I had his DAC in my possession for about a week and returned it feeling pretty unimpressed. Easy going sound with you could say "analogue" presentation but it just didn't do the trick in my system.
15 responses Add your response
Interesting. What did you feel was lacking and what have you found that satisfies you? What is your type of sound? I take it you're not turntable guy? I think this is not an exciting DAC that reaches out and grabs your attention. Definitely on the polite and refined side of the fence.
Actually I bought the Series 1 after months of looking for a used Bel Canto DAC3.5VB or VBS-1 to upgrade my DAC3 to 3.5VB MkII status. I'm still interested in hearing that DAC. Also the Weiss, but my impression is that may be too lacking in leading edge definition for my taste. It's also a bit pricey for me.
I do admit I was coming in with big expectations based on raving reviews. It's got a little dryer presentation like most solid state dacs, and it's got really no punch to it, so anybody who listens to electronica beware. My dealer here sweared by it, and was curious what came pretty close to it for much less money...I brought over my 1500 Red Wine Isabellina with some midrange oriented tube which I think sounds just as good, if maybe the control of the frequency extremes is not as good (different tube would make it sound just like Berkeley). Mind you, even though Isabellina has tube, it does not have the "lit up from within" sound like Ayon cd-5 that I have on loan or Lampizator. Anyway, I think even the dealer had to admit that the Isabellina for less than 1/3 performs very well.
Question for Eugene81
I noticed you have a fair amount of Von Gaylord electronics
in your system. Did you ever consider the DAC they make?
Were you able to AB the Berkeley DAC with the Uni?
I also have Von Gaylord products but currently no DAC.
Ray says his DAC sounds the best. I know they are a little
behind the times with connections etc. but I was curious
if you tried one.
Ron, I did try the Uni DAC... actually a demo unit that has one chassis instead of the usual separate power supply. It is the most "analog" sounding DAC I've ever heard. This has been said about the BADA 2 as well but it doesn't compare to the Uni in this regard. Very smooth, but very detailed as well. Hard to describe but it does sound like a high quality turntable. You'll have to take my thoughts on that with a grain of salt, though, as I don't have a lot of experience with vinyl. Ultimately I found it a bit too soft on the leading edge for my taste. It was a tough decision, but input flexibility and hi-res support factored into it as well. IIRC the Uni doesn't even do 24/96. But it doesn't really matter much because if you prefer the sound of the Uni to another DAC on 16/44.1 then 24/96 or probably even 24/176.4 or 24/192 is not going to push that other DAC ahead. I could easily be happy with the Uni as well.
Hans, I haven't had the regular Hiface, just the JKSPDIF. I am now using the Weiss INT203, which is more lively and open sounding than the JKSPDIF. If I had to choose between an interface upgrade and Series 2, I would probably start with the Series 2. It is not a subtle change. The interface upgrade would probably follow quickly, though, haha.
I actually downgraded my DAC to a Metrum Octave in an effort to scale back my system, but ended up with a highly modified MHDT Havana and it is the best one yet for me.
Power transformer replaced with an R-core, key resistors replaced with Shinkoh Tantalum, Vishay diodes, all Nichicons electrolytic caps replaced with Elna Silmic II, output coupling caps replaced with V-Cap Copper Teflon (<- this is the biggest upgrade!) as well as input caps and one more, other foil caps replaced with Auricap, WBT silver output RCAs, SPDIF RCA replaced with Vampire BNC. These changes transform the Havana into a new beast with the same heart and soul.
try to audition a NAD M51 dac if you're after analog-like sound. in my oppinion it's a fantastic DAC, with 3d sounstage, neutral(as in no coloration), involving, superb voice and instruments timbre. I'm really currios how the NAD would sound in your sistem since I've heard a lot of good things about the Turnberry SE and probably it would be a nice match.
Sorry I don't know much about the filters. They do change the sound slightly and Berkeley recommends leaving it on filter 1. Not sure whether 16 or 24-bit. IIRC 24-bit sounds a little bigger, maybe a little more open, but less focused. It's best to try and decide which one you like best, but the filters do not change the character of the DAC.
The NAD M51 looks very interesting. Seems there are lots and lots of good DACs out there these days. I am currently borrowing a PWD Mk2 from a friend and it is really good indeed. Quite relaxed, very refined, and easy on the ears, but really detailed and really solid, stable, deep imaging as well. I think my modified Havana (now with Duelund CAST PIO-Cu output caps) has more natural and complex timbre and harmonics -- it is truly fantastic in that regard -- but the PWD really digs out the inner details cleanly while managing to be smoooooth and soothing. I think it does give the BADA 2 a run for its money, though I would still pick the latter. Feature-wise the PWD Mk2 is awesome.
I have owned in the past the original BelCanto dac 3, and then all of the upgrades to to it, now I have a Belcanto Dac 3.5 VBS mk 2 . I can tell you that the new low phase noise clocks they are now using are incredible. The best digital that I have heard. I have not however, heard the Berkeley, but I have heard some very expensive digital from wadia, Audio Research and Air that to my ear is not as good.