I'm considering the upgrade to my DAC2 and would appreciate hearing more about your impressions.
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Thanks for the encouragement...
I had the original DAC2 for a few years. It was purchased on the strength of my experience with Wyred amps, owning both the ST1000 (in the music orientated system) and a STi500 (in a 2.1 home theatre set-up). Initially it replaced the onboard DAC in an Audio Research CD1 - and once I had transferred a mass of CDs onto hard drive, it was fed by a Mac Mini with Pure Music software. The only other DAC I had on hand was that in an Oppo BDP83SE. The Audio Research, despite its age, trumped the Oppo for CD playback - but both were clearly inferior to the DAC2.
The original DAC2 added detail and smoothness to the delivery. Poor recordings became bearable, while good recordings started to come alive. Smoothness is something I especially value; any grain or glare bothers me to the point where I will turn the volume down, or even seek an alternate performance. Smoothness can, however, come at a price: with the original DAC2 the price was a slight lack of excitement. Other reviewers also praised the liquid delivery, but when they went on to tentatively confess that the DAC2 did not "grab" them, I sympathised. Well, sympathised up to a point - usually the reviewer would then spend thousands of dollars more on another DAC, or add an Off-Ramp, or Audiophilleo, or a mix of the above - for the outlay, I thought the DAC2 did a fantastic job. And, to be honest, when it came to "excitement" issues, I thought the culprits were likely to be other components in my system.
When the DSD SE arrived, my expectations were modest: a little more detail; perhaps a bit more punch in the upper bass; basically a bit more of the same. Man, I was in for a surprise. So my system could sound this good? Was this believable? My speakers are Usher Be718s with the GR research crossovers, and the bolt on RWS-708 stands, and a REL Stampede sub - nice, but I was always a little skeptical of their stellar reputation: now I could truly hear what the reviewers had loved - it was as if I had just thrown 10 or 20K at a Wilson/Sonus Faber/Magico standmount (if you don't like these, then insert your own poison here). Suddenly recordings gained an immediacy and a sense of a natural acoustic. The reality factor went up not just a notch, the system was providing "spooky" moments aplenty. Old jazz vocal recordings were uncanny - I love Ella' & Louis's collaborations, and these gained another level of presence: it became easier than ever to picture them in the studio, addressing the microphone, having a great time while singing their magic. Solo classical piano recording went from recreating the experience of sitting in an auditorium, quite a way from the stage, to feeling that the piano was close by - and with a real feeling for the acoustic of the recording environment. String quartets benefitted in a similar way, and in addition the individual instruments became more precise in their placement laterally across the soundstage. By now you can probably tell, this was one of those upgrades that see you putting on old favourite recordings in the anticipation of hearings things anew.
Were there any shortcomings? Well, the bass gained some definition, but it still wasn't the strong suit of the system. But I'll come back to this in a minute...
Others have also noticed the quantum shift. My wife spontaneously remarked that things were sounding fabulous; and a friend of twenty years, who had heard my system many times previously, found it suddenly "special" and "like a live performance" - in fact, we all sat and listened to the entirety of Shostakovich's 15th string quartet, having heard a live performance of the same a week prior. Not quite like the real thing, but close.
I was so taken, and so surprised, by the improvement in the sound that I decided to set one my prejudices aside and experiment....I'm a cable skeptic. OK, got that off my chest. For 18 years I've had Audioquest Type 4 speaker cables, and these seemed plenty expensive enough to me; when I needed XLR cables for the Wyred components, EJ at Wyred suggested Oasis 6 interconnects from Wireworld - who was I to argue?...so, fresh from the DSD SE high, and in the spirit of experimentation, I purchased some Wireworld Eclipse 6 speaker cables and an Equinox 6 IC. The result = a definite improvement and, more specifically, a real transformation of the problematic bass. All the benefits heard in the higher frequencies, now were audible in the bass. Jazz recordings in particular gained in that all-important foot-tapping factor - it's harder than ever to prevent foot movement of some kind with Ron Carter in the room.
I still own the original DAC2 - it's going into the room with the 2.1 home theatre - so I swapped it back into the main system. This confirmed my feelings as stated above. If you want to be really cruel to the original DAC2 you could call it a little grey, a little veiled, emotionally a tad disconnected. Objectively, hey, it's great - but the DSD SE is just that much better, that much more real.
All the best.
Stringreen - Sorry, I haven't heard the Ayre. In fact, I haven't heard any other DACs in my system. At a dealer, I listened to the Berkeley - the comparison was with the onboard DAC in an Electrocompaniet CDP - yes, the Berkeley was way better...but in Australia it costs $7000, so I didn't bother investigating a home demo. As mentioned, I purchased the W4S solely on my experience with their amps.
I'd like to be able quantify, however roughly, how much I value the improvement. Quantifying this on some kind of absolute scale seems impossible; however, it might be useful to compare the value of the changes I've made to my system.
A related thought experiment - an evil wizard poses a choice: give up the DSD SE and revert to the original DAC2, or give up another recent(ish) change to your system. OK: what am I prepared to forgo in order to keep the DSD SE?
Wireworld Eclipse SC and Equinox IC? - Yes: out they go; bring back the 18 year old Audioquests and the Oasis 6 ICs.
RWS-708 Speaker Stands? - Yes: tougher choice, as the stands really improved overall definition and bass impact; but I'd prefer the DSD SE upgrade.
GR Research Crossovers? - Hmmm - these were a great improvement over the stock Usher xovers. Still, yes, I'd go for the DSD SE.
Pure Music vs raw iTunes input? - Artificial choice, given the low cost of Pure Music, but... this is really difficult - Pure Music is incredible in removing a host of digital headaches from the sound; as mentioned up above, I hate grit and glare. Given my preferences, a close call. Maybe I'd keep the DSD SE.... (Note - if it were Pure Music vs Audirvana or any other similar software, then the DSD SE wins every time, and by a huge margin - I hear differences between the software, but they are small).
Usher Be718s vs Usher S520 - Well, you'd think this would be hands down in favour of the bigger speakers, but, actually, I might well opt for the DSD SE. The small Ushers are remarkably neutral and have a nice midrange and upper bass - they lose out to the Be718s in the highs. So, very close, but a win to the DSD SE.
Wyred ST1000 vs NAD325BEE - I briefly owned the NAD as I experimented with amplication in a second system. For the money, the NAD is quite nice; but ultimately the Wyred trumps it in virtually every area. I don't have the NAD anymore so a direct comparison is no longer possible - still, from memory, here the Wyred amplifier wins.
So, you get some idea of what it would take for me to renounce the DSD SE upgrade. I'll try to pin a arbitrary unit scale to each of the improvements:
Audirvana to Pure Music +1
Old cables to Eclipse/Equinox + 3
DAC2 fixed & Wyred STi500 as preamp/amp to DAC2 as pre-amp & ST1000 as amp +3
Audio Research CD1 (onboard DAC) to original Wyred DAC2 +5
Old 30kg stands to bolt on RWS-708s +5
Stock xovers to GR Research +8
Usher S520s to Usher Be718s +11
Raw iTunes to Pure Music +12
DAC2 to DAC2 DSD SE +15
NAD325BEE to Wyred ST1000 +18
These values are a little rubbery, but hopefully give you some idea. If you add the numbers together, then I think they hold up: that is to say, if I had to give up the Usher Be718s for the S520s (11 units) AND give up Pure Music for raw iTunes (12 units), then, yes, I'm afraid I would prefer to forgo the DSD SE upgrade (15 units).
Let me know if you have any comments on this "relative unit" system.
Mesch - No worries. Apple lossless (ripped CDs) + a few dozen high resolution FLAC files from HDtracks. Again, I really have no experience with other DACs, so can't comment on your existing gear vs W4S. I went for W4S as their amps bettered my previous ones from Jadis and Audio Research; their prices were in my budget - with resale values high (if I didn't like the product); their sales service was exemplary; and the reviews were uniformly positive, with no caveats hidden "between the lines". Seemed like a safe bet.
A very nice review. I particularly appreciate your description of the relative impact of the upgrade in comparison to other potential component upgrades.
The relative improvement in the context of other potential upgrades in different parts of a system is sometimes too easily overlooked, as we focus just on a particular component.
Roscoeiii - Thanks. And a little follow up...The improved sound allowed for a change in speaker placement.
For years my speakers were pretty much in the corners of the listening room; the speakers were 3.0 metres apart, and the front baffle was around 1.0 metres from the back wall - the room is open on one side, but the effective listening space is a 4.4 metre square. This corner location had worked well for my previous speakers (Wilson CUBS), but I had been hoping to place the Ushers closer together and further away from the rear wall, in the hope of adding depth to the sound stage. Previously, when I experimented with this set-up, the Ushers had sounded a little harsh, a little incoherent. Yes, there was a modest improvement in depth, yet the overall listening experience was less pleasant.
With the DAC2 DSD SE (and the new cables) I tried again. The centres of the drivers are now around 2.4 metres apart, and the baffles 1.2 metres from the rear wall. Voila! Depth aplenty, and no negative issues - smooth, coherent sound; imaging approaching the truly three-dimensional.
In terms of the relative scale mentioned previously - this is a +6. Not bad for a freebie.
I'n reference to the SE dac in my opinion the Berkeley-2 dac is Not better
The Wyred DSD-SE takes 350-400 hours to fully run n.
The a Berkeley may have slightly better leading edge but it does not have the meat on the bones instruments have more meat on them snd depth with the -SE. I find it is more involving,another thing to consider as digital
Technologies evolve you have the latest advancements in technology
That can be implemented.-future proof,most other dacs tough luck.
I had the mighty a Luxman da/06 that won several awards .the Wyred4 sound dsd-SE I heard in NY blind tested against several dacs in the $3k - $6k range differences in all .the a Wyred is very balanced in character.
Porer cord is very important as well as digital cables,and for sure system cables.the new Wireworld Silver starlight 7 ,and PlaTinum 7 USB cables are very good ,as well as the excellent Wire world Silver Electra power cord
theyare the latest and have outstanding detail retrieval.and Wyred has a x5 year warranty ,and a 30 day audition .they may not be fancy looking but
Inside is loaded with much better parts then the competition.
As I mentioned in a earlier paragraph I had the Luxman06 dac
I did purchase the Wyred 4 sound DSD-SE dac. The first week is the hardest,and rule of thumb ,even if your amplifier is off let you dac dac play 24/7 if possible . Just through experience the better the parts quality usually
The longer the runin,after 150 hours it is really starting to loose any brightness, and focus just keeps getting better ,sound staging was always good Buy the best powercord,as well as digital cables you can afford
You will be rewarded. If your system is already on the warm side then the New Wireworld Platinum7 usb cable or Silver star light, if you want more
Warmth the Audio quest Diamond , both are very good.what people forget
Is that if this was sold retail this SE dac would be $5,000 all day long
Just look at the competition ,they cannot match the super high quality
Parts in the SE. My friend has the excellent Meitner which may be slightly better in a few areas,but not all , and look inside it has a bunch of parts stamped
From China for $7,000 that should not be so ,Japan parts are far better.
And I also like the idea is that when advancements in digital come out
I can get them upgraded ,most companies feed you a story of why they don't .itis because they want more $$$ nothing more !!
Wyred ST1000 vs NAD325BEE - I briefly owned the NAD as I experimented with amplication in a second system. For the money, the NAD is quite nice; but ultimately the Wyred trumps it in virtually every area. I don't have the NAD anymore so a direct comparison is no longer possible - still, from memory, here the Wyred amplifier wins.Which nad ? M51?
To the other question the Wyred DSD-SE plays everything Night and day better then the dac-2 with precision!! All those better quality parts are not just better , I used to mod electronics - amps,preamps, the parts quality in the SE are better then Anything I have seen even in $20k DCS units, as well as EMM labs.
This is a Fact just look at the upgrade parts specs normally 1 percent is considered very good ,these parts look at.01 that is One a Tenth of one percent resistors
And other parts are far better still.with digital being so very sensitive to change much much more then say an amp.it pays off in spades in timing,
Imaging,and sound staging. Personally in my system this SE sounds better then my friends Meitner MA-1 and that is saying lots,you can keep the
Berkeley-2 that is why they have a new unit coming out great detail to thin
Sounding though,this is a $6-7k unit all day long.if it were at regular store markup and matched per Dollar.i just sold the well reviewed Luxman -06
Which was $5k retail.i also had the Meitner in my system for two months.
With my YG Carmel's or Revel f-208 speakers very musical tight .
The 2 reviews are the units were not even fully runin, as well as one reviewer using spidif,on one then usb ,In testing Everything has to be Identical. This drives me nuts having worked in the field before.
These guys who many think are audio gods ,make many rookie mistakes.
Please keep this in mind do your own home work. Email others research
And see about a audition.
Hello I had the Bryston player and sold it and bought the AuralitiPK-90
With a Linear powersupply for $950 with better overall results.
I can play anything available in hires 64 or 128 DSD without the lock ups
You could sell your and have 1/2 the money for the dac also the card reader is 500 meg, the Bryston buffer is not even close.i was shocked
.bryston makes their $$ with displays and a fancy case that is worthless.
I would not say it unless I have been there done that. You run it from your IPad,or Droid why do I need a little glass window? Worthless .it is your money,do as you wish I am just telling it like it is.
well, the Bryston does look great in the rack. I will admit, that is kind of important to me. My setup sounds great, but like Bezimienny above, I too value smoothness. I have a lot of pop/rock recrodings (no hi rez stuff yet) and in most systems it is a challenge. Even though the reveiws talk about the Bryston making things more listenable, and that is true compared to most stuff out there, I still think there is room for improvement. So if I can get a DAC that is smooth without giving up to much of the other good stuff, that would be great. That is why the Wryed DAC2 DSD SE interest me. I am also interested in the Luxman DA 06 too. I would have to research the Auratliti PK 90 music server.
I own the Wyred for sound DSD-SE one thing it needs is the a Femto dac .
I sold the a Luxman 06 the Wyred is much better.parts quality in the SE
It here is a Nothing under $10k maybe more in this exclusive tolerance
Parts.femto clocks are the rave for the are literally 1,000s of time more accurate.there are dacs under $1000 using a Femto clock.
If you do buy a wyred dac Insist on a a Femto clock far less jitter then a pico clock. I am trying to get them to install one for MR the clock is less then $100 .this is the Only weakness in absolute terms, but still sounds
Excellent against any $5-6k dac. More so with a Febto clock. Pass the word around to anyone thinking about a new dac.the vega dacs parts are not as good ,but their Femto clock is.
One thing that bugs me No a Femto Clock.
Femto clock is in the Trillions most companies still in Stone Age pico second clocks which work in the a Millions of seconds
I saw a dac with a .085 Femto clock for $400 these clocks were $2-3000
Several years ago now under $50 each there is no reason what so ever to use a pico second master clock .the more accurate the clock ,the better the detail, resolution as well as refinement. I am trying to get a wyred 4 sound to put one in my SE model. All great parts but the clock,trying to use up old stock Ai guess but SE means the very best .if you buy One insist on
A a Femto clock ,my mistake learn from me .