Bidat vs Perfect Wave vs Weiss and others

This is thread I started a while ago and promised in February i would start doing some real world comparative testing using the Bidat (Plus Mod) as the ref. The units under test are to include in no specific order the MSB Platinum Dac, the Weiss Minervera and the Playback Design player. I posted this under the follow-up of the original thread and it is there is you do a search under Digital for "ps audio perfect". I can't understand why it did not 'promote' to the top of the digital section as it did in the past whenever there was a new contribution, so I have started a new related thread with the first entry of my fun (and I hope edifying comparative experiences).

Ok, I just got a broken in Weiss Minerva (several hundred hours at least). It has been in my system burning in for about 18 hours (18 hours since arriving in my home, time to come to thermal equilibrium). I have done some comparative listening to the Museatex Dcc-1 (a rarely known digital preamp 19 bit dual differential type) using glass Tos on both and then glass on the DCC1 vs a very expensive (can't name it yet as the manufacturer has not released it...sorry :( ) Firewire on the Weiss. I have a Mac Mini (2007 model) 2.0 ghz Core2Duo with 4Gig of ram running Leopard (although this model can only see 3.01 gig of that (I used 4gig as the memory transfer is optimized when the mem modules are the same). I also have a 1TB NAS (all over wifi). I am of course going to reserve final judement until a bit later.

I will be comparing the Museatex Bidat with the Plus Mod later this weekend. As a teaser, I will go on record and say that honestly at this point I don't agree with the stellar reviews concerning the Weiss Minerva.

It is resolute, almost technicolor but just to give you a short glimpse of what I am hearing, I could imagine a well healed vinyl person listening to Holly Cole on vinyl and then listening to the Weiss (playing the same in CD format) and saying "this is why I will never leave vinyl". Now that may sound harsh, but this is a hobby and I don't have a dog in the race, I am just reporting my ears findings.

I listened to a few high resolution files 176.4/24 and 96/24 but what I heard was a really clear highly resolved soul-less rendition of the music. It never ever made me smile or relax into the music the way the DCC-1/Bidat or even my former (when I actually spun cd' time flies) stellar Dynavox Dynastation 2 (the finest CD player I have ever heard).

In a nutshell (at this point) it just sounds like digital and that aint good in my camp because I am not forgetting about the gear and just listening to the music. I don't like syrupy or dark, I have heard plenty of players try to use that trick to sound musical. No, I look for something that is more elusive and few their be that find that magical combination when forging through the nether regions of the digital domain. I will continue listening to see if the Weiss surprises me :)

More to come...

Would you Mind listing your room size & main components here so a better feel can be had by others during your accounts of the varied converters?

Also, will the same interface be used on each DAC - playback system?
Jim the auditioning is done in a relatively small room with hardwood floors (18ft by 15ft with 9ft ceilings) near field as to eliminate as much of the room as possible. I mentioned the connections used above (starting thread) as I will with the other dacs when they arrive. When I can used the same type of connection I will and with the same cable.

Components other than the dacs are my own design. Solid state amps 100 watts/channel and 2 way stand mount speakers. My larger sys consists of an active system which uses 6 channels of amplification and for this, I simply wanted to get at the soul of the device under test...very direct on level playing ground. The system I am using is very neutral...not thin, not cool, not warm... neutral.

I do now want this to go into gear-fest, it is specifically to see for myself (and I am sharing for those interested) a real consumers (i.e. non dealer, non pro reviewer... non silent investor) point of view on a lot of newly hyped gear. Hope this helps :)

I will tell you that I recently got rid of a Wadia 851, a Bat Rex and various other better known pieces. I sold my Manley Labs Neo 300's but I think I am going to buy that particular amp again, I used it on the tweets in my active system (with Princess Mesh plates...very NICE). I do prefer active systems over passive ANY DAY OF THE WEEK :) but the test system is all passive.
Pardon my lack of proof-reading, I wrote:
"I do now want this to go into gear-fest, it is specifically to see for myself (and I am sharing for those interested) a real consumers (i.e. non dealer, non pro reviewer... non silent investor) point of view on a lot of newly hyped gear. Hope this helps :)"

I meant to say "I do NOT want this to go into gear-fest"

So are you listening to the PS Audio Perfect Wave digital also? It was mentioned in your orginal thread.
I have a SUPER-DAC prototype from APL whose DACs in the Esoteric modded APL NWO 3.0 and 4.0SE literally have caused people to sell their vinyl rigs. 20 32-bit 2nd generation AKM Dacs/side, upsampler, 2 NOS-tubed class A output stage, etc., etc., etc. This is the first "stand-alone" DAC box ever designed by Alex Peychev that wasn't based around a transport of some kind.

The performance is nothing short of amazing. Production on APL stand-alone DAC boxes at a lower level should start sometime this year in Europe. As a prototype, the box is pretty rough and it doesn't yet have all the inputs it will be fitted with in final form. It does, however, sound better than anything I heard at CES, including all the well-know stacks and standalone players.

I have no connection to APL and it took me over 18 mos to finally get this SUPER-DAC prototype. It was worth the wait. I am in Denver.
Audiofun, you should really try the Weiss dac along with the Amarra software. The Amarrra works in tandem the iTunes interface. It may change your opinion of the Weiss. I have the Weiss Dac2 myself, and own the Amarra software as well. Note that the Amarra does not work on any compressed audio files, only lossless and hi-rez. You can download a free demo version of it here:
Hi guys, I have not tried the PS Audio get as yet but it is coming :) I do have Amarra :) and yea I would say you need it with the Weiss. It helps the Weiss tremendosly, I dare say it is a necessity. I wanted to evaluate the units nakedly ie nothing but iTunes. Please don't get me wrong, I certainly am not ragging on the Weiss, just trying to see if I can get it to sound musical :)
Fplanner2010: I have heard of the APL gear but not ever actually heard or seen it. I will look it up on the web. Forgive my typos from earlier please, I posted my previous response from my iPhone as I was running out of the house on the way to the office :)
Audiofun: FYI - From the APL HiFi forum-

"The APL Hi-Fi site is being re-designed so it reflects the current products, provides more product detail and is easily upgraded, unlike the old one.

There are links to email and online forum at the bottom of the welcome page.

We've been busy with DAC boxes development:

1. All-solid-state one with 8 DACs per channel, transformer coupling and non-negative feedback output buffer capable of driving not only any cable or pre/amp, but also headphones. We do have a working prototype and I must say that only NWO-4.0-SE can outperform it. I believe that, at its price point, the new solid-state DAC box is an outstanding performer.

2. Top line DAC with 20 DACs per channel, transformer coupling and E182CC tubes, the same internal topology as the NWO-4.0-SE. Best sound, cost no object.

Both DACs come with volume control for direct-to-amp connection.

Thank you for your support and patience.

Alex Peychev"
Do you know when SUPERDAC will be in market?
Fplanner2010: I can honestly tell you at this point I am only interested in the dacs I mentioned, i.e. MSB / Playback Designs / PS Audio. Oh yeah, I will have access to the very latest and greatest AMR 77 so I will be comparing all 3 the Weiss and the Bidat and AMR together in the same system this weekend if the weather is ok.

My Bidat is resident of course and isn't going anywhere.

The MSB Power Dac (I have heard that it is very very similar to the Plat Dac 3 but with less features and it is not truly balanced) is due to ship to me on Monday. I am testing all the units using the RCA outs.

I have read on here and other forums some things concerning APL that would cause me pause if I were interested in the products.
BR - I have no details as to when the SUPERDAC will be available or what it will cost. You might send an e-mial to Alex with your questions.

Audiofun - I understand your concern. I have had similar concerns, but Alex has ALWAYS come through for me over the past 5 years. The prototype SUPER-DAC is in a league of its own, IMO, regardless of price. I feel very fortunate. To each their own, as they say. Good luck.
Thanks Fplanner2010, I would like to hear this unit. Perhaps i will get a chance to do just that one day.
Hope I'm not too late to chime in on this thread. I just sold a Weiss Dac2 that I owned for just a few weeks that I could not hear what everyone was raving about. I put it in my system and had a few audiophile friends over to let them hopefully hear something extraordinary. They did not hear anything worth writing home about.
After swapping cables and trying to find that magic that everyone was raving about, my friend Antoine asked me to go get another preamp from my wife's McIntosh system. As I was about to go unhooking from our living room system, I saw the little Valab non oversampling dac that we bought off Ebay for $200... a lot easier to swap out the dac instead of the preamp I thought.
We had been using a Chesky Ultimate cd for reference that night... and not hearing the huge soundstage or the clear holographic sound that we were used to hearing on the other dac.
It took all of 2 seconds after swapping out the Weiss Dac2 with the Valab nos $200 dac that everyone just opened their mouths and literally gasped at the difference. Huge sound stage, crystal clear voices and instruments and holographic imaging so thick you could cut it with a machete.

How could this be happening?

We don't know, but it did. The Valab trounced the Weiss.

So I can definitely see Audiofun's not so stellar comment about the Weiss also. It must be a great dac to be getting all the praise, but it did not have the synergy to be welcomed into my system, as my ears judged.
FPlanner: i'm looking forward to your thoughts on the PSA combo. am assuming you'll be getting the pair?. if you are, will you be comparing them using the hdmi link between pwt/pwd?.

when i recently experimented with the pair using the various hook-ups, i (and two friends) found the hdmi to really shine over the other options. i also found (along with 3 other friends) that ps audio's own silver I2S-12 took things a notch higher then standard hdmi cable (please don't ask me how or why lol!).

doubt comparing the psa gear to the hi level stuff you're talking about will be even close unless the psa pair is set-up at it's best. the pwt and pwd are good piece's alone but without the someday to be released bridge, they beg to be used together via a good hdmi connection imho.

not having access to the type of fantastic digital gear you're talking about, i look forward to hearing what you think. having been a pwt/pwd owner since release, i'm wondering how the best digital i've ever heard stacks up against the real big dogs. can it run with them or are they in another league?.

thanks for the info. great thread!

Mattzack2: I feel your pain :)The Weiss is not staying, Ive just been comparing it to my Bidat (with the Plus Mod) and the Weiss was DESTROYED and I mean shamefully so. I am careful with my reviews and I don't post a greta deal becasue for one thing I know what I like and I don't need the approval of other sot justify my gear purchases, but I thought this thread might be of help to others :) The Weiss is not IMHO worth the praise it has been getting. I just ordered a M2Tech Hiface yesterday so that I will be able to get 24/192 out of my Mac, I will report on that when it arrives. So thus far the order is Bidat = King of Dacs / DCC-1 = better than Weiss / Weiss = trialing the pack and exit papers are imminent.
I was thinking that my Weiss was a sysnergy problem with the rest of my gear, but I tested it with my wife's McIntosh setup and still could not hear what everyone else claims to hear. I am hoping to test out an Audio Valve component from my dealer and friend Mike Kay at Audio Archon. And next week he is letting me try out a nice Bryston BDA1 dac.

I am really looking forward to finding something that sounds better in my system than the Valab, but until then, I have no complaints with it at all.

Keep us posted on your findings. I am very interested to learn from your experience.
Ok, so today I took my Bidat (Plus) and the Weiss to my buddies place to compare the 3 to the latest version of the AMR 77 (I also listened to the AMR 777 little brother player). I only took the Weiss so my friend could hear if for himself, I knew it would not stand a chance.

His sys consists of Karan amp and preamp, I can't remember the name of the speakers but I will post here again after I speak to him.

Thirty seconds into the comparison of the Weiss to the Bidat, he said we could just take it out and place it on the sideline (it didn't go back in). He was a bit shocked at how digital the Weiss sounded.

THe latest AMR 77.... let me tell you, that thing makes MUSIC!!! I preferred most of the songs (over a 4 disc combination) on the AMR over the Bidat with the exception of Diana Krall. I think it could be as simple as the tube choice in the AMR. I felt her vocal were rendered better through the Bidat. My buddy did hear what I was referring to and acknowledged it.

The smaller AMR cd player was also VERY VERY GOOD!!! It wasn't quite up there with the 77 but man, for $4500 it is an awesome unit.

I will have the MSB Power Dac in probably late this week, that will be my next comparison.

At this point I would say that the AMR 77 is probably the best one box player I have ever heard (I think it has displaced the Dynavox Dynastation 2 in that category).

Will I buy one? I still have to hear the Music Playback Design, so I don't know as yet.
This is an addendum to my last post. I want to be sure that I emphasize that the differences between the Bidat and the AMR 77 are not major. They are very close in sonics, but I do believe (at least on the majority of the recordings) that a bit of "tube-magic" was at work and to the beneft of the AMR.

Either way, at this point these are amongst the finest digital pieces I have come across.

One thing I forgot about in my test of the Bidat vs the AMR is the use of the digital cable. I used my buddies which I'm unfamiliar with. The two best digital cables I have ever used and which I own are the FIM gold coax digital and the Monarchy glass Tos. They sound nearly identical and the Monarhcy is the ONLY digital cable I have heard that is as good or better than the FIM. I will have to go back with my digital cable as I can not believe I let this major detail/component slip my mind when packing my gear to head over to my friends place.... Stay tuned.

Also the MSB is scheduled to be here on Wednesday:)
As an owner of the Weiss Medea I would agree that the Minerva is NOT that special. It is quite good for the money but not sth extrordinary. The only advantage it has the 24/192 through the Firewire connection.

Thats why Weiss is changing it almost after a year since its release although they have kept the Medea for more than 6 years as their reference....That alone, must mean a lot...;)
Very interesting Argyro. I would love to hear a Medea one day. I don't wish to keep ragging on the Minerva as I'm sure people who have followed this thread know my opinion on it's sound :). I appreciate
your comments.
When you did the last audition at your friends place, what were the transports involved? A computer at all? What transport for the Bidat?

We used exclusively the AMR 777 as the transport and as I stated above I completely forgot to bring my resident FIM Gold Coax or my glass TOS. The audition was performed the afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday. I did not take or use my Mac Mini which is my source of choice for ALL my music. Though I may be getting into a turntable for the fun of it :) I did take photos on my iPhone just in case someone needed proof that all these units were in the same room at the same time :)
I just noticed this thread. All that I can say is that my experiences are greatly at odds with what has been said here. Initially, I just used the Minerva driven by several transports and a music server. With the exception of using it with the Oppo 83 as a transport, I was quite impressed with the sound. This was primarily the width and depth of the soundstage as well as the bass. After about two weeks, I was even more impressed as the topend was more extended and sweet.

It had always been my intent to use the Minerva with a Mac server using Amarra and Firewire. The Mac has a USB output along with the Firewire 800 output, but the Minerva has no USB input. I had heard such a setup prior to buy all of this and was amazed at what I heard. When I finally got everything together and waited about a week, I would flat out say nothing in my experience with digital sources even approaches what I am hearing.

I have Shindo Labs vinyl front end and love it. The new digital front end does not sound like vinyl, it sounds like master tapes. There are several conditions, however. First, at least in my system, the Minerva at it full output overloads the line input. I find that two pushes on the Minerva down volume, while still pretty hot, works best. Second, I think the use of Firewire is essential. Unfortunately, I cannot really test this, but with my S/P DIF sources, I never got what I hear with the Mac, firewire source. Third, the Minerva and the Mac are very sensitive to power conditioning and to vibration. My mac using the trickle charger when plugged into the Synergistic Research PowerCell 10SE improved so dramatically, that I had to go back several times to make myself confident of what I was hearing.

I have never heard the Museatex Bidat DAC, but did long ago have the EMM dac. I have heard the AMR 777 and really could not stand it. The best dacs I have heard have been the input on the Lindemann 820S, the Exemplar Xindak Dac 5, and the AA tube dac.

All of this once again, suggests that component's sound depends on what is in the system and what ones tastes are. Given past experiences I expect that the Weiss Minerva will be soon displaced by another dac. Some say the new Weiss Dac 202 will do this, but I have yet to hear a production version.
Tbg: Mileage does vary so to speak. I did as mentioned use a Firewire (Entreq) connector and my beloved glass TOS and the sound was nearly identical and I was not moved at all by either. To me as stated above the sound was crystal clear but totally DEVOID of any type of musicality (I know that is a loaded word but I think experienced audiophiles know exactly to what I am referring) is kinda like the famous quote from a U.S. Judge..."I may not be able to define pornography but I know it when I see it:)

I had at my disposal the Karan preamplifier and it certainly was not over-driven although I did not check the Minerva for the updates that allow you to adjust the output voltage.

I do not agree that "All of this once again, suggests that component's sound depends on what is in the system and what ones tastes are." ... I agree with the second half (you wrote) "and what ones tastes are."

I do not like using other devices as tone controls and it was interesting to me that when the dealer found that I did not like the Minerva at all he asked me (mind you without my claiming it was sterile) if i had tubes in my system anywhere (my answer was no). His reply was that's why i could not handle the sterility of the Minerva...he has tubes in his system.

The AMR 777 I heard while not as good as the Bidat (Plus mods) or the AMR77 certainly made no bones of putting the Minerva to rest. The Bidat and the EMM Labs gear do not sound the same, so I would not consider hearing the EMM Dacs (not saying you do) a basis for imagining what the Bidat is capable of :)

I have owned my Mac Mini since 2007 and perhaps it is because of where I live but I have not found it to be over critical of power at all, but then I do live across the street from a Mains Power Transformer... I know this because it blew up one night after being hit by lightning. Far as vibration control I use a NAS which has my own home brew of vibrational control employed thus my macs internal HDD is not typically spinning when I am playing my music.

The net net is: The AMR 777 sounded very very very good, the Bidat and AMR 77 sounded Fantastic and even my DCC-1 acquitted itself quite nicely...the Minerva is just not for me and is going back in the morning.

But I am fully aware that some of us listen for different things.
Audiofun, as I implied, my experiences are entirely contrary. I still maintain that minor system differences make a world of difference and tastes certainly differ. I have never heard the realism I hear with the Mac/Amarra/Firewire/Minerva. I am not interested in something that sounds musical, my goal is realism. Oh, I have no tubes in my system at present. I don't think I have ever even seen a Bidat.
Tbg: I want to clarify and agree that system changes can obviously make a difference in the sound of a product. What I meant to convey was that all items used in the comparison were identical....PC's/ interconnect /digital cables...etc, thus the only variable was the DAC itself :) Working with a very neutral sounding system and with ONE variable being interchanged I was very clearly able to determine what the dacs were doing.

When I go and listen to Patricia Barber or Keb Mo...etc, live (at a venue) it does in fact sound musical to me. So I do in fact equate realism with musicality. I have been in the hobby since 1997 (this sickness was imparted to me by my uncle) and I can tell you, if it aint musical I aint listening :)

I have never understood audiophiles claiming not to listen for musicality but rather realism...I have always been of the school of thought that music should sound musical (hence real)... Anything else sounds like an oxymoron (or a lot of bad noise), at least to me.

If live events didn't move me emotionally (something I ABSOLUTELY equate with musicality) I would never go to another live event.

I think we both agree that different people listen for different things. To my ears the Minerva is HiFi-ish to the nth degree and this is why it is a great thing for all of us that we have sooooooo many choices.
Some claim that all we can hope for in music reproduction is musicality. They don't mean realism, but merely that it is entertaining. This certainly is not my goal. In my 45 years as an audiophile, I have often thought that I was 95% of the way toward realism, only to have a major improvement of twice as good as it was.

Now I think of something that a professional once told me. You can always tell whether a piano heard through a wall is live or a reproduction. When you cannot, that would be a realistic system. Outside my room with the Mac/Minerva etc. I am getting very close on some well recorded albums. The best recording that I use right now is Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis, Two Men with the Blues.
As I stated, for me musicality is realism (rarely do I concern myself with what others claim regarding musicality and what is capable in the area of reproduced music).

Since I have owned Tube Research Labs gear (amps/preamp).., Bidat...etc. I have not been able to claim anything as being nearly twice as good. I knew when I was getting to the top and I have not had a revelatory minute in digital repro or amps in over 10 years. I have heard different but it is my experience that if a amp can match or come close to TRL or a dac can match or come close to a Bidat you are indeed in rarefied territory. The AMR 77 is in the a upper echelon of the best digital I have been exposed to. I can't wait to hear the MSB and Musical Playback gear :)

I also have walked into a room on multiple occasions as have others I am acquainted with thinking we were going to find a live ensemble only to find a very musical and realistic system converting the sinusoidal signals :)

I would however be interested in where you heard an AMR 777 and what the ancillary gear was. The disparity between the 777 and the Minerva was so great I was truly perplexed at your assessment of the 777.
All that I can say is enjoy yourself. I agree that the disparity between the Minerva and the AMR is great, in the Minerva's favor.

Anyone who says that you walked in a room thinking there was a live group perplex the hell out of me. I know no one who has ever had that experience.
Im glad you like the Weiss, mine is going back in the morning.

Still wondering where you heard the 777 and with what equipment.

Far as walking in a room and having it sound live...I have even read so called golden eared magazine reviewers claim to have thought a quartet was playing at a show only to find gear making the music. Granted this was a while ago and no, I could not for the life of me recall the magazine article, but the fact is I have been fortunate enough to hear systems that good. I believe you when you say you're perplexed by this.
You should have gotten a good deal on the Minerva as it is replaced by their Dac 202. I heard a prototype at CES versus the Minerva and heard some improvements. We will see whether that holds in my system.

I have often heard people say that they can hardly distinguish their reproduced music from live. As I said, at one time I thought I was close only to realize how far away from real I was when I got a better amp or speakers. I may still be quite distant despite being so impressed with the Mac/Amarra/Firewire/Minerva's realism, but realism is still what thrills me.
Are you referring to a prototype of the Dac202 or the 777 against the Minerva?
The Weiss 202 dac and the Weiss Minerva. Europeans are claiming that they hear little benefits in moving from the Minerva to the 202.
Take it all with a grain of salt and bias. The minerva is fantastic, anyone saying otherwise has bias of some sort. It's always great to hear those that say what they own is the BEST. I own the DAC2, not saying it's the best, but it is fantastic. Some posters have proclaimed the perfection of their products...
Hatari: This whole thing started out as my quest for (as mentioned above) to find a 24/192 dac that could at LEAST match the sound of my Bidat. This has been friendly (in my opinion) and as the one who started the thread I have to say telling me that I have a 'bias' because I found the Minerva sterile and a-musical is not in keeping with the spirit of the thread. This was to share my quest with others as I knew I would have a lot of gear in my home to test side by side. You seam tp like the DAC 2, I am glad. I OWN the Bidat and the DCC-1, I am shopping for the others. The fact that AMR 77 sounded as fantastic as it did made me think that maybe 24/192 should not be my immediate goal.

As I stated many times before I still have to test the MSB which I should have tomorrow and I will be getting a Playback Design to test at a later date... so I do not understand your entry to this thread.

I do think the Bidat is one of the best dacs extant and so do a great number of people which is why you rarely see them for sale some 10 years after their introduction and then I believe the ones you do see are mostly a result of hard financial times forcing the sale.

As I said earlier I have taken photos of all the gear I have tested in the same rack with the same gear... i.e. I know of what I speak.

I am not selling anything and I work for no-one except my own software company.

Lets keep this fun. I am not saying the Minerva is not amazing for you, I am saying it can not remain in my system.

Please re-read your statement. I am a Porsche fan and owner, I am not super fond of Ferrari's but what if I made a statement that anyone who says that Porsches are not "Fantastic" has a bias....perhaps they don't like Porsches :)

This post is for those interested in my ongoing real-world non-biased (non stock holding status in any of these companies) opinion. And I am going to buy the one that sounds the best to my ears while being honest about what I hear from the others regardless of what the magazine reviewers may have to say ...

Keep'n real
no worries Audiofun. i'm looking forward to you're thoughts and see them for what they will be.....your thoughts. it's great that you have an opportunity to do such well controlled comparisons of such cutting edge digital gear. it's even better that you're taking the time to share what *you think and hear*. i for one really appreciate it.

that said. i won't be chiseling your opinions in stone =). no doubt they will be of value but they will always be your thoughts. i'm sure others can/will legitimately hear things differently.

now get busy and don't forget the cables!
Levy03: Thanks for appreciating what I am doing for what it is; my opinion on sundry digital gear. Also I am glad you realize that I do not expect my opinion to be chiseled in stone :) Like I said this is about fun and enjoyment, but I also want to truthfully report what I hear in an unbiased and truthful way...which I know will not please everyone.
It's good to see people post actual, real world impressions. Some many professionally published reviews say everything sounds great. Keep up the good work of posting some good comparisons. Would love to see more real peoples thoughts on the Ayre USB DAC.
Thanks Bmckenney: that is my exact goal, to tell the WHOLE story behind a piece of gear, something we don't seem to be able to get from the reviewers. As you stated, with most reviews...everything they listen to sounds good :)

Best regards
As a reviewer, I need to say several things. First, print and electronic magazines need advertising to survive. This was not the case in early subscription magazines like Stereophile and The Absolute Sound. There is an uncomfortable concern by both editors and reviewers in reviewing pieces from advertisers. I have known many instances of pressure from both sides in this relationship but have seldom, if ever, felt such pressure. But do personally know many manufactures and the personal efforts by small ones to make a go of their businesses. Nevertheless, I have felt that there is nothing positive that I can say about a product and simply returned it. Of course, unless the readership could note the list of "returned without review" pieces, they lack this context.

Second, you can learn the personal biases in what reviewers value when listening and key more closely on reviewers who reflect what you think to be important. You also gain familiarity with their equipment in a long review, rather than the often "blows away" etc. evaluations in posts here or elsewhere.

Finally, reviewers have listened to many components and have units for evaluation long enough to optimize them, at least within their rooms. Reviewers' rooms tend to be "above average" rooms.

Nevertheless, some individuals' postings carry more weight than others given their evident passions for what they hear. Reading between the lines, one often knows the poster has a good context for his (or rarely, her) posting and is quite sincere in what they say.

If you want negative and positive reviews in complete disregard to who advertises, you really need to learn to pay for your reviews and seek magazines not accepting advertising. The "internet generations" have learned to expect information at no cost. Lots of luck in getting unbiased information in such a circumstance.
Tbg: I don't disagree with what you have just laid out... Which is exactly why I thought it would be cool to do this since I will have all this equipment at my disposal and NO overhead whatsoever. Thus there is no incentive to be anything less than completely open as to what I am experiencing. Heck, if I ever change my mind on some of this gear...guess who may have to pay full retail and then maybe even a surcharge on top of that :)

I know of a reviewer who received an integrated amp from a very famous American manufacturer and he did exactly what you stated. After listening to it, he offered it back to the company and told them I don't think you want me to review this product as it is.

To me, that is a disservice, BUT.., I understand commerce and these situations exist (right or wrong).

This is why I love reading intelligently laid (not referring to my own though I have attempted to be fair and rigorous) reviews on this forum and a few others.

I do believe what you have written has merit.
Unfortunately the MSB did not show up tonight, but I did receive a Sim Audio Moon 300D dac today. Cold out of the box (sat in my car all day while I was at work) it sounds promising... I am not going to make any real judgments until at least 2 days so as to allow it to come to equilibrium.

It is promising and it was ice-cold. Stand by :)
Audiofun, you are indeed fortunate to have access to such high end digital gear to audition at home. Count me as a happy Weiss Dac2/Amarra/mac mini owner (at the moment), but I'm enjoying your observations and comparisons. I have a feeling the MSB Platinum dac is going to be hard to top, but you have some other strong contenders. Thanks for the interesting thread.
Heymikey: Thanks for the post. I do count myself fortunate and yes this fun. The dac I have coming is not a Platinum at the moment, with the whole Plat Dac IV coming out that plan is delayed a bit. I have a MSB Power DAC coming which from what I understand sound very very very similar (this from MSB) if used single ended which is the way I have been testing everything thus far.

I am glad you find the thread interesting.

I will say that the Moon 300D is turning out to be a bit of a surprise. Can't say too much yet, but I will say that cold out of the box I immediately found it (to my ears) superior to the Minerva in overall presentation. Will elaborate further in the coming days.
If I might throw another log on the fire, I got the Exemplar moded Oppo 83 in yesterday. It is, of course, a universal player with blu-ray capability. I had already compared it with the original non SE version, and it was quite superior, but this much better regulated version is the best player I have ever heard. Previously, I tried the output of this (cd only) into the Minerva, but the Oppo digital out is not very good. I have yet to try this with the new one.

I should also say that it only had about four hours of breakin last night. The teflon caps would not be anywhere near their best. More to follow, of course.

I would recommend, Audiofun, that you get a listen to this unit and there are many dealers who sell it, but it is under such heavy demand that it may be difficult to get one in your home system.
I've already been pondering either this unit or the Cambridge Azure 650BD for my Blu-Ray movie watching needs. I rarely spin a disc for music any longer. I buy a disc and immediately rip it to the HDD (soon to be SSDD:).

If I go with the MSB, I will have their proprietary XPORT upgrade added to the deck of choice for SACD/Blu Ray playback through the dac.
I use the Oppo BDP-83 (non-SE version) for blu-ray as well. I don't use it as a cdp (I have a Wadia 860X w/GNSC Statement mods for that), but I do often watch and listen to music concert dvd's & blu-rays. I feed the Oppo's optical digital output into my Weiss Dac2 by way of glass toslink (Wireworld Supernova 6), it sounds much better that way than the Oppo's analog output running into my preamp. I can only imagine how good the Exemplar modded Oppo would be, and blu-ray audio playback through the MSB dac would no doubt be excellent as well.