I have heard both of these Dacs at length in my, and other's set ups. I preferred the Bryston by a large margin, and so did everyone else. I know the W4S is the hot Dac right now, and surely you're going to get a lot of feedback about how great it is, but that is what I found.
Not familiar with Bryston but currently own the W4S DAC2. It sounds great and was a nice step up from my previous PS Audio DL III.
I would say buy the most current DAC technology.
To Mmike84 or anyone else - I am also interested to get people's input to this question. When you made the comparison, were you using just just one of the inputs or did you compare other inputs as well. For example, was the Bryston BDA-1 superior to the W4S DAC2 using the single ended inputs as well as the USB input? I ask because the W4S DAC2 has asynchronous USB and the BDA-1 does not. Many thanks.
I ask because the W4S DAC2 has asynchronous USB and the BDA-1 does not. Many thanks.
Also the Bryston limits USB to 16/44.1 resolution; not sure why any reputable manufacturer would include a severely compromised USB input in their product. Better to include none at all.
Another question that must be asked: What pre-amp did you use with the Bryston? This DAC has no volume control so it needs to go through a pre-amp.
W4S excels with synchronous USB, but if you don't intend to go computer-based, then this feature will not matter to you. I, personally, use my W4S in a computer-based system with superb results. Red book and hi-res files are a joy to listen to.
Also, W4S has built-in volume control which means that you don't need a preamp, if you don't have any other analog source. It accommodates multiple digital sources.
This is how I use my W4S, directly into the power amp.
W4S also has polarity switch, which, believe me, makes a difference, albeit subtle, and other settings to fine-tune the sound.
I didn't have the pleasure to audition the Bryston and I'm sure it's a great unit.
One might say that picking up over the other might be a matter of preference, like everything in this hobby of ours. In this case my or anybody else's advice, sound-wise, shouldn't matter all that much to you.
Then, you may want to consider the features set and see which one wins in this respect.
I'm just going to state up front this is all in my experience. Others may have different experiences and that's OK but these are mine.
I/We compared the W4S Dac 2 and Bryston using toslink, spdif, and USB with a Mac and PC as source. The Bryston USB is not it's strong suit but then it came out 2 years ago so that's to be expected. If you are committed to connecting your Dac via USB I would not suggest the Bryston; however I have never heard a USB Dac, asynchronous or otherwise I thought was terrific compared to any other connection method. Everyone keeps touting their new USB module but I have not heard one yet that I think is any good, and I have heard a lot of Dacs in the last 6 months. I strongly believe USB robs the music of emotion, and dynamic range.
Next in my experience using a Dac without a built in volume control and without a preamp will work fine. Just use the digital volume control in your music player software.
However I recommend using a preamp.
Why limit yourself to just these? I demo'd many dacs (ayre, bryston, audio research, bel canto, music hall) and the best 1 I liked was the ayre out of this bunch. Then I purchased the w4s dac2 with the 30 day trial period and never sent it back. It is every bit as good as the ayre and it has so many more features plus it is 1/2 the price.
I ended up selling my classe Cdp-10 player after purchasing the dac2 to use with my Mac mini setup.
Thank you all .
I ended up buying a Bryston BDA-1 , waiting for it to arrive.
I do not intend to use it with computer, but I will use it with my existing CD player ( Cary 303-100 ) as a transport and my tube based Cary PreAmp and Cary Amp.
Also I will consider to buy a separate transport in future , if Cary CDP 303-100 is not working out well. But will have to see and wait, no rush .
The BDA-1 is an excellent DAC. One of the best I've heard, regardless of price. Sure there's better out there, but there always is, and it'll cost you a ton of money.
I know you don't intend on using a computer as a source any time soon, but if you change your mind down the road, there's ways to get the maximum out of the BDA-1. Bryston demoed the BDA-1 at a show recently using the HiFace or whatever it's called with excellent results, according to a lot of people.
Bryston's warranty and customer support/service are second to none. I own a B60 and can't say enough good things about them as a company. Not that they're the only great company out there, but they're easily a model of what a great company should be.
Thank you Kbarkamian,
It is comforting to know I made a good decision. As an option , I was also trying to get a used Reimyo DAP777 OR Yamamoto YDA-1 which would be nearly the price of a new Bryston BDA-1 . But there was not one on offer and could hardly wait , so got BDA-1. I would wonder how those Reimyo or Yamamot would sound compare to Bryston . But for the time being only look forward to enjoy Bryston .
All apple computers have a toslink out-put so you could used a computer with the Bryston anytime.
My Benchmark DAC1-HDR has a "good" USB imput that sounds very bad compared to the toslink. USB has a long way to go still. I have owned a number of DACs over the years so I am not just knocking the benchmark, I have yet to hear a USB based DAC that sounds good.
James63 - I found the complete opposite in my system when comparing the optical out of a mac mini and an inexpensive m2tech hiface connected to the coax input on my dac. The usb to spdif converter was a significant improvement. Of course everything is system dependent. I was using a cheap coax cable with the hiface and a well reviewed glass toslink with mini connector for the optical. Maybe the Benchmark has a much better optical input than my dac.
"Maybe the Benchmark has a much better optical input than my dac."
This is possible and I will not argue with what you heard, you heard it not me. I actually have both connections (USB/toslink) hooked up and can switch between the two from my chair using the apples MIDI setup.
On the benchmark the USB is much brighter and forward. I use a cheap $20 IXSO optical cable. I had a Peachtree Audio Nova (returned it) I tried as a DAC that also had both USB and optical input and had the same result. All in all the optical was much more refined. I have not tried a "highend" USB cable though.
Both the Peachtree Nova and the Benchmark do not have exactly what I would consider "good" USB inputs. The Benchmark is better than what Bryston implemented, but still far away from the async USB configurations of the Ayre, Wanvelength, Wyred, or Firewire implementations such as the Weiss DACs (Note: I did own the Benchmark DAC1 USB for 2 years).
Fair enough both sort of sucked with USB.
I just don't see why people go though all the effort to use USB. There are a lot more options if you use one of the other digital conections. Not to mention that optical electrically seperates the computer from the DAC.With jitter being a none issue for most DACs, optial is still a good option. But I have not heard the other brands you mentioned.
At the end of the day there are a lot of good cheap DACs out there today.
the usb dac's that you talk about aren't the asynchronous type nor are they the 192/24 type either. there is a big difference in these dac's nd the wyred for sound dac2. i thought all of the prior usb dacs that i have demoed (except the ayre) sucked. using their usb ports. the wyred for sound dac 2 has changed my opinion.
my system uses every single input available on the wyred dac 2 save for the i2s. usb from imac as main listening of redbook cd's as well as coax from an older proceed cdp used as transport only. other stuff used is sonos via coax, with apple tv and request music server connectedvia toslink. all run thru a mcintosh 7000 ss integrated or the mc pre out into cary six pack tube mono's. the sum of my experience is twofold: wyred dac 2 ease of use and differences in sound are as follows:
everything so far works and was easy to set up (that seems to be a plus and an important thing). all the bells and whistles about fixed vrs variable and settings, ect. are way to advanced for an average dummy like me to figure out, so i have probably not used or set it to it's ultimate best use. but my ears do not lie, and what i heard came not from the sound of the system but from the words of my 60 yr old wife, who said just last nite when i played the same song from the computer vrs the older proceed: "that first one sounded a lot different and better than that second one."
two different sources with the same exact pressing/files (redbook cd) running into the same dac with one major exception: one via usb and the other via standard coax. neither one via toslink.
my only logical conclusion is that the transport made a difference, as in HUGE. could this in fact be true? or have i taken the term "dummy" to yet another level?
Bob, did you mean that the computer>USB was superior or CDP>coax? With a DAC-2 on the way, I am subscribed.
my apologies for not being clear. the proceed cdp is the superior sound quality provider. by the way to all, the wyred dac took a big step forward (as did all my other gear) by adding power chords made by patrick cullen here on a'gon. patrick worked for his dad rick for many years and has ventured off on his own making all sorts of chords, cables, in line filter's, ect. really good quality stuff at very affordable price points. highly recommend you add this chord (or your choice of stock chord upgrade) to your dac.