Playback Edelweiss in the house

So, after a long wait my Playback Edelweiss MPS-6 just arrived.  This unit is the DAC and SACD Player in one and I have had the Stream X added.  It is not Roon Ready at this time but the streaming function via MConnect Controller worked just fine.  

Build quality is obviously brilliant.  Nice chassis with simple, understated displays.  SACD controls are on the remote and the top edge of the DAC.  The remote is metal and well constructed.  

They say that it will take 500 hours to break-in.  Out of the box, this is clearly an elite DAC with what feels like unprecedented levels of detail in my system.  I am connected via Digital Coax from my Nucleus+ through a Chord 2Go/2Yu (K50 is on loan).  

The plan over the next 4 weeks is to keep it running most of the time and do a variety of tests once fully broken in and a few tests on the way.

One will be the standard five songs from the DAC Shootout connected via USB but I will also plan to put it through its paces as an SACD Player, Streamer and DAC with the K50 as the source.  

With less than an hour on it, all I can say is HOLY CRAP this thing sounds good.  


So I have been doing some critical listening and I can say that this DAC is stunning.  I have tried four different amps, three different pairs of speakers, several cables and two different server.  Both as preamp and source.  Every scenario has this DAC sounding great to me.  

For me, the obvious point of comparison is the Rockna Wavedream Signature.  The Wavedream is incredibly detailed, has a massive scale to it in terms of soundstage and is incredibly neutral to a point where its sound profile is hard to describe.  What the Rockna lacks is an absolute depth to its soundstage that someone who is used to to Chord Dave would really miss.

The Edelweiss sounds very big.  The image extends well beyond the speakers in either direction by a significant margin on tracks like Be Still My Beating Heart.  I don't feel like it has the absolute scale of the Rockna but it has more scale than any DAC I have here.  

The central image stands out though.  The central image is deep, instruments are well placed and very stable.  I feel like this rivals the Dave in terms of quality and stability of the central image.  

Tonally, there is a touch of sweetness that is delicious and borders on addictive.  I have not heard sibilance or glare from this DAC despite the fact that I have run speakers that are decidedly forward.  Vivid Kaya 45s and my own Verdant Blackthorn 1s are definitely tilted forward regardless of amp.  Yet, I also don't feel like anything is rolled off and the treble is lacking.  In a Sentimental Mood has sparkle and the Piano sounds amazing.  To push this, I played Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) from Kate Bush which can go very wrong on the wrong system and it is the best I have ever heard it sound.  It was in my face  but in a good way, not glaring.  

Somehow resolution seems to get better via DSD and SACD.  Crispness to notes with flawless decay is the way I would describe Time Out from Dave Brubeck.  It almost smacks you in the face on SACD it sounds so good.  

In the end, it comes down to personal taste and system matching if this is the right DAC/SACD Player for you.  If you are in the $15K to $21K range (depending on features), this is one you have to consider seriously.  


So I received an MPD-8 Dream DAC in on trade and am doing a deep dive into Edelweiss vs. the Dream.  Still keeping the Kaya 45s for consistency sake but have a new amp that arrived which is stunningly good.  A customer ordered the AVM Ovation A 8.3 integrated and asked me to roll a few tubes into it and offer some feedback on the amp.  It has a relatively steep price tag at $18.2K but it is the best integrated amp I have had here.  Also, for purposes of this test, I am using Inakustik power cables and ICs as I am trying to push these DACs as far as I can.  

The two DACs are obviously from the same company and it is really more defining what more you get from Dream in comparison to the Edelweiss.  Having not heard the Dream, I would have told you that the Edelweiss is the smoothest, most analog sounding DAC I have ever heard in my system.  No hard edges, no digital artifacts (or so I thought) just liquid, analog sound. In some ways I like the Jadis or the Rockna as much but neither has the smoothness and analog feel of the Edelweiss.  

Then you hear the Dream.  The Edelwiess sounds hard and edgy compared to the dream.  Admittedly, this is only obvious when you take a few seconds to switch cables between devices and get back to listening.  But the best way to describe the difference between these two insanely good DACs is that the Dream just gives you more....

And by more, I mean cleaner and smoother detail.  In practice this shows up in a place like the beginning of Duende from Bozio, Leven, Stevens.  You guys know I have mentioned this many times and use it for a reference.  This speedy bass solo at the beginning is incredibly difficult to reproduce without something going wrong.  It either sounds muddy or you get digital artifacts that sound hard and slightly distorted.  The Edelweiss sounded smooth and clean but compared to the Dream, there is still a little bit of a hard edge on each note.  Listening to this on the dream DAC, it is the first time that I hear completely smooth bass plucks with no distortion. 

The opening of Miles Davis Kind of Blue was cleaner and clearer on the Dream than I have heard on any other DAC streaming. The token exception to this was the SACD version on the Edelweiss.  Those are a push.

The soundstage on the Dream is a bit wider.  It is probably still not as massive as the Rockna but it is big sounding.  The Central image is similarly deep but with the added width, instruments seem placed slightly differently.  But both are rock solid.  

The Dream is slightly more neutral tonally while the Edelweiss is just a hair warm.  The AVM 8.3 is a neutral to warm integrated.  The Dream is a bit more in your face in a good way where the Edelweiss was a hair polite.  This shows up on a track like Maria Mena's cover of I Was Made for Loving You.  When reproduced correctly, this track marches a line of being in your face vs. glaring.  With the Dream, it was in my face.  With the Edelweiss, it was slightly recessed. 

Listening to that track made me warm up my typical reference AVM A5.2 integrated.  Being a Class D tube hybrid, it is warm but a hair more forward than the 8.3.  Playing the same song, the Edelweiss is right in my face and the Dream had moments that crossed the line into glaring.  

Tonally, The Dream is about the same as the Jadis making me think it is just the tiniest bit warmer than the Rockna.  The customer who traded it in has a Wavedream Signature and confirmed this as he had them side-by-side for a few months.  

If you have the extra $9K, you definitely get more out of the Dream.  It has definitely set a new standard for me.  

Having not heard the Dream, I would have told you that the Edelweiss is the smoothest, most analog sounding DAC I have ever heard in my system.  No hard edges, no digital artifacts (or so I thought) just liquid, analog sound.

This is the limitation with's always in the context of what we've previously (and recently) had in our system (ideally). We think something is the best at whatever, and then something better comes along. Curious how the Nagra Tube DAC + separate PSU compares to the Dream DAC. Same digital designer (Koch), different power supply and analog output. I think it's amazing (as compared to the sound of live music) but...see limitation above.

By the way, not trying to be combative, just curious -- if the Dream is so good, why did the customer send it back? I assume it came down to a system matching preference.

@metaldetektor I don’t find your comments combative. I think they are valid.

I would love to heard the NAGRA and and BAT as both use Playback digital modules. I am not sure how they stack up but am a firm believer that power supplies matter and if not separate (Jadis) heavily isolated (playback) is essential for great performance.


the customer traded the Playback because he found it a hair thin and warm in his system. The Rockna is fuller and a hair more forward. The Playback is better in mine but that illustrates that even at this high level/price, system matching still matters. You can’t blindly buy expensive components and expect them to work together.

it is a stunningly good DAC in the right system. For someone who wants a touch of warmth and a very analog, smooth sound, it is amazing.


With the MPS-6 using an external streamer, do you find any one of the MPS-6 digital inputs better than others? Do Playback Designs dacs generally have a preferred digital input?