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Wyred4Sound DAC-2: Talk me out of getting one...

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for a balanced DAC with USB and SPDIF inputs.  I would prefer Asynch USB, unless someone can tell me why an adaptive USB DAC (like the Lavry DA-11) could be as good or better.

 

After a few weeks of research, I think I've settled on the W4S DAC-2.  But I have some concerns:

 

1.  DAC-2 costs few hundred dollars more than I wanted to pay (compared to the DA-11).

2.  DAC-2 is bigger and heavier than I'd like.

3.  I'm not sure how good the DAC-2's headphone amp is, and how good it is with headphones in general, compared to a DAC that was designed with headphones in mind (like the DA-11).

 

If anyone has heard either the DAC-2 or DA-11, or any other DAC with similar features in this price range ($1000-1500), please provide your impressions.  I've read just about everything I can find on the DAC-2 online, but most reviews and impressions relate to use with speakers, rather than headphones.  The Lavry DA-11's PIC feature and reportedly good headphone amp are intriguing, but I'm not sure if its sound quality straight out of USB can compare to the DAC-2, with its asynch setup and 24/192 capability.

 

Thanks in advance for any help.

post #2 of 44

Wyder4Sound DAC-2 does NOT have a headphone amp inside or a headphone socket…

post #3 of 44
Thread Starter 

To clarify, I meant that I would like to plug my balanced headphones into the XLR outputs of the DAC-2 directly, rather than use an external amp.  I've been told by W4S that you can do this, I'm just wondering how much power it will provide and what the sound quality will be like.

 

I've read about other people plugging their headphones directly into the XLR outputs of the Lavry DA-11/10 and liking the sound with most headphones, so I was wondering if the DAC-2 is similar.  I don't have headphones that are terribly hard to drive (D2000), but I'd like to have good sound quality straight from the output until I can afford a balanced amp.

post #4 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by dj nellie View Post

I'm looking for a balanced DAC with USB and SPDIF inputs.  I would prefer Asynch USB, unless someone can tell me why an adaptive USB DAC (like the Lavry DA-11) could be as good or better.

 

After a few weeks of research, I think I've settled on the W4S DAC-2.  But I have some concerns:

 

1.  DAC-2 costs few hundred dollars more than I wanted to pay (compared to the DA-11).

2.  DAC-2 is bigger and heavier than I'd like.

3.  I'm not sure how good the DAC-2's headphone amp is, and how good it is with headphones in general, compared to a DAC that was designed with headphones in mind (like the DA-11).

 

If anyone has heard either the DAC-2 or DA-11, or any other DAC with similar features in this price range ($1000-1500), please provide your impressions.  I've read just about everything I can find on the DAC-2 online, but most reviews and impressions relate to use with speakers, rather than headphones.  The Lavry DA-11's PIC feature and reportedly good headphone amp are intriguing, but I'm not sure if its sound quality straight out of USB can compare to the DAC-2, with its asynch setup and 24/192 capability.

 

Thanks in advance for any help.

 

Let me start off by saying that neither the DAC-2 nor DA11 are beauty queens but that's only because their designers are focused on sound quality, not case design.

Dan Lavry knows audio conversion.  That is what he does, he doesn't design monoblock amplifiers, phono amps, etc.  He focuses on AD/DA conversion.

I'm no electronics expert but to me the DA11 seems like a technological Tour de force when it's price is taken into consideration.

 

When I was looking for my DAC it was between the Benchmark DAC1 HDR and DA11, I settled on the DA11 for a host of reasons:

 

There's a lot of reading there but I think you'll find it informative in making your decision, HTH.

How'd I do?  ;-)


Edited by USAudio - 10/26/10 at 11:22pm
post #5 of 44

Ive heard the WFS DAC-2 and the Lavry DA10 and the Audio-gd REF5.

 

I didnt like the WFS sound signature - it was too harsh in the upper mids and too analytical for my taste.

 

I liked the Lavry DA10 when I had it before it failed as it was detailed and musical and I did plug my balanced AKG701 in the XLR outs but it was woeful compared to a dedicated amp as you would expect.

 

The Audio-gd as a DAC trounced the other DAC's in overall sound quality in my system for me.

 

If I were you I would take a look at the Audio-gd range which is so comprehensive you will find something that suits your budget and wishes in terms of DAC and amp. By the way the warranty of the Audio-gd is much better then Lavry and yes Lavry DAC's do fuse - mine failed completely after 13 months = total lose but it turned to a gain as i got the Audio-gd DAC smily_headphones1.gif

post #6 of 44

You may also want to look at the North Star USB DAC32. List price is $3,000, but a dealer is offering a special on Audiogon at $1500. It has async USB support up to 32/192, and balanced outputs. No headphone amp though.

post #7 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nada View Post

The Audio-gd as a DAC trounced the other DAC's in overall sound quality in my system for me.

 

Can you please detail more your listening impression? I used to own the Ref.5 but didn't like it too much, and I'm thinking of the W4S or the Eastern Electric.

Thanks
 

post #8 of 44
Thread Starter 

Thanks to everyone for providing info/impressions on the various DAC options, please keep them coming.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nada View Post

Ive heard the WFS DAC-2 and the Lavry DA10 and the Audio-gd REF5.

 

Thanks for giving your comparison.  Did you listen to those 3 DACs in USB mode?  If so, how did they compare in that mode?  How about coax?

 

I assume you listened to the DAC-2 and REF5 with external amps, or did you get a chance to see how they sound unamped?  The Audio-gd line does look interesting, especially the combo DAC/amp NFB-10 for only $850.  But I need to read up on it, it almost seems too good to be true.

 

post #9 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by dj nellie View Post

I assume you listened to the DAC-2 and REF5 with external amps, or did you get a chance to see how they sound unamped?  The Audio-gd line does look interesting, especially the combo DAC/amp NFB-10 for only $850.  But I need to read up on it, it almost seems too good to be true.

 

What do you mean with 'unamped'? Are you planning driving headphones using dac's RCA or XLR output?
 

post #10 of 44
Thread Starter 

Yes, I'd like to plug my headphones directly into the XLR outputs since I have relatively low-impedance headphones.  Eventually, I'll probably get an external balanced amp, but they generally cost so freaking much that I'd like to get solid sound quality straight from the DAC.

post #11 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by dj nellie View Post

Yes, I'd like to plug my headphones directly into the XLR outputs since I have relatively low-impedance headphones.  Eventually, I'll probably get an external balanced amp, but they generally cost so freaking much that I'd like to get solid sound quality straight from the DAC.


Have a look here: someone asked the same question, using a different dac.

post #12 of 44

Quote:

Originally Posted by dj nellie View Post

Yes, I'd like to plug my headphones directly into the XLR outputs since I have relatively low-impedance headphones.  Eventually, I'll probably get an external balanced amp, but they generally cost so freaking much that I'd like to get solid sound quality straight from the DAC.


dj nellie,

You might find this post/thread about using XLR outputs for headphones on the Lavry Engineering website forum interesting:

http://www.lavryengineering.com/lavry_forum/viewtopic.php?p=3546#p3546


Edited by USAudio - 10/27/10 at 5:11pm
post #13 of 44

i was in the same boat as you few weeks ago trying to figure out which dac to get. i wanted a dac (perfered dac with amp) that looks good, top quality sound and all the input/out put you ever need

 

my suggestion to you is save up abit more and get a antelope zodiac+.if its really over your budget then wait a few month get the non "+" verson. its worth the extra investment/wait

post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by dj nellie View Post

Yes, I'd like to plug my headphones directly into the XLR outputs since I have relatively low-impedance headphones.  Eventually, I'll probably get an external balanced amp, but they generally cost so freaking much that I'd like to get solid sound quality straight from the DAC.



Erm, I don't really know about your phones (low/med/high impedance) but I've driven Beyer T1's and Senn HD800's straight off the W4S DAC 2 XLR outs using the digital volume control. Most recent stuff (ie. mastered "hot" or brickwalled) was plenty loud enough. Low imp phones..... JVC DX1000 (60R) didn't fair so well. Sounded like the DAC output stage was struggling to deliver current. YMMV.

post #15 of 44
Thread Starter 

Hm, I have D2000s which have 25 ohm impedance, even lower than the DX1000.  I thought higher impedance phones would be harder to drive straight out of a DAC?

 

Also, do you have any other impressions of the DAC-2?  How do you think the USB and coax outputs sound with headphones compared to other DACs you've tried?

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