I have owned the Berkeley and borrowed the PS Audio. Without consideration of price I would pick the BADA Series 2. To me it is more refined. By comparison the PWD MkII sounds more homogeneous. That is, timbres of different instruments sound more distinct with the BADA whereas the PWD carries more of a "house sound". I was very impressed by the PWD, though. It is very clean and open sounding. Highly detailed with great dynamics, yet very smooth and relaxed. Very easy to listen to, almost soothing, without being syrupy or cloudy in the slightest.
If funds permit, I would personally go with the BADA, but I have lived with both DACs so it would be hard to take a step back. If you are going in blind then I would be surprised if you had any disappointments with the PWD MkII. If you don't have a good transport or USB/SPDIF converter if using a computer then my advice would be to save the money and invest it there. It makes a huge difference.
Interesting. Never heard of USB related problems with the PWD MKII. Bad luck. Plenty issues with the bridge though.
My problem **was** in fact with USB implementation: brief interruptions of play ("skipping"), usually once a track.
By luck, after 8 months of headaches, I figured out it was problem involving the interaction between the PWD and my MACbook (it did not occur when I swapped in another DAC, nor did it occur when I used a CDP as transport).
Both the MAC "geniuses" and PSA disclaimed knowledge of how to resolve the problem, and responsibility for doing so.
A random software update after I'd decided to give up on PSA resolved the problem. I kept the PWD, but the experience did very little to improve my mood.
I never had a problem with the bridge or coaxial connections. Use bridge for music collection on pc and coaxial with SB Touch for internet radio.
Just plug in ethernet cable, select "bridge" and voila, music!
I do find PS Audio software is much inferior to SB. Some of the reported problems are trivial for any competent engineer.
True. The only issues you may encounter are when using the bridge, but this is a feature the Berkeley does not have in the first place, so this should not be a disqualfier of the PWD MKII. If you stick with USB, you should never have any issues.
What do you mean by hassles in implementation? I have mine hooked up via USB and can't imagine what could be a problem. I've also had not one problem with the optical input either. I'm guessing you may be referring to the bridge? I have not tried that though Paul from PS Audio said there will soon be a direct way to hook up via Ethernet that will be as simple as using the USB connection.
Btw, nice kit, Edorr. I was very impressed by the Evolution Acoustics monitors at RMAF; I'd love to hear the bigguns.
I don't know the Berkeley, but I agree with those saying the PWD is a good sounding DAC (the MKII is considerably better than the I). I'm in the group that has experienced better sound using a preamp instead of the volume control.
Two potential reasons for hesitation for the PWD:
MSRP on the PWD seems to be frequently undercut, which contributes to what looks like a fairly weak resale market. Of course, if you get the savings on the buy in, it won't matter.
As all the discussion on the boards seems to indicate, the PWD is a work in progress, particularly on the software side. If you are using a computer as a front end, you may experience hassles in implementation. If you do (as I did), and cannot sort it out yourself, PSA, which is an audio firm and not a software firm, may not have the know how (or inclination) to help you sort it out (in my case,they didn't for me). Of course, there is a general issue about the kludgy mating of computers and DACs, but it might be cause for hesitation with PSA.
Can't beat the PWD MKII for the price. I sold mine with bridge for $2400.
The EMM Labs is a big notch up though. Hard to pin it down. Somehow
there appears to be more going on with the music, and most definitely there
is a better sense of the acoustic space, more depth, more air, better decay
of notes, more fluid. Timbre of instruments is not that much different
That's interesting, Edorr; I recall that you've enjoyed the PWD. What did you like better about the EMM -- I'm hoping lots of things at plus 5x-7x the money! :)
This should be no contest with the MSB costing twice as much as the BADA and PWD MKII. I am also on the list to receive the MSB for a shootout against my EMM Labs DAC2X. The EMM Labs replaced my PWD MKII (and bested it by a substantial margin).
I should have the BADA combo in two days time, which will be followed shortly by PS Audio Perfect Wave II and msb AnalogDAC. Will report back in 2-3 weeks.
I've not heard the Berkeley but the I have replaced the Bryston dac with the perfect wave 2 and its quite a nice improvement. The direct to the amp feature works great and in my system sounds a little better than my preamp unfortunately I need a preamp for vinyl duties. There are a few direct comparisons to the Berkeley vs PW DAC2 I've read and it seems that most marginally prefer the Berkeley DAC.