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Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC - Page 2

post #31 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmiles View Post

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.


Odds are that you saw the recent November 11 thread (titled "JBL/Lexicon surprised me in 2 ch") by dsmith901 in the 2 channel forum?

dsmith901 discusses both his Benchmark DAC, and stereo preamps, and offered some insightful comparison comments of his own experience.

Meaning that I'd go with a Benchmark, as odds are you could find one on Audiogon, and if you weren't happy with it, you could turn around and sell it without loss. I know that Benchmark has made more than a few DAC/preamp models, so be careful that you figure out the time line before buying used; I'm also not sure what functionality they have with their remote controls so I'd want to check that out too (call me lazy).

Just an idea, coz if it turns out you get this Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC, odds are that it you'll take a serious loss to get rid of it.

To me ideas are the main thing that AVS is about, so long as you can stay out of verbal battles with the repetitive posters.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mmiles View Post

There is always the crowd that feels it is hype or snake oil [cables don't get me started...]


Cables are subtle.

Try a couple pair of Blue Jeans interconnects with solid center RG-6 wire (either Canare wire or Belden) at: http://www.bluejeancable.com/store/d...udio/index.htm

In my experience the Canare connectors ($4 each, $16 for 4 for two wires for stereo) are the best, and I've long had a preference for solid center RG-6 wire.

The price is low, low, low, and you can get them to the nearest foot (returnable), or the nearest 6" (non-returnable).


Quote:
Originally Posted by mmiles View Post

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.


It's called "diminishing returns" and it applies to many things besides audio/video.


Cheers
post #32 of 224
Thread Starter 
JL, no please read again. I did not say that the more expensive DAC was better I did say the lesser expensive DAC was as good. There are many things that make a product expensive. You seem to have a good idea of those factors. This single most costly item in production is the casework and faceplate. Like I said you can buy DACs cheap [the chips]. So if you ever want to try a Berkeley at a good price let me know... \\

Songs, I will not get into a cable debate but I did reference diminishing returns as a point for moving forward. I have a background in live sound as well since I run sound for our church's Christian rock band so I am fortunate to get exposure to pro, studio and consumer products. We used a high quality Belden cable with Whirlwind connectors from the stage boxes to the board [100'+] therefore I will avoid cable talk.


This is not a who's right and who's wrong thread. I agree there are some really good DACs out there like Lynx Studio, Benchmark, PS Audio and Wyred4Sound that are less than the Berkeley. I was just making the point that the Berkeley was a good product in its own right when compared to high end products like Esoteric, EMM Labs, MSS, Wadia and dCs.

To all, Lets promote the healthy discussion of the hobby and the art of eletronics vs. the degrading of a product or someones beliefs that are different than yours.
post #33 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmiles View Post

I agree there are some really good DACs out there like Lynx Studio, Benchmark, PS Audio and Wyred4Sound that are less than the Berkeley.

What defines really good DAC? Is it sound quality, ruggedness of chassis, aesthetics or something else? Once it's clarified, the rest of debate can go more efficiently. What's your take on this?
post #34 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmiles View Post

This is not a who's right and who's wrong thread. I agree there are some really good DACs out there like Lynx Studio, Benchmark, PS Audio and Wyred4Sound that are less than the Berkeley. I was just making the point that the Berkeley was a good product in its own right when compared to high end products like Esoteric, EMM Labs, MSS, Wadia and dCs.


Just because a company has a great reputation, is no guarantee that you'll like a specific product of their's.

My one experience with an external DAC is limited to the now slightly old (3 years) Bel Canto DAC3 ($3k (?) list, but only does 96/24).

If I were to buy another external DAC (or DAC/stereo-preamp), I'd look for one that a) has a great reputation (reread my 1st sentence proviso) and b) does 192/24 and c) I won't take any great loss on if I'm not happy with it when I've lived with it for awhile.

The B.C. DAC3 is OK, and as I don't plan to buy any down-loadable hi-rez stereo music, I'll stay with the B.C. DAC3. Meaning that my experience with both SACD and DVD-Audio hi-rez discs has convinced me that the better CD discs (44.1/16) are almost as good with regard to SQ.

FWIW, I continue to work on building a couple of new personal computers and will use one (or more) for stereo playback of self ripped CD discs (via EAC and flac).

Anyway, if this dealer is local to you, get him to loan you this DAC for 10 days. If he's reluctant, offer to pay him $200 if you choose to not buy it.

Good luck whatever you do.


Cheers
post #35 of 224
Thread Starter 
Geek, sound quality is paramount. I say this because I have spent time listening to many products. After all [not my full time business operation] I sell them from time to time. Second, I'd say application knowledge and development background. To me this speaks volumes of a firms ability to understand and develop product/software.

I wished you guys lived closer so I could take a DAC over but I don't. No I will not ship you one free of charge so do not ask.

In the product eval I forgot the BelCanto DAC it is a good product as is the new Bryston which I also forgot to give some props to.

AGAIN I did not say the BERKELEY was the best on the planet but I did say it was as good if not better than those costing much much more.

However I'm curious have any of the nasayers ever spent any time with a Berkeley product? I for one have been fortunate to be exposed to many of the products I have mentioned. If you have not why so hostile????
post #36 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmiles View Post

Geek, sound quality is paramount. I say this because I have spent time listening to many products.

How do you listen to them? Do you have them set up such way so that different DACs are playing at audibly same volume level? I ask this because it's paramount that the comparison really is "side by side" which in return can support the product development. vvv
Quote:


Second, I'd say application knowledge and development background. To me this speaks volumes of a firms ability to understand and develop product/software.

Quote:


AGAIN I did not say the BERKELEY was the best on the planet but I did say it was as good if not better than those costing much much more.

Again, how was the comparison done?



Quote:


However I'm curious have any of the nasayers ever spent any time with a Berkeley product? I for one have been fortunate to be exposed to many of the products I have mentioned. If you have not why so hostile????

Not hostility but curiosity. The industry standard is to achieve "flat" response from DAC / disc player which defines its transparency and even cheap (+- $100) disc player can do this and it's been common for over ten years. Any deviation from "flat" response is coloration (some tube DACs) and it's not hi-fi. The usual claim of "what a difference" come out of unmatched output level between two DACs. Once they are matched and the views are shielded from the listeners, that difference somehow disappears. Wonder why? One doesn't have to own BA DAC to comment, doubt or ask questions about it. Only way for it to sound different in level matched comparison is to deviate from the industry transparency standard ("flat" response) and if that's the case, why bother getting a lo-fi DAC? Also, if one wants to experiment with coloration in sound, just get a graphic equalizer (much cheaper than BA DAC) and play with it to his heart's content.

Bottom line is, hi-fi DAC can be had for +- $100 then why waste money. That is unless you judge the quality of DAC based on something other than the sound quality which is the reason I asked you about it.
post #37 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmiles View Post

However I'm curious have any of the nasayers ever spent any time with a Berkeley product? I for one have been fortunate to be exposed to many of the products I have mentioned. If you have not why so hostile????

Nope never heard a Berkeley DAC.

I'm an electrical engineer and have designed several DAC circuits from smoothed PWM outputs in very low end products, to low end 8 bit DACs to high end Analog Devices and Burr Brown DACs. Not all were for audio products, several were for much more demanding applications for which the tolerances are much tighter than they are for acoustical transparency.

I can tell you quite simply from having built production circuits that for ~$30 in components you can build a 24bit stereo DAC section with SNR > 120dB, THD+N << 0.01%, pass band ripple << 0.01dB and virtually no phase distortion. Such specs are a long ways from audible as is and a circuit purely designed for audible transparency could be cheaper.

So unless you can prove that doing better than those specs is audible there is absolutely no reason to pay $5k for what is just a DAC section in a box with some connectors and a power supply.
post #38 of 224
Thread Starter 
Lets talk pro gear for a moment. Many think this is were the true value is [I agree when it comes to amps and speakers for the most part]. So how does PRISM and LYNXSTUDIOS get away with it [charging more than a few hundred dollars]?

I do know what I hear. I'm not educated in the science but many folks on AVS have asked for my ear in attending demos and presentations at trade shows for my thoughts before they take on a new line or before the spec the next mega job FWIW. This comes from my live sound experience I suppose.

So I suppose you subcsribe to the theory of things cost what they do as to the dog licking his nads, because he can...

This is off topic but take speakers for example. The cost of the cabinet, labor, veneer etc is from 40-60% of it cost NOT the drivers or crossover.

Interesting indeed but I can see we will have to agree to disagree.
post #39 of 224
Thread Starter 
Geek, Can you give me a list of $100 DACs to investigate?
post #40 of 224
Thread Starter 
You can add Meyers Labs and HALO to the pro DAC list. True these DACs are 4 and 8 channel wereas the Berk is only 2 channel.
post #41 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by xianthax View Post

Nope never heard a Berkeley DAC.

I'm an electrical engineer and have designed several DAC circuits from smoothed PWM outputs in very low end products, to low end 8 bit DACs to high end Analog Devices and Burr Brown DACs. Not all were for audio products, several were for much more demanding applications for which the tolerances are much tighter than they are for acoustical transparency.

I can tell you quite simply from having built production circuits that for ~$30 in components you can build a 24bit stereo DAC section with SNR > 120dB, THD+N << 0.01%, pass band ripple << 0.01dB and virtually no phase distortion. Such specs are a long ways from audible as is and a circuit purely designed for audible transparency could be cheaper.

So unless you can prove that doing better than those specs is audible there is absolutely no reason to pay $5k for what is just a DAC section in a box with some connectors and a power supply.

If you are an electrical engineer with experience then you should have heard of the pacific microsonics model two(considered one of the best DACs around and highly sought after), the guys behind the model two also are behind the berkley dac.

My studio uses both along with lynx, apogee and some home brew solutions.

There may be audible differences between them as there has been some suggestion that there is by people in the studio. and no this is not a small basement studio. If I had the time to pull our gear and test it I would (cause i too would like to know but sadly on my list of to-dos that is at the bottom of an exceedingly long list). It is all in perfect working order though.


Matt
post #42 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmiles View Post

Geek, Can you give me a list of $100 DACs to investigate?

Besides built-in DAC of CD or DVD players, here are some. Older models can be had for less.
post #43 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

and anything that's not flat is "colored", and therefore distorted

You need to look up the term "colored sound" and "distorted sound".

Quote:


Point me to studies that show all DACs sound the same. Again, I hope to heaven I am right, and that there are...in fact...none; because I certainly hope people have better things to spend their time on.

Once again, who said all DACs sound the same? See post #14. You've been on this forum since 2006 with 5,829 posts and yet you haven't seen DBT results posted on this section of the forum? Do a search on your own. I have better things to spend my time on.
post #44 of 224
I really don't understand paying thousands of dollars for 'color' or 'distortion' ever.

Build as accurate a system as possible do not use your ears, use measurement equipment so its actually accurate. Your ears, nor you brain, are accurate measurement devices.

If you want 'color' or 'the tube sound' just apply a dsp filter for whatever 'color' or 'sound' you want to the source before sending it into your flat system. There are plenty of companies that make effects processors, get one that will let you send in whatever 300-tap IIR/FIR filter you want and you have near infinite control over the 'color', 'airiness', or whatever 'artistic' effects you want. Heck just apply the filters on your computer if your dealing with digital source material from files.

You get the same sound, and you can tweak till your hearts content without paying another dime.

If you get your kicks by playing around various $5000 components is some attempt to achieve your ideal sound, more power to you, just realize that you are not working toward 'crystal sound quality' your working towards whatever perception of sound quality that exists in your mind, which is rarely if ever the same thing as an exact reproduction of the source material.
post #45 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

Ah; quite the retort. The retort of a bully, like I said. You don't have time to provide me with the studies you claim exist...but I'm supposed to look up "colored sound" and "distorted sound"?

How about we all just live and let live?

CD

I showed you where you can help yourself with necessary info. Not spoon feeding it to you is a retort of a bully now? Do a search on "level matched" on this section and you'll get plenty to read about.
post #46 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

Which of these is in your system Geek? How about the rest of the associated gear?

CD

And the relevance of those to this thread is?

"and anything that's not flat is "colored", and therefore distorted" You've got to be kidding me.
post #47 of 224
Quote:
...You know...if you blindfolded me, and took me to test drive two cars...one a Hyundai, and the other a BMW...and I couldn't tell which was which. Even if the Hyundai drove better, I might still pay more for the BMW...and I'm honest enough to say it. Why? BECAUSE PEOPLE LIKE TO DRIVE BMWs!!

Call it "status", call it "pride"; call it "marketing". Call it whatever you like; if someone thinks a more expensive DAC sounds better than a less expensive one...it doesn't matter what all the graphs and charts in the world tell you. That's the DAC for that guy! FWIW, I don't have the time for all that double-blind, 70s challenge BS...but I do drive the little-woman crazy, by having her switch things around for me, and try my best to listen subjectively.

The expensive cars analogy is not accurate. Apart from brand name and the status you obtain, there are objective reasons to buy a BMW instead of a Hyundai. It is much easier to identify differences between mechanical devices

In any case, IMO this is the main reason audiophile market is so corrupted. Many companies sell fancy components with incredibly ridiculous high prices that do not differentiate at all from cheap components, but even so there are many people that likes to be fooled.

A Goldmund is a Goldmund, even if it is a humble Pioneer inside...

Nevertheless. I admit there are some other attributes, apart from sound itself, that are worth some hundred dollars more. Reliability is one I tend to look for in any audio device.

But paying thousands of dollars for a DAC is ... Oh well
post #48 of 224
I would have thought that such a DAC, crafted by known industry professionals, would not have been released to the public until it had passed requisite FCC Part 15 emissions testing.
post #49 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

And in the end, all I ever tried to say was all DACs don't sound the same.

All I and others who support AV Science ever tried to find out was, details on how the comparison was carried out. You seem to have a huge difficulty understanding that.

Quote:
How about we all just live and let live?

That's what they do over at Audio Asylum and many other forums. If that's what you like, you know where they are.
post #50 of 224
Quote:
That's a balanced and fair post JL. I think my point with the car comparison holds weight, because while you say mechanical differences are easier to detect; well, to a mechanic I guess they are. All I can do is drive it and tell you what I like. The same goes for audio gear; I'm not an EE, or even Scientist...who approaches things with that analytical mind, or can "check under the hood". Just like the car, I take gear for a "test-drive"...listen...and buy what I like.

Thanks CDLehner.

I understand there are many people that in all honesty try to obtain the best possible experience listening to their audio systems. Ultimately, this is a hobby, isnt't it?

It is just that many of us engineers usually show a more critical attitude when discussing these subjects because we have been trained that way.

In my personal case, I prefer to increase my knowledge in audio subjects and put it to test every time is possible, instead of increasing my bag of beliefs.

Let's say I like to know but do not like to believe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

I would have thought that such a DAC, crafted by known industry professionals, would not have been released to the public until it had passed requisite FCC Part 15 emissions testing.

Ah! That's valuable information Chu. And ilustrates the point with pristine accuracy.
post #51 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

I listened to two DACs...on systems that were the same otherwise...using music I was intimately familiar with; beyond that, what explanation do I owe to you or myself? I'm not asking to be published in a journal; I don't have to explain, and have my methods scrutinized by you.

Need details. How close were the output volume of DACs, how quick was the switching done, who did the switching, how many trials and how many correct answers and ...etc. It's not a scrutiny, especially when you are not publishing a journal. See it as online debate.

Quote:
You are a man of Science; as such, I guess audio gear is something you feel is objective. I am a man of "enthusiasm", for lack of a better word; yes, this is my hobby. So my interaction with gear is subjective. You might as well be asking me to "prove" which wine tastes better...or which painting is better art.

You need to understand what it means to achieve hi-fi (high fidelity) and what "reference" means in sound reproduction technology. Once you do, it will all become clear what "better" means for audio gear. Try Google search for those terms.
post #52 of 224
Given the selling price of the DAC, which suggests these aren't going to be flying off the shelf, it seems highly unlikely that Berkeley has anything resembling the financial resources to command a staff of engineers capable of making this product let alone contracting with a factory to produce it. Given its 1U size, I strongly suspect they are taking an existing product and rebadging it for sale to the audiophile community at a substantial profit. Perhaps that they are an authorized reseller of Lynx products (http://www.lynxstudio.com/how_to_buy.asp?i=1) may suggest who the real brains behind this are.
post #53 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

Again with the joking; why do you keep attributing this to me. This is your quote.

See post #49

Quote:
Again, Geek...you're the funniest.

CD

Your opinion based on more of your opinion. Try facts some day, it may change your opinion.
post #54 of 224
Geek, no one has to debate you. Give it up.
post #55 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

I don't disapprove of your approach; can't you let me alone with mine? Geek says "all I ever asked you do was explain how you did your comparison". I listened to two DACs...on systems that were the same otherwise...using music I was intimately familiar with; beyond that, what explanation do I owe to you or myself? I'm not asking to be published in a journal; I don't have to explain, and have my methods scrutinized by you. It's a hobby fellas; enjoy.
CD

With this attitude there is really no reason to be posting, or get involved in a discussion at all. If you don't have to provide support or context for your opinion then there is no reason to voice it as it has no value.

Lets try an example:

"There is a giant tea cup orbiting the earth"

I refuse to provide a basis for this opinion or a context for coming to this conclusion, I will simply state it is what i believe to be fact and say no more to support it.

Do you whole heartedly accept this opinion? Will you consider it as remotely possible without support, evidence, context? I think not. If you understand why you consider such a claim to be rubbish then you understand why i consider your claims to be of no value and why you are expected to provide evidence and context to give them value.
post #56 of 224
There are some serious tests reported in the matrixhifi site that were carried following a scientific protocol

Denon DCD-920 VS dCS Verdi-LaScala VS dCs Delius:

http://www.matrixhifi.com/pc_scala_denon.htm

Results: NO differences

Berhinger UltraCurve 1 VS Benchmark DAC 1:

http://www.matrixhifi.com/molingordo5_pc_dac1_beh.htm

Results: NO differences

Nevertheless, this tests Do showed differences:

Audionote DAC3 VS Sony Discman E-775

http://www.matrixhifi.com/contenedor_discmandac3.htm

The site is a spanish one, but I think you can use the google transtation tool
post #57 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post
Man; for "scientific" types, your arguments are full of fallacies. Burden of Proof, Misleading Vividness, Red Herring...misdirection, exaggeration. Fellas, give it a rest; I hate to break it to you, but you're not the smartest guys in the room...just because you think you are.

Like I said; you're like bullies. Every time someone says something, you say "prove it"...like that makes your argument. Yet when I ask for proof, you say "oh, we don't have time for that"...lol.

Really, you're like some comedy troupe. So again: do you have any proof that your theoretical $100 DAC sounds the same as the BAD?

CD
Here you go CDLehner. These are repost.

Comparison of DAC in $9,380 CD player vs DAC of $175 DVD player.

$900 Benchmark DAC-1 vs DAC of < $200 DVD player.

BA DAC will sound same as above components when level matched if it's built as hi-fi equipment. It will be a bad news if it sounds different regardless of price. Once you get 2 of those, play them without level matching effort. Very likely even 2 of the same model will sound different.

Above are level matched DBT posted online. There are tons carried out with same result not posted online. I'd be delighted to read about level matched DBT results agreeing with you. Lets see some.
post #58 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post
Really, you're like some comedy troupe. So again: do you have any proof that your theoretical $100 DAC sounds the same as the BAD?
CD
Proving a negative is impossible, the burden of proof is on the side making the affirmative claim. I could never prove that there exists no person, ever, in the history of man kind that could ever detect a difference between 2 DACs. You can however prove that such a person exits, by finding them, which has never occurred in any attempted study i've seen.

In addition I encourage you to study electrical engineering and signal processing theory, I have no intention to teach a class and provide rigorous proofs for everything on a forum, your welcome to enroll in a decent college and obtain a degree. MIT has a bunch of online courses if you interested. I could probably recommend a couple decent books if you want, probably want to start with a decent math and physics background before diving into any signal processing work.

In addition AES has a rather extensive list of studies covering audibility of various factors and human perception of sound.

Theres about 200 years of electronics, mathematics and audio engineering experience out there, much of which is available to anyone who wishes to learn. I really have no idea how you find it so difficult to locate 'proof' for signal processing and audibility issues unless you simply don't care to try.
post #59 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post
.... So again: do you have any proof that your theoretical $100 DAC sounds the same as the BAD?

CD
Do you have ANY evidence that they sound different? even if there is no evidence for sameness, you need one for differences if one is claimed.
post #60 of 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post
... Go "educate" someone else....
I see you are beyond learning? How does it feel?
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