Berkeley Audio Design, LLC was founded by three alumni of Pacific Microsonics, Inc., developer of the HDCD process and the Pacific Microsonics Model One and Model Two, widely considered to be the highest quality professional ADC and DAC ever produced.
Rene Jaeger, prior to his work at Pacific Microsonics, pioneered audio designs at many firms including Lexicon, DBX and Grass Valley Group.
Michael "Pflash" Pflaumer, co-founder of Pacific Microsonics and co-inventor of the HDCD process, produced all of the digital algorithms used in the Model One and Two.
Michael Ritter, co-founder and business leader of Pacific Microsonics, has extensive experience in audio engineering, facilities design and product development.
In the process of developing the Model One and Two they became familiar with the amazing fidelity of Model One and Two master recordings, especially 24-bit recordings made at the Model Two's native sampling rates of 176.4kHz and 192kHz.
They realized that few outside of Model One and Two users in the recording industry would ever hear music reproduced with that level of detail, ease and verisimilitude - a level of fidelity they felt was "closer to the microphone feed" than even first generation open-reel analogue tapes. To their ears it was a new paradigm of audio fidelity.
Berkeley Audio Design was formed with the goal of making that level of fidelity available to music lovers and audiophiles everywhere.
The Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC2 is the first achievement towards that goal.
High resolution 88.2kHz to 192kHz, non-DRM recordings are now available on optical disk and by download from labels such as Reference Recordings' HRx, M&A Recordings and others that are identical to the original 24-bit masters. Such recordings really show the true potential of this DAC.
The Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB is an asynchronous High Speed USB to digital audio interface that extracts the highest possible audio quality from computer audio sources.
The Alpha USB features a High Speed USB 2.0 input data connection and switch selected audio output signal type - either coaxial SPDIF using a BNC connector or balanced AES using an XLR connector. Sampling rates up to 192 kHz and word lengths up to 24 bit are supported.
Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series
To quote Robert Harley on the 2014 Golden Ear Award the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series received in the September 2014 issue of The Absolute Sound:
"I'll have a lot more to say about this extraordinary new product in my review next issue, but for now you should know that Berkeley's Alpha DAC Reference redefines what we can expect from digital playback. The Reference is simply stunning in its ability to render instruments as real-sounding objects in three-dimensional space. This startling, and I mean startling, quality is made possible not just by the Reference's spatial precision, but also by the timbral vividness and extraordinarily high resolution of the tiniest micro-details. What's more, the Reference performs this magic trick on all instruments simultaneously, even in the most dense and complex passages. This unprecedented (for digital) quality allowed me to easily follow individual musical lines in a way I never thought possible from digital. The build-quality is many steps up from the original Alpha DAC, including a chassis milled from a solid aluminum block. The Alpha DAC Reference is an unqualified triumph. (Review forthcoming)"
In his full review for The Absolute Sound #246 October 2014, Robert Harley concluded:
"The Berkeley Alpha DAC Reference Series is not only the absolute state of the art in digital-to-analog conversion, it also goes far beyond even this superlative to redefine what's possible in digital playback. This is a landmark product in that is crossed a threshold of sound quality and musical expressiveness that renders moot the idea that digital can only aspire to mimic analog rather than offer its own set of virtues.
I won't reiterate the Alpha Reference's merits, but can guarantee that you've never heard digital audio sound like this. This is a product that you have to hear for yourself to believe just how far digital audio has traveled. I'm also heartened by the Reference's price. Although not inexpensive, $16,000 for the unquestioned state of the art in digital playback makes it seem like a bargain.
On a personal level, I can't tell you how thrilled I am to experience an entirely new and unexpected level of musical involvement from my library of standard-resolution CDs and files. After one particularly rewarding session, I reflected on how Berkeley Audio Design epitomizes the highest ideals of high-end audio.
Ritter and Pflaumer toiled for years, researching the finest minutia of design details to affect sound quality to create a product that has allowed me to experience a deeper level of musical involvement and appreciation. Their single-minded pursuit of performance above all else exemplifies the ethos behind the landmark breakthroughs in the history of high-end audio.
And breakthrough the Alpha Reference is. I am confident is saying that the Alpha Reference will be remembered decades from now as a turning point in digital audio sound quality."
The Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series, Alpha DAC2 and Alpha USB are available now from Aeolian, and they really do live up to their astonishing reputation with respected reviewers like Robert Harley, Editor of The Absolute Sound.
For more information on Berkeley Audio Design visit the Berkeley Audio Design website
For copies of recent reviews, pricing and queries contact Aeolian at (011) 487 2254