Berkeley Audio Design - is there a reason why these go up for sale if they are that good

Hello fellow Audiogoners  - and I hope that you are all staying safe and doing well. I have a question regarding Berkeley Audio Design products especially the Alpa DAC Reference 3. In all due respect to the company itself as well as the designers, engineers and employees who make this prodcut possible for us , please keep this civil and informative. I am looking at the Aplha DAC Reference 3 for my system and I see here and on others sites of this particular being up for sale frequently. This is a cutting edge DAC based on its technology and was wondering if this DAC is so good an lowering the noise floor and squeezing out every bit of music and notes out of a redbook CD , if it has possibly removed the '' soul '' out of the music ?  I realize and no need to comment that some Audiogoners just need change and I get that but could my proposed question be true ?  The reason I ask as I am not in the group of audiofiles who like their music so detailed and so razor sharp on each note to be satisfied....... I am in the middle group if I may,  in that I will give up some detail for musicality. I want to realx to my music and not be sitting on the edge of my seat. Thank you in advance and I do realize that this is system based but would like to hear from Berkeley owners on thier thoughts. One other point , I do not do any music streaming. Stay safe everyone ...... 


If you’re looking for an answer, it shoud be obvious...different strokes for different folks. My plan is to make my next DAC be from Berkeley Audio Design, even if I have to settle for an earlier, more affordable Reference 2 version. "Detailed and razor sharp" work for me.

I recently upgraded my digital front end and ended up purchasing the Berkeley Reference 3. My previous DAC was the Berkeley Alpha Version 1 prior to that a Mark Levinson 360S. I will offer my personal opinion and also reference comments from professional reviewers.

Comment 1: Berkeley audio has a house sound. All of their DACS are going to sound similar with the differences being in bass impact, amount of detail presented and sound stage width. As an example  I have both the reference and alpha set up in my system. One night I listened for half an hour before realizing I was listening to the alpha instead of the reference.

Comment 2  from The Computer Audiophile: “the RS3 delivers each instrument as if in its own world. Each instrument is reproduced in its entirety, supremely delineated from the others” and “The sound of the RS3 is what I consider raw / unaltered”.  These comments are exactly what I observed.

Comment 3 from The absolute sound – Robert Harley: “expressive rhythmically” and “The sound is more vibrant, open, and lively but without any attendant increase in brightness or listening fatigue.” These comments are exactly what I observed.

Comment 4 the reference 3 is a resolution monster. You will hear details that you have not heard before. I would not define the details as razor sharp. This can be both good and bad. If your source and electronics are not up to this level of detail you will not enjoy the sound. I had to upgrade my source (mac mini/ raspberry pi to aurender) and preamp ( CJ ET5 to Merrill Christene)  to fully enjoy the reference 3.

Comment 5  listening fatigue: This is where things get interesting. With the reference 3 I can now listen to music that I could not listen to before. However with the increased amount of detail I find some music that I enjoyed before to now be irritating. As an example I now find drummers who are constantly banging on cymbals to be irritating.  

Summary: I find the reference 3 to be lean, raw and exciting. Now when I listen to music my toes are tapping and my head is bobbing. It does not present a smooth and refined sound. Hope this helps in your search.

I want to realx to my music

You are in the wrong format.

…..and why is that Mr. M Carbon ?

don't seek input and opinion from the willfully ignorant.

We use a variety of A2D and DAC in the recording studio , Berkely is always on offer as it is generally more detailed and incisive. I would suggest you add the Brinkmann Nyquist II and Aesthetix Pandora - Signature to your audition list. You might also consider Audio Note and Lampizator...both excellent.

As to used units for sale...i would consider that the normal state of the market...

Have fun, enjoy the journey , the music


There is a simple reason why things go up for sale: People don't want them.

The ultimate review of audio value is the used market. It is actually one of the more reliable indicators of value. The really good stuff, people hang onto. When they do sell it tends to be for less of a discount, or none- or even a premium.


This is so obvious, and yet there are people who think the best "deal" is the greatest discount. News flash: nobody discounts except to sell fast, or to sell crap.


When I go looking for components one of the last things I do - not first, last- is check the used market. It never happens there's much there. Because I select only the good stuff. The stuff people want. Not the stuff they want to sell. If I ever found a lot of what I want in the used market that would be a concern.


You want to give up some detail for musicality. Your words. You want to relax into the music. You question why so many are selling something so supposedly good. You are right to wonder. You are in the wrong format.



All Formats see a large turnover of ancillaries that are allocated to be used within a HiFi System, the Industry relies on this constant, as New Sales are vital to a  Business's Bottom Line and the Profits they are wanting to receive.

Discounts on Offer are a recognised method to clear a back log of Stock, the Discount is seen as a sales motivator, and is used broadly in the Market for all Electrical Goods, and the Discount on Offer,  really does not reflect on the quality of a product.

In relation to HiFi, Discounts can be found from all levels of retail and a Bespoke Hi End Service will be seen to have a period where a promoted Brand is offered with a Discount. Take this as a example, a Model from a Brand as a RRP $20000, is in daily use as a demonstration model within a Dealership, and has been instrumental in the creation of 100+ Sales over the course of a Year. The Model is announced to be superseded, does the Discount Offered on the Price for the Demonstration Model indicate that the 100 purchases made within the Dealership were all wrong choices for the purchasers ?

People like to Spend, it gives them a sense of Self Esteem, most consumers are not knowing of this, but those relying on sales know it very well and depend on this very human trait, hence the special treatment received by those who are intending to spend.

Do not think that when Humans are being Human and this trait is discovered when observing the used sales item market, that all of the discards being seen are resulting from the Vendors making inferior choices ?                                                  There are multiple sale items because the Vendor can't help themselves, the Ego Massage and Talking Point are way more important than making do, 'what price they got on the Old Item, combined with what the Bargain was on the New Item' is the common thread woven into the fabric of any conversation in this area.                It is the Emporer's New Clothes Story rewrote for a New Age.

Putting the above aside, Individuals that do maintain items for use for extended periods and those that do purchase from the used item markets are very desirable today, and they are fully encouraged by myself to pursue this attitude, as their attitudes are much more friendly to the preservation of the Planet and not the Preservation of Corporate Business and the Profits wanted by them.

An item purchased as New and has been with four owners over a given period has potentially removed the Manufactuure Impact on the Planet by 75%, if related to the Three owners buying used and having not Bought New off the Retail Outlet Shelf . 

There are great opportunities to take part in this purchase method and the enjoyment of follow up listening need not be compromised in any manner in any chosen Format. 


+1 pindac! Best value is well-cared for used gear!

@pindac - Very good post! It ought to be considered to be put within the introduction to the AudiogoN website.

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Good afternoon - and thank you to everyone who has voiced their opinion. Let's not fall into the '' usual trap '' here and let me know if there is some issue with the sonics or sound of the Berkeley Reference 3 DAC. I am looking into one and just want to get everyone's temperature here. Thank you and stay safe …..
Good afternoon Mr. Wecher - thank you for your description as you do point out the merits of the Ref 3 in a very understanding manner. I have an Accuphase separates systam with Sonus Faber speakers and now need to go listen to the DAC to see how it will work in my system. Thank you again