products are compatible with MAC OS* and Linux without any additional driver software. For computers running on the Windows operating system a driver software needs to be installed.

USB Windows Driver 1.1 (classic products only) USB Windows Driver 1.7 (all products)

Which driver to choose?

Driver 1.1 is for Classic products only and allows:
- playback on Classic products up DSD 2x natively

Driver 1.7 is for all products (Classic and Sonoma) and allows:
- playback on Classic products up to DSD 2x in DoP format only
- playback on Sonoma products up to DSD 4x natively

*Preliminary tests with the most recent release of Apple's El Capitan OS X release (version 10.11) have shown that our hardware in all Classic products is no longer properly recognized when the USB cable is connected. This was not a problem with any of Apple's older releases (Yosemite and older). This appears to be a problem with Apple's new USB driver which is built into the OS. We are working on a hardware upgrade kit to address this problem and are planning to launch this later in 2016. In the meantime we recommend to not update your Mac to El Capitan, or revert back to the previous release (Yosemite). All our products in the new Sonoma line are already fully compatible with El Capitan.

A correct driver installation and computer software setup can be tested by playing a special bit pattern through the USB input of all Playback Designs products. When your computer system is correctly set up the front panel will display "Bit Perfect" after completion of playback. See product manual for more details.

Bit Perfect Test Pattern

Product Updates

Product updates are available here to download. They can ONLY be downloaded and installed via a PC. MAC computers WILL NOT WORK. As updates are are released, there will be a notice in the “News” section of this website. If you have a PC, please download and install the Playback Designs Update Utility (PDUU) first and follow with downloading and unzipping the update for your product. Please note the location of where you unzip the file.

Here are more specifics:

  1. 1. Download PDUU and install using a PC, NOT MAC.
  2. 2. Download proper Owner’s Manual and READ THOROUGHLY.
  3. 3. Download proper file (ex.: MPS-5 SACD / CD Player) and extract all files.
  4. 4. Connect laptop via a USB cable to the “software” port on the MPS-5.
  5. 5. Double click the “Playback Designs Update Utility” icon on your desktop.
  6. 6. Verify “Connected Equipment”. If window is empty, click “Refresh List” button.
  7. 7. In “File to transfer” window, click “Browse” button on right and search for the file: MPS-5_01029.ace (for MPS-5). Once found, make sure the file appears in the “File to transfer” window.
  8. 8. Click Update.

Please follow the above directions carefully and the update will be very easy. If you have any problems downloading please contact your dealer.

Playback Designs Update Utility (PDUU)
Firmware 029 for MPS-5
Firmware 029 for MPD-5

User Manuals

Download the user manual for your product.

Accessories

USB-XIII

Classic 5-series

MPS-5
MPD-5

Classic 3-Series

IPS-3
MPS-3
MPD-3

Playback Designs unites audiophiles with recording studios

News

2016 Oktober, USB-XIII released

New USB-XIII interface released. Click here for details.

2016 Oktober, New software version 29 released

New software version 29 released for 5-series to support USB-XIII interface. Click here for details.

2016 September, Sonoma Recorder 1.1.3 released

The version 1.1.3 of the Sonoma Recorder software is released. It fixes a bug, some third party software (AudioGate, Pyramix) could not play the generated .dff files.

2016 August, Sonoma Pinot ADC released

Playback Design announces the production release of their new Pinot A/D converter as part of their SONOMA series system incorporating the latest QUAD-DSD FPGA technology.This ground-up new ADC product brings the performance and emotion of the finest analog recordings to the digital home and professional music playback system. Tests with critical listeners revealed that the Pinot ADC is so transparent that it could not reliably be distinguished from the analog source.

2016 June, upgrade kit coming soon

Following our tradition to always support our loyal customers with their existing Playback Designs products we are preparing an upgrade kit for all 5- and 3-series players and DACs. This will add the capability to play quad DSD files which can be generated and recorded with our new and upcoming "Pinot" A/D converter, and also address the issue with Apple's USB driver. The upgrade kit will be available later in 2016.

2016 Mai, Meet us at High End in Munich

Playback Designs is showing the new sonoma line products in Munich from 5th to 8th of Mai.

Meet us in Hall 3, booth J06 and be part of the Audio-Magic Wine-Tasting Musical Mystery Adventure

2015 December, News from the AV show in Guangzhou

High End Audio coming with Home made Fine Wine - the latest news from the AV show in Guangzhou

Go here (in Chinese)

2015 November, Sneak Preview 2016

Sneak Preview 2016: Audio-Magic Wine-Tasting Musical Mystery Adventure

Get inspired here...

2015 Oktober, Issue with Apple's "El Capitan"

Preliminary tests with the most recent release of Apple's El Capitan OS X release (version 10.11) have shown that our hardware in all Classic products is no longer properly recognized when the USB cable is connected. This was not a problem with any of Apple's older releases (Yosemite and older). This appears to be a problem with Apple's new USB driver which is built into the OS. We are working on a hardware upgrade kit to address this problem and are planning to launch this later in 2016. In the meantime we recommend to not update your Mac to El Capitan, or revert back to the previous release (Yosemite). All our products in the new Sonoma line are already fully compatible with El Capitan.

2015 New Homepage online

We are proud do present our new homepage!

Beside the all new design it is now easier for you to get product related downloads.

Enjoy!

2015 Munich – May 14–17

Come see us this year in Munich, Germany on May 14-17 for the High-End Show at Stand F01 in Halle 3.

Our integrated DAC, pre-amplifier and amplifier will be the center piece in a special demo for DSD multi channel in room K1B. Recordings from Pentatone, Channel Classics, Opus3 and many others that have never been published before will be presented by their recording artists. Don’t miss this unique opportunity.

Seating is limited and we anticipate only few empty seats. Come early to get your special invitation card.

Munich 2015 Invitation-E_print

2015 Axpona – April 24-26

Come see us this year in Chicago on April 24-26 for Axpona (Audio Expo North America) in Room 402 at the Westin O’Hare hotel. 

We will be showing our integrated amplifier, pre-amplifier and DAC, the IPS-3 (Integrated Playback System 3) in the Source System room along with Lumin, Aria , Apertura among others.

AXPONA 2015

New Playback Designs MPS-5 and MPD-5 Software Update – #27

Attention All MPS-5 SACD / CD Player Owners

We have posted a new version of our firmware. Please update your MPS-5 by downloading the newest firmware from our “Support” page.

This update is for bug fixes.

Acoustic Sounds Launches SUPERHIREZ.COM

Today, Acoustic Sounds launched its new high resolution download service www.superhirez.com with a selection of mainstream audiophile music using the most advanced audio technology available… DSD. It’s the same digital technology used to produce SACDs and it most closely replicates the analog experience. As Acoustic Sounds says, “They’re audio files for audiophiles.”

The floodgates are opening and if you have not setup your system for playing DSD files, now is the time to do so. Contact your dealer to help you get up and running. It is easier than you think and now that the mainstream music is become more available, you have no excuse!

Acoustic Sounds Superhirez DSD Downloads and more

Contact

Voice +1 925 820 4780

Email info@playbackdesigns.com

Playback Designs LLC

Alamo, CA 94507, USA

Voice: +1 925 820 4780

Email: info@playbackdesigns.com

Where to buy

Americas

Brazil

Comercio de Audio e Video LTDA – Logical Design

Av Pasteur 333 Portão 06 loja 11

22290-240 Urca - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Tel: 55 21 986660000

Fax: 55 21 22753805

Email vlamir@logicaldesign.com.br

Website

USA

Affordable Audio

6519 Viste del Mar

Playa del Rey, CA 90293

Tel: (310) 827-0359

Email sales@affordableaudio.net

Website

USA

Elite Audio Systems

Attn: Michael Woods

893A Folsom Street

San Francisco, CA 94107

Tel: (415) 795-1149

Email info@eliteaudiosf.com

Website

USA

Lone Mountain Audio

7340 Smoke Ranch Road, Suite A

Las Vegas, NV., 89128

Tel: (702) 307-2727

Email brad@lonemountainaudio.com

Website

USA

Paragon Sight & Sound

Attn: Larry Marcus

3780 Jackson Rd. #H

Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Tel: (734) 662-3595

Email larry@paragonsns.com

Website

USA

Quintessence Audio

Attn: Mick Survance

5701 W. Dempster

Morton Grove, IL 60053

Tel: (847) 966-4434

Email mick@quintessenceaudio.com

Website

USA

SORAsound

1807-N. Hoyne Av.

Chicago, IL 60647

Tel: (773) 706 9705

Email mehran@sorasound.com

Website

USA

Sound Environment

Attn: Charlie Santmire

11021-Elm St.

Omaha, NE 68144

Tel: (402) 391-3842

Email charlie@soundenvironment.com

Website

Asia

China

Sound Concepts, Ltd.

Room 704, Yee Yuk Industrial Centre

555, Yee Yuk Street, Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Tel: 852-2386-3113

Fax: 852-2386-3666

Email info@hksoundconcepts.com

Website

Hong Kong

Sound Concepts, Ltd.

Room 704, Yee Yuk Industrial Centre

555, Yee Yuk Street, Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Tel: 852-2386-3113

Fax: 852-2386-3666

Email info@hksoundconcepts.com

Website

Indonesia

Dr Soundwave

Bintaro

Tangerang City

Banten

Email info@drsoundwave.com

Website

Israel

Maestro Audio

42 Golomb Street

Givatayim 53464, Israel

Tel: +972 54 3160030

Email info@maestroaudio.co.il

Website

Japan

NASPEC Corporation

1-4-5 Yabutanishi, Gifu,

Gifu, 500-8386, Japan

Tel: +81 582 15 75 10

Fax: +81 582 68 71 18

Email adachi@naspecaudio.com

Website

Korea

Damino Co., Ltd.

Attn: Damino Lee

15-12 Sungwoo Bldg. 6FL

Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, 150-872, Republic of Korea

Tel: +82 2 719 0290

Email daminolee@damino.co.kr

Website

Malaysia

Clarity MP Sdn Bhd

Blk C-41-G, JAYA ONE, 72A Jalan Universiti

46200 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Tel: +03 7960-5503

Email sales@clarityhifi.net

Website

Singapore

Clarity AV Pte Ltd

No. 1 Coleman Street

#03-36 The Adelphi, Singapore 179803

Tel: +65 6333-0010

Email sales@clarityhifi.net

Website

Taiwan

Top Audio, Inc.

2F, No.132, Xingshan Rd., Neihu District

10557 Taipei City, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Tel: 886-2-2792-9778

Fax: 886-2-2796-6073

Email topaudio2009@gmail.com

Website

Thailand

Audio Com, Ltd.

729 / 40 Rama 3 Road

Yannawa, Bangkok, 10120 Thailand

Tel: (662) 255-7983

Fax: (662) 295-4771

Email audiocom@lox2.loxinfo.co.th

Website

Vietnam

Hificlub

B1-12AS, 171 Dong Khoi, District 1,

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Tel: +84 39369936

Email info@hificlub.vn

Website

Europe

Austria

Gaudios KG

Brandhofgasse 11

A-8010 Graz, Austria

Tel: +43 316 337175

Fax: +43 316337176

Email info@gaudios.info

Website

Belgium

Durob Audio BV

Floor van den Dungen, Asserlaan 4

5251 XJ Vlijmen, The Netherlands

Tel: +31 73 511 25 55

Fax: +31 84 220 76 47

Email info@durob.nl

Website

Cyprus

Aphrodite’s Vision

Sokratous 2

GR 152 32, Xalandri, Athens, Greece

Tel: 6944753108

Email info@aphroditesvision.com

Website

Finland

Perfect sense

Showroom in Stockholm

Tel: +46 8 518 368 00

Email info@perfect-sense.se

Website

France

Aphrodite’s Melody

16 bd St Germain

75005 Paris, France

Tel: +33 603002124

Email info@aphroditesmelody.com

Website

Germany

Gaudios KG

Brandhofgasse 11

A-8010 Graz, Austria

Tel: +43 316 337175

Fax: +43 316337176

Email info@gaudios.info

Website

Greece

Aphrodite’s Vision

Sokratous 2

GR 152 32, Xalandri, Athens, Greece

Tel: 6944753108

Email info@aphroditesvision.com

Website

Hungary

Audio Video Stream Kft.

Koszoru u 72

3300 Eger, Hungary

Tel: +36309282229

Email avstream.hu@gmail.com

Website

Italy

DNAUDIO

Strada Della Fontane, 9

10082 Cuorgne’ (To), Italy

Tel / Fax: 0124 657533

Cell: 334 9347715

Email info@dnaudio.it

Website

Luxembourg

Durob Audio BV

Floor van den Dungen, Asserlaan 4

5251 XJ Vlijmen, The Netherlands

Tel: +31 73 511 25 55

Fax: +31 84 220 76 47

Email info@durob.nl

Website

Netherlands

Durob Audio BV

Floor van den Dungen, Asserlaan 4

5251 XJ Vlijmen, The Netherlands

Tel: +31 73 511 25 55

Fax: +31 84 220 76 47

Email info@durob.nl

Website

Norway

Perfect sense

Showroom in Stockholm

Tel: +46 8 518 368 00

Email info@perfect-sense.se

Website

Portugal

Ultimate Audio

Rua da Casquilha, No 2A,

1500-154 Lisboa, Portugal

Tel: +35 19 14 92 83 04

Email ultimateaudio.eu@gmail.com

Website

Russia

Foster Group

Akademika Bochvara 15

Moscow, Russia

Tel: +495 921 47 47

Email sales@foster.ru

Website

Spain

Cosmos Hi-Fi

Cliff Orman

Tel: +34 926 215 228

Website

Sweden

Perfect sense

Showroom in Stockholm

Tel: +46 8 518 368 00

Email info@perfect-sense.se

Website

Switzerland

Gaudios KG

Brandhofgasse 11

A-8010 Graz, Austria

Tel: +43 316 337175

Fax: +43 316337176

Email info@gaudios.info

Website

Turkey

Timpani Audio and Video

Ressam Hikmet Onat, Sok.9 Istinye 34460

Istanbul, Turkey

Tel: 0212-323-2110

Fax: 0212-323-2598

Email info@timpani.com.tr

Website

Oceana

Australia

PUREMUSICGROUP

32/461 St. Kilda Road

Melbourne 3004, Australia

Tel: +61 409 504 805

Email warwick@puremusicgroup.com

Website

New Zealand

PUREMUSICGROUP

32/461 St. Kilda Road

Melbourne 3004, Australia

Tel: +61 409 504 805

Email warwick@puremusicgroup.com

Website

© Playback designs. 2015 All Rights Reserved.
Playback Designs

Playback Designs LLC

Andreas Koch

3126 Lunada Lane

Alamo, CA 94507, USA

Responsible for the content: Andreas Koch

Copyright – pictures

Stock photo © Stephiii

Stock photo © FilippoBacci

Stock photo © photoquest7