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Which has the better output stage? Weiss DAC2 or Bryston bda-1

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Thanks Keith. I did read that post but did not come away knowing much about the differences between the two, preferences yes, but not the differences. Aside from firewire in one and not the other, what makes them intrinsically different? In particular the output stage interests me. A friend of mine with much more knowledge then I says this is the most important factor to consider when comparing digital sources of similar price and function.


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Knowing about the design of the output stage in itself wont really help you. It's only a part of the whole. For example - which sounds better ... a Marantz SA8003 using the well designed discrete components in their HDAM output modules, or the Cambridge Audio 840C which has a more advanced digital stage, but uses packaged op amps in it's output stage? You can really only take the DAC as a whole. It's like asking which is faster round a track - a Caterham R500 with it's 2l 260BHP engine, or a Bugatti Veyron with it's 1,001BHP engine*.


As for the intrinsic differences - the Weiss DAC2 has a well designed "computer" interface in the form of firewire, whereas the Bryston BDA-1 has a USB interface that (while convenient) is severely limited and rather an afterthought and you'll need to budget for good quality PCI or Firewire/USB interface to get the best out of it when using a computer as your source.


You need to go and demo the two DACs in your own system. You may find that for you one has a sound you prefer over the other, or one sounds better in your own setup than the other. Another issue is that in differnt markets the Bryston and Weiss are very different prices. In US (for example) the Bryston BDA-1 is $2000 and the Weiss DAC2 is $3000 (approx prices) so adding $700 for a Lynx AES16 card (for example) is still going to leave you with the Bryston costing less. In the UK the comparison is reversed - the Weiss is £1300 (prices from memory so hope they are right) and the Bryston costs you £2,250 and thats without adding a Lynx AES16 card at another £600.




*on one test track (BBC Top Gear) the Caterham did it in 1:17.9 while the Veyron was only 1:18.3




...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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The only way to know which one you will prefer will be to listen in your system. In theory, my belief is that a well designed discrete, FET/Bipolar output stage will sound better than one based on IC opamps. This theory would suggest that the Bryston has an advantage with its discrete output stage. On the other hand, the Bryston uses Crystal DACs, which I think are voltage output, meaning that I to V conversion is done in the DAC chips themselves. The Weiss uses a TI DAC chip, and does the I to V with its own separate circuit. How I to V is handled definitely has an impact on the sound of the converter.

Of note, some very well received DACs use IC opamps for their output stages (Berkeley Alpha, dCs, etc.) so I do not think it is wise to try and determine how something might sound due to its design. In the end, the entire implementation of the design matters in the sound, and the only way to know which will sound better is to listen.




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