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Weiss DAC205 DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 116 48.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 102 42.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 15 6.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 8 3.3%

  • Total voters
    241

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Weiss DAC205. It was kindly sent to me and appears to be recently discontinued. Original price (I think) was around $2,600.
Weiss DAC205 DAC Professional Toslink review.jpg

While the case looks pretty basic, it is fine with me. Sure, for that kind of money, you would want it to have an OLED display with every feature imaginable but you are not going to get that. Nor will you be able to connect using USB as the only inputs are Toslink and Coax. Back side shows the typical connections:
Weiss DAC205 DAC Professional Toslink back panel balanced SPDIF AES EBU review.jpg

Again, for this price I expect to see built-in power supply but an external switcher is provided.

The two switches provide different levels of output although none are compliant with our standard as you see below in measurements.

Weiss DAC205 XLR Measurements
The closest I could get to 4 volt was 2.4 volts:
Weiss DAC205 DAC Professional Toslink Measurement.png


This is quite competent performance although very shy of state of the art:
best professional dac review.png


best professional dac zoomed review.png


Setting output to max gain and sweeping input we get:
Weiss DAC205 DAC Professional Toslink THD vs level Measurement.png


Noise performance is excellent:
Weiss DAC205 DAC Professional Toslink DNR Measurement.png


IMD distortion shows mid-level increase which tends to imply less than ideal implement of ESS (?) DAC:
Weiss DAC205 DAC Professional Toslink IMD Measurement.png


Linearity is excellent:
Weiss DAC205 DAC Professional Toslink Linearity Measurement.png


My standard multitone test runs at 192 kHz which I can't use over Toslink so ran a 44.1 kHz version:
Weiss DAC205 DAC Professional Toslink Multitone Measurement.png


Your guess is as good as mine as to why we have such high levels of intermodulation distortion. I checked against a Topping D70s by moving the cables and running the same identical test and none of that was there. So clearly this is a problem with the unit (same happened over coax).

Jitter performance is another head scratcher:
Weiss DAC205 DAC Professional Toslink jitter Measurement.png


But then single tone 50 Hz performance is superb:
Weiss DAC205 DAC Professional Toslink 50 Hz Measurement.png


We see the typical DAC IC filter:
Weiss DAC205 DAC Professional Toslink Filter Measurement.png


THD+N vs frequency is very good:
Weiss DAC205 DAC Professional Toslink THD vs Frequency Measurement.png


Conclusions
The performance of DAC205 is excellent in a number of tests but there are some really odd results in a couple of tests. Company speaks highly of their jitter reduction but we are seeing the worst jitter I have ever measured in a performant DAC. The multitone test results is a real puzzle. Even if the performance was good, we would need USB support and pricing below $500 even if the unit is made in Switzerland. High-end products that garner such high list price come with vary fancy casework and pride of ownership. None of that is here. Folks are supposed to buy on reputation but test results indicate that is not wise.

I can't recommend the Weiss DAC205 even if it were still being sold. I see used ones as high as $2,000. No justification for that.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Azathoth

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Wow, not even a USB connection. 2000 dollars my ass.
 

Koeitje

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Excellent example of how SINAD at 1kHz doesn't always tell the full story. Not often that you get a device that does well there, but falls apart in other tests.
 

phoenixdogfan

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I think this is a much older design from around 2005-10. It came a few years after the Benchmark Dac 1 and like it was not a USB Dac because USB Dacs were not yet "a thing" inasmuch as everyone was still playing the silver disks and using their old CD players or dedicated CD turntables and outputting to stand alone DACS like the Weiss over Spdif and/or AES/EBU. At the time, Weiss would have been at the absolute pinnacle of DAC performance.

Even today it looks really good--almost as good as a lot of $200 USB Dacs from Topping, Schiit and SMSL which is high praise indeed for such a venerable offering.
 

HarmonicTHD

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Weiss DAC205. It was kindly sent to me and appears to be recently discontinued. Original price (I think) was around $2,600.
View attachment 333869
While the case looks pretty basic, it is fine with me. Sure, for that kind of money, you would want it to have an OLED display with every feature imaginable but you are not going to get that. Nor will you be able to connect using USB as the only inputs are Toslink and Coax. Back side shows the typical connections:
View attachment 333870
Again, for this price I expect to see built-in power supply but an external switcher is provided.

The two switches provide different levels of output although none are compliant with our standard as you see below in measurements.

Weiss DAC205 XLR Measurements
The closest I could get to 4 volt was 2.4 volts:
View attachment 333871

This is quite competent performance although very shy of state of the art:
View attachment 333874

View attachment 333875

Setting output to max gain and sweeping input we get:
View attachment 333877

Noise performance is excellent:
View attachment 333876

IMD distortion shows mid-level increase which tends to imply less than ideal implement of ESS (?) DAC:
View attachment 333879

Linearity is excellent:
View attachment 333880

My standard multitone test runs at 192 kHz which I can't use over Toslink so ran a 44.1 kHz version:
View attachment 333881

Your guess is as good as mine as to why we have such high levels of intermodulation distortion. I checked against a Topping D70s by moving the cables and running the same identical test and none of that was there. So clearly this is a problem with the unit (same happened over coax).

Jitter performance is another head scratcher:
View attachment 333886

But then single tone 50 Hz performance is superb:
View attachment 333887

We see the typical DAC IC filter:
View attachment 333889

THD+N vs frequency is very good:
View attachment 333890

Conclusions
The performance of DAC205 is excellent in a number of tests but there are some really odd results in a couple of tests. Company speaks highly of their jitter reduction but we are seeing the worst jitter I have ever measured in a performant DAC. The multitone test results is a real puzzle. Even if the performance was good, we would need USB support and pricing below $500 even if the unit is made in Switzerland. High-end products that garner such high list price come with vary fancy casework and pride of ownership. None of that is here. Folks are supposed to buy on reputation but test results indicate that is not wise.

I can't recommend the Weiss DAC205 even if it were still being sold. I see used ones as high as $2,000. No justification for that.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
… plus I would expect min 4V RMS out on the XLRs regardless when it came out initially. Let alone the other quirks. Poor in my book.
 

voodooless

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The multitone is curious, especially since none of this shows up in the other tests. It may warrant some further investigation. Maybe delta a bit of music against some (other) halfway-decent DAC, like the $ 80 SMSL SU-1.

@amirm: why is the 44.1 kHz multitone using fewer frequencies? It will only give the audiophool crowd another (wrong) argument to say: see, you need a higher sample rate to properly resolve all those frequencies :facepalm: Then again, it's always fun to see them make a mockery out of themselves :D
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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@amirm: why is the 44.1 kHz multitone using fewer frequencies?
I am using the ones that come from AP and that is what they have for 44.1 kHz.

Forgot to add Manufacturer Specifications above. So here they are:

Manufacturer Specifications:

IMG_0527.png
Weiss DAC205
IMG_0528.png
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Koeitje

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I think this is a much older design from around 2005-10. It came a few years after the Benchmark Dac 1 and like it was not a USB Dac because USB Dacs were not yet "a thing" inasmuch as everyone was still playing the silver disks and using their old CD players or dedicated CD turntables and outputting to stand alone DACS like the Weiss over Spdif and/or AES/EBU. At the time, Weiss would have been at the absolute pinnacle of DAC performance.

Even today it looks really good--almost as good as a lot of $200 USB Dacs from Topping, Schiit and SMSL which is high praise indeed for such a venerable offering.
Almost as good? The multitone performance is absolute garbage. There is a review of a Mark Levinson DAC from 1999 on this site that has a much better multitone performance.
 

daniboun

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I shared weeks ago the Measurements of the DAC204, they are almost the same :
The WEISS DAC205 offers the same conversion quality but it does not accept digital audio via USB and does not perform DSD to PCM conversion.

We are therefore OK to say that it does not live up to its price) and that the DAC205 does not provide anything more than the DAC204. BTW they both use the ES9018S chip.


DAC204

1702456385001.png


1702456418109.png

1702456452046.png


1702456489925.png
 

somebodyelse

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We are therefore OK to say that it does not live up to its price) and that the DAC205 does not provide anything more than the DAC204. BTW they both use the ES9018S chip.
That test via USB is missing the jitter and IMD issues, so on that input at least it does seem to be better. Unfortunately the other inputs weren't tested so it's not clear whether the same problem would reappear on those.
 
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