Worlds best DAC

Went to CES this year to work on my transition to high Rez digital. I've heard many of the highly regarded players in my room or in others systems in the past. I'm actually very happy with my current cd based sound. As I listened to various DACS playing CD then high Rez, I was not bowled over. High rez was better, but only slightly so. The best (and most different) sound I heard happened to have one similarity. They were 2 non oversampling DACS with tube analog stages(Zanden and Ypsilon). These were without question the most natural sounding digital systems I heard at the show. They made CDsound miles ahead of high Rez. What gives?

PS: I understand the limitations of show auditions.
"I heard that the Trinty Dac costs $52K!"

Just for comparison, that's almost 132X as much as I payed for my mhdt Constantine, which I am very satisfied with.

It had best sound really good! :^)
Berkeley Audio Design just announced their new Alpha DAC Reference. $14K.

Berkeley Audio Design is extremely pleased to announce the availability of the new Alpha DAC Reference Series.

The Alpha DAC Reference Series embodies everything we know about digital to analogue conversion taken to an unprecedented level – a level that requires new design concepts & new components at the edge of what is possible. The result is an immediacy and presence of music reproduction that is simply real.

We literally designed the Reference Series before is was possible to built it. Almost three years in development, the Alpha DAC Reference Series uses components designed to our specifications that were not commercially available. Several suppliers were not able to meet our requirements which delayed the release of the Reference Series by more than one year. But those obstacles were overcome and now the Alpha DAC Reference Series is a reality.

The presence & sonic reality of the Reference Series is the result of digital to analogue conversion at a new level of accuracy made possible by tremendous electrical & mechanical noise isolation coupled with extreme time domain stability. Ceramic circuit board materials are used in all critical areas and the enclosure is carefully engineered to minimize electrical noise while maximizing mechanical stability. The Reference Series weighs over 40 pounds and the entire enclosure is precision machined from a a solid billet of 6061 – T aluminum alloy.

A new high output, all metal IR remote control with direct input source selection is provided with the Reference Series.

Careful consideration was given to providing the highest possible reproduction of DSD files by the Alpha DAC Reference Series. 99% of modern DAC’s, including the Alpha Reference Series use mult-bit D/A converters because they provide better performance than 1-bit converters – even those who advertise “native” DSD compatibility. So, at some point, the 1-bit DSD stream must be converted to multi-bit for all of those DAC’s.

We could, like many other manufacturers, convert 1-bit DSD to multi-bit within the Alpha DAC Reference Series and show “DSD” in the front panel display. That would be the easiest approach from a marketing perspective. But that would also mean increasing the amount of processing in the DAC during playback which would degrade audio quality, and audio quality is the reason the Alpha Reference Series exists.

Fortunately, virtually all reproduction of DSD files using external DAC’s occurs with a computer based music server as the source. If the 1-bit DSD to multi-bit conversion is done first in the computer it can be performed with extremely high precision and superior filtering that preserves all of the content of the DSD file. Computer DSD to multi-bit conversion can be at least as good as that performed in a DAC and without adding processing noise near or in the D/A converter chip. Another advantage of computer based DSD to PCM conversion is that if higher performance DSD versions such as DSD 4x appear in the future they can easily be supported with a software upgrade.

For all of those reasons, DSD capability for the Alpha DAC Reference Series is provided by an included state of the art software application that provides either real time conversion of DSD 1x and DSD 2x to 176.4 kHz 24 bit PCM during playback or conversion to 176.4 kHz 24 bit AIFF or WAV files. The software application is included in the price of the Alpha DAC Reference Series and is compatible with either Windows OS or Mac OS based music servers.

The Alpha DAC Reference Series supports 32 kHz to 192 kHz 24-bit PCM through four input; Balanced AES, Coaxial SPDIF 1, Coaxial SPDIF 2 and Toslink Optical. Independent, single-ended and true balanced analogue outputs are provided. Dimensions are 17.5 inches Wide X 12.5 inches Deep X 3.5 inches High.
state of the art software application that provides either real time conversion of DSD 1x and DSD 2x to 176.4 kHz 24 bit PCM during playback or conversion to 176.4 kHz 24 bit AIFF or WAV files.

OK, that's pretty surprising but definitely interesting.