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weiss -- firewire 24/192 -- new audiophile DAC, new AES/EBU + SPDIF I/F

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
(a priori -- i have no association with weiss engineering other than knowing Daniel for many years since I worked at Studer CH in the 80s)

head-fiers who follow pro equipment will certainly know of the well-regarded mastering equipment and converters from Daniel Weiss (Weiss Engineering, Switzerland; weiss.ch).

Several years ago he introduced high-end audio products (DAC, CD transport) leveraging many of the technologies found in his pro products.

I've just had the pleasure of some comms with Daniel and he confirmed that he is now starting to ship some of his newest products introduced at last fall's AES. Two are targeted squarely at high-end audio hi-res soundfile playback from a computer source, handling up to 24/192 data:

"Minerva" -- firewire DAC
Weiss :: High End : MINERVA D/A CONVERTER

"Vesta" -- interface/converter, firewire <> AES/EBU + SPDIF coax
Weiss :: High End : VESTA FIREWIRE INTERFACE

For those of you going to the upcoming AES Amsterdam, these will be on show.

Some interesting technical info in the linked docs wrt firewire and jitter reduction.
post #2 of 9
Very nice, how much?
post #3 of 9
The Minerva is listed at over $5,000! However, Weiss has what I suspect to be much, if not exactly, the same unit (minus cool faceplate) for sale in the pro audio channel at about half the price. It's called the DAC2. And I want one bad.



post #4 of 9
Weiss literature about their Firewire DAC's are rather disturbing:

"But the real reason Firewire is more reliable than USB is more fundamental than that. It's because Firewire allows two operating modes. One is asynchronous, similar to what USB uses. The other is isochronous mode, and it lets a device carve out a certain dedicated amount of bandwidth that other devices can't touch. It gets a certain number of time slices each second all its own. The advantages for audio should be obvious: that stream of data can just keep on flowing, and as long as there isn't more bandwidth demand than the wire can handle (not very likely) nothing will interfere with it. No collisions, no glitches."

Weiss appears to be placing the highest emphasis on avoiding glitches and collisions, *NOT* on sound quality. Basically all Firewire DAC's, including Weiss, is using isochronous/block mode, but for potentially much lower jitter and better SQ, asynchronous mode is preferred.

It's funny that Weiss says USB uses "asynchronous" mode, implying asynch is the inferior mode, but they are wrong on 2 counts b/c:

1. Most current USB DAC's use adaptive/block mode. Asynch USB requires one to overcome various hurdles to implement it.

2. But if USB asynch mode was achieved, this is the preferred mode for SQ over adaptive mode.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon L View Post
Weiss literature about their Firewire DAC's are rather disturbing:

"But the real reason Firewire is more reliable than USB is more fundamental than that. It's because Firewire allows two operating modes. One is asynchronous, similar to what USB uses. The other is isochronous mode, and it lets a device carve out a certain dedicated amount of bandwidth that other devices can't touch. It gets a certain number of time slices each second all its own. The advantages for audio should be obvious: that stream of data can just keep on flowing, and as long as there isn't more bandwidth demand than the wire can handle (not very likely) nothing will interfere with it. No collisions, no glitches."

Weiss appears to be placing the highest emphasis on avoiding glitches and collisions, *NOT* on sound quality. Basically all Firewire DAC's, including Weiss, is using isochronous/block mode, but for potentially much lower jitter and better SQ, asynchronous mode is preferred.

It's funny that Weiss says USB uses "asynchronous" mode, implying asynch is the inferior mode, but they are wrong on 2 counts b/c:

1. Most current USB DAC's use adaptive/block mode. Asynch USB requires one to overcome various hurdles to implement it.

2. But if USB asynch mode was achieved, this is the preferred mode for SQ over adaptive mode.
"Weiss appears to be placing the highest emphasis on avoiding glitches and collisions, *NOT* on sound quality.": interesting comment, could you expand and provide some background on this?
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon L View Post
Weiss appears to be placing the highest emphasis on avoiding glitches and collisions, *NOT* on sound quality.
Seems to me he's simply asserting that having dedicated bandwidth for the data stream leads to better sound quality? And certainly that's an intuitively appealing idea.

I'd also be very interested to hear more details about your assertions of the inherent superiority of asynchronous mode, as it's not something I've previously considered. My own reason for preferring a Firewire DAC is simply that I already have a number of other devices on my USB bus, something that demonstrably does degrade audio performance.
post #7 of 9
Quote:
I'd also be very interested to hear more details about your assertions of the inherent superiority of asynchronous mode, as it's not something I've previously considered. My own reason for preferring a Firewire DAC is simply that I already have a number of other devices on my USB bus, something that demonstrably does degrade audio performance.
that's quite interesting.. were you able to find out if there really is a difference ?
post #8 of 9

I've had a Weiss DAC202 for about 2 months or so.  I use it in a "portable" system that I take with me for my weekend coffee outings - I sit at my favourite coffee house, set up my computer & the DAC, grab a coffee, then sit down to do some listening.  I continue to be impressed with how good this unit sounds.  I'm hearing layers to music I thought I was familiar with.  Nice air around instruments. Great bass for headphones (am using Ultrasone Edition 8 right now].  I haven't tried it in my main system yet - am currently using a Naim DAC with an HDX music server, as well as the digital inputs to my EMM Labs XDS1.

 

The Weiss DAC202 is a great piece of gear.

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon L View Post

1. Most current USB DAC's use adaptive/block mode. Asynch USB requires one to overcome various hurdles to implement it.

2. But if USB asynch mode was achieved, this is the preferred mode for SQ over adaptive mode.



 

Recently a couple of new USB DACs were announced.

All uses asynchronous USB

http://thewelltemperedcomputer.com/HW/USB_DAC.htm

 

In general a manufacturer will tell you how superior the technology is he uses. Some goes a bit further and will tell you that alternative technologies are the kind of crap you don’t need. More a matter of business ethics than supplying relevant information.

 

Both Firewire and USB can be used in adaptive and asynchronous mode.

Probably the leading article on Firewire audio: http://www.nanophon.com/audio/1394_sampling_jitter.pdf

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