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Review Weiss DAC501 converter – streamer – preamp

Pros

  • Very versatile
  • Beautifully made
  • Neutral, calm sound

Cons

  • Volume control not lossless
  • Filters not needed in our opinion
  • Price: € 7999

    Build quality
    Usability
    Sound
    Price
    Weiss DAC501

    Conclusion

    The Weiss DAC501 is a particularly versatile, high-quality device. Streamer? Check. Preamp? Check. Dac? Check. Headphones? Check...! Web control? Check... filter settings? Yeah. What doesn't it have? Good question.

    The sound is calm, detailed and neutral. Exactly what Weiss stands for. Again and again the dac surprises us with the feeling of playing 'the way it's supposed to be'. That's nice. There are dacs that are able to create a larger image, or offer more bass. Or perhaps more sparkle in the high-area's. But Weiss goes for balance, insight and a 'studio grade' neutrality.

    The extra features in the form of Vinyl emulation, de-essing and room-mode control are fun. But we didn't use them in the end. Although I can imagine that the de-esser can still be quite handy. Nice device. But with a spicy price tag. But still: Alpha Approved!

    For whom?

    Contents

    For whom is a Weiss DAC501? Quite simply. For those who go for simplicity. Grab this Weiss, couple a duo of – for example – nice PSI or ATC active speakers to it and you’re ready to go. Ultimate neutrality in a very compact form factor. We love it. This is the small form factor, high performance ‘mean machine’ for the affluent hi-fi enthusiast.

    3 Comments

    1. Hello Jaap

      Thank you very much for the nice review!

      I would like to give some more information on the filters we added (and keep adding) to the unit. I.e. the DSP algorithms. The idea behind those algorithms is to encourage the users to optimize his/her system (including the listening room) for better performance or to change the sonics for particular tracks for a nicer reproduction.
      I know, in earlier times the audiophiles had the philosophy to not change anything with the recordings. Not even a simple tone control was allowed. In my opinion this is not the right approach. One never will get the same reproduction the sound engineer in the studio had when producing the tracks. All systems at homes will change the sound and thus the user is well advised to optimize the playback for his/her system at hand. This is what we try to achieve with the DSP algorithms – to give the user some tools to enhance the acoustics, the tracks, the experience when listening.
      So I think the algorithms are a valuable addition.

      Regarding digital level control – I did a white paper some time ago. It includes tracks to demo certain effects happening with quantization:
      https://www.weiss.ch/assets/content/41/white-paper-on-digital-level-control.pdf

      Best Regards, Daniel

      1. Hi Daniel,

        Thank you for your reply and sharing your vision upon my comment about the filters. It is always good to have a choice. I am curious what new filters will be added.

        It’s an interesting piece about volume control. I have seen many versions of digital control. Some upsample to 32 bit / *** kHz, others use a hybrid-version, and some just ‘cut off’ bits. How does the 501 approach it?

        1. Regarding volume control in the DAC501 we use standard dithering, not noise shaped. With a 24 bit wordlength after requantization there isn’t anything to be gained with noiseshaping dither because the dither noise is extremely low in amplitude. The 8 Bit examples in my white paper on the other hand can be enhanced a lot by shaping the dither noise.

          As for the filters here is a list:

          Currently implemented: Room EQ, Creative EQ, Vinyl Simulation, Crosstalk Cancelling, Dynamics Reduction, De-Essing.

          Soon to be released: Crossfeed (for headphones), Loudness EQ.

          Planned: Simple tone control, headphone sepcific EQ, …

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