Originally Posted by ebowman
1) Is it worth trying/buying a Berkeley Alpha USB and the corresponding cables to play music through the CB's AES/EBU? ([Mac Mini] -> USB -> [Berkeley Alpha USB] -> AES/EBU -> [CB IV])
I haven't tried a lot of converters. My first device was a Sound Devices USBPRE2. It's powered via USB. The Berkeley Alpha was a lot superior. I have the Lynx AES16e PCIe card in my server and it sounds good but still not a challenger to my Berkeley. The Lynx isn't a usb converter but provides AES/EBU out. The closest device I have to the Berkeley is a Tascam UH-7000 which I modified with a custom linear power supply that an engineer in Taiwan designed and built. Tascam says, "installed is a powerful TCXO clock generator with +/−1ppm precision," so the clocking should be good. The Tascam device is a very good product. Most would be very happy with it, UNLESS you heard the Berkeley Alpha USB.
The Berkeley "takes off, " where the Tascam stops. The deep notes and bass lines sound the same. Vocals and higher pitched instruments are dramatically better on the Berkeley. It's just cleaner from the mids up. It's not subtle and easy to hear. The music is more involving but if again if you had only heard my Tascam, you'd be happy with it. The review of the Berkeley USB in the Absolute Sound, states this, "The digital audio signal is clocked with one of two precision oscillators, one for the 44.1kHz family of sampling frequencies (44.1kHz, 88.2kHz, and 176.4kHz) and the other for the 48kHz family (48kHz, 96kHz, 192kHz). To give you an idea of how meticulously designed and executed the Alpha USB is, consider that each oscillator is measured on a $90,000 instrument that creates a spectragraph of the oscillator’s phase noise. Only the best measuring parts go into the Alpha USB; the rest are rejected." This kind of attention to detail is likely why the Berkeley is an exceptional product.
Save yourself some time and just buy it. If not, just make sure you never compare the Berkeley with with a lesser converter as you'll never be happy with the other converter.