I have. I have a Berkeley DAC for maybe 2 years now and picked up the K03 1st week of august. I am very close to completing breakin (if not there already). The K03 trumps the Berkeley in EVERY way imaginable. It extracts more information from a disc; it is more resolving; larger, deeper soundstaging. Better bass (magic base); it is more resolving and quieter. I thought the Berkeley was seriously exellent. The K03 is seriously magical. I truly cannot believe how good CD's sound that I have previously dismissed as uninvolving or unemotional. When you hit that volume level right, the little hairs on my little hairs stand up. It has brought tears to my eyes more than once. Regular old tunes make a major emotional impact that I have not felt previously. Truly stunning.
Curious about the transport and digital IC you were using with the Berkeley.
@ cerrot, Hi, I have been asking you for a while about the Esoteric K-03 player!,, What you just posted is what I am looking for!, Damn, Its about time you posted what this player can do, I needed to know about the sound before I take on a very long road trip to audition one, there is no Esoteric dealers around me for atleast 300 miles!, thankyou!
What were you feeding the Berkeley?
I was using a gateway computer (windows 7, JRiver 18, Jplay, ESI Juli@ sound card); 10 meter apogee spdif cable into an Esoteric G25U upsampler/clock - the clock went to the Berkeley via an AES/EBU Purist Audio Design 20th Anniversary digital cable; the other surce was my Esoteric X03 SE into the upsampler via a Tara Labs The be Spdif digital cable, into the berkeley (this sounded better than the X03SE by itself).
It is interesting that you use the spdf out from your PC and not the usb. I have not tried this but the usb route from my computer to my K-01 player is nowhere near the sound from the CD transport, even with hi-res downloads.
I may try the spdf way but need to get a better pc set-up like yours first before running it to the spdf input of the K-01.
I would never use the USB out of my PC. Nor, would I ever use the usb input the dac. usb is the poorest interface you can use. USB was desgined to attach peripherals like mice and keyboards and printers and transmits data in packets, not streams.
God luck Jon.
Thanks, Cerrot for the heads-up.
It looks like no matter how well implemented the usb interface is, asynchronous notwithstanding, spdif remains superior for sound quality.
An alternative to souping up my pc would be to get a high end usb to spdif converter betwen the pc and the spdif input of the K-01.
An interesting development for me. My puter was going into an esoteric clock/upsampler (G25U) and then into Berkeley DAC. The stand alone K03 blew that away but I have had two recent developments. One was to add the G25U (w/o clock engaged as internal K03 clock is a bit more accurate)between the puter and K03 - and the benefit (using 192k) was pretty incredible. The 2nd development was to have my PC 'tuned up' my a microsoft level 5 tech (I am a computer guy but these gys take it to a whole other level) and, never mind the speed I picked up (I was not slow before) but the improvement in sound from their clean up and tweaking was also amazing.
I have posted my experiences on other posts. I was originally running the USB directly from modified Mac Mini to USB input to K-03. After a couple of months of listening, I decided to install the BelCanto RefLink USB Converter. USB from K-03 to BelCanto RefLink and SPDIF out to K-03. Everything improved (Width of sound stage, improvements in Micro/Macro Transients - just removed additional digital artifact to bring me closer to hearing whatever I throw at it.
That said, when playing back the same CD's in the K-03 transport, it is still superior to playing through my computer based rig. I still listen to music mostly using the computer mainly for convenience sake. I would recommend getting a demo unit (BelCanto RefLink) for a trial. My experience is that it will allow you to get the most out of your K-03 or K-01 for the price we often invest in power and interconnect cabling.
Regardless of all the Phile and TAS pulling people into computer audio, Every burned CD and download I've tried the CD sounds much better than any burned disc regardless of program and the downloads at times worse,if the mastering was better in the down load then a hair better, but that is rare. I am staying with well recorded CD and my LP's stay for Lp's that never were released on CD. I trust my own ears and don't need a reviewer telling me what sounds good or sucks. Besides they are now the mouth piece of the manufactures. Keep buying well recorded music, soon so much will be gone due to buyers buying tracks instead of a whole recording. I am have enough music for my lifetime already.
My K03 sounds better than my PC into the K03 dac (and I upsample and reclock) but I am conviced that is due to a shortcoming of the puter - somewhere, somehow. The CD should not soud better, but it does.
Since getting a usb-to-spdif converter, I find that hi-rez sounds better than cd in the transport but ripped cd's from the PC still sound inferior to cd's via the transport. Have you auditioned any good usb-to-spdif converter in your system? I am using an iFi iLink converter to my K-01 coax input (bnc). The iPower that sits between the pc and the converter helps considerably in cleaning up the usb signal by separating power from the music signal. Cheers!
Jon, no. There is no way I would ever use any sort of USB output for audio. My hires does sound better than redbook and ripped cd better than the new, though I don't use a pc for burning. I use an alesis master link. I had a friend bring over CDs she ripped from her pc and they were pretty poor. Puters are a noisy place, jon.
Hello Cerot. Your words "emotional impact is what it's all about" very neatly sums things up. Reviewed your excellent system. Have you ever tried a Sound Application a/c product?
Hi Ptss, Thank you for the compliment. I have not tried sound application. I did hear Igor Kuznetspff's 'K Works' line conditioner at the NY Show and was quite impressed and may order one (for my amps) as they are into the wall now. I am lucky with fairly new home, good electric, and great block for power usage (as there is hardly anyone on it!).
Cerrot, wanted to check up on your joy with the K-03.
You were clear about the emotional impact improvement it provided. Do you know why the K-03 is so much better? Did you ever get to try/hear the Alpha 2. I find it fascinating that our replay ability is still improving what with all the talk of parts per million distortion or error for a few years now.
Esoteric has been known for ultra precision manufacturing and matching, rigidity and vibration attenuation, mass and extreme attention to power supplies for some time. What factors made the K-03 unique?
I havent heard the Berkeley 2 (or the new reference). The K03 is sounding INCREDIBLE but I have had some fun with some key upgrades (upgraded ultra platforms under speakers; tara labs the one speaker cables on both panels and woofers; new jeff rowland design group criteriion preamp). These upgrades have brought me to a new place and my only thought (right now) is a K01 (dream of the D/P 02 but ...). I think my rig is at a place where I can really enjoy the benefit of the K01. Please understad, I have no wants or needs when I listen to the K03. I just 'know' that, from reading the reviews, and the other upgrads I have done, this should take me even closer to what I want, IE, the music. (also, both prior owners of my criterion have a K01 and I do need to explore that). I really cant say what it is about esoteric that is so pleasing to so many. I do know that the gentlemen running it is an audiophile. And he has diamonds for ears.
Thank you for the follow up!
Owned both Berkeley DAC's. IMO: The "2" was slightly kinder and gentler than the "1". For the money I thought both were very good but preferred the "1" very slightly because of its additional slam factor.
Have not heard the Reference.
In spite of the rave by Robert Harley the Berkeley was quickly superceded by a whole slew of superior DACs. Caveat lector.
there you are Sabai, come over to Rhodium and Gold connector's thread.
Rja. Did you try isolation or conditioning for the Alphas.
Isolation and very minimal conditioning.
I've seen used Berkeleys at very reasonable prices.
If you buy a 1 make sure it's a later 1 because the early 1 could not be converted to a 2 if you decide to do that.
Although if you want a 2 it would probably be cheaper to just buy one rather having it converted.
Would be very interested in hearing the new Berkeley DAC.
Rja. May I enquire what isolation you've used. I have found the Equitech 2Q excellent and the Sound Application unit now indispensable. I am astounded by the Sound Application for digital. Transforms the sound to have a beautiful refined analoq quality to my rather lowly Lexicon 20 mated to my Spectral gear. The combination has transformed my listening pleasure.
My isolation is quite a bit simpler. Three inch thick maple platform on spikes on a Billy Bags table also on spikes to the floor. A couple of VPI bricks on top for mass loading and Herbie's Tenderfeet under DAC. Worked great on the Berkeleys.
Aha,Rja, I too find the mass loading and physical isolation (vibration reduction) to be very beneficial. It gave my digital a much more solid sound. Esoteric emphasizes this; but, they also emphasis the electrical isolation. On better units they use 4 or more transformers! I think if you try the electrical isolation/conditioning I mentioned the benefit may be much greater than the physical isolation, and bring a new joy to your listening :-) Happy experimenting.
Although I no longer own a Berkeley DAC, they are exceptional on HDCD playback.
Sanbhai what are "'the whole slew" of 'Superior' dacs?
Sorry Sabai. I'm thinking of dacs now. Also considering trying the lowly OPPO 105D; seems very popular and excellent value.
PS Audio DS DirectStream DAC, Bricasti M1, Playback Designs, Meitner and many others.
Thanks Sabia, have you experience/comments re OPPO 105D $1299 versus those you mentioned?