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hatari

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I'm considering trading in my Levinson 390S + a little cash for a Weiss Minerva DAC. I've got most of my CDs ripped AIFF and use a mac mini as a server (in an adjacent room, wire through the wall). The Levinson is a great CD player, and I've been using it's digital input (spdif) - so really it's DAC portion. Unfortunately I can't hear the Weiss Minerva to understand the difference in sound (though I've heard it in another system). My concerns? Really only that the Levinson 390S' DAC is pretty good and the Minerva gives me something different, but not necessarily better. Also, I'm a little concerned that I will no longer have a CD player (though the mini can play the CD and act as a transport, I suppose).

 

My gut? Go for the Weiss as this computer setup is fantastic in sound quality and convenience. My brain? Stick with the Levinson, has a good DAC, has a CD player - old faithful.

 

Thoughts and input welcomed. Cheers

 

PS Rest of system is tube monoblocs and preamp (all RCA, not balanced), and vinyl

 

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For me, I'd look at this from a slightly different angle. From the looks of the Levinson' specs, it will accept a digital input up to 24/48. If this is all you need then keep it! I very much doubt that the Weiss will better the Levinson at that bit rate. If you need higher res inputs then go with the Weiss, but as the Mini is restricted to 24/96 over spdif there isn't a great deal of difference.

 

What would I do? Save up for a desktop/soundcard (Mac/Lynx or similar) combo that would give me all currently available bitrates and then worry about a new dac. The number and quality of Dac's aimed at computer audiophiles seems to be increasing all the time as the industry slowly gets the hang of it! By the time you're ready for a desktop/soundcard system, the current crop of dacs will have moved on.

 

I'd go for the desktop/soundcard system first, played through the Levinson while you get the hang of it, then think about swapping out the dac side of things. A quick read up of Chris' 'Reference' server set-ups will give you an idea of what I mean : http://www.computeraudiophile.com/taxonomy_menu/2/11

 

Hope this helps

 

 

 

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Bob: Thanks for your input - I did see those setups. The idea behind the Weiss is to use the Firewire, where it can do 24/192. The aesthetics of a desktop computer in my listening room (living room of sorts) never worked for me, so I went for the mini to work with my home network. So wasn't an investment decision, but rather one of preference - with the same theory - in time the technology will evolve to use smaller footprints/fewer boxes etc.

 

The elegance of a Weiss/mini setup just works for me vs the desktop/other DAC. I am certainly keen on the higher res material, as I enjoy k2HD, XRCD and other higher definition digital formats.

 

Keith: thanks, wish local dealers did similar. I am on the wrong side of the pond. Appreciate it though.

 

Cheers

 

 

 

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As you say, as you're already into the high res stuff then the Weiss certainly fits the bill. Plus, all the balanced in and outs are there if you ever decide to take that route in the future.

 

Sounds to me as though someone may be in for a treat soon, when the Levinson hits the market! :)

 

Or you could do what I normally end up doing - decide to sell A, in order to fund B, buy B first and then put off selling A long enough to get over the 'hit' of B - end up keeping A anyway. Best of all worlds. ;)

 

Good luck with it.

 

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You’re not starting from scratch, so there’s no need to buy blind (or deaf). If this was your first foray into purchasing a DAC I would say, do a lot of research and buy what you believe to be the best. But since you have a system that you feel is pretty good, what you really need to carefully discern is whether it’s worth spending $x for significantly better sound. Unless you hear it, evaluate it and compare it in your system and home, you’ll never really know.

 

The $5K Weiss Minerva is an excellent DAC that will easily provide 24/192 capability. My advice since your money is burning a hole in your pocket is, go for it. If you cannot get a 30-day return guarantee, you may have to accept the fact that you will sell whichever unit you like less. I assume you could easily sell the used Minerva for $4K (some of the CA readers may take you up on such an offer), but I am more inclined to assume that it will be the Levinson you sell.

 

 

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audiozorro: thanks for the input. The dealer isn't into home tests and I ideally do not want to add boxes. if the Minerva matches/beats the Levinson on redbook or HD, and then gets me the opportunity to explore higher res, it would be a switch. I am not good at selling things (don't have the time or patience) so would ideally seek a trade.

 

The only other concern is that I don't have a CD transport if I lose the Levinson. How good a transport is the mini's CD player? Or do I need to rip everything before listening?

 

Keith: we have the same tastes in turntables :). I have the one motor version of the AC.

 

Thanks

 

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Hi Hatari,

 

One other thought along the same lines - why not get the Weiss DAC2 instead of the Minverva - its the pro version of the Minvera. They sell it at VIntage King audio for $2995. It has a different face plate than the Minvera but my understanding is that sonically its the same as the Minverva. I am not sure, but I'd bet they offer a 30 day home in trial period so you can know for sure. Good luck with whatever you decide.

 

Arnie

 

 

 

 

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- WELCOME to Computer Audiophile! - The optical disc players in all macs are ..... OK. But you hit it on the head when you stated: ""Or do I need to rip everything before listening?" - You wouldn't "need" to rip them to listen to them, but you will (1) save wear and tear on the optical drive, and (2) have a better 'end result' audibly by playing ripped files back, if you do so. I'm not sure why it is the music sounds better coming from an audio file as compared to playing back from the optical drive (at least as good anyway), but it is true IMO. Besides, the convenience factor of not having to insert and eject the discs is great. You just click on a piece of music, and ..... there it is!

 

By the way, the only point that I have is on my head. I'm trying to grow my hair out to cover it up......

 

- markr

 

 

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I’m not a big fan of not having a CD transport. I have many CDs, such as the Brilliant Classics 150+ box set collections, that I would not want to fill up my hard drives with music that I’m likely to play only once or twice. I also have many CDs that may only have a few tracks worthy of ripping to the computer music server.

 

A low cost Oppo Universal Player will allow you to play CDs, SACDs, DVD-As or DVD movies, if you wish. Use the analog outputs for playing SACDs, but for playing CDs connect the Oppo to the Minerva using the S/PDIF connections. That’s one of the benefits of having a DAC with multiple inputs, so use the flexibility to your advantage. Personally, I like to play my CDs on my Oppo before deciding what to rip.

 

babybear’s suggestion “why not get the Weiss DAC2 instead of the Minverva” sounds good. I don’t know why there is such a price difference from the manufacturer if they sound virtually identical. Perhaps Daniel Weiss can elaborate?

 

 

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Just so you have a clear picture of the variance of where people's opinions come from: I am TOTALLY a fan of not having a dedicated CD transport (no offense or attack intended audiozorro. We are just different.) My only CD transports are my DVD player (DVD-A compatible, but I don't own any DVD-A's) and a Sony Discman from long ago. I've been ripping to HD for years and love it!

 

Also, to me it seems to me that if you want what the Minerva provides sonically, the DAC2 would be a more sensible way to get there from a monetary standpoint. I love Computer Audiophile. There are just so many ways to get what you want from here. Homework is required though!

 

-markr

 

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The only major benefit I see for upgrading to Weiss at this time for you is high rez music. XRCD, K2CD,HDCD you can already play with ML unit. 24/88 and 24/176 files are becoming more common but still relatively small variety. Also many 24/88 are also available as SACD. So far, I found SACD to sound better than its 24/88 especially those that were recorded originally in DSD. So do you think that it is worthwhile spending money to upgrade the equipment so that you may be able to play a few more files? If you find plenty of high rez music in Linn, 2L, HDtracks etc that you would like to play, then it might be worthwhile upgrading.

 

Weiss is an unknown quality for me so I don't really know how it would compare to other DAC in its price range. Working to get small silent computer housing a Lynx or RME card is not all that difficult and it would open up plenty more choices of DACs as well.

 

For a long time I don't have a dedicated transport but I don't really miss it. I now have a Universal player hooked via iLink to my DAC mainly for SACD playback. If you rip those CDs that you think you may only listen to once or twice, you may surprise yourself that once it is in your hard drive and easy to access, you may end up listening to it more often than you think.

 

 

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I compared my Levinson 390S playback to the AIFF ripped version (mac mini>monster toslink with minijack adapter>Levinson 390S spdif input>pre, amp etc.).

 

The Levinson was significantly better in playing the same CD. Other than the monster cable, I'm comparing the transport quality of computer to the CDP in this test. The DAC is the same. I will get the wireworld toslink (glass) and try again. In the meantime, the Levinson is staying put. Does this surprise anyone? My wife, who rolls her eyes at me on such things, had the patience to listen as well and it was immediate and without hesitation that she said "all that effort and the CD player sounds better!".

 

I hear the advice on getting a Lynx etc. setup - would do it tomorrow if we could find a box that is smaller than the mac pro. So, for the meantime, I'll have 2 digital sources until I find an elegant and better sounding solution than the CDP. And, I'll only get the Weiss if the local dealer let's me try it out for a weekend or two and it at least equals my CDP.

 

I was listening to the K2HD sampler last night (24/100?) - so very nice. Keeping hopeful and patient.

 

 

 

 

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No, it doesn’t surprise me that you found the Levinson CD player to sound superior. Would it surprise Ashley James that all my audiophile friends find their vinyl playback systems to sound superior to any digital front end? It sure wouldn’t surprise Michael Fremmer.

 

I think we say in general that an audiophile computer music server will sound better than an audiophile CD player. There are many technical reasons for this as well as some technical reasons why it may not.

 

Is it possible that your Levinson CD player might outperform a superior CD transport costing twice as much used with the Levinson as a DAC? Yes it is possible though it is unlikely and may seem illogical. I seem to recall that the Sonic Frontiers CD player sounded far superior to the separate Sonic Frontiers transport and DAC even though the latter was a better build and significantly more expensive.

 

Rather than agonizing just accept that you find the Levinson unit to be an excellent CD player that can also be used as a standalone DAC for a computer music server. The many other benefits of a computer music server over a CD player will still be real.

 

If you’re happy and satisfied, that’s all that matters. If you ever decide you want something superior sounding than your Levinson CD player, I believe you can easily reach that with either a better sounding CD player or a better computer music server.

 

And of course there is nothing wrong with having two or more digital sources. I will always have a Universal Player to play SACDs or DVD-As and CDs that I haven’t ripped. Also, if I ever wanted to dabble in multi-channel, I would find the standalone Universal Player to be much easier and cheaper than a multi-channel computer music server. For me having two or more digital sources allows me to easily conduct A/B comparisons as I leapfrog to better sound.

 

I’m of the opinion that you can always achieve higher fidelity if you’re willing to take the time or spend the money. At this point I would suggest that you try out the Weiss DAC to see if it is a significant upgrade. If you can’t borrow the Weiss or get a 30-day return guarantee, I suggest that you take your Levinson CD player to your local dealer and hook it up to the Weiss DAC. Compare the Levinson CD player to the Levinson/Weiss combo and let us know. Good luck.

 

 

 

 

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