Originally Posted by CLS
First of all congratulations. I know you guys have auditioned a few DACs reading from this thread. I would like to get your opinion regarding your subjective preference of DACs specifically the Weiss DAC2, Bryston BDA1, and the newly released Ayre QB-9. I'll be trying out the Ayre soon when my dealer gets it in. The Weiss is harder to audition as I've not found a store carrying it yet.
Here's what I've had inhouse so far in the past 90 days:
Berkeley Alpha DAC
Weiss DAC2 (same as above; pro version; different faceplate, way less $$)
Bryston BDA-1 (current)
The Ayre DAC is due here in the next week or two (dealer wants me breaking i tin.....kelwl huh?
) but the above DACs are being compared via AES/EBU or SPDIF not USB or firwire 9even though the Weiss is a firewire DAC too). I will get the USB side up to speed asap cuz I'll likely try the "tube version" of the Ayre DAC, that is Gordon's Wavelength Cosecant at the same time.
The Weiss is my fave, with a tube-like midrange that is to die for. David heard it and pulled the trigger! The Berkeley is a masterful DAC, too, with a great (not just good) preamp setup that allows for a nice clean digital voume control, input selection, mute and phase selection via remote. If you have an all-digital system (i./e no analog sources) then the Berkeley is a legit digital preamp too. The Bryston is the value leader at $2k and is quite good, but doesn't give you that last 5-10% of fidelity that the berkeley and Weiss dacs do, especially on average-or-less recordings. The sound of a bell, however, is the best on the Bryston..it's top end is crystaline but not brittle. It's weak link is somewhere in the lower treble, a little harsh on compressed recordings...something the Weiss just magically works its way through. And it's not like it rolls them off or masks them; the Weiss just uniquely seems to make everything it plays sound more musical, whether it's redbook or 24/192. Now it can't turn the original Rush Vapor Trails into anything listenable....I said magical not miraculous.
Sorry...this is a hideous thread hijack. I'm done.