T+A DAC 200 or WEISS 501

Who will take what if given an opportunity lets take a vote.


I purchased a DAC200 late last fall from Juan @blisshifi (great dealer to work with BTW!). On PCM vs my previous Dac, it was only slightly better - more different than better. However, using the DSD converter path, the DAC200 is superior.

Upstream, I have an Auralic Aries G2 and Auralic Sirius processor which i use to convert to DSD 512. I was going to sell the Sirius but the DSD channel of the DAC200 is so good, it made sense to keep it. Functionally, it’s doing the same thing as HQPlayer. 

I’ve auditioned several much more expensive DACs - and I was willing to purchase any of them. That list includes the Linn DSM/3, Ideon Absolute and DCS, among others. All are different. Sourced properly, the DAC200 is pretty competitive with them - and a vastly better value. On PCM, it’s fine. On DSD, it’s a standout in my view.

@mgrif104 Thank you for the kind words, and I agree with your assessment, though my comparisons have been with the original Weiss 501 2ch and not the newer 501 4ch. I had another customer more recently purchase the DAC 200 to move past two DACs he owned, a 501 2ch used for PCM and a T+A DAC 8 DSD. I took both units in to sell for him on commission, and I was able to make him his money back spent on the DAC 200! But more importantly, I was able to take both units in and compare them to the DAC 200.

The Weiss is a great DAC, but the DAC 200 in DSD playback is a very special unit at its pricepoint. As an Aurender dealer, I’m still talking with them about the opportunity to convert to DSD on the fly because of the improved performance that would result with T+A. I have a lot of DSD material, but it would be great if all formats could be converted.

Also, to answer @agisthos’ question from a number of months back, the DAC 200’s volume control is quite good, and the unit I believe has a 5V output, so very high current for a DAC (compared to the Weiss’ 4V output). This is also why I do still prefer the unit as a standalone DAC vs a preamp, though, as it uses all of that even in fixed mode. 

While I advocate for the DAC 200 to be used as a preamp in some systems and would recommend it as the DAC to use if that is the configuration of choice, I still truly value what a quality, dedicated preamp can add to the mix in terms of improved power and harmonics. @roccity, I am very curious to hear your learnings of your comparisons with the Classé preamp in and out of the chain. Let us know what you find. I would like to think that as long as cables are up to par, the Classé Delta pre will add to the performance. I equate the preamp performance in the DAC 200 to be more at the $3K range of preamps. Better than most mid-fi, but not endgame.

Shameless plug - I have no regrets using the reference level T+A SDV 3100 HV as both a DAC and Preamp (or even a streamer). That preamp is by far the best I’ve ever heard in my setup, even for analog sources. Of course, that unit costs over $30K more, but at least the trickle down of that technology exists in the DAC 200.


@mgrif104 I exclusively play digital content, almost exclusively local files.  I've just recently been playing DSD content and the sound quality is definitely superior, with much greater separation of instruments and levels of detail.  I wonder how much of that better performance is DSD versus PCM and how much is the T+A's superiority, though it sounds like @blisshifi believes the T+A is a standout performer when it comes to DSD content. 

@roccity As with any dialogue around format, I believe it is not about the format but about the implementation. T+A is one of the pioneers in DSD playback and the first manufacturer to achieve true 1-Bit DSD 1024 playback (established in the SDV 3100 HV and evident in the DAC 200). But it’s the design of the DSD DAC that enables it to perform in a superior manner than the PCM side. Of course, I’ve heard some DACs that support DSD and still prefer PCM.

FWIW, I often demo the DAC 200 with PCM content as a good share of my customers don’t have any DSD, and I don’t want to sell them on an experience they may not replicate in their own home. If the streamer is up to par, synergy with the DAC 200 still yields excellent results, for example when pairing the DAC 200 to an Aurender N200.

Also, not related to 501 vs DAC 200, but when I most recently took in the Weiss 501, I was curious to try it as a headphone amp. I recently got myself a pair of Hifiman HE1000SE, which are not hard to drive, and the 501 has a good reputation as a headphone amp/dac/streamer combo.

In my experience, I much preferred a much less expensive stack - a Topping E70 Velvet R2R DAC and matching Topping L70 Balanced Headphone Amplifier. The Topping stack had better control and more engaging presentation, when hooked up to my MacBook Air’s Roon / HQPlayer output in DSD in comparison to the Weiss, which was more refined but not as engaging. The Weiss felt quite passive to me in this configuration. And despite the Topping Stack sounding great with Roon and HQPlayer out of a MacBook with DSD format, it still sounded superior in PCM once I switched the source to an Aurender N200 using coax. So the source component’s quality does matter a heck of a lot here, too.