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pga

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  1. Great review Chris. David Wilson is THE guy that in the early 1990s provided proof of concept that cone drivers can perform on par or beyond what was possible with esoteric designs (Apogee, Infinity IRS, Quad, Magnapan, Acoustat, Martin Logan). Back then Peter McGrath was the owner of Sound Components. I was no longer a summer intern working for Peter, instead I was working in Wall Street and finally could afford to buy what I wanted. I had Quad 63s, Entec woofers, Spectral electronics and a Wadia DAC. That system sounded quite nice, until I heard one of the first pairs of TinyTots in Peter's store. This was a pair David had sent to Peter so he could take them on recording sessions. Somehow I convinced Peter to sell me the pair. I've never had electrostatics at home since. My first pair of TinyTotts had a merely OK paint job, an ugly foam grill, a nasty impedance dip that drove amplifiers crazy and a tendency to sound bright. Wilson had not yet developed the Puppy woofers, so I used my Entecs instead. But yet this was one of the very few speakers that could provide a detailed, delicate reproduction on par with a Quad 63, while killing the Quads with regards to dynamic range. The great thing about Wilson is they continually improve the product, but in a measured, prudent way, often offering owners opportunities to upgrade as newer versions come to market. Given your glowing review, I see the corporate culture at Wilson lives on, beyond Dave's time here on earth. Kudos to another great American company!
  2. Suggestions on your off topic, other than the original Sony, some DACs that I would consider historically important are of course the early Meridian, the Wadia 2000 (perhaps first DAC with custom digital filters, sounded good, measured poorly), any of the DACs using the Ultra Analogue chips (Levinson, Spectral made two outstanding DACs) and the pro DAC Apogee made (this was a bargain, better than almost anything at the time, they made a version for Cello).
  3. Not to belabor the point, of course engineers (or anyone else that is designing an audio product) should listen to what they produce as this is perhaps the most important test to verify that the product is performing as expected. Schiit seems like an engineering driven company that listens. That's the ideal combination. Specs can be very misleading. In the 1960s and 1970s there was a race to lower THD and increase watts. So much so that the FTC had to step in to dictate how power would be measured. We learned that some products with very low THD and high watts sounded pretty bad. It took a while to realize that stability with reactive impedance loads, IMD, robustness of the power supply all mattered as much as simply THD and watts. Maybe this was discovered by the public by listening, but if I had to guess, the engineers at McIntosh, Levinson and Krell had it figured out. The problem was that the marketing guys at other manufactures didn't care and they were happy to play the spec game. What do you think measures better, a Marantz tube product before the company was sold or a Japanese Marantz? I'm pretty sure the old stuff sounded better and it still sells for premium prices. Behind those tube amps was an incredible designer that was science based, Saul Marantz. You can find many others like him at AR, Pass, Levinson, Quad ... It's a long list. It also seems like when a new technology comes out the marketing priority is to out-spec the technology that preceded it. That clearly happened when transistors first came out. Another great example of this is when RedBook CD challenged the LP. What were the problems with LPs? Noise, frequency response and channel separation are three big ones. But with a CD it's easy to have great specs for all these. Yet early RedBook CD sounded really bad compared to a great turntable. Why? Because in the new technology things like jitter and digital artifacts were more important. Meridian was one of the first companies to develop consumer products that addressed this. Did the engineers at Sony and Phillips that developed CDs understand jitter and digital artifacts? I'm guessing they did, but the marketing guys were fighting another battle which was how do we quickly show that a CD is better than a cassette or LP.
  4. One slightly off topic point worth mentioning is how much of an engineering company Bryston and Benchmark truly are, and how important this is. I’m less familiar with Schiit and Cambridge, but I suspect that is also true there. There is no substitute for great engineering. The guy that bought my Centaur monos took a listen on my system when it was just two ABH2s in mono. He was surprised at how good they sounded. I’m just glad he didn’t change his mind on purchasing the Constellation amps. But what surprised him the most is that I had taken out all the audiophile cables and at the time had all Bryston interconnect and speaker cables. Guess what, Bryston makes great cables, sound great and are built amazingly well. I needed a bunch of new cables for the biamp system, so I switched to Benchmark cables. These are also excellent. Both companies simply use great parts and quality manufacturing to put these together. One lesson I learned is don’t try to fix a room response problem with cables or subtle differences between electronics, the only real way to fix this is either with a new room or EQ. The other lesson I learned is to avoid audio equipment made by companies that emphasize marketing over engineering. At best you will end up gorgeous, expensive equipment that sounds as good as it looks (like Constellation), at worst you end up with stuff that’s just overpriced.
  5. Great review Josh. I haven’t had a Bryston in my system since the 1990s, so I surely cannot say much about the current 4Bs. That said, I’m quite happy with my ABH2s, that replaced a pair of Centaur mono amps. I found the ABH2s to be more transparent and yet more musical. That was with two ABH2s in mono. In my set up with TAD R1s the Benchmarks had plenty of bass slam and dynamics, every bit the equal of the 8x cost Centaur mono. Since then my system evolved to 4 ABH2s in a hybrid biamp using a Pass XVR1 to divide the signal between the woofers and the coax in the TADs. The low pass in the TAD for the woofers is bypassed as this LPF is now handled by the XVR1. The high pass for the coax in the TADs in still in use but an additional active high pass pole is also employed using the XVR1. As a one time Electrical Engineer, biamping the TADs had been a long time ambition. I was very fortunate to get some invaluable input to set up to the crossover from Andrew Jones, if not the most talented then perhaps the nicest speakers designer in the business. Also layered on top of all this is a Mitch Barnett designed 60,000 tap convolution filter. With Andrew’s help, the “hot rod” TADs have an amazingly smooth response from below 20hz on up even without DSP, but then EQing the room properly takes the system to another level of performance in every respect. So how do 4 ABH2s all in mono, in a biamp system with the woofers directly connected to the amps sound? Well it’s easily the best system I’ve had at home. Four Constellation amps just made no sense from a cost, power or heat perspective. So that prompted me to look at the ABH2s. Interestingly Andrew Jones’s twin brother who is an Electrical Engineer, was involved in the design of the ABHs. I’m sure two Brystons would also sound great, and have a similar price tag and power rating to 4 ABH2s. But I felt perhaps out of subconscious loyalty to the Jones’s twins that I should give the 4 ABH2s a try. In the end that was a good bet.
  6. I haven’t heard the Ref 3, but I have a Ref 2 MQA this is for sale. My Ref 2 was originally a Ref 1 and I had the factory upgrade it to a Ref 2. Then when MQA software came out, I installed that. I agree with Chris that there were improvements in each step. But they all do sound quite similar and are all excellent. As I understand from speaking with Berkeley, the Alpha 3 is quite close the Ref 3, and that unit sells for just under 11,000. They are no longer upgrading Ref DACs, which is unfortunate. I expect this is why the Ref 1 and Ref 2s are selling at lower prices than they did previously.
  7. View Classified Berkeley Reference Series 2 MQA Excellent condition Berkeley Reference Series 2 MQA. Factory upgraded Series 1. Excellent condition. DAC was operated using a universal remote, as such the Berkeley remote and DAC were hardly ever touched. I am the original owner. All original packaging and accessories are included. Seller pga Date 09/16/21 Price 6,950.00 USD Category Digital to Analog Converters  
  8. This listing is completed.

    • FOR SALE
    • USED

    Excellent condition Berkeley Reference Series 2 MQA. Factory upgraded Series 1. Excellent condition. DAC was operated using a universal remote, as such the Berkeley remote and DAC were hardly ever touched. I am the original owner. All original packaging and accessories are included.

    6,950.00 USD

  9. Recently hired Mitch to optimize my system. Intelligently applied DSP is the most important change to my system since I started with this hobby in the late 1970s while studying electrical engineering in college. Mitch ended up using Audiolense. We’re on the second set of filters, trying to dial in the “perfect” timbre for my taste. Over the years like most audiophiles I made many changes, most resulted in incremental Improvement, but this is the first true game changer in how my system sounds. Real science, measurable results, very talented, easy to work with remotely. What else can I say.
  10. I’m all for having an open mind and exploring different views, but there is a point where things become absurd, and this review in my view went well past that point. Glad to know Chis was not the author.
  11. Chris, I cannot agree more on how big the improvement was from the RS1 to the RS2, and now even further to the RS2 MQA. I have the same impression as if each instrument has its own track, amp and speaker. The separation, silence and blackness between instruments is almost eerie. The instruments just pop out into space as if they were in the room being played separately from the music you’re playing on your stereo. My RS2 is driving directly Constellation Centaur Monos and the digital setup is Roon and an Audio Alchemy DMP1 AES output. Every CD sounds different. Every instrument has its own color and texture. The level of detail and lack of digital artifacts is beyond anything I’ve listened to.
  12. The QNAP NAS is a TVS-682. It's in garage where I also have a Synology. The QNAP is the quieter of the two but not totally silent. The HP mini has a fan that is not totally silent but I barely hear it. Not sure if I mentioned it, but I do also have the upgraded Audio Alchemy power supply. The AES output of this setup on par with anything else I've heard so far. The Berkeley USB is an excellent unit but it does require extra steps and components to go from Ethernet data to USB then AES, versus a DMP-1 that's doing all this in one box. As you may know, the engineers at Audio Alchemy also are involved with Constellation Audio. The DMP-1 is a true bargain given the performance level.
  13. I sold my Berkeley USB to a friend when I got the Aurender W20 since that has an AES out that's pretty good, although perhaps not as good as a Berkeley USB. So I'm not able to directly compare the DMP-1 AES to a Berkeley USB AES. Also upgraded the DAC recently when I got the DMP-1. But regardless I can say the DMP-1 AES is superb with an RS2, and I'm not missing the Berkeley USB as I did miss it when I had the W20, but any comparison would be from memory. My first attempt at Roon was with it running on a 2008 Mac Pro. The user interface sold me, but that old computer is just too slow and I got occasional drop outs. The music, 240,000 tracks, is on a QNAP NAS. I now have an HP Elitedesk 800 G2 Mini i7 with Windows 10, a 256G SSD and 8G memory that only runs Roon. This little computer is amazingly fast and the 65 watt versions are on sale at very good prices. The performance is flawless, no dropouts or noises as far as I can tell, although occasionally I have to restart Roon. Hope this helps. Paul
  14. Been using the Audio Alchemy DMP-1 with Roon to go from Ethernet to AES with my recently updated RS2. Very impressed with the results as this is by far the best sound I've had in my home. That said, a Berkeley Ethernet Roon endpoint with AES out would surely be quite interesting.
  15. Still using the DMP-1 only with Roon. There have been a few firmware updates and also I have Roon now running on its own dedicated HP i7 8 GB, 256 GB SSD Windows 10 PC. The music is on a QNAP NAS. My library is very large with 250,000 tracks, so the i7 really helps with search times. The sound of the system gets better each day, but I don't know if this is attributed to the firmware or the new i7. On an old Mac Pro it would have occasional drop outs, but this is not the case with the i7. Also the transparency and total lack of digital glare is amazing. The TAD R1 is not a forgiving speaker, and until this point they always had a slightly edgy sound. The improvement versus the system with an Aurendet W20 and the first version of the Berkeley Reference DAC is quite large.
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