Given the people who created this, there is possibly some coding and algorithms you can't get anywhere else. It has my attention - but I have not heard it.
I believe it was used in the TAD demonstration at CES, which really focused on recording engineers pressing for 192/24 recording and availability to the public on Blu-Ray. If so, it was exceptional, but so were the recordings.
I have heard many who doubt it, however. They are mainly insiders who have their products to press, however. Knowing what I do about the business pressures in the industry and between the industry and reviewers, I take such endorsements as suggestive only. I heard many such comments about EMM and dCS also, and at least to me they were unjustified.
Hi Tbg, I agree. One has to read reviews carefully. It is very rare when one reads a negative review. Where are all the negative comments going? Suppressed. Reviewers often put a patina on the products when they write about them. My experience is that the products often sound very different when hooked up to a real system -- not an imaginary one. Comments are often unjustified by actual real-world experience.
What difference does that make? He still chose to pay something and keep it in his system. Hard to deal with fine shadings of "levels on implied endorsement". Buying it says something positive - no more, no less. How much one is willing to spend says more about the ability to spend then anything inherently about the quality of the sound when most differences at this level are way beyond the point of diminishing returns financially.
I have it and love it and the review is very accurate. It really does it right. I have an Esoteric X03SE and using it as a transport into the berkeley for HDCD is a revelation. I don't think the review mentioned how well an HDCD encoder it is.
And, the review is spot on when it says you really have to feed the berkeley hi res signals to hear what it does. True 24 bit sounds spectacular. Check one out. Used up for $3,500 or so. Can't lose.
He would not spend a $100 if he did not like it, of course he might give a better review to a fella offering a steep discount, other than Atkinson's measurements and "between the lines" I take all reviews with a grain of salt. But as far as the DAC, there a lot of evidence that it is very good indeed.
Of course it matters what they paid for a unit, which is often 50% of retail, a bit less than a dealer. There are items I don't like at $10k, but at $5k they are a steal! So, the "I bought the unit" only means they know a deal when they see it, not that it is the best. They really cannot go wrong financially by buying a piece at half price, particularly one they are raving about.
Would you buy 20 DACs at 50% off? Or one, maybe two you like? (unless you were planning on going into the wholesale business) The discount is distorting, but to bother buying any particular piece still says something -- the reviewer liked it and though it worth having. Now the "rave", yes, that is certainly more problematic, especially when [if?} it is a means to an end.
Pubal57, I understand your point - that the reviewer wouldnt by a component that he didnt find musically satisfying. But I think the counterpoint is valid too - that a component purchased at a noncompetitive price might not be quite the endorsement it appears. To illustrate: There are a number of good cars in the $50k bracket. Although I might have a strong preference for one model in particular, if I had the opportunity to buy a competitive model with the same sticker price for $25k, it would be a no brainer for me; even though its not my first choice, everything being equal.
Yup, there is something corrosive to the process when there is a deal between manufacturer and reviewer - hard to knock your "friends", but I think Knghifi captures the spirit of my comment, if I was a reviewer with access to most any piece of equipment, the fact I choose to buy something and make it my own says something, maybe not what it says if I paid full price, but still....
Anyway, I guess the Berkeley DAC is pretty darn good:)
Knghifi and Pubul57, the question still remains: would the reviewer have bought the gear if he had to pay full list price? In some cases, the answer is yes, but in other cases the answer might be no. Two of the factors (among many others) as to whether or not the reviewer buys the equipment are undeniably (1) price and (2) the reviewer's financial situation. Those are real world factors to any purchasing decision no matter what the situation. Ignoring factor (2) for a moment, any sane person looking at a high-value product with an opportunity to get it at a steep discount would be hard-pressed not to pass it up.
No he might not, but he would not have bought it at all if he did not like it, he gets the opportunity to buy most anything at 50% off, but he does not in fact do so, only the stuff he actually likes. He passes up many opportunities in the course of his job, and some he does not pass up, those are the ones that he actually likes, and therefore in buying them it is meaningful as an aside to the review.
Nicotico, It's implied the unit is a great deal at the retail price. AGAIN, it's just another way to strongly endorsing and recommending the product. It's very simple and you are making it much much ... more complicated. Now I understand why the US constitution is only 1 page long and Obama Health care bill is 2k or 20k pages long fill with mumble jumbo that noone understands or have read before voting into law ... and can't forget the stimulus bill too.
It is not just an endorsement, it is a genuine act by the reviewer - he could, if he chose, by many, many things at 50% off, but he doesn't, and when he does buy something, it is telling; now if you choose to dismiss that, well so be it; I find it meaningful, you do not - so be it. It is turning into a dead horse --- but yes, the B DAC is worthy of audition and just might be better sounding than a Bryston CD player, though I would listen to both before making any conclusions. I suspect a blind A/B would speak well for the Bryston.
If you don't find it meaningful, than don't - but it is meaningful to me since buying something has meaning to me, especially when I have the opportunity to buy anything and from that I choose to buy something in particular. Perhaps reviewers function differently, but I doubt it. Unless they are buying at a discount to sell at a profit, but I suspect that is not their motive, no, they may actually like the piece of gear, and happy to have gotten a good price on it, or they could just buy it used on Audiogon. I do agree though, that if he paid $10 for a $5000 DAC it might questionable, but I suspect they are getting a wholesale price, nice savings, but not a giveaway either.
So, how many actually own the Berkeley and how does it compare with the
likes of DCS, Esoteric, and EMM Labs? Are these the top brands today? Do they
really distance themselves from what seems like a really well regarded effort
by Bryston on the player and DAC fronts? They do hit a much more
reasonable price point. I would love to put it up against my EMM Labs player.
By the way, to this day I really regret selling my Audio Logic 24XL (I think that
was the model) that unit is a bit old today, but I thought it was a very nice
sounding DAC and not really sure things got better since then. I would surely
recommend it if you can find one used - of course, no USB input.
I know of two A'gon members who tried the Berkeley and Bryston in their own systems and while they found the Berkeley was better they couldn't justtify spending the extra cash for the extra performance and purchased the Bryston. Now, how much does the extra price represents to them, I don't know. Maybe it's 10% of what they save in a month, or maybe it's 6 months savings...very different picture. Yet these were two real world decisions after A/Bing.
As I said earlier, I have a Berkeley as well as an Esoteric X03 SE. Interestingly, my computer where my squeezebox server resides experienced some toasted ram to go with a toasted cpu when I installed the Juli@ so I have been listening to the Esoteric and very well recorded redbook CD's for the past two weeks. The server is back up and running so I listened to the Berkeley yesterday for the first time since. While I had always felt that the Berkeley and Esoteric sounded different (giving the edge to the esoteric on dynamics),I noticed yesterday that the Berkeley sounds very unike digital. It takes you into this deep, tall, wide, full of music soundstage with absolutely no glare, harshness, coldness. There is an incredible attachment to the music. It becomes a presentation. Obviously sources and the rest of the system matters and it is not cheap but you all need to listen to one to see what the fuss is about. And then there's hi res music...
I have heard the DCS Puccinni, though in a much better system than mine so I cannot make a compariosn. It was (and still is) the best system I have ever heard. The Puccinni chiseled out a detailed, refined 3d (3D!) soundstage that had to be heard to be believed.
I heard the Berkeley dac at a show, admittedly it was about three years ago, so it's maybe improved by now. It was in a room with Verity Audio Lohengrin speakers. I listened to one or two familiar tracks which I own and I found the sound veiled and unengaging. The rest of the audio equipment chain was not to blame as the turntable (A Schroeder setup) was absoutely spellbinding. Personally, I'll be shopping for a used high-end dac soon and the Berkely will not be on my list.
I must hear the Bryston -maybe even as a CD-Player (yup still use the discs), I just get the feeling it is a real sleeper (though it has had good reviews)at a very competive price given its performance, and needless to say, Bryston reliability - would love to hear it against the "Kings of the Hill".