Wyred 4 Sound DAC1 or DAC2?

Hello everyone,

I am faced with this question at this very moment. Which of these two to choose?
I have just sold my Cullen Stage IV PS Audio DL3. I liked the unit a lot and thought I won't be letting it go…
I sounded so "right". I had a Benchmark (the non-USB version) before it and for me, the PS Audio was way better.
The same level of detail, if not more, as the Benchmark, but with a less forward presentation and a way stronger and tighter bass.
The highs of the Benchmark, while not harsh at all, were too much in my face and I couldn't stand that.
Also, the preamp function of the Benchmark was a big let-down. Each time I tried it I returned to my Musical Fidelity A3CR preamp.
By no means the preamp in the Benchmark sounded good to me when compared with the MF.
And this is what makes me so undecided now.
Is the preamp section of the W4S DAC2 better than my MF? Is the digital domain volume control a good and transparent thing?
Are there any differences between DAC1 and DAC2 besides the asynchronous USB and digital volume control?
In short, should I buy the DAC1 and keep my MF preamp or should I buy the DAC2 and go directly into the MF A3CR power amp, and maybe upgrade to a balanced amp later on?
My preamp is currently for sale, but I'm doing that half-heartedly, for it sounds very-very good to me and only the fact that I have only one source and don't used any other inputs make me look at it as overkill.
What do you think?
Any comments will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you very much.
Check out the latest review on the Wyred DAC over at 6moons.com.
That should go a long way in answering your question. Or at least add another
I started out by actually ordering their DAC 1 and then changed my mind while chatting with friends (a woman's perogative don't ya know) and called them back and got the DAC 2. We don't do high res files yet, but we might in the future and decided it was better to go for the fully loaded model and be ready. I did have someone tell me that the DAC 2 was a bit better sonically but don't know if that is actually the case. I do know the thing sounds great and I'm hearing details in the music that I have not heard before. Now I just need to figure out how to put high resolution stuff together and I'll be all set.

Are you using the DAC2 as a preamp as well, going directly into a power amp, or there is a separate preamp in between?
I'm using a Classe Cap151 integrated amp - using the dac alone with a squeezebox and iTunes. Aerial 7 b's, Wireworld digital interconnect, Zu Libtec speaker cables. Squeezebox is using cardas balanced interconnect. I need to update my system and pictures!
Mihaitaa: If you have the money go for the Dac 2, if only because if you don't you'll wish you had. If you find your system sounds better with the MF preamp you could probably sell the Dac 2 for a very little loss and replace with a Dac 1. I have a Dac 1 and am perfectly happy with it since I'm not going to do usb with it and I run into a Rega Elicit integrated which I won't be changing anytime soon. In my main system I have a PS Audio PWD which I'll be using with the Bridge to do HighRes. That also has a preamp and I "may" try that direct at some point. FYI I also replaced a Cullen PS Audio DLIII with the W4S, you won't be disappointed.
Thank you, everyone.

Erikminer, I know you had a Cullen PS Audio DLIII which you sold. You sold it to me. ;-) And you're right saying that if I don't buy the DAC2 and go for DAC1 I will always wonder whether I did the right thing or not.

The market has spoken. I got an offer for my MF I said "yes" to. I am a very rare breed, I guess, I sell first when I upgrade, to avoid/limit the tension with my wife which hates my hobby (probably me as well ;-) )

But "Long Live Audiogon". If using the DAC2 directly into my power amp will prove not to be the right thing, there will always be a preamp looking for a new home...

Again, thank you all for your input.
I thought that was you :-) Not to be ahh sexist but most can't tell that the gear has changed, all looks the same to them.. Silence is golden. oh may want to check this out:

Now, that my W4S DAC-2 has arrived two days ago and has been playing continuously since, I'll try to help someone else probably having the same dilemma as me.
I won't be able to make a sound comparison between DAc-1 and DAC-2, for I never had them both, but I can compare them from the feature difference perspective and how they worked for me.
1. Asynchronous USB. It works superbly with the W4S drivers. I'm using Foobar with Kernel streaming. My previous PS Audio DLIII with Cullen IV mods never sounded as good via USB as via SPDIF coax. USB was always grainy. That forced me to keep my docking station (that's how I was getting SPDIF out) and to employ a decent digital interconnect. Now I am connecting the DAC-2 via its included USB cable and the sound was never better in my system.
2. Volume control. This is a killer feature. I always liked my Musical Fidelity A3CR preamp. I don't have the least bad thing to say about it. But I felt weird every time I thought about it and saw just an attenuator on steroids. This is because I have only one source, my computer, playing lossless flac 16/44.1 or hi-res files. The volume control in DAC-2 is the cleanest possible and working in the digital domain is superb. The Sabre DAC chip works internally in 32 bits, thus all samples, be them 16 or 24 bit in depth need to be upscaled prior to D/A conversion. The digital attenuation DAC-2 applies is in fact less upscaling. It is a lot of room, (48 dB for 24 bit streams and 96 dB for 16 bit streams), before any resolution is lost due to this process. According to Robert Harley, 20 bit audio is state-of-the-art and the last 4 bits in 24 bit processing are "marketing bits". This makes for, in fact, 72 dB of attenuation margin inside DAC-2 even for hi-res streams before any resolution loss occurs.
This is the theoretical support for what my experience with DAC-2 attests. The volume control of the DAC-2 works excellently even when paired with a 31KOhm input impedance power amp. In stark contrast with the bad experience I had when trying to feed the Benchmark directly into my power amp, DAC-2 delivers. DAC-2 directly into my MF A3CR power amp sounds significantly better than the PS Audio through MF A3CR preamp.
On top of this, the nice features possible when operating in the digital domain let me configure the volume control such as the max voltage outputted by the DAC-2 is 1V. This is exactly what my power amp needs to go full bore. Thus I'm not worried that I could ever overload it.

Thus, to sum up. The $499 difference between DAC-1 and DAC-2 allowed me to eliminate a coax digital interconnect, a docking station, a preamplifier, a PS Audio xStream Prelude SC power cord and a pair of Audioquest Columbia with 72V DBS interconnects. All this while giving me the best sound I've ever had in my system.

I know that DAC-2 has an improved power supply when compared to DAC-1. This should, at least in theory, result in better sound. Of course, I cannot say anything in this regard, for I never listened to DAC-1. But, for me at least, even if DAC-1 and DCA-2 sound the same, the 2 features mentioned above made the DAC-2 the better choice.

Of course, this is only my opinion.
Hi Mihaitaa,
Can you comment in more details the sound quality between the DAC-2 and PS Audio DLIII with Cullen IV mods? I have the PS Audio DLIII with Cullen III mods. I know the USB on the PS Audio is inferior to SPDIF coax. What about comparing coax on both DACS? I would expect DAC-2 to be better because of the higher price and newer technology, but is it that much better? Or is the difference quite subtle? For someone who enjoys music, and a decent sub $3000 (simaudio I3 + totem staff) system, are you going to be able to walk into a room and say, "wow, the DAC-2 is so much better"?

The main issue, when trying to answer your question, is that, as I wrote in this thread, I first sold and then bought. Thus I couldn't A/B PS Audio and W4S DACs on equal basis.
The moment I got the DAC-2, DL3 and the preamp were gone.
Never got to run DAC-2 through the same preamp as the DL3. I noticed improved dynamics and clarity with W4S, better extension both ways, highs and lows and better imaging. The soundstage is so "real", I feel I could touch things in it. Also more texture and inner detail. All these quite substantially, not at all that subtle. And my W4S is still far from fully broken-in (still < 200 hours). As it breaks in, became a bit brighter now. I'm expecting from it to "shed off this brightness" as stated in the manual.
From my experience with Benchmark directly in my power amp, the MF preamp never worsened the sound, to the contrary, thus I infer that the improvements are mostly, albeit not totally, due to the DAC-2 itself. Eliminating the preamp and a set of interconnects definitely helped in immediacy and clarity.
Thus, as a guy with a modest system (MF A3CR power amp and Sonus Faber Concerto Domus speakers), I could still say "damn, this DAC-2 is really a nice step up from the DL3".
Again, this is only my opinion.
It is certainly a step up from my Theta Pro Progeny...I'm really enjoying all the details and richness of the music. I changed many things in the system within about a month's time so it was hard to say what was doing what at first...but it is all working together nicely and we are spending hours listening. We have just over 110 hours on it now, it was brighter at first, bass a bit "wooly" and I noted early on that the vocals were rather "hot" sounding. Around 80 hours showed a marked improvement with vocals sounding terrific and bass tight and huge soundstage happening. Just gets smoother and richer sounding by the day, really happy with it. I am just using it in balanced mode with the Squeezebox, one of these days I'll figure out high res and hook it to the IMAC. They are in different rooms and I'm not sure just how to work all that out...always something new to learn about in this hobby these days.
Glad it worked out for you:-)
I know that this is off topic, for it doesn't concern the differences between DAC-1 and DAC-2, but I feel compelled to write about the DAC-2 and don't want to start a new thread.
Maybe this will help someone.
As it breaks-in, DAC-2 improves a lot, but the process doesn't seem to be on a constant way up! About a week after first hooking it up and not too long after posting my first impressions it started to sound a (significant) bit off. It was bright and the bass seemed to had been taking some days off. I even thought that I jumped the gun and got prematurely exited. But, thankfully, that was not the case. That was only a "break-in transition phase". The goods came back in a relativejy short while and now this DAC is the best I've ever heard by a country mile!
My humble advice: Give it the full 200 hours W4S recommends. It's not marketing BS meant to discourage returns within the 30 days trial period as many might think (and I was one of them). It's a fact, at least in my case it was.
I have ordered the Wyred 4 Sound DAC2 a few weeks ago. I am selling it right now.

You can have better for.. Half the price! I run cds through a CDR-882 from HHB. An entry level cd player. (It cost me about 700$ brand new). I have connected it with the W4S DAC2 via toslink (coaxial is an horror on this Dac)and it just gave me no improvement at all. No more. No less..

I could just have the same sound for 1 500$ more!

The problem is that the company doesn't accept any trial and they didn't pay back if you are not satisfied..

So best bang for the buk.. Not so sure.. Maybe for a 100$ cd player..
Yerude1 did you turn the dac on? Ive had many many dacs from bel cantos to Musiland I have heard many name brand dacs and Ive made my own dacs and modded many as well and I have to say for the money the dac 1 or 2 is the best dac Ive heard in a long time. To best it you would need to add a zero to the price tag.This is the only dac to uproot my personaly built dac with all discrete output and a massive power supply but it is apparent that wyred 4 sound is better at the digital domain than I am or ever will be.
My digital front end journey was not as long or high-end as others'.
Music Hall MMF CD25, then opamp upgrades to the CD player, then Music Hall Maverick, then Benchmark DAC1, then PS Audio DLII with stage IV Cullen mods and now W4S DAC2.
I've had better sound every step of the upgrade path and the DAC2 is, especially now, as it's broken in, by far the best in the relatively modest line-up I mentioned.
So much-much better...
I'm very curious to figure out how could someone come to the conclusion Yerude1 came to as well.
I'm thinking troll
Amen!that it Im sure of it!
Anyone compare a DAC-2 to a Weiss Minerva? I may have to sell my Minerva and wanted to find the best/cheapest replacement. The Wyred is on my list. I have a Minerva and a ESS Sabre DAC (peachtree Nova), in my system right now and have been A/Bing them side by side. I know the ESS DAC in the Wyred is better than the one in the Nova, but how much better? Obviously, the Minerva beats the DAC in the Nova, but I was just curious.
I believe the DAC2 review in 6moons compared it to the Minerva (or was it Weiss DAC2?).
Anyway, in one these DAC threads around here someone mentioned he sold a Minerva and replaced it with a Wyred DAC2. Maybe look around in the last 5 days or so.
Devilboy, the Nova doesn't even come close to Wyred's DAC-1 or 2.
No one should expect the Nova's internal DAC - the 24 bit ESS chip - to compare equally to the 32 bit ESS used in the W4S. This is basic; the 32 bit is going to have the basis for a much better conversion and will have an advantage going up against most 24 bit DACS. I point this out in my EE Minimax review.

I reviewed the Nova.

I am curious how you would compare the Minerva to the Nova. I realize that you said the Minerva obviously beats the Nova (which is what I would have expected), but I am interested in how much of a difference there really is -- fairly subtle? night-and-day?

The reason that I am asking is that I have the Peachtree iDecco (which is the same DAC as the Nova) and am trying to get a feel for what a realistic expectation of improvement would be if I moved up to a higher quality DAC and would there be much "bang for the buck."

@ Devilboy... i've owned both and sold the minerva. the wyred did everything the minerva did and then some. in my system, in my room, to my ears, it was clearly the better DAC. YMMV.
Edge22: We both know we can't compare the ESS dac in the Nova DIRECTLY to the Minvera. The dac in the Nova is wonderful, and to add a preamp/amp to the price makes it an absolute steal. I am using the Nova to run a pair of Volent Paragon VL-2 monitors. Now, this seams like overkill, but let me tell you, I could live happily with what the Nova is feeding the Volents. However, when I run the Minerva into the Nova's aux. inputs it IS better, more refined, but not night-and-day different. Yes, the common denominator in both setups was the Nova's preamp/amp section but I don't think the preamp/amp section of the Nova is revealing enough to really differentiate between dacs. I have never heard the new Wyred DACs but I'm sure they're great. Are they up to par with Weiss,Berkeley,MSB....I don't know. Srosenberh says he prefers the Wyred over the Minerva. I'm interested to learn more though...

Anyway, yes, I would say that stepping up to a higher quality dac (Wyred,PS Audio or higher), would be a significant improvement.
I have only just taken possession of the dac2 so it still needs running in.

Interestingly at the moment the high frequencies are not clean. There's a certain courseness rather than a silky sheen that I hear from my Benchmark DAC1 pre. I'm not sure I can warm to this presentation. It will need to improve a lot to win me over.
The openess of the Zodiac+ high frequencies are hard to beat.

If you add an external psu (like redwine or t.Pardo) or even a battery ext. psu the whole thing is fantastic.

I guess Antelope's own Volticus could deliver too.
The Australian distributed said he couldn't hear the difference between the 2 Wyred dacs. He has the Dac 1. His advise to me was if you needed a preamp for analogue/phonoinputs or had a valve pre and aren't doing USB above 24/96 then Dac1. Dac 2 offers more inputs and a remote control pre amp, it has improved power supply caps of the same values but more complex circuitry thus more demand on the power supply. Dac 2 is a no brainer if you use all digital inputs.
Is the DAC2 preamp digital or analog?

I tried the DAC1 with my logitech touch by digitally turning down the volume. It bested my AVR at loud volumes but at low volumes (for example night listening) the digital volume control sounded just ok.

That makes sense, because DACs are generally most linear at full scale. So it seems to me one would want an analog preamp rather than digitally scaling all the way down that far. . .

Any thoughts on this? I am trying to decide between upgrading to a DAC2 versus getting an analog preamp. . .
I had a DAC-2 - very nice piece for the money. It took a LINN DS to beat it. It was nice to get rid of the laptop and USB cable. For the money though, it is hard to beat the W4S DAC-2. When I sold it, I only lost like $300 after owning it for a year or so.... very nice resale compared to most items I have bought and sold.