Weiss DAC204 Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, Apr 25, 2024.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    A shout out to headphones.com for lending us the Weiss DAC204. This thread will be new one split from here where it all started: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...to-make-it-work-dna-weiss-musician-zmf.14367/ This will on the loaner after I am done with measurements and wrap up with my in-a-nutshell summary.

    dac204.jpg

    First things first (measurements from SE output below)

    Weiss DAC204
    Coax input
    1kHz 0dbFS
    upload_2024-4-25_10-41-18.png
    At full output, the DAC204 has some harmonic spikes with odd order higher than even order. However, it's all pretty low, most of the spurs well below -125db with only the 3rd order at -115. If I had to guess, AmirNAD is probably about 114db, but no one cares about AmirNAD (SINAD 0dbFS 20kHz bandwidth).

    What's interesting is that just a little bit below full scale output, the harmonic distortion disappear.

    -20dbFS
    upload_2024-4-25_10-43-44.png

    -60dbFS
    upload_2024-4-25_10-44-15.png
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2024
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Weiss DAC204
    1 kHz THD (no N) vs output (dbFS)
    upload_2024-4-25_11-10-1.png
    THD goodness doesn't scale better when levels get above around -15dbFS. Another way to confirm what we saw in the prior post.

    Let's check out two other frequencies.

    Weiss DAC204
    37HZ and 8.2kHz THD (no N) vs output (dbFS)
    upload_2024-4-25_11-12-4.png

    37Hz has a THD blimp around -35dbFS. Lets take a look around that -35dbFS spot in the full spectrum. Say -40dbFS and -30dbFS

    -40dbFS
    upload_2024-4-25_11-14-43.png

    -30dbFS
    upload_2024-4-25_11-15-53.png

    Hmm, looks like it's not harmonics, but rather noise floor. Maybe something to do noise shaping in the ESS chip. FWIW, noise floor is super low - noting only using FFT length of 64K.
     
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Wiess DAC204
    THD (no N) vs Frequency
    upload_2024-4-25_11-26-40.png

    here is the THD+N version below (I like to see the difference between THD and THD+N)
    upload_2024-4-25_11-27-16.png
     
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  4. sk3383

    sk3383 New

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    @Purri1n I'm interesting in your thoughts here, how does the Weiss compare to the beloved Burl B2 DAC?
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    In a nutshell:

    Considering it's high cost, use of ESS parts, and poor synergy with my bedside headphone system, I really wanted to hate this DAC, but I cannot. Weiss belongs in the rare list of ESS Whispers who can pull good sound from the Sabre chips. Most typical no-name ESS DACs sound horrible (including big names like here) - horrible with digital nasties, harsh highs, lean clinical flat boring presentations.

    The tonal balance of the DAC204 is warm and full bodied. Reminds me a bit of the Resononessessence Labs Invicta, except the Invicta was disjointed with extra lushness combined with bad-Sabre stridency in the highs. While I wouldn't say that the Weiss DAC204 has smooth liquid delicate butter-like highs of the better R2R implementations (there's a tiny bit of rasp - hey it's still delta sigma for worse and better), the Weiss piece works. The timbre is plenty fine even with neutralish/bright headphones like the HD600 and neutralish amps. (In fact I feel the Weiss's presentation works really well in such cases. And I would be wary of placing the DAC204 with dark sounding downstream gear). There's edge and incisive attacks when the music calls for it, but it's not pervasive being there when it's not supposed to be there.

    The thing that really surprised me was the DAC204's expressiveness and hint of wetness (opposed to dry and surgical - for example, the X-Sabre Pro or Modius E) while retaining clarity. However, the downside with using an older chip that resolution of fine detail isn't quite up to par with today's best chips.

    The complaints I have are basically too pricey for too old of a chip, no AES input (the AES is an AES output as the DAC204 can be used as USB-AES converter), and switcher brick. A $3.5k DAC shouldn't be coming with a cheap switcher brick. (I hear improvements can be gained with a suitable LPS - which I totally believe because during my stint at Eddie Current, I learned that power supply is half the sound, and they have their own sound).

    However, what I said before: I still cannot hate the Weiss DAC204 because despite all the complaints, it still sounds darn good. And also because it has a unique presentation. How many warm full-bodied delta-sigma DACs are there on the planet? (That is are cohesive sounding and don't sound like shit). Bottom line is that it is expensive, but worth consideration if it's that final synergistic piece.
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Let me put the Burl on the table. (They are different - take different approaches to presentation). To be continued.
     
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  7. sk3383

    sk3383 New

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    Hell yeah! I'm dialed in :punk:
     
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  8. SoupRKnowva

    SoupRKnowva Official SBAF South Korean Ambassador

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    Just looking at the first set of graphs, the first thing that sticks out to me is the changing noise floor level, probably just cause ive read Rob going on about noise floor modulation so much. I do wonder about those harmonics going away or just disappearing under the noise? could you run longer FFTs on those?

    The sort of discontinuity in the thd+n vs output level at 37hz at -35db is also disconcerting to me

    EDIT: interestingly enough, looking at GoldenSounds measurements for Dave it also shows some weird behavior in thd+n vs output level between -35 and -25db. though I can't tell whether thats noise like in this case, or harmonic behavior.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2024
  9. Beefy

    Beefy Friend

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    I've seen on ASR (yeah, yeah, I know) and other places that this is an intermodulation distortion hump quite inherent to the ESS DACs. Not something people should generally concern themselves with, if they like - or don't like - the sound signature of the overall product.
     
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    The ESS IMD hump is something I don't worry about. It's of interest academically, and as y'all mentioned it could be attributable to differences in noise shaping at different output levels. Remember the cherry-picked SONCOZ DAC with perfect AmirNAD and IMD that got shipped to ASR? And it turns out that the products shipped to customers exhibited the IMD weirdness? How come no one at ASR heard it?

    I doubt people can hear the ESS IMD hump.

    Do I want to investigate why with more and different measurements to get to the bottom of it (and other strange behavior)? Nope. Not enough time. I just finished priming the Jeep bumpers and need to sand for final paint.
     
  11. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    what winch are you going for? I picked up a badlands 12k synth line despite my hesitation to trust anything but Warn. Should install it tomorrow if the weather permits.
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Pictures or it didn't happen. Direct comparison.
    IMG_1804.JPEG

    Comparison with Burl B2. As I mentioned and suspected, just different.

    Important things to note pertaining to YMMV:
    Thoughts:
    • No surprise, Weiss DAC204 tonal presentation is warmer and more full bodied
    • Weiss DAC204 is very marginally more resolving or fine detail, I chalk this up to the use of the Cinemags with the Burl B2. I suspect these are equal if the balanced outputs were used on each, assuming the use of an amp that can take full advantage.
    • Burl B2 can be tuned warmer somewhat but increasing the output level. However the Burl's warm is more inner warmth and tends to exhibit more at higher levels or dynamic peaks.
    • Weiss DAC204 is smoother more liquid. Burl B2 is more grainy. This gives the sense of the Weiss being more delicate, especially with sounds at lower volume gradations.
    • However, Burl B2 is more dynamic, more rockin'. Sounds at the higher volume gradations jump more. B2 is definitely more energetic.
    • Weiss has more air, more expansive. Burl is more compact but has more precise localization of instruments.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 27, 2024
  13. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Warn is the one to get, but to be totally honest, not sure I how often I would use a winch. Maybe stupid shit like burying the spare tire / wheel on the beach and dragging the Jeep towards it for fun? Not sure if the bury wheel thing would work.


    I will probably think about it for a while. The bumper I got from Next Venture is two pieces (three if you count the skid plate), so much less PIA to put the winch in later. The top piece in the photo below bolts in and then the winch goes on top of it. The rest of the front bumper then bolts on to that. Quite an ingenious design. I've got the primer on with some light sanding waiting for final paint. Still can't decide if I want a white, grey or black bumper.
    IMG_1805.jpg
     
  14. sk3383

    sk3383 New

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    You're f'in awesome! Appreciate cha :bow:
     
  15. sk3383

    sk3383 New

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    Interesting!

    I've been eyeing both the Burl & Weiss.

    The Weiss has me tempted. Love the form factor.

    I listen to mostly "poorly recorded" and/or compressed music (rock, hip hop, electronic, funk, R&B, Reggae, Columbia, Motown, etc.)

    Based on your descriptions, I'm fairly certain the Burl will serve my music tastes better. Plus I dig the meters. HiFi supposed to be fun right!?
     
  16. chesebert

    chesebert Friend

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    Seeing Weiss is a hit, may I suggest another seemingly horrid and budget D/S dac that actually sounds musical and dynamic with reasonably good resolution? The NewOntech dac 07 looks cheap and uses PCM1795 + LME6172 op-amp. It's another one of those whole greater than sum of parts dacs. If you can overlook the parts quality of Weiss, which also uses opamp for their output (Helios also uses opamp btw), you should give dac07 a look.

    Edit: Forgot to mention dac 07 works well with Shanling ET3 (AES) and the combo bested Linn Klimax DS/1.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 28, 2024
  17. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Burl B2 because of the vibe of the B2. You will want the energy and saturated vintage sound (which you can adjust with the output dial). Just keep in mind that the B2 Burl is pro gear and as such will only have balanced outputs.
     
  18. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

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    The design choices make the thing look like a prototype. For $3.5k, a shined up project box doesn't inspire.
     
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  19. netforce

    netforce MOT: Headphones.com

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    The Weiss stuff, DAC204 and DAC502, has always had a bit of a barebones/minimalist look to it. Kinda tempted when the team is visiting Munich High End to suggest to Weiss if they can pretty the units up, I think it will help especially in audiophile space. Pro-Audio guys seem fine with minimalist designs but even something small to the faceplate like what the Ferrum Wandla with the two tone and light up LED helps it stick out.
     
  20. chesebert

    chesebert Friend

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    Typical audiophile would almost never go for Weiss because they are all D/S chip + opamp output. You ask some WBF guys to pay $22k for a dac with D/S chip and opamp they will surely flip out. I actually think it's a good thing Weiss is not sought after by the typical audiophiles. Otherwise we would be looking at $100k dacs instead of $22k.
     

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