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Benchmark Berkeley 'Alpha' Weiss 202 Shootout


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I spent an interesting evening, with two other 'computer audiophile' devotees, comparing the Benchmark, Berkeley 'Alpha' and Weiss 202 dacs, we used my MBP as source,connecting the Benchmark and Berkeley, through a fire wire interface,I hope the other two listeners will add their comments.

Particularly interesting to hear the Berkeley, because of the ROHS and CE compliance issues it isn't imported into Europe and apart from trade shows this was my first opportunity to hear it.

Keith.

 

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No results then Coops? I know you are a dealer for Weiss so maybe that is why you are reticent.

 

Chris - can Coops be allowed to post his results with the disclaimer that he is a dealer for Weiss??

 

Eloise

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...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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Hopefully at least one of the other 'two' will post their thoughts, it was an interesting evening though, when we tried the Weiss through a separate firewire interface ,and then into it's AES inputs it wasn't quite as good as through it's own firewire connection ( which you would expect of course ), it seems as though the method of transferring data is extremely important, again as you would expect.

Keith.

 

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Keith, I also believe the digital interface (it's type and how well it is executed by the designer) is a key determinant of the ultimate sound quality one can extract from their system.

 

That being said, when I was doing my comparisons of my Berkeley Alpha DAC and MH LIO-8 I found that the basic character of the LIO-8 did not change when I fed it an AES input versus Firewire. The FireWire was better, but the improvement was subtle. I, of course, could not try the Berkeley with a pure FireWire interface as it doesn't support it. I did try using the LIO-8 as a FireWire-to-AES converter and this interface outperformed my Lynx AES16 and HiFace interfaces, but again, the basic character of the Berkeley was unchanged.

 

Looking forward to the posts of the "other two".

 

Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

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Very interesting. I spent a few hours last night comparing the Alpha to the DAC202. I used the Lynx and INT202 as the interface options for the Alpha and Lynx & native FireWire into the DAC202.

 

I'm cool with Keith or the others talking about their experience. Much more info should be posted about the rest of the system and computers used for people to have more information.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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So does 'The Computer Audiophile' have a new reference DAC??

 

"Curiouser and curiouser" said Alice ... or was it Eloise ...

 

Come on Chris ... we want spoilers!!

 

Eloise

---

...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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Well surely after your review is posted there will be lemmings ...

 

Eloise

---

...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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Well I was one of those at Coop’s place last night and very enjoyable it was too.

 

I’ve been auditioning the Weiss DAC202 for a little while now. I’ve got a Benchmark DAC1 HDR at home and is certainly a step up from that in terms of detail and general accuracy and presentation, though I think for the money the Benchmark is good value.

 

Last night gave me the chance to listen to it against the Berkeley Alpha which is nearer the price point of the DAC202 and against an earlier Benchmark DAC1 on Keith’s monster horn speakers. The Berkeley gets good write ups on these forums so I was pretty keen to compare it.

 

The Benchmark we played first sounded decent but the other two are in a different league both sound wise and price wise. The Berkeley was next up and sounded very good, lots of detail, good separation, quite impressive. Both the Benchmark and the Berkeley were connected to Keith’s Macbook Pro, playing via Amarra through a Weiss INT202 firewire and then XLR into the Dacs, so they had the benefits of the asynchronous firewire connection.

 

Next up the DAC202 connected directly by firewire to the MBP. Well to my mind, the DAC202 had more detail, a better presentation, with nothing over emphasised and was a better listen generally. I wouldn’t call it laid back because there was lots of detail but it’s a lovely balance of all the different facets of the music, non-fatiguing and very accurate. I listened to a Weiss DAC2 a while ago and that was impressive but this is a definite step up.

 

I’m certainly going to buy it, and this is a lot of money to me, but it’ll stop me having the urge to upgrade for a long time. Anyone looking for a Dac around this pricepoint should definitely include it in their list to audition.

 

So for me, with this setup, Weiss DAC202 > Berkeley Alpha>Benchmark DAC1

 

I know Coops is similarly impressed but he‘s reluctant to say ;-)

 

 

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Just curious, is it a significant step above the Berkeley or is the difference more subtle and "in the realms of personal preferences"?

 

Was thinking that the 2.5K difference in price between the LIO-8 and the DAC 202 would be a good part of a 6K speaker upgrade-- going from 3K to 9K.

 

 

 

 

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I'm no Benchmark fan, but it would be helpful for Keith to report which Benchmark model was compared. When John Atkinson reviewed the Benchmark USB, he said it used a different op amp than the original DAC1 and sounded noticeably cleaner.

 

HQPlayer (on 3.8 GHz 8-core i7 iMac 2020) > NAA (on 2012 Mac Mini i7) > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

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I'm looking forward to that comparison!

 

(However, I must admit that I would not pay the extra $2500 for a Weiss 202. Computer audio hardware is improving so rapidly that I'm somewhat arbitrarily refusing to consider any DAC costing more than an LIO-8, which I just bought -- notwithstanding my non-updated signature line.)

 

HQPlayer (on 3.8 GHz 8-core i7 iMac 2020) > NAA (on 2012 Mac Mini i7) > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

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Coops - can you give us the UK price for the Model 5 and the DAC202?

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...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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Eloise Hi, I can, but Chris if you feel this inappropriate please delete,

The Amarra Model 4 dac has just been reduced to $3995, UK price is £3200 inc vat insured delivery,

N.B this includes the +DSP software .

The Weiss dac 202 is £4000 inc vat and insured delivery

 

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  • 1 year later...

I've had the pleasure of owning both of these amazing DACs. Unfortunately, I had to part with one of them this week and for me the deciding factor came down to soundstage - that, and my wallet. Believe me, I wish I could keep them both.

 

If you are more of a back-to-front soundstage fan, then by all means go with the Berkeley. It is an infallible piece of kit when it comes to presenting the depth of a recording. On the other hand, the DAC 202 presents the widest soundstage I've ever heard with digital media. It's scary holographic and manages to escape the physical confines of speakers like it's employing some form of dark art.

 

For me, I kept the Weiss. I must stress though that both DACs are unbelievable in their own right and push the envelope in state of the art digital presentation.

 

Kudos to both manufacturers.

 

Jason

 

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