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Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC

post #1 of 224
Thread Starter 
Any user comments on this DAC?

I first heard this DAC at CES in the TAD room. It sounded great and Andrew Jones was sold! Enough said...
post #2 of 224
A $5000 DAC is always better than a $4000 DAC.
post #3 of 224
Thread Starter 
Don't get the comment.

This product goes toe to toe [to my ear] with Esoteric and EMM Labs products at 2 - 3x the cost.
post #4 of 224
I would fully expect so. But by the very existence of this thread, it would appear that you are of the mindset which would typically expect to encounter audible differences worthy of consideration for this type of audio component.

I think you would be safer to post this thread in the ultra high end forum where there is more like-mindedness of acceptance when it comes to the value of these products. That bares no relation to ultimate correctness, of course. Only that, it's a more insular community with less analytic opposition.
post #5 of 224
mmiles, check your PM.
post #6 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

A $5000 DAC is always better than a $4000 DAC.

Only if I was selling them, and if I made more of a profit on the $5000 one
post #7 of 224
Thread Starter 
Cruel, thats pretty dang good speach. Keep in mind I'm just a country boy with no formal education. Let me see if I understand.

You think I think it sounds good becuase it cost alot of money [five grand is more that I paid for my first car 34 yrs ago].

However I also like the LynxStudio [pro product] unit that is half the cost Berkeley.

I'm just saying its a good sounding product and cost less than may high end alternatives.

True this might be more favorable in the 20K forum [btw the guys there are good people just don't be a hater because thier vocations allow them to spend more money than some on the hobby] but it takes all kinds. In fact this forum also caters to the opposite end of the spectrum. Those that think the can make a tube amp out of light bulbs and CAT5 cable for $3
post #8 of 224
I think that what you are hearing is that quite a few people believe that a DAC is a DAC regardless of price. A lot of what was posted was sarcastic. Given that quite a few believe that there are really no audible differences between DACS we were not suprised to hear that you like the cheaper one as much as the more expensive one. The suggestion to move your post to the high end site was that, you are apt to run into more people who share the opinion that there are audible differences between DACS on that area than here. For what its worth, if you can actually demonstrate an audible difference between two DACS, regardless of price, one of them is broken.
post #9 of 224
Thread Starter 
HT,

Based on your post all DACs sound the same. Do you have the same theory on other items in the audio chain such as amps, speakers etc.? If not, why?

Again I want to stress I was posting the Berkeley thread to see if anyone else shared my opinion of its "value" based on other high end products.

Now, of course, there are DACs from others such as Lynx [pro], PS AUDIO, Wyred4Sound and others that are less that of the Berk.

What I am basing this on is my brief experience with the product in trade show environments.

Not sure I'm buying into the a DAC is a DAC just yet.
post #10 of 224
Thread Starter 
I should let it be known that I sell Esoteric, Berkeley and have access to EMM as well. Even got Lynx Studio docs ready to sign.

So it is not to my financial gain to say a lesser expensive product run toe to toe with one that sells for 2=3x the other.
post #11 of 224
The state of the art on technical framework that supports the designing and building of modern digital electronis gear, at the very least indicates that differences between DACs woulkd be extremely difficult to be notice in the typical domestic environment, let alone a well conducted, scientific test.

Apart from that, there are some serious tests published in the web that have demonstrated that for the time being, modern DACs are so good nobody has been able to notice differences between them.

A few of those tests regarding comparisons between amps have shown noticeable differences though.

In any case, placing a heavy carpet on the floor has a dramatic influence in sound, just to name another way to obtain better sound conditions than adding a fancy DAC to our system.

Having said that, IMO there are some other attributes that I might like to see in a quality dedicated DAC. Those attributes such as a high quality power supply and conectors, good clock and buffer, a robust case and perhaps fancy looks sum up to the final price.

Considering that, I would not hesitate in buying a dedicated DAC that's lets say 500-800 dollars. Paying more makes no sense in terms of audio quality.
post #12 of 224
Thread Starter 
Then why do studios that mix the music on the CD's and files you are downloading pay more than $800?

This is an age old argument in all hobbies from those that think they know more as much as the designers and engineers as well as doing things on a beer budget with say champagne tast. Here is another example. I owned a 2001 Corvette C5. To me, for my needs, it was just as "good" and "stylish" as a say Ferrari for 20% of the cost. Both cars are sexy, fast [the max I experienced was 147mph] and just oozed a certain classy mystique. NOW IS THE CORVETTE THE ENGINEERING AND DESIGN EQUAL OF INZO'S CREATION? NO PLAIN AND SIMPLE. Was/is it one of the best VALUES in sports cars the past 50 years? Yes.

I'm not saying you have to spend $30K - $50 for a DAC and CLOCK [Esoteric and dCS for example] but to think a DAC is a DAC is a DAC is nuts. No one is considering firmware [decoding and processing software], circuit design etc.

Now I am also looking at other DACs as possible products that are even less expensive than the Berkeley. In fact I'm on your guys side, those that are VALUE oriented. I'm looking at two companies that offer DACs half or less the cost of the BAD. All I said is this is a great product with excellent sonics from a firm that knows what they are doing [form designers for Pacific Micronics, I think they had a thing or two to do with digital audio ] AND it cost much less than the high end alternatives.

This hobby / industry is not a LINEAR format if you will. Spending 2x, 5x or even 20x the cost between products does not get the same relational improvements in sound and there is a point of dimineshing returns.
post #13 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

I get so tired of that whole "bits is bits", all DACs sound the same argument. Why do people hate on DACs?

That's how the subjectivists view the argument.

Quote:


(actually, some nuts do claim all SS amps sound the same ).

That comes from the "believers" responding to objectivists who are still waiting to read about the level matched DBT where the listeners were able to distinguish with certainty between working ss amps operating within their intended range (I'm not referring to comparing class "A" ss amp vs class "AB" ss amp).

Quote:


Well, why not; the only job an amp has to do is take standard current from a wall receptacle, and convert it to drive speakers. What could be easier?

You can read online about how it really works. You haven't tried it, have you?

Quote:


So I assume all the DAC-haters have $100 Sony AVRs in their systems?

I assume you're just frustrated because you haven't been able to find level matched DBT that agrees with your preconceived notion on DAC.

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If anything, I would say the DAC has one of the most difficult...if not the most difficult job...in the chain; make those 1s and 0s sound musical.

Just because it's difficult to you doesn't mean the same for the chip designer.

Quote:


Still, it is very well-regarded by those who have heard it,

How have they heard it, subjectively?
post #14 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

If anything, I would say the DAC has one of the most difficult...if not the most difficult job...in the chain; make those 1s and 0s sound musical. \\

All a DAC does is reproduce an analog signal from digital samples. It doesn't make anything sound 'musical'.

The musicians are the ones that made the source sound musical, has nothing at all to do with the equipment. "musical" has no definition in signal processing.
post #15 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

I suppose to counter an argument like "musicians make the system musical"?

Who made such statement (in red)?

Quote:


Seriously; why do guys like you even frequent forums like this? Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this forum about gear, tweaking, getting better sound, etc? If the gear...or "signal processing"...has no place in how musical a system sounds, I would think you'd be all set? Just get the best sounding recordings, and play them on your $100 all-in-one, right?

Right, $100 disc player will do. There, you've been corrected.
post #16 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

Uh, don't you pay attention to the crap your fellow non-believers write? I'd imagine you could get kicked out of the club for that.

CD

"The musicians are the ones that made the source sound musical, has nothing at all to do with the equipment." = "musicians make the system musical"?

What that fellow wrote is a good point but due to your negligence, it is translated to a crap (by you).
post #17 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

Honestly; why would you even stroll into a post titled "Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC"? I mean, you're obviously not a noobie...so I can only assume it must fall under the guise of some sort of agenda.
CD


What's your agenda? I haven't found your opinion on the Berkeley? Seem to just be polluting the thread with your opinions on other posters.
post #18 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

Seriously; I think MMiles is right...the only thing I can imagine that would bring guys like you out, is jealousy. I mean, I surf these forums a lot (as made obvious by my post count). I never see a post titled "MBL 9008 amp", or "Kondo M-1000 Pre", and think "I don't own one...but I've got plenty of time on my hands; so I'm going to check out that thread, and if the OP's point is anything other than this is an overpriced, piece of crap...I'm going to give him what-for, and point out how he's wasting his money".

Honestly; why would you even stroll into a post titled "Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC"? I mean, you're obviously not a noobie...so I can only assume it must fall under the guise of some sort of agenda. I don't listen to arguments from people with an obvious axe to grind; you haven't been balanced, at all...and I'd love to hear about all the gear in your chain...from source to speaker.

Please; that's entirely rhetorical. Time to let this one smolder down. Like I said; the only solace I can take with me, is that your argument was so over-the-top, as to not really be a legitimate point-of-view at all.

CD

CD, how about admitting that you misinterpreted xianthax's post? Will you at least do that?
post #19 of 224
Most of the threads in this section end up as this, some kind of pissing contest. Way to go.
post #20 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

Most of the threads in this section end up as this, some kind of pissing contest. Way to go.

Then how do you think this should go? Can you show an example or two of what you consider an ideal flow of thread on CD Players & Dedicated Music Transports?
post #21 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

Seriously; why do guys like you even frequent forums like this? Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this forum about gear, tweaking, getting better sound, etc? If the gear...or "signal processing"...has no place in how musical a system sounds, I would think you'd be all set? Just get the best sounding recordings, and play them on your $100 all-in-one, right?

CD

Counter question:

Why do people like you frequent this forum making bold claims about X component being critically important in the signal chain with no knowledge at all in regards to the transforms or operations occurring in that chain?

This forum is called AVS....Audio Video _Science_. If i wanted to sit around making things up and using words like 'color' 'air' 'breath' 'musical' or the long list of other words that have no actual definition but make me sound 'cool' i'd go find an audiophile forum to hang out in.
post #22 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

I read, and re-read it; I don't know how you misinterpret that? What do you think he's saying?

Since you don't see it, I'll just tell you. You've misinterpreted xianthax's post. Of course, if you are able to understand it, you wouldn't have misinterpreted a simple sentence to begin with.

Quote:


I was just sharing that opinion. Mostly what I was doing is trying to turn back the tide of this "all DACs sound the same" sentiment.

Trying to turn back the tide by using opinion? How about facts, do you have any to use for this intent?

Quote:


when I came across this anti-DAC diatribe.

Do you even know what you labeled anti-DAC diatribe are saying?
post #23 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

Most of the threads in this section end up as this, some kind of pissing contest. Way to go.

Bingo. The same half-dozen posters browbeat anyone who doesn't share their own, particular paradigm. My ignore list grows apace, e.g.:

Quote:
Originally Posted by xianthax View Post

This forum is called AVS....Audio Video _Science_. If i wanted to sit around making things up and using words like 'color' 'air' 'breath' 'musical' or the long list of other words that have no actual definition but make me sound 'cool' i'd go find an audiophile forum to hang out in.

AVS Rules & Policies
Quote:


You are free to discuss both objective test measurements, findings and opinions and subjective opinions.
post #24 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by RUR View Post

Bingo. The same half-dozen posters browbeat anyone who doesn't share their own, particular paradigm. My ignore list grows apace, e.g.:


AVS Rules & Policies
Quote:


You are free to discuss both objective test measurements, findings and opinions and subjective opinions.

Subjective opinions have their place. Often question was asked here on what use they would serve for someone looking for factual data about electronic components. Also asked are how someone compared two or more components because it matters a great deal. Often the response from the subjectivist are either dismissal or denial. They don't debate. Then why are they here?
post #25 of 224
Thread Starter 
Gentleman [for the most part] please calm down.

These sorta threads always get derailed in one form or fashion.

My point was that a $5K DAC made by a group of industry specialist that know a great deal about the niche the are trying to market sounds almost or even as good as a product costing 2 - 4x as much.

I sorta knew in the back of my mind there will be those that debate the need of an external DAC [however I think that most if not all PC based music servers can be improved by thier use] or the fact that a $2, $500, $700 or even $1500 product is the same as a more expensive one.

There is always the crowd that feels it is hype or snake oil [cables don't get me started...] and there are the folks on the other side of the tracks that think it is the holy grail. For me I guess I'm somewhere in the middle for I have the good fortune of being able to audition and purchase/test the products.

For now lets just take a deep a breath and agree to respect each others opinion. Good sound can be bought for say $1000 but great sound might be $25000 however the great might not sound 25x better than good in my example.

BTW the Wolfson 1790 DAC family can be bought for about $8 each in volume. Them damn DAC bastards...
post #26 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmiles View Post
I have the good fortune of being able to audition and purchase/test the products.
Make sure to match the volume level when auditioning/testing components.
post #27 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmiles View Post
My point was that a $5K DAC made by a group of industry specialist that know a great deal about the niche the are trying to market sounds almost or even as good as a product costing 2 - 4x as much.
You nit the nail on the head _market_ which has nothing to do with perform.

The bottom line is that no one has ever been able to determine the difference between 2 well designed DACs in a controlled test regardless of price. Thats it, theres really no more to be said. If supporters are so adamant that there is in fact a difference, offer up your golden ears for study. Chances are you won't find the $5k DAC manufacturer running such tests, he knows he would fail and lose his market.
post #28 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by xianthax View Post
The bottom line is that no one has ever been able to determine the difference between 2 well designed DACs in a controlled test regardless of price.
The key words here are WELL DESIGNED. This is not always a case.
post #29 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by ap1 View Post
The key words here are WELL DESIGNED. This is not always a case.
Once you find out the typical price of WELL DESIGNED DAC, you'll find this thread laughable.
post #30 of 224
Quote:


My point was that a $5K DAC made by a group of industry specialist that know a great deal about the niche the are trying to market sounds almost or even as good as a product costing 2 - 4x as much.

MMiles, in this statement you are conceding that the more expensive the DAC, the better the sound. IOW, ¿a $20K DAC must sound better than a $5K DAC and this in turn woudl sound better than a $1k DAC?

No, that's not necessarily true, at least when a rigorous scientific test is conducted. For the time being, there's a well stablished technical knowledge that tends to demonstrate that sonic differences are extremely difficult to be noticed, I insist, in the typical domestic environment.

And this knowledge is well beyond any opinions of any of us.

Price differences, as you said, are related to a specific market where on many ocassions those differences have to do with dozen things that have nothing to do with sound. Brand name is the main factor.

But when I remember the ultraexpensive Goldmund CD player that actually was a humble Pioneer with another case and brand, it makes me angry with the modern audiophile, stupid, snake-oiled market.

I've ownded and tested a number of more or less expensive DACs and CD players, including CI Audio, Benchmark, Esoteric, Mark Levinson, Berendsen, a modified Rotel 1072, Arcam FMJCD33, and finally my current Cary CDP-1 and Onkyo CD7555.

I´ve come to the conclusion that the differences (if any) can be attributed to a dozen things that have nothing to do with sound. A heavy, robust case, clock and buffer, expensive opamps, expensive materials, expensive PSU and conectors, even a expensive remote control made out of metal, such as the Levinson's, Esoteric and Wadia controls.

I'm a humble human being, imperfect, with a lot of expectations and aspirations that with no doubt cloud my judgement. But I'm also an engineer.

Now my personal POV is that subjective opinions may be under discussion, but the only valid approach to assess differences is the technical approach.

BTW, I'm considering spending 750 dollars in a dedicated DAC for my new Western Digital Music Server. It's the Eastern Electric Tube DAC, that includes the Sabre 32 DAC. I need no more. I know spending more is like dropping money to the rubish bin.

And believe me. I can afford spending $5k is the Berkeley DAC under discusion.
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