Bel Canto DAC 3.5VB MKII vs. Berkeley Alpha DAC 2?

Firstly, can anybody share their experiences with the Bel Canto DAC 3.5VB MkII? There are very few reports out there. Secondly, does anybody have experience with both this DAC and the Berkeley Alpha DAC Series 2? I have the latter and like it immensely, but have always had an interest in the top of the line Bel Canto as I have owned and enjoyed the DAC3 and DAC2.5 as well as several other BC pieces.

I've not heard both in the same system before but I had the DAC3.5 which was upgraded to Mk II subsequently.

I always found the PerfectWave MkI more clinical, more neutral and perhaps a tad more detailed. The Bel Cantos always had that slightly warmer and more musical edge to me.

If you've heard the DAC3 in your own system before you should have a good inkling of how the 3.5 and Mk II sounds.

It's a similar house sound but just with lower noise floor esp in Mk II guise and more resolving in complex pieces.
Sorry I read it as PS Audio PerfectWave for some reason.

I have heard the Alpha DAC in the showroom and I don't remember being wowed as much with it. I actually preferred the Ayre QB9 more at that time.
I "pre-ordered" the MKii in December 2011. The MKii hadn't been announced yet and rarely, but sometimes I get lucky. This was one of those times. I think it arrived in January or sometime around the CES 2012 unveiling. It's been broken-in on a silver AQ dig coax to OPPO95 and the BC 24/96 light link fiber input channel to USB. No special considerations for a Mac Mini Lion, plug and play. I received the VBS and upgraded BC power cable as well.

I haven't done any tweaking with isolation platforms or stillpoints, so it's as-is for the following novice assessment. The XLR's/IC's, speaker cables, A/C cables and amps that I have used range from "lean" to "slightly full bodied" and the speakers are "musical, engaging and not clinical".

With all the associated equipment characteristics generally described, the music preferences are Jazz, vocals, classical and rock. The two summary comments on the sonic performance that are most predominant: " very quiet with very good detail resolution", "musical with a very light-touch, gets out of the way".

Since purchase, I have been through several major upgrades and changes to speakers/equipment/cables. The BC 3.5 mkii is a keeper and I can see building a second system around it if should chose to try a new pre-amp/DAC combo. I see it as the highest performing DAC/Pre at this price point. The feature set is great, HT pass-through and the BC customer interactions have been great (called about the 24/192 lightlink).

I have not listened to it without the VBS (matched connections with mine) and I expect that adds to the performance as an integral piece. I have not listened to the Alpha DAC 2 but the Stereophile 1/2012 review puts it in rare accompaniment, Weiss 202 and dCS Debussy. No regrets, would do it again and recommend it without any reservation.
would be curious if anyone has compared the two on a side by side -same system speakers.
I would imagine both would be very good & its a matter of personal taste and preference that would win out.
I have compared the two side by side (as did the client that traded in the BC 3.5 mkII for the Alpha Dac series 2). It was fairly obvious which was the better component sonically - I haven't heard better than the Alpha Dac II / Alpha USB combo and many "in the know" say the same thing.
Seattlehifi - can you go into more detail as to the differences you heard between the two DACs? Where was the Berkely superior and/or the BC inferior, and did the BC have the VBS power supply? Also, are you a dealer or do you have any affiliation with Berkely? Just checking, and thanks for your thoughts.

Yes, I am a dealer and that is how the comparison came to be. I brought the berkeley pieces (Alpha USB as well) to the client's home for him to audition side-by-side. The differences were readily apparant to both the client and I. Since I am reminded time and time again on these forums how everything is subjective and my ears and preferences may be different than yours - I would strongly encourage all reading this to perform their own side-by-side comparisons.

Plus, you'd have to recreate the client's room, take into acount all cabling, misc. equipment, computer, drives, software, speakers, etc. In other words, many factors could have contributed to our impression.

Just to be fair, I was also a Bel Canto dealer a few years ago (eVo gen2 series, PL-1, PL-2, etc.) and back then Bel Canto was outsourcing the manufacturing of it's HT and digital pieces. Anyway, I do not know if Bel Canto has brought the digital in-house for the micro stuff but the pedigree of both companies is worth considering.

I would familiarize yourself with the story of how the Berkeley came to be, who is responsible, and why it is very different than anything else out there in the marketplace.

Seattle Hi-Fi