Head-Fi Compares Weiss DAC 502 to Chord Dave

Given the DAC502’s price range and usage case, the closest direct competitor is Chord Electronics’ Dave, and in head-to-head comparisons, I found that the DAC502 more than held its own.
In terms of frequency response, I found the DAC502 to be more linear, especially through the mid-range.
Though it’s not the most pristine of recordings, Lagoya & Presti’s rendition of Bach’s English Suite No. 3 — as transcribed for two guitars — remains an unparalleled example of exquisite harmony. It is here that the Dave’s upper mid-range emphasis actually worked against it. In certain contrapuntal passages, especially those with considerable differences in note pitch, the lower notes sounded noticeably recessed… so much so, that either Lagoya or Presti (I can’t be sure which) sounded physically more distant within the stage.
The DAC502 didn’t exhibit this quirk at all. It’s even-keeled mid-range linearity kept Lagoya and Presti as the marvelous duet that they were, on-stage together, as they always should be.
When it came to detail, the DAC502 often out-resolved the Dave, particularly when it came to bass notes. In addition to flat-out hitting harder, the DAC502’s bass presentation felt more incisive, more visceral, being both tighter and more textural.
If you primarily listen to Pop, K-Pop, Hip-Hop, Rap, and other highly-produced genres, this won’t benefit you greatly. But if you have a deep appreciation of sophisticated electronic artists, who place a great deal of emphasis on sound design, then the DAC502 definitely has something to offer over and above the Dave. 
For example, with Four Tet’s continuing exploration of found sounds the DAC502’s textural advantages allowed me to enjoy their artistry all the more.
And finally, the DAC502’s precise imaging characteristics rendered placement more accurately in live recordings; whereas the Dave tended to be more diffuse and dreamy in disposition.
Listening to Sarah Jarosz’s Mansineedof, live at The Troubadour, we can hear the DAC502 image that performance accurately. We’re right there, sitting on stage at Sarah’s feet, with Nat Smith a few feet stage left, and Alex Hargreaves a few feet stage right.
By contrast, the Dave presented this more expansively, with all three players approximately where they should, but not as sharply in focus. I should probably mention that I know Doug Weston’s Troubadour fairly well. It’s actually my favorite live venue back in Los Angeles. And I can tell you that neither the stage, nor the venue itself, is as big as the Dave would have us believe.
Now, none of this is to say that I found egregious faults with the Chord Dave. not at all. It remains a very competent DAC in its own right, so could be fair to say that the DAC502 simply renders music differently?
That said, with the DAC502 offering better linearity, enhanced detail, and superior imaging to my ears, I consider it to be the more accurate of the two which is why I prefer it over the Dave… and why I consider it to be more suitable as a reference DAC.
Warren Chi, Head-Fi, June 2022


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