Berkeley Audio Design, LLC was founded by alumni of Pacific Microsonics, Inc., developer of the HDCD process and the Pacific Microsonics Model One and Model Two, widely considered to be the highest quality professional ADC and DAC ever produced. Michael “Pflash” Pflaumer, co-founder of Pacific Microsonics and co-inventor of the HDCD process, was co-architect/lead engineer and produced all of the digital algorithms for the Model One and Two. Michael Ritter, co-founder and business leader of Pacific Microsonics, has extensive experience in audio engineering, facilities design and product development.
In the process of developing the Model One and Two they became familiar with the amazing fidelity of Model One and Two master recordings, especially 24-bit recordings made at the Model Two’s native sampling rates of 176.4kHz and 192kHz. They realized that few outside of Model One and Two users in the recording industry would ever hear music reproduced with that level of detail, ease and verisimilitude—a level of fidelity they felt was “closer to the microphone feed” than even first generation open-reel analog tapes. To their ears it was a new paradigm of audio fidelity.
Berkeley Audio Design was formed with the goal of making that level of fidelity available to music lovers and audiophiles everywhere. The new Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series 2 MQA, the original Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series, the Alpha DAC Series 2 and the Alpha USB are major achievements towards that goal.
High resolution 88.2kHz to 192kHz, non-DRM recordings are available on optical disk and by download from labels such as Reference Recordings' HRx and others that are identical to the original 24-bit masters.
Berkeley's Alpha DAC Reference redefines what we can expect from digital playback. The Reference is simply stunning in its ability to render instruments as real-sounding objects in three-dimensional space. This startling -and I mean startling- quality is made possible not just by the Reference's spatial precision, but also by the timbral vividness and extraordinarily high resolution of the tiniest micro-details. What's more, the Reference performs this magic trick on all instruments simultaneously, even in the most dense and complex passages. This unprecedented (for digital) quality allowed me to easily follow individual musical lines in a way I never thought possible from digital. The build-quality is many steps up from the original Alpha DAC, including a chassis milled from a solid aluminum block. The Alpha DAC Reference is an unqualified triumph.
Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound, September 2014
For more information on Berkeley Audio Design, check out the following reviews:
Computer Audiophile Review of the Berkeley Alpha DAC | December 2008
Absolute Sound Review of the Berkeley Alpha DAC | March 2009
Absolute Sound Review of the Berkeley Alpha DAC Series 2 | January 2012
Computer Audiophile Review of the Berkeley Alpha USB | March 2012
End-User Shoot-Out of the Berkeley Alpha USB | March 2013
Visit the Berkeley Audio Design Website