- Lenovo T420 -> Uptone Regen -> Chord Hugo/Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2 -> Kimber Kable Silver Streak RCA -> Pathos Aurium -> Abyss AB-1266
Notes on the Uptone Regen (Amber):
- I had my doubts about this seemingly gimmicky device but the W4S DAC-2 sounds completely different with the Regen…in a great way. You get much more body and warmth, a touch more of the organics. Without the Regen the DAC-2 sounded thin, flat, and sterile. It lacked much needed dynamics and came off a bit harsh. It’s underlying strengths in detail retrieval, effortless resolution, and transparency is still there but misses all the important pieces without the Regen. I will be doing further analysis and testing of the Uptone Regen. What an incredible device.
The Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2 doesn’t need an introduction. It has graced many high-end audiophile speaker setups for the past 5 years. It is known as a extremely transparent and resolving DAC. I got this DAC a few months ago but felt it was a bit too analytical for my tastes. For that reason it was stored away until now. I wanted to revisit it and compare it to a DAC I really enjoy, the Chord Hugo. Below are my raw notes from the session. I find these types of notes are more honest as they are written down as I A/B.
Michael Jackson – Black or White (Remastered)
- Sounds a bit thin/leaner, but very detailed
- Precise and lots of clarity
- The vocals are much better on the Hugo, more human. The W4S is a bit more strident/edgy.
- More musical better warmth
- More impactful bass.
Linda Ronstandt – Blue Bayou
- Very tight, not as much impact as Hugo
- Very precise and “matter-of-fact”
- Extremely revealing
- Much warmer, more sub-bass presence.
- The mids for the W4S sound a bit recessed in comparison.
- The W4S has a blacker background but doesn’t sound as cohesive
- More organic
Jay-Z (ft. Justin Timberlake) – Holy Grail
- Vocals are crystal clear but lack a bit of organics
- Not as much depth as the Hugo
- Bass is tight and quick
- The dynamics far exceed the W4S
- More cohesive (back-up singers)
- More bass
Rodrigo y Gabriela – Foc
- Detailed to fault sometimes
- Bright at times
- You could hear the textures of the guitars, very detailed, black background, but the other actors don’t seem to be in the same room.
- Definitely warmer
- Soundstage a bit wider
- Sounds like humans are playing
- More musical
- Hugo much more enjoyable
Famoudou Don Moye – Immm (Live Version)
- It has a very lean characterisc, not as holographic as the Hugo
- There’s not a lot of body/weight to the sound
- The drums don’t have that visceral impact
- Sounds like a sound test with a mix of instruments all around…not cohesive
- So realistic it gave me goosebumps
Eiji Oue – Mazeppa, TH 7 – Mazeppa, Act I: Gopak
- A bit too lean, lacks the warmth, but details are there though.
- A lot more engaging, sounds like a real concert
- The CH sounds so much better
Paramore – Emergency
- Vocals are more separated from the rest of the music, not a bad thing.
- A bit sterile for my tastes
- Not as organic and not as much depth
- Separation isn’t as good
- More engaging
Regina Spektor – Fidelity
- Don’t think the intention was to have it sound this lean/thin
- Might work better with warmer/darker speakers
- The vocals definitely have a brighter tinge to it, not as organic
- Very engaging and organic
- Her voice sounds more natural, you could hear her breath
The Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2 is an amazingly detailed DAC. It is capable of giving you an X-ray of the recording, almost to a fault. The actors/instruments are all resolved effortlessly and there’s a lot of grip across the spectrum but it lacks a bit of warmth and cohesion. I believe this makes it a bit less engaging and enjoyable to my ears. The Chord Hugo, I have to say, is in another league. It sounds more like what I would expect the artist’s intentions were when mastering. The layering is better on the Hugo, without a doubt. I think the W4S DAC-2 would pair well with warmer/darker speakers/headphones, such as the Audeze LCD-3F.
I have always wanted a W4S dac2. I really love my Minimax with my LCD2’s. I think the 9018 really pairs well with any of the Audeze headphones. Because they are a little bass and mid heavy, along with being on the warm side that cold analytical chip just balances them out.
That could possibly be the case. The W4S DAC-2 is definitely on the colder side of the spectrum so would pair well with warmer/darker gear. Although you should know, even with warmer gear, the underlying signature of a DAC will transcend the amps used and you will still hear its character. For example, vocals will still have a tint of “lean” even with warmer gear.