Weiss is so underrated

I have had the Weiss DAC 202 in my system for about a year now being used in a very ambitious and high resolution system. But then I got that typical audiophile itch and given that this DAC was the lowest priced component in my system, I thought that it was time for me to focus on a new DAC. So with the help of some friends and a local deal I got the following DACs to try in my system for an extended period of time: Berkeley Audio DAC 2 + Alpha USB, Calyx Femto, PS Audio PerfectWave DAC2 and DCS Vivaldi.

The Berkeley was the most analog sounding DAC and had great image focus. In comparison when inserting the Femto I could immediately hear a slight loss of focus on the location of instruments or voices. The Berkeley also has a very little electronic signature in high frequencies which is very impressive, especially at this price point.

The Femto DAC is quite an impressive machine with a well balanced sound. It is a substantial leap over the PS Audio DAC in every way. The Femto has a sound that should work well in virtually any system although it is a little on the dry side. But ultimately it's lack of tight focus of images bothered me.

While the Berkeley has a terrific analog sound and no matter how much you dissect it there is very little if anything that one can fault about his DAC, there is something about it that I found just doesn't suck you into the music. I often found my attention wandering and being distracted while listening to it.

The Vivaldi is by far the most expensive in the group and while it was impressive at a lot of things, in particular how it was able to remain composed during complex passages, it has a certain bright sound that just sounds very artificial to me. It has that sound that is remarkable for audiophile demo discs, but when just listening to music you enjoy I found it to be disappointing overall.

The PS Audio doesn't even come close to any of the DACs in this group. It sounds lifeless, flat, and dull in comparison. Any experienced listener will hear this right away. Beautifully made machine with great specs, but it just doesn't deliver the musical goods at all. I would say that it sounds like kind of how CD players sounded in the early 90s.

But let me tell you, the Weiss despite its relatively low price point beat every DAC in this group, including the mighty Vivaldi. It's soundstage is absolutely massive, much wider and deeper than the other DACs which makes it feel like you are listening in a much larger space (the opposite of Berkeley). And then it also has this incredible airiness that is very special to hear. Images float on silky smooth and airy presentation which is supported by a very dynamic foundation. It is just a thrill to listen to this DAC. The bass is also the most dynamic (although not very deep) that I heard which gives everything far more rhythm and pace.

So the conclusion is the Weiss 202 is a very serious piece of equipment, a remarkable bargain, and probably one of the best DACs out there regardless of price. Has anyone else done an direct A/B comparison with the Weiss? Does your opinion mirror mine?
Since price isn't a determining factor, have you tried the Rega DAC or new Meridian "Director"? Both have Apodising filters which are supposed to make a big difference.
As far as musicality, the humble Rega Apollo just knocked my socks off when I owned it.
Weiss DACs are great. Tho not sure I have ever heard them called underrated. They seem pretty universally praised.
i/we compared a friends Weiss DAC in my system and came away with the opposite opinions. my PWDII sounded MUCH better in every respect. so much so that he sold his Weiss (here on Agon) and picked up a PWDII.

glad you're happy with the Weiss. i wasn't.
Unfortunately, no piece of equipment including a Weiss DAC will perform equally all the various combinations that make up various audio systems. The ancillary equipment will always be an overriding factor that affects the end sound. You are fortunate that this DAC does so well with your other gear.
Talk to any reputable dealer about PS Audio DAC. It's just not a high end device at all. There is nothing about its sound that is exceptional. Compared to almost any state of the art DAC it is completely flat, images do not lock in on the soundstage.

Hey, some people like Bose and some people like the PS Audio DAC.
Dweinstein: you ask for opinions then go all loud mouth know-it-all on people who chime in?. you should have asked "who believes the crap i'm spewing"....then maybe those of us who know better wouldn't have upset the echo-chamber you prefer to live in. unlike your arrogant post...i had the decency to use the word "opinion" in my post. to bad i wasted some good decency on someone not worthy of it.

"it's just not a high end devise at all"??....proves you have little knowledge and even less class. go play with your Weiss and be happy brother. not gonna waste my time battling wits with someone who is unarmed.
Forgot the question, but love the drama! Please continue, but first, anyone with any thoughts on wavelength?

Nice that you've been able to compare to so many good competitors and still like yours best. I'd be very interested how a Bel Canto DAC3.5VB would compare to the Weiss if you ever get a chance.
Foster_9 makes an excellent point. A comparison between a particular group of high quality DACs will likely yield different results in different systems.

Also, no mention has been made of what digital interface was used on the Weiss, which supports S/PDIF, AES/EBU, and Firewire. I assume that either S/PDIF or AES/EBU was used (probably AES/EBU), since some or all of the other DACs that were compared do not support Firewire.

Given that, some of the system-dependent variables and interactions that may affect the results include the risetime and falltime of the signal that is provided by the source component, which is almost never specified but can significantly affect jitter, in ways that have little predictability; the relationship between the length of the digital interconnect cable, signal risetimes and falltimes, and cable propagation velocity; the happenstance of how closely the characteristic impedance of the digital interconnect cable matches the impedances of the DAC and source component; the amount and the characteristics of digital noise that will be riding on the signal that is received from the source; the susceptibility of the DAC/source combination to ground loop-related noise; the ambient electrical noise environment; the jitter rejection capability of the DAC; the sensitivity of nearby components to digital noise that may be coupled from the DAC through the air or through the power wiring; and the data rate of the signal that is being conducted. And of course whether S/PDIF or AES/EBU is being used.

-- Al
If there was a "like" button I'd push it Al. Always posts worth reading!
Rja, thank you kindly. Best regards,

-- Al
Levy03, I was simply trying to point out that the Weiss DAC is a world class device that far surpasses its cost in performance. I have a very resolution system with top loudspeakers and amplification and it is very revealing of the tiniest changes. I have spent well over $100,000 on this system. I was surprised to learn that Weiss 202 can compete even with $30,000+ DACs.

But I don't even think its a matter of opinion that PS Audio DAC is flat and not musical and it actually does not have the attributes of a high end DAC.

If you like that sound, indeed that is your taste and you cannot argue taste. There are people who enjoy the Bose sound which in some ways is quite good although it doesn't sound anything like live music.

The PS Audio DAC could not compete with any of the DACs in this group, all of which were vastly superior to the PS Audio. This was immediately heard by other listeners who came by as well.
Dear Soix, indeed I am very curious I hear the Bel Canto DAC! From everything I have read about it looks like a formidable contender that should not be missed. Interestingly enough, a few years ago I owned a Bel Canto 845 single ended tube monoblocks. Bel Canto got out of tubes and completely changed direction. However, it was by far one of the best tube amps I ever heard and I regret that I sold it. Amazing sound.
Dear Almarg, in this comparison I used multiple inputs but primarily the Berkeley Alpha USB was used at the USB interface driven by MAC mini. The Alpha USB fed the AES input on all DACs. It just makes a very convenient interface. I found little difference driving the Weiss through FireWire or via AES supplied by Alpha USB. Maybe the Alpha USB gave it a touch more control durng complex passages.
Was your friend's dac the Weiss 202 or one of the previous models (DAC2 or Minerva)?
Dweinstein" u just don't get it do you??....and probably never will. feel free to state your *opinion* that the PWD2 is comparable to a pos digital source from the 90's. you can also keep pretending the WeissD2 is a universal giant killer. all i'm telling you is i've compared both and you're wrong thinking things are so black/white. i know people like you and realize how you think/operate. again....not worth my time or effort.

sorry...i'm unimpressed with the $100k opinion lol!

some people like bose.....others like PWD2......then you have a small group arrogant narcissists who really don't understand what it's all about.

I have been listening to digital players since the first 16-bit Magnavox 650 came out and have upgraded as technology has advanced, so I think I have a decent idea of how DAC's should sound. The PWD MkII is a very high level DAC, both for its sound quality, construction and versatility. I don't know who these "reputable" dealers are but I do not trust their ears any more than I trust my own -- and I would bet few if any of them carry the PS Audio DAC's or have lived with them for extended periods of time. So by all means, express your preferences, but do not denigrate others who do not share your taste. There are those that say the Weiss is overpriced, lacks versatility and sounds clinical.

I am impressed at how skewed things can get as evidenced by calling the Weiss' price relatively low. Money thrown at a system is no guarantee of anything except that you've spent lots of dough.

Some time back I heard a significant 5 figure Pre amp. It was no great kicks.
Nglazer, show me a SINGLE impressive or state of the art system that uses the PS Audio DAC. I've really only seen the PS Audio in budget systems by people who are just starting out in audio.
Dweinstein, glad you are happy with your DAC. As your posts make clear, it couldn't have happened to a nicer person. But a $100K system really is not "state of the art". Report back when you have $250K invested in it and we will all be suitably impressed.
Mcondon is SOOOO easily impressed. a mere $250,000???. that should be for cables alone!!!!!

i'll need to see a 1 MILLION DOLLAR system before i'm impressed !! =)

after all....it is all about the money spent isn't it???

so....not only does D live in an echo-chamber.....it's a very small echo chamber to boot. you don't get out much do ya D??. the more you post....the more it sounds like you're the one "just getting started in audio".
Mcondom, I didn't claim to have a state of the art system (although most people would consider that I do). But if you look at the top systems either used by reviewers, studios, or experienced audiophiles, none of them to my knowledge use the PS Audio DAC. You can basically buy the PS Audio from the Audio Advisor catalog and they will sell you speakers to match. That is typically the caliber of systems that use PS Audio.

On the other hand, I am just trying to make the point that the Weiss delivers remarkable performance for the money. So you don't have to be rich to own one. It's only a little bit more expensive that the PS Audio but can compete with units at just about any cost. The only DAC that I have heard that surpasses the Weiss is the EMM Labs DAC 2X, but it doesn't have a volume control.

But the Weiss makes the Medea and I am drooling over that unit...That will be my next purchase. Trust me guys, if you are on a budget the Weiss is the way to go. When I originally said it was underrated I meant that while it is already highly rated many dont know how good it actually is.
Levy03, all I have done is stated some thoughts based on extensive evaluation about a product. You on the other hand are aggressively attacking me personally, I don't know why you are desperate to defend the PS Audio DAC - perhaps you are in some way connected to the manufacturer or you are worried about the resale value of your unit.

However, it is silly to think that everything in audio is just a matter of opinion. If that was the case, I could just make a crappy DAC that costs $20 to make, put it in a shiny box, and put a $30,000 price tag on it. Then all I would have to do is find enough people with the opinion that it is the most amazing piece of equipment they ever heard.

Of course reality doesn't work like. Some manufacturers (like Weiss) pour literally years of passion and innovation into their products and clearly that results in better sound.

So better sound is better sound, it is not just a matter of opinion. Therefore I can tell you with confidence that my comments about PS Audio being a below average product with poor sound are actually fact, not just opinion.

A Krell amplifier sounds better than a Yamaha receiver - another fact, not opinion.
What's thepoint of this thread? The OP wants to spend more $ but is conflicted because the Weiss, which runs nearly 8 large, is the cheapest bit in his system, and although he likes it best seems to need a more costly dac to balance out his system. Do I have it?

Couple of interesting points- if we come to ths hobby as subjectivists, which the op probably is because the specs of the PS Audio mean little to how he perceives sound quality, then that a Krell sound better than a Yamaha is opinion, and not necessarily fact.

Oh is this twisted about. I've heard absolutely marvelous systems that cost less as a whole than this beloved Weiss.

Perhaps for their this is just system matching as I've found some ultra costly systems, and 100large qualifies, as hyper detailed and dull.
Krell vs Yamaha?..a rather extreme example but i'll bite with an equally extreme rebuttal.

so if the Krell was hooked up to a pair of $20 speakers and the Yamaha was painstakingly matched up with some very high quality speakers......would it still be "a fact" that the Krell will always sound better??.

Like i said before mr weinstein.....you just don't get it and likely never will. the Weiss is a fine DAC, as are the others you demo'd (the Berkeley is fantastic imo). i have no reason to doubt that in your system, the Weiss sounded fabulous and the pwd2 did not. i take issue with your lack of understanding that certain piece's can sound good/great in certain set-ups while not sounding so good in others. re-read Al's post from above and you'll see we are both saying the same thing (although Al is MUCH smarter and nicer about it). variables matter!! and matching up components in a system correctly is likely one of the only valid FACTS we have in this hobby (kinda like room treatments/correction). it's not all about the price or performance of a single link in the chain....rather it's about how all the components interact and work together.

regarding the "personal attacks"....yes....guilty as charged because i have problems with YOU as a person (not your gear selection or musical tastes). comparing a nice DAC like the PWD2 to some pos cd player from the 90's is blatantly disrespectful and an insult to all of us who have gotten great sound out of it (along with several other silly/over the top comments you've made). if you think you can insult/disrespect people who like something you don't and not get push-back....you're in for a *rude awakening* from people like me. by all means...go ahead and state your valid opinion. the pwd2 sounded flat, not musical, ect....(in your system) are all fair/legitimate observations you might have had. just don't say things that insult/disrespect others and cry "poor me" when we get in your face about it.
"I was surprised to learn that Weiss 202 can compete even with $30,000+ DACs."

If I had something that offered "world class device that far surpasses its cost in performance" I'd be giddy and happy, not confounded why I couldn't spend more $ and be even happier
There is a point where better sound is factual. Otherwise, I could write posts here all day about the musicality of my alarm clock and if people disagree that it is the best sound in the world then just say its a matter of opinion - it's not.

Levy, why don't I take out the nice polypropylene capacitors in your speakers and replace them with cheap electrolytics? The resulting sound is not better or worse, it's just different according to you. In fact, why spend money on any premium materials if the result is just opinion driven?

Zavato, as far as my surprise regarding the Weiss outperforming or being at least on par with the $30k DAC is because the $30k DAC does have ultra premium parts, I suppose the reason why the Weiss is so good for the money is because Daniel Weiss is just a brilliant engineer and is able to extract more from lower cost parts. But all things being equal, it goes without saying that if we replace all the parts inside the Weiss with more premium parts then the sound would be even better.
"But all things being equal, it goes without saying that if we replace all the parts inside the Weiss with more premium parts then the sound would be even better."

Actually, I think there is no evidence, one way or another, about that at all. Premium parts are nice, but if the parts don't all work well together, premium parts is just wasted money. Many times over the years I have read interviews with designers who pointed out that they listen to all the parts and that the most expensive parts are not necessarily the parts they thought ultimately sounded best.

If money were the issue, I would buy a $400 MyDAC, and sustitute each and every part inside for a premium version, including a premium chassis and case, and then sell it for $7,500.

You do realize the single most expensive part of that $30,000 DAC is no doubt the chassis

However, no one hear is stopping you from spending $30,000. I just seems you are looking for validation for that decision.
You are making a universal or general statement regarding the PWDII as if because they didn’t sound good to “you” in “your system”, that it would sound like that in every other system. Please note that in every system, synergy among components is a key. The Weiss Dac202 that you are raving about can sound bad in another system. If common sense would prevail here, you would know that one man’s trash is another person’s treasure, and another person’s treasure is someone’s trash. I also think you think anything expensive equals better and the summation of quality parts equals better sound. It is not always true as I have heard less priced components outclass some more expensive ones, and summing quality parts in a box doesn’t automatically guarantee better sound, it is the execution that matters most. I am sure you are aware that some people love the PWDII, so if you had subjected your views to just “your system” and added a statement that even though you did not like the sound of the PWDII in your system, it would probably sound better in another system because there are others who love its sound, you will not be attacked the way you are being attacked now. You should also note that we all have different listening ears, and someone might probably like the sound of the PWDII in “your system” more than the Weiss irrespective of what you and your friends heard.
Dweinstein: thanks for confirming "you'll never get it". if your last post reflects what you got out of my most recent reply....i now understand WHY "you'll never get it". did u even read my reply??....or any of the replies in this thread?? narrow mindedness and refusal to face/address the truth makes you a hopeless cause imo.
"I've really only seen the PS Audio in budget systems by people who are just starting out in audio"

If I recall, the ps Audi dac that is being thrashed about costs $4,000. I really don't think that anyoneis assembling a "budget system" with a $4,000 dac.

Fwiw, thinking a $4000 dac as belonging in a starter budget system is a fascinating insight into the op. to me a starter system can be $1,000 - $1,500 including cables.

No wonder audio as a hobby is far past it's prime.
$42,000 speakers? Yup, different universe. I'm outta here
Years ago a speaker builder call Duntech built his then flagship $23,000 Soverign Loudspeaker, it used a $45 VIFA tweeter.

When Mr Dunlavy was asked about this tweeter he responded, I know what you mean but it was the only tweeter I could find that worked in this system, One day I'll get around to designing it out.

To my knowledge he never did.

I auditioned the Weiss 202 but purchased the ARC Dac8.

What I think of the Weiss is probably irrelivant , understanding why is more important I feel.
Not on the topic, but Lustformusic, your Agon user name is fantastic!
Not on the topic, but Lustformusic, your Agon user name is fantastic and perfect for many of us!

How about my system, which you may or may not find impressive:

Krell FPB 300 cx amp
Wyetech Opal preamp with Solen Teflon capacitors, Hi-Fi Supreme Gold Fuse, NOS 6sn7 tubes, Herbie's tube dampers
Bryston BDP-1 Digital Transport connected to PS Audio PWD MkII with Stealth Sextet digicable (AES/EBU)
CEC TL-1X Transport connected to PWD MkII with Kharma Grand Ref SPDIF digicable
Von Schweikert VR5 HSE speakers
Interconnects: Stealth Indra, Nordost Valhalla, High Fidelity Cables Enhanced
Spkr Cables: Nordost Valhalla shotgun biwire
Audience AR 12 Power Conditioner
LessLoss Sig, Valhalla, Elrod PC's
Various anti-resonance, anti-vibe accessories

Of course, this is only a budget system, but one does what one can . . . .

Best regards,

Neal: you're clearly a beginner who is working on a "budget system" =)

seriously nice rig bro!
What all of you are saying is that there are no bad or good components in audio, it's all just about system matching and opinion. Well, all of you are wrong.

A good, highly regarded component, while it may not be everyone's cup of tea, an overwhelming number of people will find it to sound good, simply because that sound would be closer to what music sounds like live.

How many people who have heard the Boulder phono preamp thought that it just wasn't that great after hearing it? How many people heard a VAC Statement 450 amplifier and just walked away thinking it sounded terrible? Or how about the Rockport Reference turntable?

Of course higher price doesn't automatically mean something will be good, but that is simply due to amateurs building components and then slapping a high price tag on it.

Nglazer, I guarantee you that if you replace the PS Audio DAC with the Weiss your system will take on a new level of realism. Your system is good but the PWD is a major limiting factor. You probably got the PS Audio because it is conveniently available from mail order retailers and didn't take the time to audition a selection of DACs. I absolutely guarantee this.

My main point in this thread which has gone way off topic is that there are good sounding components and bad sounding components, system matching and taste come in secondary to that. You cannot take a Bose Wave Radio and convince someone that it has the sound of a $50,000 MBL system. Although according to all of you this can somehow be done. I'd like to see that.
"there are good sounding components and bad sounding components, system matching and taste come in secondary to that."

Not sure you can draw polar opposites and absolutes like this in audio -- there are lots of gray areas. System matching and personal taste always have a lot to do with everything in my experience. Someone's "good sounding" can be someone elses "bad sounding" and neither of them are necessarily wrong depending on personal experience, tastes, and their system and room. If that were not the case then you should be able to build a great system for everyone on Audiogon based on what you think are "good sounding" components. Pretty sure that's not the case.
Soix, if what you were saying were true then I could just buy a $200 boombox and be done with it. It could easily be as good as my $100k+ system, I just need to change my opinion.

What about video? Would you say that 1080p resolution is not better than 480p, it's just a matter of opinion? Plenty of people would choose the lower resolution format over 1080p, inspite of the fact that the image is much sharper, crisper, and more vivid on the HDTV screen?
Dweinstein, I have heard the VAC Statement 450 (driving some large Raidho floorstanders) and thought it sounded lousy, as did a lot of other people who heard the system. (It was the Sound By Singer room at the New York Audio Show.) And I have owned a VAC Phi 200 and thought it sounded good, but in the end was overrated/overpriced in my book. I like Pass Labs better. That does not mean that Pass Labs is objectively better than VAC. It means I like how Pass Labs sounds better than how VAC sounds in my system.

System matching is a make or break proposition -- you can throw together some very expensive components and they will not sound good together -- for example, if their output/input impedances are mismatched. With digital, the transport itself has a big effect on how a DAC sounds. The Perfect Wave DAC, for example, is not particularly impressive from the USB or S/PDIF inputs, and sounds much better when matched with the Perfect Wave Transport connected via HDMI/I2S.

I don't think anyone is going to contest your red herring statement that there must be objective differences in the sound quality and measured performance of various components. That is why John Atkinson spends so much time measuring performance objectively. What you are refusing to admit is that some components -- even very high-end ones -- sometimes do not sound good together in a system, and that sometimes, synergies between components make the whole greater than the sum of the parts. When you refuse to acknowledge the possibility of synergies in your system and declare that the Weiss is objectively superior to other DACs, in contradiction to others who have had the opposite experience, you sound like a religious zealot. If you love the Weiss DAC, great, we get it, but stop using reductionist arguments to dismiss everyone else here.
I agree very much with Mcondon, he explained things much better than I did in my previous post.
What a #$%@....!
Mcondom, as I've said taste and system synergy is secondary. You see some people might choose a Ferrari over a Lamborghini and vice-versa but both brands are on equal footing and objectively deliver the same level of quality and performance. So in this case, when choosing at this level it will ultimately be your taste that will determine if you will chose the Ferrari or not.

However, you will certainly not choose a Kia over a Lamborghini if you are looking for a high performance car. You will know objectively that the Kia is not even in the same league.

It's the same with Pass and VAC, they are both state of the art products and of course at this level it will be your taste and system synergy that will ultimately dictate which one you choose.

I am simply making the point that the PS Audio is objectively like a Kia and Weiss is like a Lamborghini, although some people might got for EMM Labs (Ferrari) - an equally good choice determined by taste and system synergy.
Dweinstein: "I am simply making the point that the PS Audio is objectively like a Kia and Weiss is like a Lamborghini, although some people might got for EMM Labs (Ferrari) - an equally good choice determined by taste and system synergy"

i'm simply telling you..... you're foolish, narcissistic and arrogant. almost every reply has pointed this out in one way or another. this should have given you some pause before making yet another extremely ignorant statement. the fact that you haven't paused (kia vs lambo?? really? LOL!)....more or less proves you're foolish, narcissistic and arrogant. you really know so little yet pretend to know so much. puzzling....you're a real enigma. good thing you have plenty of money.....because u have little else to offer the world.

keep chiseling into stone the "advise and information" obtained from the people selling you all that expensive gear. rest assured they love ya for it $$$$$$ =)
"But all things being equal, it goes without saying that if we replace all the parts inside the Weiss with more premium parts then the sound would be even better."

Of course it goes without saying. Few people are foolish enough to make a statement like that.
Thanks, Levy03. Has taken years to put together, with a lot of trial & error, and just when you think you have it right . . . . If you can, try a pair of High Fidelity cables. I was skeptical, but they are the real deal.

This statement by you is very telling: " But then I got that typical audiophile itch and given that this DAC was the lowest priced component in my system, I thought that it was time for me to focus on a new DAC."

Soooo, you based your satisfaction with your current DAC on its price relative to the rest of your system? Rather silly, donchathink? It would seem to me that components should be changed out based upon some sort of dissatisfaction with their sound quality.

After all, would you be looking to replace some killer YG Acoustics or Audio Notes or *whatever* simply because they were the cheapest pieces in your system? That makes absolutely no sense to me...

Levy, I don't have plenty of money. I've worked very hard to put together the system that I have and made a lot of sacrifices along the way.

And wainwright, I think you are mistaken. Being dissatisfied with a component is not the only reason to pursue upgrades. Sometimes you might have a killer system but wonder how much better it might get. So this is like going from Ferrari (which you might be already very satisfied with) to Bugatti and spending 10 times as much to get just a 10% improvement.