Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Series 3

Just upgraded from a BADA DAC Series 1 to 3. I haven’t seen many reviews out there so I thought I’d share my thoughts. It’s definitely better than my Version 1 (w/ MQA upgrade which was a big upgrade) that I’ve owned for nearly 10 years. Sonically, it has better detail across the spectrum according to my ears but without added harshness. At twice the price roughly, I’d estimate that it’s 15-20% better sounding. I’m used to the hi end price-value curve generally flattening so I was satisfied with the improvement. Physically, it’s a larger unit with a little better casework but nothing like the Reference. The larger dimensions were needed to incorporate some of the Reference’s innards. Also, no more transformer hum that I could hear when up close to my Version 1. It’s a great company and the owners are terrific to deal with. I had some field upgrade issues with my Version 1 that I received great support. 


I'm using mine with an Oppo 103D feeding the new Vanity Pro. The Alpha DAC 3 is my first DAC, I've been using a Marantz SA10. 

I have a fairly high end two channel system and I've always preferred analog. My dealer, Galen Carol Audio, thought the Berkeley might be the one to convert me to digital. He was right. Massed strings on Bruno Walter recordings, always a problem, now sound far less edgy. Not quite RCA strings, but close and more than acceptable. The tell is I'm listening to more and more digital.

The Alpha DAC 3 is a fantastic product and I cannot recommend it enough.




At twice the price roughly, I’d estimate that it’s 15-20% better sounding

if it’s only 15-20% better, you can easily close the gap and surpass it with a good isolation stand, Entreq grounding, and a good power cord.

Has anyone compared  the Alpha 3 to the reference 3?  Was it better?  How and by how much?



I know I'd love to give the dcs stack a try, along with the expensive Berkeley, Mytek, EMM, and Meridian units. But I haven't listened to enough expensive DACs to choose one.



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