The Weiss is very good. The Berkeley Alpha is better. Much better, IMHO.
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"A better buy than the Minerva or the Alpha?"
Berkeley Alpha - $5000.00
Weiss Minerva - $5000.00
Weiss Dac2 - $3000.00
So if the Weiss Minerva and the Weiss Dac 2 have the same internal electronics and the same sound, it is not hard to determine which is the better buy. Weiss vs Berkeley is another matter that would have to be determined on sound & build quality rather than price alone. Also, as you mentioned, the Weiss has firewire I/O, that may be a determining factor for some. It would certainly easily interface with a mac mini or Macbook pro music server.
I have not heard either one, but my feeling in reading the reviews on the Berkeley & Weiss dacs is that the Berkeley may be the better sounding dac, but is it worth the extra $2000.00 over the Weiss Dac2?
You may find these interesting:
But what does "better" means?
I owned the EMM LABS CDSA and now the Weiss Medea. They sound so different to each other that it is a matter of personal preference. I am not saying the one is better than the other, they just sound completely different.
And they are both at reconding studios...Food for thought! ;)
I have both, BADA Alpha DAC and Weiss Minerva.
I compared them both using AES/EBU out of Silent music server (that could be found on endpcnoise) using Lynx AES 16 into Spectral DMC30SS/DMA 250 with proprietary MIT350/770ULII cables. IC's between DAC'S and preamp are K-S Elation, all power cords are K-S Emotions. Speakers ar
e Marten Design Miles III.
I've found that Alpha DAC is much better using everything thorough 16/44,1 to 24/176 HDCD where Alpha excells. With HRX I think that there is little competititon to Alpha at near 3 times the price (using same transport).
I imagine Heymikey has made a decision, but it seems to me that a critical factor in the Berkeley vs. Weiss decision is interface. Since he's using a Mac Mini, the Weiss allows him to go Firewire out. With the Berkeley, he'd need some intermediary conversion device to get him to S/PDIF or AES/EBU. He could use his Freeway, but is that as good as going Firewire direct?
Drubin and Teddy_Bear, I still haven't purchased a new dac yet. Thanks very much for the comparison of the Berkeley and the Weiss. And Drubin, your question really points to a major deciding factor between the two: firewire vs usb to spdif converter. I have the feeling that direct firewire may be the superior interface with the mac mini, but if the SQ of the Berkeley is in another league above the Weiss, the Berkeley may be the better way to go. But, for about half the price of the Berkeley there is the Weiss Dac2 and the new unknown Ayre QB-9 dac with it's asynchronous USB interface... I've been waiting for some user reviews on the Ayre.
I have EMM SE separates and Minerva. One for SACD the other for hires and uncompressed dedicated music server.
In my opinion the Weiss is a better bet because of the interface. Shoe-horning low-jitter and hires into USB is tough and fundamentally limited in terms of bandwidth. It has taken a lot of expensive and complex technology for Wavelength DCS and others to make this work reasonably well. Firewire was designed as a networking protocol for media flow: audio and video. It is a better platform now and in the future. The Weiss, in particular, provides a huge amount of input and output flexibility (unlike Linn DS series) plus a great DAC, if not 'world class' whatever that is.
I can't to be honest. I understand that these forums are full of golden-eared critiques of various components and combinations, but I do not work that way.
Both are very good. Listening to CDs ripped to FLAC through Minerva I do not miss the CD played through the EMM combination. HiRes sounds superb through Minerva, just as good SACDs sound through EMM.
My point to you was that the Minerva offers a very good package of qualities: digital in and out plus analog, including Firewire and HiRes. Not preventing you from using a different DAC later. It is very good and the support from Daniel has been superb.
1. Yes, was certainly running uncompressed .... !
And playing the SAME disc ( ...pressing DO sound different.)
2. Yes, Minerva fed via firewire from the iMac. No esoteric Firewire cable used, though.
The Interconnects were Argento Master Ref, Balanced. The same interconnects were swapped between the CD player and the Minerva.
.... incidentally, I had problems with getting the Minerva recognised using Windows & running Foobar, on the same iMac using Boot camp ( allows Mac & Win OS and a selective startup into either OS. Bootcamp is by Apple ) I would have been a bit wary with Foobar, with the need to ensure ASIO but no such concerns in iTunes running on Mac, so I was genuinely surprised and disappointed at the sound. The (pre-owned) Minerva was on offer at 50% off list, and I was seriously considering a purchase....
Yes, Ofcourse Uncompressed ! Infact for the A/B the Same CDs that were played on the Electrocompaniet were ripped to AIFF.
Yes, Firewire. That is wht I used the iMac.
The Firewire cable was nothing esoteric...
The Same Argento Master Ref Balance Cables were moved from the CD plater to the Minerva, in the comparision.
I was keen to buy the Minerva since it (pre-owned) was offered to me 50% off. After the listen, I did not... :-(
Incidentally, I was using the EC-1 Upsampling CD player not the Stand alone DAC by Electrocompaniet...
I am told that the DAC is the same as used in the CD player ( and attractively priced, though without a USB input.)
I have not heard the EC DAC.
A friend who also has the EC-1 Upsampling CD player and has heard the DAC with an Oppo used as a transport, tells me that the EC-1 Upsampling CD player sounded significantly superior....
Just my 2 cents
In order to much improve the sound of a Weiss DAC2 when used with a CD transport,i advise to use a transport having a word clock sync input,and to connect it to a master clock having a very low jitter spec,f e less than 5 ps,...the DAC2 automatically clocks to its input signal.
If quoted on 20,the sound quality level may improve from 15 to 17-18.5 depending on the cables used.
I suggest apogee cable for the clock to word input,and AES interconnect made with silver wires of 0.3 mm dia,tressed like kimber cables,much more transparent than any 120 ohm AES standard one.