Daniel Weiss is a well known name in the studio world. With its beautiful AD converters – for Sony and others – for studio use, Weiss has acquired a strong position in the years that digital audio just emerged in the studio world. Many more converters were added later on. Think of the DAC2, DAC202… But even better known are the filters, such as the de-esser. We are testing a product where everything comes together: a dac, various filters, a streamer and even a headphone amplifier. Meet the Weiss DAC501
If you say the Weiss DAC501 is a d/a converter, you are short selling this device. It’s much more than that. It’s a streamer – UPnP and ROON – headphone amplifier, preamplifier and dac. As a bonus, it can do all kinds of tricks. Think of a vinyl emulation. Or de-essing. And there is even a – relatively basic – equalizer to tame room-modes a bit. In short: it’s a bizarrely versatile device. In fact, you can connect the Weiss DAC501 to a few active monitors and you’re done. And you’re done at a very high level.
As we’re used to from Weiss, the finish is sublime. The DAC2 may be old – and in terms of design somewhat outdated – the fit and finish is sublime. The DAC501 goes a (big) step further. The display is not only in colour; it is also touch sensitive. And it fits seamlessly into the front. The volume button is free of play, the seams of the hood are almost invisible… …it’s – in short – Swiss made.
And the same goes for the inside. TIght layout, top-notch components… The base – the power supply – consists of two AMGIS transformers. Digitally and analogue separated. For all DSP functions an Analog Devices ADSP-21488 DSP chip has been chosen. That’s a big boy, as you can see on the picture.
For Ethernet and display control, an AM3352-series processor has been added (on a kind of subsidiary board). Behind that board we see two clocks: 44.1 and 48 kHz samplerates (and multiples thereof) are regulated separately, as it should be.
The dac section is in a separate, shielded section. When we open it, we see two ESS 9018K2M dac-chips. Dual mono. Analog out is done via both single ended and balanced outputs. The dac-board is just like the rest, very tightly designed. Completely symmetrical. Anyway, that’s the way it is supposed to be for 8000 euros.
There are four ways to operate the Weiss. Yes, four… Let’s start with the most logical. The device. In fact, you can control everything there. The screen is touch-sensitive, so you can tap through the device pretty quickly. With the volume knob – which is turn/push operated – you can go up and down through the functions. Turning it feels crazy: wrong way around. That took some getting used to for us.
You can also use the remote control to simply operate most of the functions. Then there is another possibility to stream via Roon and adjust the volume. Finally, there is the web interface. If you enter the ip address of the Weiss DAC501 – to be found in your router, or in the setup of the Weiss – you can use the web interface to control the device. That’s very convenient. It’s even possible to pause, play and skip tracks that play via Roon and UPnP.
In short: plenty of possibilities!