Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Series 2

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“A great DAC gets even better. Few products in my experience as a reviewer have offered as much value as the Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC Series 2.” – Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound

The Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC is arguably the best and most versatile DAC available at any price in high end audio.  If you are in the market for an outboard Digital to Analog Converter, the Alpha DAC should be at the top of your list!

berkeleydacblack_480_01Black finish also available


“The original Alpha DAC was a groundbreaking product, both in absolute performance and in its spectacular value. The Alpha DAC Series 2 is considerably better, and in musically significant ways. Berkeley Audio Design could have called the Series 2 a “Signature” edition, or even created a new model designation and commanded a higher price. That they improved the product so much yet kept the price the same says a lot about the company. The Alpha DAC Series 2 would have received my highest recommendation had it cost $15,000. Yes, it sounds that good. That it sells for $4995 qualifies as a minor miracle.
- Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound, November 2011 (read the review)

“The Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC is the best-sounding outboard digital-to-analog converter I’ve heard. The fact that is decodes high-resolution sources of any sampling rate is icing on the cake… The real story is that this performance and functionality is possible at $4,995… The Alpha DAC competes and outperforms much more expensive converters. At $5k, the Alpha DAC is a spectacular bargain. It is my outboard converter of choice for both CD and high-resolution sources, regardless of price.”
 - Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound, Issue #189

“There is a very valid reason why Berkeley Audio Design is selling Alpha DACs as fast as it can produce them. The Alpha DAC is simply stunning. The Berkeley Audio Design team is one of the most respected in the industry. They have succeeded in their goal of making a very high level of fidelity available to music lovers everywhere… At $5,000 the Alpha DAC is a high-end audio bargain. This level of quality and features could honestly sell for twice or three times the price. Every Alpha DAC owner and audiophile I’ve talked to who has heard the DAC has been very impressed. In a recent DAC shootout for the Bay Area Audio Society the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC took first place hands down. I would not be surprised to see the Alpha DAC ascend to the top of many lists and receive much deserved accolades in the weeks and months ahead. Whether I’m using Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows the Alpha DAC from Berkeley Audio Design is my reference DAC for the foreseeable future.”
 - Chris Connaker,



The Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC Series 2 looks and operates identically to the original; the difference is purely in parts and the circuit refinements Berkeley discovered in the three years since the original’s launch. These include new clocking circuits and increased isolation between the digital and analog sections. Units that were shipped from Berkeley after June, 2011 can be upgraded to Series 2 for $350 plus shipping.

Berkeley Audio Design, LLC was founded by three 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.

René Jaeger, prior to his work at Pacific Microsonics, pioneered audio designs at many firms including Lexicon, DBX and Grass Valley Group.

Michael “Pflash” Pflaumer, co-founder of Pacific Microsonics and co-inventor of the HDCD process, produced all of the digital algorithms used in 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 Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC is the first achievement towards that goal.

High resolution 88.2kHz to 192kHz, non-DRM recordings are now 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.


Product Highlights

  • The Alpha DAC Series 2 employs new clocking and isolation technologies that provide enhanced imaging precision,timbral purity and resolution.
  • Highest audio quality DAC
  • All distortion products below one part per million
  • Unequalled interpolation technology up-samples 44.1kHz CD’s to almost 176.4kHz quality and provides superb fidelity at all sampling rates from 32kHz to 192kHz
  • IR remote control of all functions including volume and balance allows direct connection to power amplifiers
  • Advanced input signal jitter rejection
  • BADA encrypted input allows future support of HDMI and other DRM formats
  • Designed by Pacific Microsonics Model One and Two design team

Controls & Indicators

  • Input selects AES, SPDIF, Toslink or BADA inputs
  • Lock LED indicates input signal lock
  • HDCD LED indicates HDCD code detected
  • Phase sets absolute phase
  • Invert LED indicates absolute phase inverted
  • 3 digit LED display of Stereo/L/R attenuation, Sampling Rate and Filter type
  • ± controls set attenuation level and select Filter type
  • Mode selects Stereo/L/R attenuation, Sampling Rate and Filter type display modes
  • Dim selects multiple display brightness levels


  • Input sampling rate: 32kHz to 192kHz
  • Input word length: 24-bit
  • Two channel analog stereo outputs: XLR balanced and RCA unbalanced
  • Digital Inputs: AES – Single XLR 110Ω, SPDIF – BNC 75Ω, Toslink – Optical, BADA encrypted – RJ-45
  • HDCD decoding detects 16-bit flag at 44.1kHz or 24-bit flag at all sampling rates
  • Multiple digital filter options
  • Multiple units can be combined for multi-channel/surround reproduction
  • Balanced analog output level: +18dBu maximum, +12dBu or lower recommended
  • Unbalanced analog output level: 3.25Vrms maximum, 2Vrms or lower recommended
  • Digital attenuation and balance control: 0.1dB/step with .05dB/step trim, 60dB range
  • Frequency response at ≥ 88.2kHz sampling rates: ± 0.1dB from < 0.1Hz to 35 kHz, – 3dB at 59kHz for 176.4kHz and 192kHz sampling rates
  • Distortion at recommended levels: all products ≤ -120dBFS
  • THD+N at maximum level: < -110dBFS
  • Firmware field upgradeable through signal inputs
  • Enclosure dimensions: 1.75″H X 16.5″W x 10.4″D, 19″ rack mount option
  • Mains voltage: 100/120/240VAC, 50/60Hz
  • Power consumption: 25W