You might also wish to consider Berkeley Audio Design's "Alpha DAC" which plays high res formats too.
Best of all it's 'only' US$5,000 which I think is quite a savings over the Playback Desgin and likely the MSB also.
Hope this helps .. .. ..
If you want Jane Monheit in your living room, you need to listen to her on vinyl, you will never get there using digital samples.
Or, know her of course.
Thanks guys, but I'd really like to hear from someone who has done a true head to head with a Bidat or a Dynastation 2. I have compared my digital directly to a SOTA vacuum TT using a Lamm phono pre. They were both very very good. In the end, I chose the digital, less fuss and i couldn't hear an advantage with the TT. It was really quite an amazing comparison an out of the 4 or 5 of us in attendance, no one opted for the TT. Not saying anything bad about TT, just tha tI don't deal in absolutes with analog vs digital. I have heard a TT kill a digital rig and I have heard digital walk all over analog. Depends on what you have.
Having heard the John Wright Museatex Bitstream and Bidat my guess is that you may like the Weiss DAC2 or Minerva. While I heard them in my system at different times, both had a similar feel to the presentation, very clean, dynamic with excellent full bass. The Weiss is better than the Bidat in terms of resolution and detail though and for high rez via the computer it is difficult to beat for the price.
Thanks Restock, I appreciate you taking the time (as I do with everyone who posted/posts and entry). I will look into it, especially since I can go Firewire directly to the Weiss and I am using Amarra software now (well i am evaluating, jury still out).
I also have a recently John Wright modified Bidat and Bitstream. I really enjoy them very much as they do seem to just make the music come alive!
I have not compared them to other DACs recently, but felt that I should chime in even if it is a little off topic!
Of all the Dacs I had pass through my shelves (tube & solid state) the little Museatex Bitstream reigns supreme, the most analog presentation I ever heard.
I like it so much, I bought another to have for a back-up in case something ever happens.
Check out www.goodsoundclub.com to see what Romy says about Museatex Bidats and his partnering transport.
Is Romy still around? Is he still banned from Audio Asylum?
LOL!!!!! I have Romy before and found him to be a bit gruff to say the least. Very opinionated and always right (in his world).
I am leaning towards the Music Playback Design for my high res files. I will post here when I have and give it a chance to break in.
Audiofun, Please do post your comparison or email me directly. My Bidat was JUST upgraded this month by John Wright with some brand new mods. It was already amazing with his supermods...and this latest version is even more analog. I'm also getting Moray James' very latest digital cable, which was used by Wright to voice the Bidat mods. I would LOVE to know how the Bidat stacks up to the Playback Design...given that many say the PD beats everything else out there right now.
I can tell you I expect the MPD to be better. But the Bidat currently is my ref.
FYI, I have an MSB Platinum DAC(not the version 3) that belongs to a friend. It's in mint condition (new factory box)and can be upgraded to the III for much, much less than it would cost to buy a new one...in case you or anyone else is interested in buying it and getting it upgraded. It hasn't been listed on a'gon yet because some local guys have been auditioning it.
The Perfectwave DAC is very very nice and once the Bridge comes out you will be able to use it as a music server as well. THE Perfectwave Trans is awesome as well. Thecombo is good as it gets! I have demoed a Berkeley and i own a Theta GEN VIII series II. I just ordered the combo PS Audio Perfect Wave Trans & DAC!!
Worldcat thank you so much for taking time to address my concerns. I check this thread every so often to get others feedback. I really appreciate all the input.
Still waiting to hear about your auditions! ;-) Those of us who can't afford an upgrade right now are looking for our vicarious thrills where we can get them. I've seen some really good Perfect Wave deals lately on a'gon and would love to know how it stacks up to the Super Bidat.
Vhiner thanks for the enthusiasm :) I will be posting the review (my own humble opinions) as soon as I get my Bidat back. As great as it sounds it was stock. John Wright of Museatex fame currently has my unit in hand and is doing the full upgrade on the unit. Soon as I get it back I will purchase a Perfect Wave Dac and break them both in simultaneously and do a review. I will take copious notes on the differences I perceive and then I will get a MSB Plat Dac 3 and repeat the procedure rounding it out with the Musical Playback Design. Can't afford to have them all at the same time :( If only :)
Audiofun, my modded Bidat took about 100 hours to burn in. A friend of mine in Miami just got his Bidat back from John this week and he'll be comparing it to a Consonance Droplet CDP once the Bidat's broken in. I'll pass along his impressions once I hear. Please email me when your review is posted. This is what makes the hobby so much fun!
I agree this is what makes the hobby fun. I have also decided to add a TT to my system in order to really be able to compare to my own analog front end. I have already compared my (pre modded) bidat to the SOTA Vac table (I think approc $5k) using a Lamm phono stage. The sound was so close it was crazy, we ended up listening to the Bidat as there was no reason to mess with the TT. Having said all that, I want a TT to play with. My music is now ALL on a HDD and so I only interact with the ipod touch or a tablet computer to control my mac mini. It will be cool to have everything setup. I will keep you posted.
You've probably heard this, but I think you'll be very surprised by what John's mods are going to do for your 'dat. He manages to maintain that analog house sound while bringing enormous, rolling bass and subtle detail into a widened soundstage. I did a shoot out with it and
T + A 's top-of-the-line CDP, which is quite refined, and it was simply no contest. Thanks for keeping us posted.
Looking forward to this DAC shootout! Awesome stuff!
The MSB DAC III is of particular interest to me. One can bypass the preamp altogether since the MSB provides an analog input. None of the other DACs could be used as a preamp in this fashion. Removing the preamp altogether in theory should simplify and improve the playback chain.
I agree Njedi I think the fact that you can use the MSB as a pre is awesome as I can directly feed my future TT though the MSB (should it win the contest) and have one less component in the chain. I really wish I could have one of those simple systems like some, you know 1 stereo amp, 1 pre and 1 cd player, but my systems end up being very complex with lost of components, but the sound is the goal. I will post once this gets going. Sometime after the 1st of the year. Still waiting on my Bidat to come back from John and then I have to break it in.
I ran my Bidat directly into my amplifier for many years. The resolution was amazing, but the "hi-fi" etch was always a problem. I finally started experimenting with tube preamps and was simply floored by the improvement without ANY loss in resolution and articulation. I can't speak for other DACS but the Bidat is best run through a tube preamp or a very, very good solid state preamp. I know a number of other people who have tried skipping the preamp with their DACS and, while there are some advantages (money saving being the biggest) the DAC preamps are generally not up to Class A preamp performance. Just my two cents.
Hmm, I used to run my Bidat directly into the amp (I owned a Super Bidat in the late 1997-98) and my new Bidat which is currently with John Wright being converted to the Super and Plus updates (which by the way John informed is now both updates rolled up into one simple called the 'Plus' update) directly into my amps. I have never ever heard a Bidat have even a smidgen of etch. I was surprised to read that Vhiner. My 1st Bidat used to feed (if I remember correctly my Kora 100SB Triodes (at the time) and then I think my Tube Research Labs GT200 (but that would have been through the TRL pre). My current Bidat was feeding a solid state amp of my design and the sound has beaten many a tube amp I compared it to.
My bidat is the super/plus version and I agree that the DAC is NOT prone to etch compared to other DACS...it's a relative term. Bear in mind that, at the time, I owned Thiel 3.6 speakers, which are, themselves, prone to over articulation. However, even with the Thiel CS3.7's, the Super/Plus bidat sounds better through a preamp. As usual, though, your mileage may vary. I just wouldn't broadly recommend that anyone bypass a preamp...John Wright and Moray James both strongly recommend that the Bidat be used with a preamp. In fact, John refers to the Bidat's volume control function as "flawed" as far as his ears are concerned. FWIW.
I should add that an amp of your own design puts something in the equation that I know utterly nothing about. If you're talented enough to create your own amp, I'm sure it sounds fantastic as you have it set up.
I understand. I am very hard on preamps and I have only found a couple that I have found memories of. Best I ever heard period was my TRL pre, the Joule was ok, I hated my Sim Audio P5...etc. I want to try the Wyred 4Sound unit, a trusted buddy thought it was as good as his Esoteric C03, which he ended up selling. Lots of choices out there and it's all fun!
I'm using the conrad-johnson CT5 right now after the VTL 5.5...tubes are amazing but some people are doing amazing things in solid state.
I thought I would chime in on the preamp debate. I can understand how Vhiner might experience better sound using a tube preamp with the Biddat if in fact the volume control is flawed on the Biddat. On the other hand, a preamp in the playback chain is inefficient (all things being equal). Since most DACs produce line output (if they have no volume control). The preamp is then only responsible for volume attentuation and passing the signal to the amplifier. IF. and this is a big if... A Dac was produced with a "high" quality volume attenuator similar to those in the best preamps, then and only then I suspect having a preamp in the chain would degrade the sound. Any other explanation, is that the tube preamp adds a little "color" to the line out signal with which you might prefer. I myself, strive for neutrality and only hope the playback is honest to the recording. Not adding or subtracting anything from it. I think alot of people prefer preamps in the playback chain, simply as a result of their music tastes and what color the preamp is adding to the music. If that works for you, great. It's all about musical enjoyment in the end, regardless of how you got there.
My understanding of the MSB DAC III is that alot of engineering effort was put into it's volume control. My hope is that it rivals the volume control found in the best preamps. If it does. I am sold. Looking forward to your review Audiofun.
I will keep everyone posted. I have a lot of audio related testing planned for 2010.
I think your analysis of the preamp issue is dead on and makes perfect sense. There's no doubt that tubes are a "flavor" and the key is HOW a volume output control on DACs is designed. I've heard that using MSB's proprietary digital interface helps get the best sound out of their gear. Audiofun's testing this year should be very interesting!
Ok, this has been a long time coming. I have settled in MSB. As you may know, I sold the Bidat some time ago and while i will always have fond memories of that unit, I am in love with my PowerDac and hi res files.
I now own the MFA classic copper and the MFA reference preamplifier and they are simply fantastic pieces of audio gear and worth every penny.
I have decided to go with the MSB platinum Dac diamond a little later this year.
The MSB gear in my opinion is simply some of the finest digital that can be owned and the powerdac is a ridiculous value that will simply embarrass most digital out there... But be warned..., it takes a very long time to fully burn in :)
Will keep you posted.
I'd like to weigh in here that I replaced my beloved Bidat with the Perfect Wave transport and DAC. If anyone is considering this combo, which I heartily endorse, you should be sure to do several things, otherwise your experience may not be positive. You should use Harmonic Technology's audio only HDMI cable to connect the transport...the difference it makes is critical (as is always the case with things digital) You should also use a high end power cord ( I recommend Shunyata's CX line) All of these factors were equally critical to the Bidat's legendary performance and appears to hold true of all dacs and transports, IMHO.
Finally, as Audiofun points out, burn in is often lengthy and critical. I'm convinced one reason so many DACs are flipped is that people don't break them in properly and then fail to leave them on when not in use. After nearly 20 years of experimenting with dacs and transports, i've concluded that cables, power cords, and break-in are the " holy trinity."
Has anyone had experience with the attenuator v's a pre? I'm considering changing my integrated to a pair of mono's and wonder if the attenuator will give as good SQ as having a pre. I've just changed my power base for thr diamond version and it's definitely money well spent. Also changing to sig dac's so something else to look forward to!
I and a number of people I know with $5,000 plus dacs, prefer a high quality preamp over even the best "attenuator" or digital volume control set ups out there. As for the rest of your post, I'm not sure what equipment you're referring to. HIgh quality tube preamps tend to ameliorate a number of digital's shortcomings as well, IMHO.
I agree with Vhiner. I've tried running DAC to amp, and DAC to Lightspeed Attenuator to amp, and prefer the sound of a good tubed preamp in the chain.
Are both of you commenting with experience of the MSB volume control or different dac's?
My post refers directly to the MSB. Powerbase being its psu and sig dacs being the signature IV dac's.
I think for $6k, the PS Audio Perfect Wave System (Trans and Dac) connected via I2S (HDMI cable) will be hard to beat. If your interested in a highly resolving dac that does cd's well in addition to hi rez (up to 24/192) files burned to DVD, look no further. The presentation of the music is relaxed and comforting. Very little listening fatigue for digital. Most on-line retailers have a return policy so no real risk to try other than paying shipping back to seller if it's not your cup of tea. It is also firmware upgradable, so as filter algorithm's improve, so will your DAC. PS Audio got this combo right.
The selectable filters in the PerfectWave DAC are part of the Wolfson DAC chipset being utilized. While the PWD's firmware can indeed be upgraded over time, I don't believe that the digital filter's algorithms can be changed by the firmware.
That's good to know Bill. What sonic benefits (areas of improvement) are available via firmware upgrades if any ?
I have read that there are sonic changes apparent with some of their recent firmware updates for the bridge, but I'm not sure what they are due to. PS Audio would be the best source for a definitive answer to this question. Sorry that I can't be of more help on this topic.