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Apple, Weiss and Bel Canto, am i close?

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Hi and thank you for everyones learned advice and experience, i have come to a deciding point and would like to run it through the appropriate channels, you guys and gals.


Im thinking imac g5 (because i got one free, with ssd hdd) going firewire to weiss Int202 and then aes/ebu to bel canto dac 1.5?


Power amp im not sure, but these will be outputting through custom geddes wave guide speakers.


Could anyone tell me any problems or significant issues i might face?


Thank you kindly for you time and discussion.




thou art a compuder, make haste and compude

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Has anyone got ideas or info?


I have read that the Weiss int202 would be of greater benefit going AES/EBU with silver sonic cable into Bel canto then just USB from mac.


Also does anyone know how well ssd's are doing as i have seen a lot of D.O.A going on particularly the intel 320 and ocz vertex 2?


Could anyone improvise on this?


Thank you agian.


thou art a compuder, make haste and compude

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Have you considered a Weiss DAC 202 to replace the INT 202 + Bel Canto 1.5?


One fewer component, one fewer cable. How many fewer hassles? :-)



Shunyata Power -> 2011 Mac Mini -> OYAIDE NEO d+ FireWire -> Weiss DAC 202 -> Dual Mono McIntosh 2102 -> 2x Double Shotgun Clear Day Cables -> B&W 803D

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You make it sound so simple(im envious), the first option is cheaper where i live (Thailand). Respectively the price increase is about $8730 for the Weiss dac 202.

The bel canto and weiss interface come in at about $3000 with cable.


To me this price increase cannot be justified.


Unless others have any other ideas?


I might be able to get a better price from ordering from Australia.


However the cost to me still seems excessive from one to the other.


Thank you anyway for the your advice!


thou art a compuder, make haste and compude

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Did to realize the cost difference between the two was that much!


The Weiss is receiving a ton of praise from pretty much everywhere, so perhaps it's worth giving it a listen unless it's entirely outside your price range.


Shunyata Power -> 2011 Mac Mini -> OYAIDE NEO d+ FireWire -> Weiss DAC 202 -> Dual Mono McIntosh 2102 -> 2x Double Shotgun Clear Day Cables -> B&W 803D

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Firewire transport by itself is generally pretty good. I would not be looking into a converter, and especially not one priced at the INT202's level. I don't know about Firewire-USB converters, but even for S/PDIF-Firewire, the V-Link is a highly performing affordable contender.


Just focus on optimizing your budget for a DAC and amp. Bel Canto gets good marks generally but it has a particular sound signature that is often hit-or-miss for people. Given the equipment you've described, you can easily get a used Weiss Minerva, which are available on the used market frequently enough.


I'm not familiar with your speakers so I don't know how much amplification they require.


Again, optimize your money on the source (DAC) and amp, and don't worry about the converter. From a cost structure breakdown, the only people who should even be considering $1-2k converters are people with setups that are easily $10-15k+.


Wavelength WaveLink HS -> Berkeley Alpha DAC -> Audio Space Reference 2 -> Woo GES -> Stax SR007A

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Hi thank you for your sound advice.


That makes sense to some degree about conversion. The speakers are a custom built $2500 speaker with wave guide they run loud with no compression, but do need a subwoofer for better lows.


From another perspective, if you are saying people dont use the int202 unless in more expensive systems(i presume because it does a good job) and yet the price is more agreeable to me $1250 (us). Especially then a second hand minerva or more expensive dac202. Then INt202 coupled with the appropriate DAC(like bel canto @ $1300) would be what in comparison to a direct device thats more expensive like the Weiss dacs?


If the chain is digital, and people use it because its good in expensive systems, would this into a bel canto not be appropriate?


I am restricted by components where i live, importing is a high cost ransom, so maybe if i list appropriate hardware?



Bel Canto


anything from Australia.


Thats pretty much it for high end.


Thanks for your help.


thou art a compuder, make haste and compude

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Sorry to add..... when you say misaligned costs, would it not be better if this is a starting system, and im reasonably young, to conclude i might also upgrade and therefore upgrade to more expensive units, knowing that my output will probably not (firewire) and if it does a good job neither will the interface?


Sorry im just trying to understand it form your helpful point of view, with my added understanding of what im expecting.




thou art a compuder, make haste and compude

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I think you understand the trade-offs you're facing, from reading your earlier post. I'll just go into a bit more detail to confirm for you.


Audiophile consumers usually operate off of general ratios on how much to spend on each part of their system. The most important place to spend money is your output (speakers, headphones) and source (DAC, CD player). Closely following that is your amp. The last category, which I wouldn't worry about spending lots of money on, includes cables, converters, power conditioners, and other assorted items. Every component of your system makes a difference, but you get a lot more bang-for-your-buck on the earlier items than the later ones.


Given how you've described your system, I think you can put the money you'd put into a INT202, to much better use somewhere else, such as getting a better Firewire DAC (or looking into other converter options), as others have already stated.


Now, some people would question whether it's wise to put $6600 down on a DAC, given that the DAC is one area where technology is still quickly advancing (unlike amps, speakers, etc.). It's for that reason that plenty of people, somewhat logically, choose never to spend more than $2k on the DAC, as it might be better to upgrade several times over 5-6 years, than to just get a $8k+ DAC (Reimyo, dCS, Weiss DAC202) and be stuck with it for awhile unless you have lots of disposable income available.


The CASH list is a good place to start looking at DACs, but there are many other good ones not on the list which perform comparably:



The DAC202 is a fine DAC but, with all the fees you're looking at, $7k+ is a lot, and you may be just as well suited with a Bel Canto, Benchmark, PerfectWave, Wyred4Sound, Antelope, or one of the many other fine offerings at the $1-3k range. Generally, many people will agree that you've got quickly diminishing returns in DACs once you pass the $2k MSRP mark, so you need to make a mental decision whether you still want to go for a top of the line (TOTL) source like the DAC202, or you don't need that last supposed edge. Last but not least, many people love TOTL DACs like the DAC202, but I've run across plenty of people who think it's overrated and not worth the money, and these are people with plenty of quality gear.


Most people would say that you would get a bigger increase in quality upgrading from a Bel Canto 1.5 to one of the high-end DACs like the Minerva, than using an expensive converter. Even re the DAC, plenty of knowledgeable audiophiles feel that there's significantly diminishing returns after a certain point, and once you're at $5k+ DACs, it's not a question of better, but rather what sound signature you like the best. The difference from getting a fancy converter is arguably even more subtle. I'm not sure what other options there are other than the INT202 for your specific needs, but the INT202 is really, really expensive for what it does.


Do you need to use Firewire? If you can use S/PDIF, there are lots of great, cost-effective converters like the V-Link ($169).


Anyway, in the end, it's your decision where to spend your resources, but I think getting the INT202 is putting the cart before the horse. You're better off researching DACs and amps, and then only looking at things like converters once you're satisfied with your core system.


Good luck! Let me know if any of this is unclear.


Wavelength WaveLink HS -> Berkeley Alpha DAC -> Audio Space Reference 2 -> Woo GES -> Stax SR007A

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Wow, that is exactly the the answer i was hoping for, you have really outlined what i also believe to be of benefit in a system and setup.


For that i thank you for putting the time in to do that!


I guess then just to add.


If i come from a mac mini/imac, and i just had the bel canto and my speakers (both being tried and tested), that seem to work well. What is the best way to route these two together?


Could you please just explain what the V link will give to the system, if you would be so kind?


Im really happy you explained that as you did, it makes a lot of sense!


thou art a compuder, make haste and compude

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Glad to hear it helped! Your instincts are in the right place, and 70%-90% of your gear's price should be in the speakers, amp, and DAC.


It sounds like you're very happy with the Bel Canto, so you should go with that. I've seen some reasonably priced 3.5 units up on Audiogon pretty commonly, so if you don't mind used, you may want to consider a higher model Bel Canto DAC used.


The V-Link will let you convert an S/PDIF output from your computer to asynchronous USB. Async USB carries less jitter natively than S/PDIF, as S/PDIF carries both data and the clock on the same signal, and consequently, S/PDIF intrinsically carries a lot of noise. A lot is somewhat subjective here, and there are lots of people who don't notice a difference between S/PDIF and asynb USB. On top of that, many DACs have inferior USB implementations, so just because a DAC has USB doesn't necessarily mean that's the best way to feed data to the DAC. Firewire is another low-jitter transport, and Weiss handles firewire better than many.


From looking at the latest Mac Mini, it looks like it has Firewire, USB 2.0, and a normal speaker-out jack (something you should avoid).


V-Link wouldn't apply since the Mac Mini has no native S/PDIF-out.


Fortunately for you, Bel Canto has a USB Link 24/96 ($495):





This USB Link converts USB to an S/PDIF signal all of its DACs can understand. It has good reviews, and I'd imagine it's optimized for Bel Canto DACs.


My recommendation would be to get a used Bel Canto 3 or 3.5 unit, and make sure it comes with the entire stack (both the DAC and the VBS, and any other units you want), and the Bel Canto USB Link. Try checking out Audiogon. There are always a lot of Bel Canto units up, and buying from someone with a high positive feedback rating is generally safe. A Bel Canto 3 or 3.5 DAC, power supply, and converter should make you really happy.




(if needed) http://www.belcantodesign.com/Bel_canto_Preamplifiers.html


PS There's also a Bel Canto USB Light Link which looks pretty specialized. I'd just default to the standard USB Link.


Wavelength WaveLink HS -> Berkeley Alpha DAC -> Audio Space Reference 2 -> Woo GES -> Stax SR007A

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Nice writeup there Elysian except for your description of a V-Link is completely wrong...


The V-Link is a USB to SPDIF converter using Asynchronous USB modes. You connect it to the USB port of your computer and to SPDIF (Coax or TOSLink) on the DAC. It's perfectly usable with a MacMini.






...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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Ah, thanks for the correction. Been a long week and I think my brain skipped a bit. I'm not sure why I got the two reversed :)


Seems like I can't go back and edit the previous post.


It looks like the V-Link would be usable with the Bel Canto 3 and 3.5. I'm not sure how the V-Link would perform vs. Bel Canto's converter.


Wavelength WaveLink HS -> Berkeley Alpha DAC -> Audio Space Reference 2 -> Woo GES -> Stax SR007A

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Some fantastic points have been raised in this thread, just an additional 'data point' to add regarding the importance of converters.


For a while I ran a Beresford Caimain DAC both through its native USB input and through an unmodded M2Tech HiFace. I then moved to a Weiss DAC2 (100% same electronics as the minerva but different case and 1/2 the price) and the improvement was obviously huge. I have since A/B-ed the Weiss with the Caiman (with the Caiman running through the Weiss' digital out i.e. using the Weiss as a firewire->SPDIF interface) and I almost cannot tell them apart. This is telling me that the low jitter firewire conversion within the Weiss is extremely important, more so with these two particular units than the D/A conversion itself.


I think there are too many DAC reviews out there were people are describing mainly the sonics of the way they have interfaced their DACs with the source instead of the sound of the D/A conversion itself. True apples to apples comparisons would be different DACs connected the same way such as through an INT202, this does not happen.


Just my 2c as its different to what others have recommended.


To me the idea of going for the INT202 now with a low cost DAC sounds good as you will be able to switch around DAC's in the future knowing the digital signal you are feeding it is about as good as you can get. Plus judging from my Caiman experience ($200 DAC) you will get a great sound off the bat. Again, this is just my opinion.


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hi thankyou for your comments.


All great advice, i find the last comment about the interface was more in touch with the idea i had, keeping the signal path as good from pc, to the point that i will most likely update the DAC.


i really appreciate everyones input, my thoughts are to go Weiss int202 Aes/ebu to a Dac mostly likely for now Bel canto Dac1.5.


This was also on the back of someone saying as a starting point the belcanto Dac 3.5 is not worth the extra money, for such little improvement.


This is not to rub salt into anyone elses help, but is what best suits my plans here and in the future.


regards from Thailand.


thou art a compuder, make haste and compude

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  • 2 months later...

Have both the weiss 202, Bel Canto Dac 2.5, and halide.


The weiss is a higher league than the Bel canto 2.5.

Dac 2.5 is better than the 1.5 by a significant margin. refinement, details.

If i was in your shoes, other option wouldbe to go with a halide into the dac 1.5

The INT202 would probably sound better with the dac1.5 but you have a firewire cable + aes ebu cable to deal with & it requires a high quality one to shine.

For now halide into dac1.5 and when funds permit inthe future, jump to the 202.

202 is really something else esp in the midrange & the pre-amp section suprisingly is very good.


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Forget about a G5 - it's too slow and not enough RAM. You will definitely get computer sound out of it BUT it may disenchant you. Whatever system you end up with, all 4 components, they have to match or else you might as well give the money to charity. Whether you have a Weiss, Bel Canto, Wadia, it's only good as its weakest link - that being the old G5. Up to 50% of that combination, the system gets strangled. Buy a current iMac or buy one used that's about two years old. Older than that and you're fooling yourself. I have an iMac with 16GB of RAM and a huge difference from 8GB to 16.


You're bats if you think that you can cheapen on one of the most important links in the system - the computer. My suggestion is buy one of the components that you will keep for the longest time - probably the computer. Then whatever money you have left buy what you can. This process is never ends, which is the glorious plight of the audiophile. Good luck.


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Thanks for everyones gracious input, i will address the last few comments, as they entertain some interesting opinions.

Firstly, it would seem to me that unless i tried all combinations of computer-software-interface-dac-system, that i am best to narrow down select items. The first item is an imac love it or like it relevant or not the G5 is the starting point for now. It is then in reference to what is the best for the now and then future points of hifi sound.


On this i understand the point about the weiss, although i was a little confused when you said the weiss is better then the bel canto? If you understand that i have a set price and it seems the best thing i can do for a mac computer is to go firewire interface out into a dac and then system, this would be very hard to beat?


The point about the Mac g5 being too old, would suggest something is going on in the hardware of the computer as well as software to change playback, whether this is or is not the case, i revert back to first paragraph i would like to get the hifi components right and then any computer upgrade should be in line and relevant to this. i am more likely to change my computer then i am or would like to change my hifi, for obvious reasons.


There is only one other position, which for me makes this a rather important question about where your weakest link is and that for me would be music recordings, and therefore we are all at a loss.



I am still dithering over points, but once the room for listneing is finished i will make my decision. Thank you for your input and information as well as opinion, it has helped greatly guide my thoughts to the right gear.




thou art a compuder, make haste and compude

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If you are destined to stick with the G5, you should lower your expectations on all related gear because the G5 will not output the same signal as a new iMac 3.06 Intel i5 chip. The G5 speed compared to this new iMac is a disgrace to music. What you are not thinking about is the speed in of the computer which resolves the music. If the computer cannot send a hi-res file to the DAC what is the point of buying an expensive DAC? For your query that music recordings are the weakest link, that is a bad assumption on your part. The equipment I have right now has opened up a new world of "old" music to me. For instance, the original soundtrack of West Side Story. The vocals are outstanding. I recently bought an Off-Ramp 4 from Empirical Audio and it now equals the Wadia transport that I previously owned for several years. That transport cost $7K and the Off-Ramp 4, $800!


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Why do i need to lower my expectations, that doesnt make real world sense!


Please dont use general coments when youre clearly trying to say something very specific, what signal does the g5 not send to the same reference point as a newer mac,have you tried both or are you speculating?


I dont think anything is disgraceful youve got the wrong word, maybe unworthy but not disgraceful.


If the mac sends out a digital signal bitperfect and my interface is something like an off ramp or weiss going to dac please explain scientifically what you mean by not the same and disgraceful?


Otherwise it seems like an opinion, that has no validity.


Would you say an imac is the same as mac mini, surely i would be better buying something without optical and screen as these are also limiting facors in performance? Unless you place your comment in a context it is hard to know why you state it so extremely?



Thanks for your time.






thou art a compuder, make haste and compude

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Also to comment on the music point, it is a weakness in the chain, however i did not say i listened, owned or payed hd tracks as they are to limiting in reach of a set type of music. I am quite happy with cd, until hd sound is more relevant.

The needs are my own, and if at the point that i get said equipment and im finding the mac to be the bit thats pulling everything down, then of course the change will be obvious and inevitable. However to say that you need 16gb not 8gb is maybe as fancy as what you consider to be my hifi choice. However the hifi should stay a little bit longer then the computer if it is as good as i have read, heard and feel relevant in cost.


I thank you for your comments but i would rather like reasoning than seasoning!



thou art a compuder, make haste and compude

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I understand your frustration but I am not going to write a treatise to satisfy all of your inquiries. I don't care what the signal is of the G5. What I have found in using Duo Core, which is newer than the G5, that it does not render a really great signal. When I bought the 3.06 iMac with 4GB, it was better but not until I replaced it with 16GB RAM. Not that I am rich, but a year later bought the newest iMac and for $200 more got the fastest processor with an i7 chip and bought the 16GB RAM also.


You need to quit speculating: "If the mac sends out a digital signal bit perfect..." You said it yourself, "If." And I am going to say it too, "Yes, if..." That's the whole point of this exercise. We audiophiles are on a never ending quest to be one with our music. Unworthy, disgraceful, whatever, sci-fi, science fiction, fantasy, you understand completely what I wrote. Validity is in the ears of the beholder.

Go to the Apple website and look at the specs of the iMac vs. the Mac mini. It turns out that the faster the processor coupled with as much RAM as you can buy aids in the delivery of great music. As you know music is a complex waveform that requires/demands lots of memory as in buffering.


USB to the DAC - not optical is the best way to go but few DACs today have a USB input and high $. That's why I bought the Off-Ramp with an AES output because my Wadia doesn't have a USB but AES.


I hope that this comment satisfies your last 2 to me.


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Im not frustrated im confused why you persist in writing things that make no sense!


You can buy a mac mini with i7 and 8gb, you also dont get a monitor and optical drive which by your very admission to attaining audio nirvana and the very intriguing everything is impacted from the weakest link angle you seem implicit in denying any such effect?

Surely it would impact on the signal, although you give no specifics, why?

I am not attributing your perception in sound changes to not be linked to your upgrade purchases, whether for better or worse or for cause? However.......

Why would i bother to pay for a new mac? Why wouldnt i instead test gear on the mac i have for free and then choose my gear, and as and when ready on my system the one we are supposedly discussing, then buy a server, computer or other?


You are entitled to your opinion, there is of course a possibility you are rigt in your observations, i just find your tone and manner odd, the context from which you try to explain very confusing and defensive. If i have mac and this is the starting point from which this journey begins, then making any point about the g5 being at fault before i have even bougt anything seems prejudgemental.


If i buy the gear and then find an oddity in the system, and i compare it to a newer system a mac mini lets say or other comparable, we can for no pragmacic reason say you were right. However the mystery will still remain as to why?


Bit perfect can be tested on the weiss int so there is no uncertainty.


To be an audiophile does not mean to just buy and not quantify what improvment you have made, of course we can spend money to get better, normally most try to soend as less as is possible to get as big a gain as is achievable. However most will want to know for why and ear the difference with this understanding to make sure its not something else they are listening to?


Anyhow thanks for making this thread more lively and more interesting!



thou art a compuder, make haste and compude

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Just a suggestion.


If you want a new machine, Apple or Windows, buy a 4Gb machine. That is what most people use. The sound quality will be much the same with either an Apple or a Windows machine. Later you might want to add another 4Gb but you should not need to.


Also buy a USB DAC. I think the Bel Canto supports USB. Firewire is slowly dying away.


Do it that way and you will not need the Weiss Int202.


Then you can use your imac for other things than music.



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