Rockna Wavedream Signature – Review

If you haven’t read my review of the Rockna Wavelight, it might be a good starting point before delving into this review, as this piece focuses on the highly-anticipated big brother I’ve been eager to hear for years.

I have previously listened to the older version of the Rockna WaveDream, which featured third-party high-end R2R. That was an amazing DAC in its own right, but Rockna has since made significant advancements, moving much of the production in-house. They now utilize proprietary DAC chips and have introduced numerous improvements since the older model.

I am genuinely excited because this is yet another one of those rare moments when you encounter a mind-blowing product with such an exceptional sound that it inspires you to become a poet just to describe it. Actually…wait a minute. With the right AI tools, that’s possible. It may have been a “hold my beer” moment, but this DAC truly inspired me to express my emotions through imagery as well. You will see these images below in the review.

You can find the short video review here:

Technical Specs

The best thing would be to go directly on Rockna’s website for the full picture of the specs. You can find some highlights below:


The clock is the heart of a digital reproduction system. It’s accuracy and jitter levels are critical in regard of sound quality. Only a very good clock system can make the way to the analog sound on the output of your DAC. If the clock is flawed, digital harshness will occur and the analog feeling of the music will be severely altered. Apart from the performance of the clock itself, equally critical is the construction of the clock tree (the clock distribution architecture) inside the DAC. The jitter amount that really counts it’s not only the performance of the clock itself – but the clock which actually enters the dac and is used for conversion – let’s call it the conversion clock. The conversion clock that enters the dac section relies on the clock tree, which is usually not just routing, but in most cases conditioning, altering it’s quality. A poorly designed clock tree can degrade significantly the clock quality entering the d/a section, even if the source clock has great performance.
With these facts in mind, we designed for the Wavedream an advanced clock system called the femtovox. With femtovox in place, one is assured that only extremely small amounts of jitter are present at the dac conversion clock input. It’s unique architecture employs that conversion clock is directly synthesised at the dac input, without any conditioning, giving constant jitter performance at any sample rate. The conversion clock is controlled with 1 ppb precision, while exhibiting about 300 fS of jitter. The smallest jitter figure in the world? No. The smallest jitter figure where actually matters? Probably.


The Wavedream upsamples any material with a fixed rate of 16x. The dac modules will decode the digital stream with a rate of 768Khz, or 705.6Khz, respectively, according to input sample rate. We found this rate to be optimal for analog performance of the dac modules. Behind this simple multiplication factor (16x) lies a huge processing power. The digital filters are made with the combined effort of 58 DSP blocks, resulting into a impressive figure of 15 GMACS of processing power.
The developed filters are unique. We avoided standard Nyquist rate filters as not providing the expected performance for the dac. After lots of mathematical simulations and careful listening tests, we have created a custom Parks-McClellan upsampling filter. There are three variations avaialble on current firmware: linear, minimumand hybrid phase. They are highly optimized filters, offering stunning performance with a large number of taps (5k), and they are different in regard of impulse response. For the linear phase, the ringing energy (Gibb’s overshoot) is equally split before and after impulse. Minimum phase type shows all this energy after impulse, while our special hyrid phase filter has a combined response between linear and minimum, exhibing very low overshoot before the impulse.


For the effective D/A conversion stage we developed dedicated dac modules called RD-0 (used in Signature – 27 bit structure) and RD-1 (used in Edition – 26 bit structure). Modules themselves are complex pieces of technology, sharing a discrete sign-magnitude hybrid ladder topology, driven by a complex algorythm which is embedded into their own FPGA. Therefore the dac modules firmware is updatable both performance and feature-wise. Currently RD-0/1 can sustain a maximum sample rate of 6 MHz, which is the industry’s maximum sample rate specified for a audio dac. The output of the dac modules is un-buffered, allowing maximum transparency and natural sound reproduction.

Output Stage

Finally, the last stage of the signal path is the analog output stage. It’s contribution to final sound is of extreme importance. Designed from the scratch to work with converter modules RD-0 & RD-1, the output stage is totally discrete and acts as a high-speed buffer. Made entirely with through-hole components (non-smd), we combined j-fet & bipolar devices into a class A design, with a closed-loop output impedance of under 1 ohm and equivalent input noise as low as 1nV, as a perfect match for the converter overall performance.


Naturally we have dedicated sections for digital and analog areas. There are 3 separate transformers, and all power supplies are low noise linear – no switchmode power supplies are used whatsoever. There are a total of 20 linear regulators inside the dac. We dedicated our attention to the dac modules regulators – which are designed from the scratch for low impedance and ultra-low noise.

Listening impressions and tests

Components used:

  • Martin Logan ESL-11A Speakers
  • Benchmark AHB2
  • Denafrips Gaia as DDC unit from usb to i2s (PC -> Audioquest Diamond USB -> Denafrips Gaia -> Audioquest Diamond HDMI -> Wavedream)
  • Topping A90 Discrete
  • Hifiman HE1000SE
  • Meze Elite
  • Meze Liric

I also experimented with the filters and other settings. Ultimately, I preferred the Hybrid filter combined with the “Local” clock settings. The DAC as a whole appeared to offer better detail, timing, and a broader soundstage. Additionally, it exhibited a more seamless musical flow and sounded somewhat more natural.

Now, let’s move on to the most crucial aspect of the review: the magic of how this DAC sounds, which I’ve been eager to share with you. In fact, I published the written review before the shorter video review just to get this information out more quickly.

Titanium/Pavane – Piano Guys

The first thing I noticed was the holography within a huge soundstage. The spatiality is amazing, also you can concentrate on each instrument, each sound and picture it with absolute clarity in your mind. Then, I noticed the details. I don’t think I ever heard anything like this before. Lots of phrases come into my mind and some might sound like your typical audiophile reviewer’s cliches. Yes, there were sounds I have never heard before, but what I loved the most is that everything came in with such ease, the sound was just flowing with incredible precision and superb detail, but never pushing something into your face. From the strings to the piano notes, everything was just breath taking. At first, I just didn’t know on what to focus first. Everything was amazing, then I learned to step back and just listen/enjoy the song.

Mombasa – 2Cellos

This gave me instant goosebumps. The cellos strings are just electrifying. They are so full of life, you can feel the vibration and the housing within your whole body. When they hit the low notes, the bass just goes deeper and deeper with incredible control and detail. Every time they hit that note, I got goosebumps. The timing, the textures and the details are out of this world.

Sixteen Tons – Geof Castellucci

The texture of the voice is incredibly detailed. Oh and baritone voice went deep…so deep, I felt it in my chest. It’s a weird feeling, with such a detailed texture, it felt like it was coming from my chest. I became one with the singer. I wanted applauses at the end.

Nothing Else Matters – Apocalyptica

Indeed, I am fond of cellos, and from my experience, very few DACs can bring those strings to life, with none quite reaching the level of WaveDream. This particular song astounded me when played through the WaveDream. I could feel every string vibration and the body of the cellos. The incredible detail was presented in such a natural manner that I couldn’t help but become emotional. There’s nothing quite like entering your audiophile zen and having an out-of-body experience after a long day. I completely disconnected and lost myself in the song. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is when I truly understood the name “WaveDream” :)). I simply allowed myself to dream while riding the sound waves.

Gojira – Drum Solo

This was also one of the most intense experiences I had in my audiophile journey. Those drums were so realistic from every possible perspective. It was actually much better than listening to them in real life from the audience, because in this case you became the drummer. The detail is absofuckinglutely incredible. The punch, the control of the bass, how deep the drums go, everything was superlative and hard to describe into words.

We Will rock you – Queen

So much energy, so much fun. I was there, I almost destroyed my keyboard and woke up the kids. I got into the rhythm and I started tapping myself with hands and feet, everything.

Markus Phillipe – Angel Eyes

This is ridiculous. The texture of the saxophone is breath taking. It just takes your soul as a slice of bread and it’s like slicing some butter on top of it. The texture of the sax is so intimate, so detailed, so natural that it remains imprinted into your brain. If you are ever stressed and you want a mental place you can escape to, this is it. You can imagine this sax & bass just anointing your soul.

Abba – Knowing Me, Knowing you

I felt compelled to shut everything else out and simply listen to the song in total darkness. The guitar plucks and drums are enchanting, boasting an impressive kick and an abundance of detail, presented in a strikingly realistic and natural manner that left me breathless. The vocals are equally astonishing. This uncanny ability to make the voice appear to originate from your own throat or chest is truly extraordinary.



The bass is astounding. It strikes with the force of a truck, delves deep, and exhibits remarkable control and detail. It’s amazing how much detail WaveDream can extract from the bass, breathing life into numerous songs and instruments, from drums and percussion to strings, vocals, and more.


The midrange is enchanting, brimming with life, vibrating textures, and intricate details. It’s easy to lose yourself in the music for hours during a single listening session. The midrange is a vast universe, inviting you to explore its depths.


The treble is exceptional, particularly for an R2R DAC. It remains highly detailed and not harsh in the slightest, blending seamlessly with the standout elements of the performance.


The level of detail is truly astounding. No matter where you “look,” you can zoom in and hear every micro-vibration or focus on any instrument or voice you desire. The remarkable aspect is that nothing feels forced or intrusive. Everything flows seamlessly and harmoniously. You can effortlessly zoom out to appreciate the whole song or zoom in on particular elements as you please. It’s as if you can hear the musical “particles” or the very DNA of the sound.


The transients are also outstanding. The attack is explosive when necessary, and the decay is very natural, extending fully when needed in a highly dynamic manner. It’s fast and remarkably precise. All the sounds are exceptionally well-defined, with clear leading edges and a distinct character. The overall dynamics of this DAC are jaw-dropping. It handles everything effortlessly, from micro-dynamics to macro-dynamics. The timing is so accurate that the sound can effectively stop on a dime. This extracts or infuses energy into the music and I found myself swept off my feet by the engaging and flowing musical rhythm, finding myself enveloped into the musical universe and sometimes even directing.


Have you ever played a game in 1080p and then switched to 4k textures? That’s how I felt with WaveDream. The textures are incredibly detailed, raw, and natural.


The soundstage is impressively holographic and expansive, which becomes immediately apparent at the beginning of each song. The sound seems to open up in all directions.


This is one of the cleanest and most transparent DACs I have ever encountered. Paired with the Benchmark AHB2, it feels like a portal into your favorite music.


The vocals on WaveDream captivated me immensely. They exhibit remarkable texture, detail, and a delightful natural tonality. The intricacy of the vocal textures allows me to characterize the experience as raw. Although I’ve encountered smoother and more romantic vocals elsewhere, I found them particularly enchanting on WaveDream because of their raw quality and the unique sensation that the voices were originating from within my own throat and chest.

How does it sound compare to Wavelight?

The Wavelight occupies a different league, but I still respect its capabilities and commend Rockna for what they have achieved with this model. Although it doesn’t offer the same level of detail, precision, astounding soundstage, or overall realism as the WaveDream, the Wavelight still boasts excellent dynamics (particularly in macro aspects), a slightly smoother sound, and a touch more romantic character. By smooth, I mean that the sound is somewhat rounder, more intimate, and less revealing. However, don’t mistake the Wavelight for lacking punch, as it remains among the top DACs I know in this area. In fact, it hits so hard that often, I have to double-check to make sure my speakers are not on while listening with headphones.The vocals are a bit closer to the listener and have more weight, but they don’t possess the same level of detail.

Furthermore, the Wavelight exhibits delightful textures and tonality. In terms of realism, while it’s not on the WaveDream level, it still performs remarkably in this regard. Though it doesn’t possess such a holographic or expansive soundstage, or the same level of detail, the tonality, placement of instruments, and intimacy of the vocals make it a top-tier experience in this respect.

Wavelight is amazing, I still love it, and for me, it remains one of the best DACs I have ever heard. However, in this comparison, it is the little brother.


Overall, the sound is truly remarkable, and I can confidently state that this is the best DAC I have ever heard or tested at home. In addition to the aforementioned qualities, the WaveDream introduced a new level of realism to my listening experience. Since I conducted most of my listening sessions at night using headphones, I was frequently startled by the extraordinary detail extracted from the songs. These details often made me believe there was someone else in the room with me. Furthermore, due to the expansive soundstage, I occasionally had the impression that my speakers were playing simultaneously with my headphones.

I tried to describe my experience with Wavedream as much as I could. One meme from southpark would have been enough for the review though (pardon my “French”).

As mentioned at the outset of this review, there are a few moments in your audiophile journey that you’ll remember for a lifetime, and as time goes by, these moments become increasingly scarce. My experience with WaveDream has undoubtedly earned a spot at the top of my list, as it is unquestionably the best DAC I have reviewed and listened to thus far. It genuinely blew my mind!

Now, as you might have noticed, it’s not exactly inexpensive. You may wonder if it’s worth the investment. Is a Ferrari, Bugatti, or Lamborghini worth the money? WaveDream has a legitimate shot at being one of the absolute best DACs on the planet, so from my perspective, yes, it is. However, if you prefer not to venture into this category, the Wavelight, while not in the same league, is still remarkable in its own right, and I continue to adore it.

Please excuse me, as I must now return to my musical universe and indulge in the WaveDream experience once more while riding the soundwaves!