Weiss Engineering DAC502 D/A processor Measurements

Sidebar 3: Measurements

0720-DAC502-Web

The Weiss DAC202, which Erick Lichte reviewed in January 2012, was one of the highest-resolution digital processors I have measured, so I was intrigued to see if the DAC502 would match its predecessor's performance. As I had done with the DAC202, I measured the Weiss DAC502 with my Audio Precision SYS2722 system (see the January 2008 "As We See It"). Apple's USB Prober utility identified the DAC502 as "DAC501" from "Weiss_Engineering_Ltd." with the serial number string "0.0.1" (footnote 1).The USB port operated in the optimal isochronous asynchronous mode, and Apple's AudioMIDI utility revealed that the DAC502 accepted 32-bit integer data sampled at all rates from 44.1kHz to 384kHz. The AES/ EBU and S/PDIF inputs accepted data sampled at rates up to 192kHz.

The DAC502's maximum output level at 1kHz with the balanced outputs or the headphone outputs feeding a high 100k ohm load was 6.85V with the level set to "0dB"; 2.17V with it set to "–10dB," which is exactly 10dB lower; 684mV set to "–20dB," 20dB lower; and 217mV set to "–30dB," 30dB lower. As expected, the maximum levels from the unbalanced outputs were half those from the balanced outputs. With its polarity button set to Normal, the DAC502 preserved absolute polarity (ie, was noninverting) from all of its outputs. The balanced output impedance was 94 ohms at all audio frequencies; the unbalanced output impedance was 47 ohms. The front-panel headphone jack's output impedance was a very low 0.66 ohm. The DAC502 will have no problem driving low-impedance headphones.

Fig.1 shows the DAC502's impulse response with 44.1kHz data. It is typical of a conventional linear-phase filter with a symmetrical ringing before and after the single full-scale sample. This filter's ultrasonic rolloff (fig.2, magenta and red traces) reaches full stop-band attenuation at 24kHz with complete suppression of the aliased image at 25kHz of a full-scale tone at 19.1kHz (cyan, blue). The harmonics associated with the 19.1kHz tone all lie below –104dB. Fig.3 shows the DAC502's frequency response with data sampled at 44.1, 96, and 192kHz. The response with all three sample rates is down by just 0.3dB at the top of the audioband, with then a steep rolloff just before half of each sample rate. The response with 192kHz data continues the relatively gentle ultrasonic rolloff, reaching –3dB at 61kHz.

720WDAC502fig01

Fig.1 Weiss DAC502, impulse response (one sample at 0dBFS, 44.1kHz sampling, 4ms time window).

720WDAC502fig02

Fig.2 Weiss DAC502, wideband spectrum of white noise at –4dBFS (left channel red, right magenta) and 19.1kHz tone at 0dBFS (left blue, right cyan) into 100k ohms with data sampled at 44.1kHz (20dB/vertical div.).

720WDAC502fig03

Fig.3 Weiss DAC502, frequency response at –12dBFS into 100k ohms with data sampled at: 44.1kHz (left channel green, right gray), 96kHz (left cyan, right magenta), and 192kHz (left blue, right red) (0.25dB/vertical div.).

Fig.4 shows the effect of two of the DAC502's Creative EQ filters, high and low shelves at 110Hz and 10kHz, set to their maximum and minimum of ±10dB and measured with data sampled at 96kHz. The output reaches its specified boost or cut an octave below or above the selected turnover frequency; the boost or cut is 7dB at the turnover frequencies. Fig.5 shows the equalization I used to optimize the sound of the KEF LS50s in my room.

720WDAC502fig04

Fig.4 Weiss DAC502, typical EQ response at –12dBFS into 100k ohms with 96kHz data: high and low shelves at 110Hz and 10kHz set to "0dB" (left channel green, right gray) and set to ±10dB (left blue, right red) (2dB/vertical div.).

720WDAC502fig05

Fig.5 Weiss DAC502, Creative EQ settings used for the KEF LS50s in my room (left channel blue, right red) (0.5dB/vertical div.).

The effect of the Vinyl Emulator function on the DAC502's frequency response is shown in fig.6. The response varies significantly with the setting of the "Saturation" control. The central green and gray traces in this graph show what happens with it set to "0.0dB": The output slopes down above the midrange, with a –3dB plateau between 7kHz and 12kHz referred to the low-frequency level, and then a steep rolloff. With the control set to "–9dB," the high-frequency balance is closer to neutral, but with it set to "+9.0dB," the DAC's output is down by 3dB at 2kHz and by 10dB at 10kHz. The Emulator also introduces noise with a spectrum that tilts up below 300Hz (fig.7), adds mainly second-harmonic distortion, and reduces channel separation to around 20dB.

720WDAC502fig06-2

Fig.6 Weiss DAC502, effect of Vinyl Emulation at –12dBFS into 100k ohms with 96kHz data with Saturation set "–9dB" (left channel blue, right red), "0.0dB" (left green, right gray), and +9dB (left cyan right magenta) (1dB/vertical div.)

720WDAC502fig07

Fig.7 Weiss DAC502, Vinyl Emulation mode, spectrum of noise floor, 24-bit data (left blue, right red) (10dB/vertical div.).

Channel separation with the Vinyl Emulator bypassed was simply superb, at >122dB in both directions below 3kHz, decreasing to a still-superb 113dB at 20kHz. An increase in bit depth from 16 to 24, with dithered data representing a 1kHz tone at –90dBFS, dropped the DAC502's noise floor by 30dB (fig.8). This implies a resolution of 21 bits, which is one of the highest I have encountered and equals that of the Weiss DAC202. When I played undithered data representing a tone at exactly –90.31dBFS, the waveform was symmetrical, with negligible DC offset, and the three DC voltage levels described by the data were free from noise (fig.9). With undithered 24-bit data (fig.10) the DAC502's very low analog noise floor means it can output a clean sinewave, even at this very low signal level.

720WDAC502fig08

Fig.8 Weiss DAC502, spectrum with noise and spuriae of dithered 1kHz tone at –90dBFS with: 16-bit data (left channel cyan, right magenta), 24-bit data (left blue, right red) (20dB/vertical div.).

720WDAC502fig09

Fig.9 Weiss DAC502, waveform of undithered 1kHz sinewave at –90.31dBFS, 16-bit data (left channel blue, right red).

720WDAC502fig10

Fig.10 Weiss DAC502, waveform of undithered 1kHz sinewave at –90.31dBFS, 24-bit data (left channel blue, right red).

Even set to its highest output level, the DAC502 produced very low levels of harmonic distortion with full-scale data into the high 100k ohm load (fig.11). The subjectively benign second and third harmonics were the highest in level, but each lay close to a negligible –110dB (0.0003%). While the level of the second harmonic rose to –98dB (0.001%) when I reduced the load impedance to the punishing 600 ohms, the third harmonic remained below –110dB. The Weiss DAC has a bombproof output stage! Intermodulation distortion with an equal mix of 19 and 20kHz tones at –6dBFS was similarly very low (fig.12), with the difference tone at 1kHz lying at –115dB (0.0002%). Again the DAC502 wasn't fazed by the 600 ohm load. While the difference product increased in level, this was to a still-minuscule –106dB (0.0005%).

720WDAC502fig11

Fig.11 Weiss DAC502, 24-bit data, spectrum of 50Hz sinewave, DC–1kHz, at 0dBFS into 100k ohms (left channel blue, right red; linear frequency scale).

720WDAC502fig12

Fig.12 Weiss DAC502, 24-bit data, HF intermodulation spectrum, DC–30kHz, 19+20kHz at –6dBFS into 100k ohms, 44.1kHz data (left channel blue, right red; linear frequency scale).

The DAC502 offered excellent rejection of word-clock jitter. Fig.13 shows the spectrum of the DAC502's output when it was fed high-level 16-bit J-Test data via USB. All the odd-order harmonics of the undithered low-frequency, LSB-level squarewave lie at the correct levels, there are no other sideband pairs visible, and the central spike that represents the high-level tone at one-quarter the sample rate (Fs/4) is narrow. The spectrum was similarly clean with 24-bit J-Test data via USB, though there was some spectral broadening of the Fs/4 spike with S/PDIF and AES/EBU data (fig.14).

720WDAC502fig13

Fig.13 Weiss DAC502, high-resolution jitter spectrum of analog output signal, 11.025kHz at –6dBFS, sampled at 44.1kHz with LSB toggled at 229Hz: 16-bit USB data sourced from MacBook Pro (left channel blue, right red). Center frequency of trace, 11.025kHz; frequency range, ±3.5kHz.

720WDAC502fig14

Fig.14 Weiss DAC502, high-resolution jitter spectrum of analog output signal, 11.025kHz at –6dBFS, sampled at 44.1kHz with LSB toggled at 229Hz: 24-bit AES/EBU data (left channel blue, right red). Center frequency of trace, 11.025kHz; frequency range, ±3.5kHz.

I summed my measurements of the Weiss DAC202 by writing "The DAC202 is the best-measuring D/A processor I have measured in my quarter-century career at Stereophile. It just doesn't get any better than this." Weiss's DAC502 matched the DAC202 by also performing supremely well on the test bench.—John Atkinson


Footnote 1: Weiss's DAC501 and DAC502 differ only in their form factor—the 501 is narrower and slightly taller—and an extra, 4-pin headphone connector on the back of the DAC502.
COMPANY INFO
Weiss Engineering Ltd.
Florastrasse 42, 8610 Uster
Switzerland
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ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Bogolu Haranath's picture

Chord DAVE has headphone output :-) ......

John Atkinson's picture
Bogolu Haranath wrote:
Chord DAVE has headphone output :-)

So it does :-) Must have been having a senior moment!

And to respond to your question in another post, JVS is writing a followup, comparing the Weiss with the dCS Rossini.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Must have been too much wine the night before :-) .....

It would be interesting to see 'vinyl guys' do a follow-up, also :-) ......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If you can repeat 'person, woman, man, camera, TV', you are ok :-) ......

supamark's picture

but are there any plans to make the archives from Audiostream and InnerFidelity available online? The timing, a few days after I asked about the sites on Jim's AWSI post and if y'all would be getting new content up there, makes me feel coincidently responsible. There's a lot of valuable content that was produced for those sites, and it would be a shame to see it go the way of the late/great Audio Magazine's content (gone forever it seems).

John Atkinson's picture
supamark wrote:
are there any plans to make the archives from Audiostream and InnerFidelity available online?

For now the sites' content can still be found at their URLs: https://www.innerfidelity.com/ and https://www.audiostream.com/.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

John Atkinson's picture
John Atkinson wrote:
For now the sites' content can still be found at their URLs: https://www.innerfidelity.com/ and https://www.audiostream.com/.

Those URLs now redirect to www.stereophile.com.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Are the measurements in the Inner Fidelity website gone? ........

Jim Austin's picture

>>Are the measurements in the Inner Fidelity website gone?

Over the next few weeks, we'll be porting over the best material from both sites.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Great ..... In my opinion, all the measurements of those various headphones, in-ear phones and headphone amps at the Inner Fidelity website are worth saving, at least for few more years :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Flagship products like Sennheiser HD-800, Focal Utopia, Audeze LCD-4 and several other similar products are included in those Inner Fidelity measurements ...... Those headphones are well respected and are still in current production :-) .......

amartignano's picture

I think that all the great work of Tyll Hertsens (and Bob Katz) has to be ported to Stereophile site, for example under "Retired Columns & Blogs", not only a part. It was and is one of the best and more competent resource about the headphones world, with contents that will be valuable forever. A real pity that Tyll abandoned and a worthy successor was not found, making the late IF a sort of lifestyle hifi pics magazine, prone to website "death". Sad ending for a great work adventure!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

DAC with built-in EQ ...... Vinyl fans rejoice, 'Vinyl Emulation' is built-in ...... How can it get any better than this? :-) ......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JA2 or HR or MF could do follow-up review(s) :-) .......

MhtLion's picture

The best measurement I've ever seen. Unlike some DAC which has a good measurement but no musicality, I'm sure Weiss 502 has both. My next DAC identified. Very cleary identified.

Long-time listener's picture

... now that you've read the Jason Victor Serinus review, you know what a truly inferior piece of equipment it actually is...

MhtLion's picture

Not sure what you mean. Care to elaborate a little more?

Long-time listener's picture

First JVS says things like this (many times), to the detriment of the Weiss:

"The Rossini DAC certainly benefitted from its outboard Rossini Clock. Listening to The Rite of Spring without it, the soundstage wasn't as deep, quiet, transparent, or coherent; images seemed a bit less weighty, perhaps because the space around them wasn't as clearly defined; and the lowest octaves of instruments weren't as sharply focused. But the soundstage was still wider, the images weightier, than through the DAC502."

Then he says, "Would I recommend the Weiss DAC502? In a heartbeat. It doesn't merely sound clear, alive, full, and supremely musical..."

That's a pretty sudden turnabout, heaping effusive praise on something which he apparently didn't find all that satisfying. So I'm confused. But I have that problem a lot with Stereophile. The Aerial 5T bookshelf speaker apparently can't be used in the placement the manufacturer suggests, due to problems with the bass response, but you can move it out into the room, pair it with a $20,000 amp known for bass power and control, although even then you still sacrifice some bass weight, but -- hey! It's genuine Class A! Highly recommended!

I guess I'm saying I didn't find this follow-up helpful; I don't think it provided perspective that was useful for me. The Aerial 5T review also lacked perspective. We don't all have a selection of $20,000 amps sitting around that we can pick from to use with a sub-$4000 speaker, or a room where we can find a special placement for it. Only Stereophile reviewers do. How many readers or prospective buyers of the Weiss will this follow-up help? So there are some astronomically priced DACs out there, costing about as much as a house, that might sound better than the already very expensive $10,000 Weiss? Thanks, that's helpful, I'll keep it in mind. How about comparing it to another DAC that also measured well, the Holo Audio, that's more in its price range?

MZKM's picture

Unlike most high end DACs, this one has measurements that shows it has respectable performance while also being audiophile jewelry. For sure one I would recommend to someone insisting on paying this much.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

It's a box with a screen, a headphone jack, a knob that doesn't pretend to be anything other than a knob, a modestly sized company logo, and a basic model identifier. I have no issue with how it looks, but compared to some equipment designs, it's far more Timex than Rolex. (For the record, my last watch was a Timex.)

Some people pay $9850 for a DAC because (1) they can afford it and (2) they like how it sounds.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

..... and (3), it was also favorably reviewed and measured by Stereophile :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Not only this Weiss DAC is less expensive than the Rossini DAC, it is also less expensive than the Bartok DAC with headphone output ...... None of those dCS DACs have all the DSP capabilities of this Weiss DAC :-) .......

Jim Austin's picture

Anyone who thinks a Weiss DAC is audiophile jewelry knows nothing about Daniel Weiss, one of the most respected designers in the pro-sound industry. Several of his tools--the DAC1, the EQ1, the DS1-mk3 De-esser, the AD-2--are use in studios worldwide.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

MZKM's picture

In comparison to say the Benchmark DAC3, it is for sure nicer looking.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

There is surely something to be said for simplicity ;-)

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Yes .... Driving a 90's pre-owned, Toyota Corolla is simplicity :-) ......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Wonder how JVS' favorite sopranos sound like, when the Weiss DAC's built-in 'de-esser' is used? :-) ......

Ortofan's picture

... gimmicky features, such as the vinyl emulator, does this unit perform significantly better than the $7,500 Esoteric N-05?

https://www.esoteric.jp/en/product/n-05/top

https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/esoteric-n-05-network-audio-player/

Or, at the sub-$1,000 price level, the Marantz NA6006 or Denon DNP-800NE?

https://www.us.marantz.com/en-US/shop/hificomponents/na6006

https://usa.denon.com/en-us/shop/networkaudioplayers/dnp800ne_d?varId=

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Esoteric N-01, reviewed by Stereophile, offers digital filters, which can almost 'emulate' the 'vinyl emulation' DSP offered by this Weiss DAC :-) .......

supamark below was responding to another person's comments ..... not mine :-) ......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Mark Levinson 5101 CD/SACD player/DAC with Wi-Fi access and streaming capabilities ($5,500) could be a good competition for Esoteric N-05 :-) ........

supamark's picture

it does not but thanks for playing troll as usual.
.
This comment made a lot more sense when the post I was replying to was still up.

Long-time listener's picture

... the higher-end companies like Weiss offering basic, common-sense functions like tone-shaping circuits, as well as more whimsical ones too. I owned a Weiss Medea back in the day, so I'm sure this must be a good one.

Anton's picture

I was surprised to see people start fighting over a 985 dollar DAC.

Oops!

Inflation is getting the better of me. I used to think 'high end' gear would be reasonable at half the price. Now it's one tenth.

Damn, I really liked the review, too!

JA1's "vanishing point" is upon me, it seems!

I have been saving up for a turntable I read a report on in 2015 that sold for 5K. I recently contacted the company, as I was getting close to my goal...oops...Now, it 'starts' at over 14K.

Sucks to get old.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

You could try the 'vinyl emulation' DSP built in this DAC ....... Who knows, you may give up on that $14k turntable :-) ......

supamark's picture

I know buying something mechanical 2nd hand can be hit or miss but used with refurb/inspection is an excellent way to get the good stuff at a good price. This assumes of course that someone else is selling what you want.

georgehifi's picture

JA:"The Vinyl Emulator reduces channel separation to around 20dB.
Channel separation with the Vinyl Emulator bypassed was simply superb at 122db"

It's obvious someone was listening when I tried and posted about this many times over the years. A simple passive output L to R bleeding. network will get this "Vinyl Emulator" effect
That to get old recordings "ping pong L to R" sounding digital to sound like it's vinyl counterpart and to give it similar body. The digital has to have it's channel separation hobbled down from 120db to 30db.

One has to try to emulate the channel separation of a phono cartridge with the digital which is at best around 30db 1khz and deteriorates even more lower and higher. Here is the channel separation of an expensive Lyra cartridge https://ibb.co/BGmGp38

This gives bigger fuller center image and stops that horrible digital L to R ping pong effect on the old recordings.

Cheers George

tonykaz's picture

This Weiss DAC seems like the type of gear readily available to Bob Katz and his Pro-Audio peerage. ( Swiss but not terribly pricy )

I'm happy for Stereophile to step-up to this level of frill-less packaging in trade for Pro level performances.

I was reviewing DACs back when Schiit introduced their Big Supah Yggy Dac. ( 2015ish ) I couldn't then hear any significant differences between them. I had a careful hearing analysis from the University of Michigan's Audiologist Dept. in Ann Arbor. My hearing acuity was diminishing and needed careful correction.

I corrected my hearing and still struggle to differentiate between DACs. Jason Stoddard told me that DACs are boring. Hmm.

Tyll Hersten's Big Sound 2015 had numerous participants, none of which could pick any of the Best DACs as contributors to the test Systems high performance.

Steve Gutenberg, just this last week YouTube Audiophiliac, featured a Tape Specialist Audiophile that was & is collecting "original" Tapes back when they were cheap and affordable, reporting that the "original" tapes now being sold are actually digital copies, he says they are fake but have the original quality !

My wife's flip open cell phone died, she now runs her life with two iPads and a fresh Apple SE in Red. She pines for the good old days of the Wall Phone in the Kitchen ( with a 20 foot coiled cord ). I pine for the VPI turntable and Koetsu collection.

But...

I love my pocket rocket Stereophile system ( Astel & Kern ) like JA used at one of the Audio Shows.

Tony in Venice

ps. this outfit makes cables that would've been interesting but maybe too subjective for inclusion.

Kal Rubinson's picture

I'm happy for Stereophile to step-up to this level of frill-less packaging in trade for Pro level performances.

Nothing new. This is the 3rd Weiss DAC in Stereophile.

tonykaz's picture

Is this DAC designer special, in some way, that could develop into a Story for Print?, something like PS Audio's Paul McGowan or any of the designers that JA has coaxed onto the spotlight.

Tony in Venice

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Yes ..... Very good suggestion ...... Somebody like JA1 or JA2, who are technically oriented would be great to interview Mr. Weiss :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Imagine, if those wall phones were still here today, Nordost would be making 20 foot coiled cord for audiophiles ...... Of course one of the Stereophile reviewers would be using it at home and reviewing it :-) ......

dcolak's picture

OKTO DAC8 is state of the art, not this WEIS DAC.

Check the measurements:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/okto-dac8-ste...

And it costs only 1.000 EUR.

When is Stereophile going to start reviewing real state of the art DACs that are not including "hi-end" snake oil?

All these companies produce much better DACs:

SMSL, Matrix Audio, Topping, RME and many many more.

They do not try to pass for "hi-end" and yet, produce REAL STATE OF THE ART DACs.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?attachments/best-ster...

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Stereophile has reviewed the $400 Pro-Ject Pre-Box S2 DAC/headphone amp ..... Pro-Ject has nearly 20-21 Bit resolution and offers multiple digital reconstruction filters ....... Stereophile has also reviewed $300 AQ DragonFly Cobalt, which has nearly 20-21 bit resolution ....... Stereophile has also reviewed under $1k Schiit Bifrost DAC, which has 20-21 Bit resolution ........ Stereophile has also reviewed the under $2k Chord Qutest, which is in your ASR link ..... Qutest has 20-21 Bit resolution and offers few filters ..... 20-21 Bit resolution is quite common these days with the modern DACs/chips :-) ......

Archimago's picture

I think the Dragonfly Cobalt is a good example of why we need to look beyond the 20/21-bit dynamic range ;-). Very disappointing product IMO.

These days, with resolution, low distortion, overall "precision" being so good, it's hard to justify spending much money on DACs other than features that differentiate one product from another. I'm guessing the DSP built into this like the vinyl emulation and XTC is what they're aiming for among consumers.

Good that they've incorporated network streaming though. I think Bluetooth connectivity with better codecs like apt-X and LDAC would be a nice feature for convenience to see in future flagship products (like what Topping included with their DX3 Pro).

Bogolu Haranath's picture

AQ DragonFly Cobalt is a 'very disappointing product' because it incorporates, an un-changeable 'short minimum phase filter'? :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If that short minimum phase filter is the problem, one could choose the Pro-Ject Pre-Box S2 ($400) ...... In addition to a choice of multiple filters, Pro-Ject also offers the standard linear phase filter ..... It also has headphone output :-) ......

Kal Rubinson's picture

I will be reporting on the Okto Dac8 and JA will be doing a follow-up with measurements.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Hope you (KR) are using all the different filters and tell us which filter(s) you like :-) ......

Kal Rubinson's picture

Mebbe, mebbe not. ;-)

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Well ..... At least JA1's measurements can show all the different filter charectestics :-) .....

John Atkinson's picture
Bogolu Haranath wrote:
Well ..... At least JA1's measurements can show all the different filter charectestics :-)

I have asked for a review sample of the stereo version as well as measuring the 8-channel version that Kal has.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Excellent ..... Waiting to read the reviews and measurements :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Okto dac8 stereo could end up being the first Class-A+ DAC, under $2k, in the Stereophile list, even beating the mighty Benchmark DAC3, in price :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

After JA1 finishes his review, HR could do a follow-up review of Okto dac8 Stereo :-) .......

dcolak's picture

Looking forward to the review!

supamark's picture

you actually think throwing an off the shelf ESS Tech. or AKM DAC chip into a box, adding its' off the shelf software and a basic (probably generic op-amp based) analog section and power supply makes a DAC state of the art? Seriously? I'm sorry your hearing isn't good enough to tell the difference but that's about as far from state of the art as one can get.

Oh, and obvious troll is still pretty dang obvious (and still bad at it).

low2midhifi's picture

While I do not recall the specific models, I do vividly recall how Daniel Weiss made two of his products available for all comers in the large exhibition hall at Axpona 2019. His superb products could have been rolled into a larger system in one of the upstairs rooms. Yet, he manned his table and allowed the Axpona-goer to sample directly some of the highest end gear of the show that was available for touch and feel.

I had the privilege to meet Mr. Weiss and to sample his products on two days in Axpona 2019. One DAC was connected to Audeze LCD-3 or LCD-4 series headphones.

As in so many other industries, I am impressed by the extent to which the Swiss manage to punch so far above their weight in audio with such brands as Weiss, Nagra, CH Precision, Goldmund, and Steinheim.

The Weiss table was a fine memory among many of a fine 2019 Axpona. Here's to Axpona being more than a memory some time soon.

brams's picture

I was surprised there was no direct comparison to the dcs Bartok separately on the basis of a dac and a headphone amp.

Jim Austin's picture

>>I was surprised there was no direct comparison to the dcs Bartok separately on the basis of a dac and a headphone amp.

A reasonable expectation. However, the Bartok went back to dCS a long time ago, and JVS did not hear it before it was returned.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JA2 could also do a follow-up review of this Weiss DAC ..... JA2 could use his 'aural memory' of Bartok DAC and do that comparison ...... JA2 could also evaluate the built-in 'vinyl emulation' DSP of this Weiss DAC :-) ........

Anton's picture

Does this baby "unfold" MQA?

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

No.

Anton's picture

I am a bit dismayed that this revolutionary step up in audio quality is being so disrespected.

I love Tidal MQA and would be sad to lose it.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Roon Nucleus+, reviewed by Stereophile can do MQA unfolding :-) ......

Roon does not dis-respect the "Revolutionary step-up in audio quality" :-) ........

krahbeknudsen's picture

Interesting review. I find it fascinating that two so different approaches eg, FPGA vs ESS chips (long vs short reconstruction filter) can both lead to the highest level of performance.
In the pro world, especially for classical music, many of us are impressed with the sound of the Merging platform. The Hapi with the top version DAC card can be had for around half the price of the Weiss reviewed here. It does not convert DSD to PCM before decoding and gives you Ravenna connectivity as well as 8 channels. The only downside is that you have to mess with a 25 pin D-Sub out for your XLR (fairly easy) and you of course cannot connect those über expensive cables. :-)

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Follow-ups, including my forthcoming follow-up on this DAC, are not posted online. Nor are most of our recording reviews, the delicious letters to the editor, and more. Here's hoping that some of you actually subscribe at the exorbitant price of $12.95/year for print and even less for digital.

John Atkinson's picture
Jason Victor Serinus wrote:
Follow-ups, including my forthcoming follow-up on this DAC, are not posted online.

Hate to contradict you, Jason, but followups are always posted on-line, as a child page to the original review. However, this is not until after the relevant print magazine has been published.

Jason Victor Serinus wrote:
Here's hoping that some of you actually subscribe at the exorbitant price of $12.95/year for print and even less for digital.

Amazon has recently been offering a subscription to the digital version for $5/12 issues.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Well, all you children who still don't subscribe are just gonna have to check back in a few months. I actually don't know when at this time.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Those letters to the editor are re(a)d delicious :-) ......

hemingway's picture

Late to this section but anyway,

Without suggesting vinyl or digital is either 'good' or 'bad,' better or worse, it would be really interesting to see how an LP played on a reference deck through a 'neutral' cartridge and phono stage, measures in comparison to the saturation levels of this dac as documented by JA. The charts suggest that LP playback changes the frequency response by slowly shelving down from the mids on down, with a bump above 10k hertz depending on the level of "saturation" (similar to an MC cartridge? I don't know), and adding second order harmonic distortion and noise in the lower midrange and bass regions. This seems consistent with the following (http://www.pspatialaudio.com/LP_performance.htm) and squares with the description that records sound 'fuller' than digital, or at least with the Weiss designer's rendering of the vinyl sound. I would be curious to hear JA's subjective impressions of this filter compared to his Linn setup.

Along those lines, can Stereophile please publish measurements of phono cartridges similar to HiFi News reports?

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