In Barn for Review: Weiss DAC501

The Weiss DAC501 comes from the genus Streaming DAC, one of my favorite classes.

The DAC 501 ($8995) is essentially the Weiss502 in a half size chassis without the 502’s extra rear-mounted 4-pin headphone jack. As you can see, the 501 offers all of the ins and outs you need including S/PDIF (Coax and Toslink), USB, AES/EBU, and Ethernet coupled with single-ended RCA and balanced XLR outputs. The 501 currently handles PCM resolutions up to 24bit/384kHz and DSD to DSD128 but the company offers — future formats can be accommodated for via software updates. For those DACologists in the audience, the Weiss DAC sports a pair of ESS Sabre 32-bit DAC chips which are fed nothing but PCM 195kHz data which Weiss has determined to be the ESS DAC’s sweet spot.

There’s also DSP inside offering a number of features including Room Equalizer, Creative Equalizer (essentially tone control), De-Essing (the automatic removal of overly bright sibilances from human voices), Constant Volume, Vinyl Emulation (get that special sonic character of a record player based playback chain), Crosstalk Cancelling (XTC), Loudness Control, and a Headphone Equalizer.

The minimalist aluminum front panel houses a 1/4″ headphone jack, a touch screen color LCD display, and a rotary encoder knob for changing parameters and powering the unit on/off. There’s also a web interface for accessing Volume and Balance controls, Input selection, Output type, DSP algorithms configuration, and DSP snapshots configuration. The 501 measures 18.8 cm W x 30 cm D x 7.2 cm H (with feet).

Anyone who knows anything about Weiss Engineering knows they got their start in Pro Audio and the company builds products to exacting standards. I had the pleasure of reviewing the Weiss MAN301DAC Music Archive Network Player way back in 2013 for AudioStream (review is no longer available) which I remember enjoying in every way. I look forward to spending Barn-time with the DAC501.

Company Website: Weiss Engineering Ltd
US Distributor Website: Bluebird Music