Computer Audio Interfaces:Weiss Int202 vs. Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB

Michael G. -- Mon, 07/18/2011 - 13:35

I want to assemble a great-sounding computer audio system, which will consist of a Mac computer, a computer interface, and a standalone DAC feeding an amplifier directly, although I am also looking at DAC/preamp/amp integrated units.
The two interfaces that have attracted my attention through their great reviews are the Weiss INT 202, a Firewire 400-based interface, and the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB 2.0 interface. Mac computers typically have 1-Firewire 800 port and 3-4 USB 2.0 ports. Firewire has been the dominant technology for file transfer in the professional audio world for some time but not so much in the consumer audiophile world, where recent efforts have been largely directed towards making good-sounding USB interfaces or DACs.
My questions are what are the relative technical merits of Firewire vs. USB for audio file transfer. If I chose a firewire-based Weiss Int 202, am I limiting myself in any way when the consumer audiophile effort is emphasizing USB connectivity?
Michael G.

Cemil Gandur -- Mon, 07/25/2011 - 10:08

I am using a Weiss INT 202 between the Mac and the DAC section of my Playback Designs. The Weiss can output in a variety of connection formats. I am using AES/EBU to connect to the PB. This can go up to 192 (using Amarra), which is important for me as I download quite a lot of high res files from HD Tracks.
Possibly, your best bet would be using a Firewire DAC (Weiss for example) and avoiding the interface altogether. However, if you already own a DAC, one of these interfaces would work. As far as I know, the Mac's Firewire is much superior to its USB, so that would be the way to go. I am extremely happy with my setup and do not foresee any problems due to the ubiquity of USB.

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