DACs: Burmester vs. Meitner vs. dcs

Any comments would be appreciated.
If you are considering DACs in this price range then I would guess you have the means to go wherever you have to to listen to each. Then you can make some decisions and not rely on the opinions of others. This is in NO WAY intended to be a snide remark. . .just some sound advice.
I concur with Timo- If you have the means to get any of these listen to all of them! Having heard the Meitner and dCS the same day, I came to the conclusion that the Meitner was superior on every level. I have not had the chance to listen extensively to Burmester. However others whom I know and trust have, and they feel it is nice but not worth the price of admission and that there are other "better" components out there. These guys have the ability to purchase such gear if they felt it was better they would have it- and they all own Meitner!

I was so blown away by the Emm labs(meitner gear) I prepaid for mine right after the show(montreal) and am eagerly awaiting delivery. I have NEVER heard digital sound the way it does with Emm labs gear, I have heard that from many others as well- and I have never heard that about Burmester.

But you should do some listening, for the money you could potentially save- how could you not!
Libor, a new DAC I think you should add to your audition list is the new Audio Synthesis DAX Discrete.

Audio Synthesis DAX Discrete
after hearing all three at the Stereophile show in San Francisco this past weekend......it is not close; the Meitner was a good deal better than the other 2 on redbook.....and light-years better on sacd. i went back to these rooms multiple times to really get a feel for the sources......ultimately since they were in different systems my conclusions are provisional. also consider i am a Meitner owner and therefore not completely unbiased.

the Meitner is not only more natural sounding and dynamic than either of the other two......but also has more detail and body......very analog-like......and a much more complete soundstage.

both the dCS and Burmeister are certainly excellent......but just not at the level of the Meitner.
What Mike and Tim (Tireguy) said!
Mike L.,
I understand that you stated, "since they were in different systems my conclusions are provisional"................how can you come to ANY conclusions at all about the contribution of the CD transports and DACs when the systems are different???

Even if you are familiar with the gear that was used in the DCS or Burmester room, there are other variables like cables, the room itself, power conditioning...............
Dolphin, good question. i have heard both the Burmeister and dCS at CES both this year and last. i also have had the dCS in my room about 2 years ago......so my opinions are not only based upon this past weekend. i feel (especially on the dCS which i have heard multiple times in different systems) that the characteristics of both products are consistent thru the systems i have heard them in.

even more important; i strongly feel that all the systems i have heard these products in are sufficiently high-resolution that it is reasonable to compare the level of information presented by each product. i admit to not likeing the Burmeister preamp/amps/speakers but it is still quite high in resolution.

if you were to review my past posts you will see a common thread of specific qualification on my opinions as to the context of them. if i say an opinion is provisional-----it means that i believe it strongly enough to write it-----but not all the facts are yet in. my opinion in this case is more than a hunch or a feeling......clearly the Meitner does things that are unique......and i have heard the Meitner in enough different systems and compared to enough different digital sources to be confident with the truth of it.

i respect your skepticism toward any conclusions reached at shows......i share that skepticism. i think that my indication that my opinion is provisional and that i am a somewhat biased Meitner owner allows any reader to judge the credibility of my post for themselves.

those guys wanting to make decisions about these products are asking me about my opinion on a regular basis. i have had the opportunity to hear these products multiple times and have had high-performance digital products in the past. so i do feel i have a reasonable context to comment.
Re: Mike Lavigne "those guys wanting to make decisions about these products are asking me about my opinion on a regular basis."

This is precisely why I posted my question. Thanks, Mike. It is much appreciated.

And, of course, I will be listening on my own, but helpful and informed comments like these -- from a well-known audiophile who has had first-hand experience with lots of different high-end products -- do go some way in helping interested potential buyers narrow their list of choices. Having the means does not always equate to having the time.
The new review of the Meitner by D. Robinson in Positive Feedback is highly laudatory.
the biggest q is burmester vs. meitner vs. dcs vs. mbl vs.
weiss vs. goldmund probably the best 6 dacs in the world
which one is the most analogue and better value for money ?
out of the above, i have only auditioned the dCS stack. I didn't think that the dCS compared favorably to the Boulder 2020 Advance, using the dCS Verdi transport. The Boulder had a far more natural sound, and was every bit as detailed.
To the above we might as well add the Zanden and the Audio Note 4.1x Balanced (we carry Audio Note).

I agree with mikeL that one can tell quite a bit about equipment at shows, especially in excellent sounding systems (one can hear deep into a system a lot more if one's ears do not have to shut down as a result of some nasty noises the system shouldn't be producing).

However, evaluating equipment is like evaluating a marriage partner: they may look and sound good, be entertaining, seem to have lots of depth, and so forth, but it is only after living with them do you really know what they are like. an even then, the system environment has a huge impact on how they will perform.

My point (yes, finally getting to it now...) is that these are all good DACs, I have heard all of them sound exemplary at sometime in the past in one or more specific systems (except the Goldmund DAC, we have only heard their single box player). All of them will sound great in just about any great system - the system will not have to be crippled in order to make the digital sound palatable. It really comes down to flavors, technology, features and cost.

Does the DAC strive for massive amounts of delicately rendered detail? Does it strive for an analogue sound? a natural sound? a pure sound? Does it emphasize bass? dynamic swings? continuousness? Each DAC seems to have a different purpose which seems to be a mixture of one or more of these flavors.

Does it use vacuum tubes? Does it have a variable output stage that can connect directly to an amp? If so does it have inputs in order to function as a full-featured linestage? Does it support SACD? Does it have lots of options to tweak the sound? Does it try to deal with vibration control or is it completely up to you to use external tweaks? Is it upgradable (and do you care)?

Does it have a associated transport that has been optimized to mate with the DAC? Does it look cool? :-)

OK, never mind, they ALL look cool :-)

I have a good friend who has the means to own anything and pretty much has over the last few years. He has owned the Meitner and Phillips combo but recently sold it after hearing the new Teac Esoteric 70 series in a very resolving system in which they were side by side. He was also able to hear the new UX1 which will be released soon for sale and will obtain that for SACD although he also preferred the Exemplar/ Denon player for SACD. He has owned, Zanden, Weiss, Burmester, DCS, Ensemble, and Levinson and several "custom built units". He feels that the Esoterics are the only ones that approach his superb vinyl set up although at a price. I have to mention my bias since I own the Exemplar and would love to have the Teacs.
There's so much hype about EMM labs that I have get my two cets in here. I live in Seattle, Blue Light Audio is in Portland (EMM's distributor) and I have heard the EMM labs gear in several systems for extended periods. I don't think the EMM labs is clearly superior. It's great, but you have to talk about it in context. I've heard the Burmester 001 run direct to an amp and it was fantastic. Sounded as good on cd as the EMM labs did on SACD. And that sold on Audiogon last week for $8000 total. Put an active pre-amp in there and I bet the Burmester would get sloppy. I am selling(my axe to grind) a DCS Delius/Purcell combo that I ran directly into my aleph 1.2.
I can't afford to keep it anymore...but that system run directly into the right amp sounds better than the EMM labs gear did on cd. I believe this is because with EMM you need a pre-amp. I heard the EMM labs DAC 6 with the big BAT pre-amp. That's $3000-$5000 more in a set up that already sells for $8000 used. With DCS or a modified Wadia 861 etc. you can have impeccable cd playback for under $6000.00 total on the used market. I think Meitner sees this and that is why they are coming out with the DCC 2 which gives you a built in pre-amp which is actually the output of the dac instead of having a dac out-put routed to a pre-amp circuit. There I feel better.
sm2727, i also live in Seattle.....own the EMM labs gear.....and use into my Placette passive. i have had the dCS gear in my room and to my ears the Meitner simply goes to another level (the dCS running nude and the Meitner into the Placette). the BAT VK-51SE (which i have had in my room) will restrict ultimate performance with the EMM labs gear compared to the Placette (and the Placette is $1000 retail).

the Burmester has outstanding Redbook performance.....and i have only heard the 001 once.....but i have heard the top Burmeister combo a few times. the Burmeister does equal the EMM labs in detail.....but the EMM labs goes to another level of filling the soundstage and really openning up the music compared to my perception of the big Burmeister. also, the way in which the 16/44 is upconverted to dsd on the EMM labs gives redbook a much more 'non digital' feel compared to the Burmeister. the firewire interface on the dCS combo is inherently full of jitter and results in a certain 'digital' feel here too. i am splitting hairs here a little but at these perfomance heights those little hairs are important.

any of this gear is excellent.....but there is no doubt that the EMM labs is at least equal to these others on redbook and absolutely smokes anything on sacd. and it is cheap to run the EMM labs thru the Placette passive to get all the performance any digital meduim is currently capable of.
Mike, when will you get a real preamp and stop futzing with the Placette?
Gladstone- lol!
the problem with me is that all i have been doing lately if 'futzing'.....i have started construction on the room.....Rives is finalizing the plans.....maybe i'll be into the new room in Mid-July.

seriously, show me better than the Placette and i'll change. so far not in my room. the DCC2 may be better than the DAC6/Placette combo.....but that has yet to be proved to my ears.

Tireguy, do you still need that manual?.....sorry....i just realized i forgot to fax it.....i just haven't been myself since i 'blew-up' my room...
Mike- Don't worry about it. Hope the new room is up soon so you can get back to enjoying some tunes.

I had a placette here a few months ago and was amazed had just how good the little thing was! I still can't believe it, for the money it is a steal.
"maybe I'll be into the new room in mid-july".


OK, when did aliens inhabit Mikel's body :-)
Hey Mark got 80hZ?? :^) sorry I couldn't resist!
Mes....are you saying i am a little delusional?

just because you had a 6 month 'train wreck' don't think it has to happen every time.

btw, what does it mean when the acoustical designer and the contractor want to kill each other?

actually, so far it seems to be ok. but then again my contractor hasen't seen the detail yet of the acoustical features. since the room will be quite large (29.5' x 20.5' x 11') it won't need much baffleing or bass traps. only a few between the joists in the ceiling. they have a clean sheet of paper.....that should reduce the amount of treatment required.

my contractor has done a 4 million dollar commercial project with me so i think he is up to it.....we will see.
6 months?!? You're being a little minimalistic :-)
No, not delusional, just just spuriously optimistic LOL
Really, I hope it goes smoothly and expeditiously for you, I wouldn't wish my experience on even my worst enemy:JT notwithstanding :-) My contractor had also done huge multimillion dollar jobs. But, as yours indubitably will, thought that acoustical measurements and sticking to them was, well, ridiculous. How can a foot or so here or there effect the sound?!? My advice: stay on them, and see what they are going to do BEFORE they do it, so as not to have to UNDO it and do it again. Know the prints well, weedhopper. It's a painful but ultimately worthwhile process. Oh, and expensive. I'll be out when it's done. I may be much older then :^)
i have already found a discrepency between a measurement that my contrator gave the acoustical designer and one's i had given them (3 times). they started designing for the wrong height. i caught it by asking questions (which, as an anal SOB, i do constantly). we will see who tries to pin the wasted design time on who. the acoustical designer didn't consult the measurements i had provided him and the contractor had miss-communicated the height.

i have used this contractor for 20 years on 10 or so projects....he is a good guy and knows his stuff but it is my responsibility to make sure i get what i want. as long as i am clear on the design.....it will be right.

i appreciate that i get the benefit of the learning curves here.
I talked to EMM Labs about running a Placette passive volume control and they did not reccommend it. It's not a sufficient current output and the signal would be out of balance regarding tone.
Again, the DCS gear is optimized for direct connection to an amp. Pass Labs D-1 and the DCS are the only ones I've personally heard that will actually drive any length of cable and sound top notch. Camelot Uther is anothernice one I heard but lower on the food chain. As an example, I bouhgt the Marantz SA-1 when it first appeared. I was all excited because I could take that big balanced output (6 volts ) and use a Placette (I'm a big fan of pasive pre-amps and volume controls) volume control. It sounded awful. The 6 volts wasn't optimised for driving an amp same as EMM.
Sm2727, you can add the Audio Synthesis DAX Discrete as another digital component that sounds great straight into an amp, even through a lengthy interconnect. I have had mine connected with 50' Mogami Neglex microphone cables with truly great results. My DAX Discrete has the balanced differential output option.
Sm2727, i've been running my emmlabs DAC6 thru the Placette for the last year.....it has outperformed all pre's that it has been compared against in that configuration. the Placette is mean't to be completely neutral to the source (as long as a short i.c. is used between it and the amps).

as you would expect, emmlabs is selling DCC2's and Switchman's.....it would make sense that they will recommend those. to be fair, i have not compared the DAC6/Placette to the DCC2.....it could be better. but i have compared the DAC6/Placette to the DAC6/Switchman 'I' preferred the DAC6/Placette.

First I believe all of the above Dacs are good. I've had the DCC2 for several months. The Meitner and the Phillips are very sensitive (more than most) to powercords. I love my set up with power cords that follow the Shunyata school(richer). But with that said, I've tried some power cords that were forward and I did not like the sound at all. Anyone seriously trying out these units should try to maximize the performance of each unit, then make their assessment.

Have you ever tried Guy's active preamp?
no Keith, i have not; even though Guy has recommended it to me. Guy also mentioned that my particular system 'might' not benefit from his active unit since i use very short i.c.'s from the RVC to my amps and my system seems to have great dynamics as is.

i feel no need for a change.....so why bother? OTOH, if the opportunity presents itself i'll likely try it.
Mikel, will your physical system configuration change with your new room?

i will rethink my passive approach (or at least be open-minded to an active pre). in my old room (12' x 18' with very large dynamic speakers) i was in the extreme near-field, i had the walls covered with lot's of absorbtion, there was plenty of dynamics, and plenty of bass energy in that small space. i didn't get any feeling that the passive approach left anything out. in my new room (21' x 29' x 11') i 'might' get better bass and dynamic balance with an active pre.

i 'intend' to accomodate multi-channel music. since the DAC6 is multi-channel i will install conduit for the center channel, side channels and subwoofer interconnects and dedicated power outlets for each speaker location. i would likely get an emmlabs Switchman to distribute the multichannel and integrate it with my Jena Labs switchbox as an additional input. i plan on having 2 positions for my listening chair. a 2-channel position and then a foot or so forward, a multi-channel position. this will allow me to have all the speakers equadistant from my listening chair for multi-channel. the rear speakers won't be able to be at 110 degrees, but it will be the best compromise possible with a 2-channel priority (i would need a 25 foot wide room for 110 degrees--which would result in too large a room. i might have mobile absorbtive panels i can use to optimize multi-channel since 2-channel needs more relective energy to be optimized than multi-channel.

otherwise i expect to use the same gear, cables, power cords, racks, etc. i will have an additional set of ST Optical cables run to my seating position so i can have the digital transport where i can switch discs without getting up. in my other room it was narrow enough to reach without getting up. that is one great thing about optical connections....there is virtually no loss of signal regardless of length.

i am currently debating whether i want some sort of 'power-regenerator or just go with my previous 'simple' approach. Rives Audio recommends the big Equitech Balanced A/C power unit......i like simple (20 amp dedicated circuts, 10 guage romex 'home runs' all equal length, Jena Labs cryo's duplex outlets, on both sides of the panel). stay tuned for that.....

one little point. i will install my duplex outlets upside down for my Tenor amps since my damn Elrod Statement power cords currently require a full twist to go from amp to outlet. the Elrods sound so glorious i can't complain too much......but it would be nice if they thought of such issues when they make big, unweildy power cords. i am also adding 220v outlets for future possibilies.
"i am also adding 220v outlets for future possibilies"

Adding these outlets is a stroke of genius on your part. After reading your post and glancing at your system, I am convinced that putting a washer/dryer combination in your listening room can't help but to improve the results you're getting in there.


Holton Corsey
you read my mind......i kinda need a 'spin cycle'. Maytag is bringing out their own amplifiers.

actually, the Tenors are said to perform better on 220v....and so do some other amps. it's cheap and easy to install now.....even if i never use it.
this talk about 220 volts has triggered some questions are their companies which make high end 220 AC outlets? How about high end 220 voltage power cords?

i have no knowledge of any 'special' 220 volt outlets.....i would guess that they are typically more 'robust' than a standard 110 duplex outlet....the plug arrangement is certainly more secure with more contact area. i have a few friends that have had their power cords modified for these 220 volt applications.....there are no real challenges since the power cords already have the construction to handle it....it is just a matter of the plug.

my guess is that in many cases 220 volt operation will bypass some parts of the power supply that are necessary for 110 volt operation......this probably will lower noise and improve dynamics to some small degree. (my lack of legitimate knowledge of things electrical has likely got me over my head here......ultimately i'll deciede by listeneing).

i know when i owned my Levinson #33h and later #33 amplifiers......that changing to 220v would have improved the performance......i had heard those with 220v and they were better.

for me it is more a matter of doing this while my room is being constructed and the walls are openned up......i haven't done enough 'homework' to be certain this is something i want to do. having 220v outlets will allow me to try products from other parts of the world that have that as their native voltage.
my guess is that in many cases 220 volt operation will bypass some parts of the power supply that are necessary for 110 volt operation
I don't know about all cases (who does?), but I know that to change my Welborne Labs Laurels over to run off 220v means just changing the wiring of the transformers. The different taps are there, and it's just a matter of connecting up the right combination. I think in general this would be true. I would not expect that parts would be bypassed.

There could be an advantage, of course.

I always wondered if the remarkable interest in after-market power cords by US audiophiles, which was not as predominant in Europe and the Pacific, was mainly due to the lower mains voltages. (By this argument one might think that the Japanese audiophiles running 100v would show even more interest.)

It could just be a timing thing though, as we are seeing the UK mags (like HiFi+) reviewing power cords these days; but it does seem to me that the US was into this for quite a few years before the 220v countries.

neither one
I just spent the weekend in New York and was able to hear the dcs and the emm labs in the same room. Again, I found the dcs superior to the emm labs in cd playback and about equal in sacd mode. If my memory serves...the Burmester sounded better than either in cd mode. No sacd available.
Sm2727: What was the rest of the system? If you like the dCS so much, I have some available that were traded in for the EMM Labs :)