To Vade Forrester,

I don't want to take too much of your time, but since you have had time with both, I am curious as to how you would compare the ARC DAC8 with the W4S DAC-2?

Thanks in advance.


Thanks for checking out our reviews. Both DACs are excellent, neutral units that sound very transparent. The Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2 had a slightly brighter presentation in my system, at least through its S/PDIF input; its USB input sounded flatter. I found the Audio Research DAC8 to have a slightly more detailed presentation. Neither was objectionably bright, nor objectionably dull -- I'm just providing a reference for system matching. The DAC8 had a sweeter, more tonally complete characteristic that made instruments sound a bit more realistic. The DAC8 has a bit of the Audio Research sound: wide open and spacious. Although the DAC8 doesn't use tubes, it sounded a bit tubey with my setup.

As you could probably tell from my review, I wished for a better display on the DAC8; on the other hand, I found the DAC-2 to have a very legible and easy-to-read display, though not large enough to read from across the room. Both DACs are superb, but if you have an affinity for Audio Research gear, you'll probably prefer the DAC8. However, it did take forever to break in -- Audio Research says 600 hours, but I could detect further improvement in the sound at 800 hours.

Both DACs require driver installation to reproduce the highest sampling rates (24/192). The DAC8's driver is a bit odd in that you use the driver to adjust various operational parameters, while the DAC-2 has more conventional controls that let you set parameters from its front panel. The DAC8's driver is an ASIO-type driver, while the DAC-2 uses a WASAPI driver. You can tell from the previous sentence that I use a Windows computer; I'm not sure about Mac drivers. . . . Vade Forrester