dCS Rossini vs. Berkeley Reference dac 2


Has anyone compared the two?  I have heard the Rossini side-by-side with the Berkeley Ref. dac 1.  Long story short, the Rossini justified its higher price.  I'm now wondering if Berkeley's second try has narrowed the gap? Meanwhile, kudos to both dCS and Berkeley for striving to provide upgradeable products.
aldenberry
Having just bought a Rossini, I may be biased, but the Rossini is a very nice piece. In my system, the Rossini replaced a Meridian 808.5. While not inexpensive by any measure, the Rossini sounded better than any digital front-end I've listened to. The volume control is very good and makes the decision to go direct to the power amp easy. 
Thanks, still hoping someone will chime in who has heard both in credible "A/B" fashion.  But congrats on your Rossini.  I have to say, I have heard the Vivaldi (all things equal) with and without a preamp.  While it's true that a 32-bit attenuator should bridge the gap between digital and analog volume control, the Vivaldi with high quality preamp bettered direct-to-amp by a sizable margin.  Not even close!  That said, the preamp in this case cost more than the Rossini!  But whatever works.  Enjoy, you have a great product.  D

Thanks, Aldenberry.  Good luck in your research.
I haven't heard the dCS. But I just received a Berkeley Reference 2, swapped from an original Reference. The difference is Not Subtle. Huge Upgrade. Much more musical. The trace of hardness in the upper mods and highs is gone. I'm super satisfied with the Berkeley Alpha Reference 2.
Spell check. Mids, to be clear. Also, the Berkeley is Awesome driving amps directly. I prefer it driving my Ayre MX-R Twenties directly, to running through an Ayre KX-R Twenty preamp.
You aren't doing something right then.
Thanks for these latest posts.  I'm queued up for the upgrade program, ref 1 to 2, but it may take a while.  Great to hear the change is substantial.  I too am scratching my head over your experience with vs without preamp.  It raises the question of whether you have a cabling issue?  I also run the same Ayre products and with ref1, using the KX-R 20 sounds vastly superior, well beyond issues of attenuation.  Enjoy!
The Berkeley upgrade is Substantial, not subtle. You will be pleased. I have no cabling issue. If I drive my Atma Sphere MA-1 amps, the sound is both much more dynamic and focused using the Ayre preamp in the chain. So I am not universally bemoaning the use of a preamp. Preamps have merit. I'm just saying that I prefer the sound of the Berkeley Reference 2 DAC driving my Ayre MX-R Twenties directly, with no preamp. I have two runs of balanced Synergistic Element CTS, so its a piece of cake to A\B the sound with or without a preamp. With the Ayre preamp in the chain, the sound is more focused, so I prefer the more airy Synergistic presentation. With the Berkeley driving the Ayre amps directly, I prefer a shade more focus, and run Audioquest WEL. I hear more details, and more realistic harmonics around those details without the preamp, in this case.
Sounds great!  As always, every room, system and ear is different.  I will certainly A/B with and without the KX-R twenty again after my Berkeley update.  I am #79 in the queue and they have temporarily suspended the conversion process until they finish the MQA upgrade.  There is a groundswell of glow over MQA but I haven't heard samples from a fully compatible system so I don't have an opinion.  But kudos to Berkeley for having a pathway to improvement for existing owners, even though they always (should be in caps) take longer than their well-intentioned estimates.  Happy listening!

Yeah. I was #82 in the queue. Got tired of waiting. Contacted my dealer, Galen Carol. Swapped my V1 for V2 for $8K. Don't regret it for a second. The Reference 2 sounds like a whole different processor. When I got it, I had my old V1 in house also. I placed them both in my rack, and was prepared for an A/B session. I listened to three familiar songs thru the V2. It wasn't even fully warmed up. Then I simply packed up the V1 and sent it to Galen. No comparison needed. Its a No Brainer.
Imgoodwithtools, I appreciate your informed input on this thread.
Would you mind sharing what,if any,power conditioning you used or
tried with the Berkely 1; and what differences you heard? Thanks.Happy listening.
I haven't spent Big Money on power conditioning. I live in a small town out in Wyoming and the power is quite clean.  But since you asked, I run an API power wedge, an older model with three isolation transformers. And I run a Shunyata Venom cord. I do plan to check out the Shunyata Denali system. For the price, it looks intriguing.
While awaiting Imgoodwithtools' answer, i will chime in by saying you've introduced many variables, focusing a systemic comparison on one component.  That said, as a ref sac 1 user, the impact of the Shunyata Hydra Triton v3 (and previously v2) is HUGE in my room- Berkeley/ Nagra/ Rockport/ Transparent.  I previously owned the complete Nordost QRT system, but the Shunyata just blows it away.  How much of that is an effect on the sac, I couldn't say.  Quieter, more transparent allowing fine detail to emerge were primary effects.  Slightly greater sense of weight at the bottom noted as well.
Dac not sac!  Autospell!
In my system, its more about isolating the components from each other. I use Shunyata Venom digital cables on both my PS Audio Perfectwave transport and my Esoteric SACD player. Shunyata Venom power cables to the Berkeley and the Ayre preamp. Then I plug the two transports into one isolation transformer since they are never used at the same time, the Berkeley into its own iso, and the preamp into its own iso. Like I said, I plan to check out the Shunyata Denali system. There is a review online at Absolute Sound, if you're curious.
Sounds good!  I too have worked with Galen Carol, who is quite knowledgeable about Shunyata products- you have a good resource at hand!  I am using a Zitron Sigma HC with my Triton- I'm not looking back or forward at this time, it's hear to stay (sorry, bad pun).  I have read the Denali reviews, surely great products.  BTW, I used a Power Wedge isolation trans.-type processor from about 1992 to about two years ago. The physics involved in these products defies both my knowledge and interest, but in my system and on my power grid, I can only regret waiting so long to let it go and move on.  Isolation transformers are great for protection, however.  I have used them in other applications.  You have some fun toys!

Thanks. I've settled on two things. The Berkeley Alpha Reference 2 DAC. And my Wilson Alexia loudspeakers. Will investigate the merits of MQA once its more fully established. I'm still playing with amps. Will likely sell my Atma Sphere amps, mainly on the different presentation of the Berkeley 2. It makes my Ayre amps, now completely acceptable. But as I say that, I have a D'Agostino S-250 on the way. Lol. Will settle on interconnects once the amp decision is made. Also plan to play around a bit with that Shunyata Denali system. It Never Ends.
Thanks imgoodwithtools. I too found isolation a huge factor re digital.
And thanks aldenberry for the info on yours.
The D'Ag will be fun to compare with Nagra.  I've owned both; though I owned a D'Ag Integrated, I've heard the separates.  It's hard to say one is better than the other, but they are different.  Since you're playing with top-end gear and since our systems have a lot in common, let me just tell you that the best amps I've heard are from Vitus, which is now supported in the US.  Best amps and preamps- Vitus and Koda.  I haven't heard the venerated Gryphon products, which as a Rockport lover (I've owned Wilson- outstanding but not my preferred flavor) may represent the best.  Gryphon is not supported in the US.  Just an opinion.  That's all any of these posts are worth.  
And to ptss,
I compared AC cord effects between my Aurender source and Berkeley Ref Dac 1.  Going up the price/ quality continuum, I found that the Aurender was more responsive to cord changes than the Berkeley.  For what it's worth!  Boy are we off topic!

There must not be that many people who have heard both the dCS and the Berkeley DACs. But I did have a dealer, and it wasn't Galen, tell me he preferred the Ref 2 to the dCS stuff. But he is a Berkeley dealer, so take that one with a grain of salt. When I initially talked to Galen about upgrading to a Ref 2, he mentioned to me he was running one direct into a pair of big Jeff Rowland amps in one of his showrooms, to great effect. So, if you have one, I highly recommend at least trying direct. And FWIW, I noted a substantial improvement on AC cords swapping to a Venom Digital on my transport. The Berkeley seems to like the regular Venom cord just fine.

I appreciate your power cord comments aldenberry. Informative.
My pleasure, happy listening!

I have heard both the dCS and Berkeley DACs in comparison but not in my system. Maier Shadi at The Audio Salon in Santa Monica carries Berkeley, dCS, Wilson, D’Agostino, Transparent etc and is a most accommodating proprietor. I chose a partial dCS Vivaldi stack ( no transport since I use a NAS directly into the Upsampler) but easily understand the allure of the Berkeley. I also run the DAC directly to my Momentum S-250. I had Transparent XL Gen V balanced ICs custom tuned to interface between the Vivaldi DAC and the Dag and have yet to find a preamp that improves on that setup.
Heresy, I know!
Hey khrys. What did you prefer about the sound from the Vivaldi? And have you heard the Berkeley Reference V2? Big improvement over V1.
Thanks khrys,
Heresy indeed!  Another vote against the preamp.  I will have to revisit this.  I just ordered two pairs of Transparent Audio Ref. interconnects and a pair of Ref. speaker cables, which arrive tomorrow.   I will break them in and listen both ways.

Perhaps I will speak with Maier- thanks for the reference.  The Vivaldi is a transcendent piece!  Just to refocus, I visited Music Lovers in San Francisco, which also sells both Berkeley and dCS, where I heard a well controlled comparison of three dacs- Berkeley Ref 1, Rossini and Vivaldi, no upsampler or clock with the dCS units.  All were fabulous, but to my ear, the Rossini bettered the Berk. by enough to justify the price gap; the Rossini took it several flights up, and I gather the other "stack" accessories just keep sweetening it up.  I was leaning toward letting the Berk go for Rossini when I learned of the upgrade option from Berk 1 to Berk 2, at a nominal cost.  So it seems I owe to myself to learn whether Berk has narrowed the gap on Rossini before spilling more money on this obsessive hobby.  

Again, thanks for your interesting post.  Music Lovers is now breaking in their Berk Ref 2, so perhaps I will be able to answer my own question in a few weeks?  

Best to all, D


oops, I meant the Vivaldi took it several flights up!
Let us know what you think of the Ref. 2, aldenberry.
Imgoodwithtools I have heard the Berkeley Rv2 and still feel the dCS Rossini is preferable. The Rossini is so good and got so close the Vivaldi 1.0 that they needed to release the Vivaldi 2.0 update way early to mollify that siituation. 
The Berkeley is sweet, polite, pleasant and eminently listenable. But somewhat homogenized to my ears. It is airy and diaphanous but also somewhat amorphous. To my ears it only worked well with high end transports. Data files and streaming were subpar. 
The dCS is a chameleon. Fire breathing dragon or  2 day old lab puppies depending on the file. 
Texture, front to back sound stage, precision of instrumental placement, lack of upper midrange glare, precise articulate bass, noise floor, body and density of the instruments/voices were superior with the dCS. 
The Berkeley's interfaces make it instantly obsolete IMHO.
I think people will like delta sigma DACs or r2r DACs ultimately.
dCS makes the best delta sigma DACs and I'm still deciding if MSB  or Lampizator makes the best r2r. And boy do they sound spectacular. What a golden age for digital.  

Good feedback. Right now I'm waiting to see where this MQA thing goes.
I'm also interested in the comparison of the Berkley DAC Ref 2 vs. Rossini.  I know the Rossini provides for an external clock connection, how about the Berkley DAC Ref 2?  Most of the Rossini reviews state that the SQ improvement when the dCS Rossini clock is used is not subtle.  

I realize that the dCS Rossini clock is an additional $7k, but at least the Rossini provides this option.  Besides there may be less expensive external clock options such as the PERF10 from Stanford Research Systems.  
FWIW - Gyphon is now available in the USA -- Suncoast Audio is the only dealer/distributor as of now (late July 2017).

I haven't heard the Berkeley Ref2, but have a Rossini and a Debussy. I sat and listened to the Vivaldi partial stack (no transport because everything was digital via Roon). The Vivaldi 1.0 still bests the Rossini, but it is a narrow margin.

The Rossini has approx 6 filters (depends on if you're listening to PCM or DSD). Once you get those figured out, it starts to show its stripes and you can no longer call it a "chameleon"  -- but that is a good analogy for the Rossini. It's also way more geared up with tech than the Ref2. It has direct Ethernet and can directly stream Tidal and others (perhaps they'll make it a Roon RAAT supported device -- that would be awesome.) It also has direct USB inputs. I have to agree that the Ref2 is way behind still using that old school separate USB to AES converter. 

Be prepared to shell out 1/3 the cost of the Rossini on the separate clock. It almost makes you consider a plain Vivaldi DAC since you're about 2K difference at that point. But the Rossini by itself sounds better than the Vivaldi by itself. It's when you put the two together with their clocks, and add the upsampler to the Vivaldi that the Vivaldi takes the lead.

Truth be told, the Debussy isn't a slouch when compared to the Rossini though. There are some characteristics that are better with the Debussy. I'd characterize the Rossini as "laid back", and the Debussy as "forward" in presentation. 

I really would be interested in hearing someone's direct comparison of the Rossini vs the Berkeley Ref 2 just like the OP. Despite the technology differences, I am always more interested in the sound. It's hard to find a dealer that has both -- they're just in the top of the game so most pick one.
Allen, thanks for weighing in. And I’m sorry to abandon my own post but the question I raised has become somewhat irrelevant to me personally. Berkeley’s ongoing delays- now both the paused update process and the late MQA software- are the final straw. I believe they are committed to quality and well intentioned in every realm, but their time estimates are a joke. So I’ll be moving on. The question now is Rossini vs. Linn and I’ll be able to do a side-by-side comparison with Definitive Audio in Seattle. Which ever sounds better to my ear is going home with me. I will likely use NAS/ Ethernet in lieu of my current Aurender server. So in effect, screw Berkeley- thanks for wasting my time yet again! I must disagree with the notion that the Rossini dac betters the Vivaldi when both are used sans clock, upsampler. I found the Vivaldi (2.0) superior by a huge margin. I agree with you however that the gap is narrow between Vivaldi (1.0) and Rossini. My candid thoughts! Add a few bucks and it’ll get you a cup of java.
Aldenberry,  while not directly related to this thread, you mentioned comparing Lynn Klimax DS3 to dCS Rossini. What was your take away? I also deal with Definitive up in Seattle.
Hi Bobvin,
i haven't been up Seattle for that audition yet but I am intent on doing it.  If you beat me to it, please report back.  Thanks