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  1. #1

    Berkeley DAC / The higher the output level the better the sound ?

    Dear All,

    as a happy user of the Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC, I am currently struggeling with my hearing impressions at different output levels.

    The BADA is connected to a Pre-Amp (not too bad gear) and I was used to setting the output level to 54 as recommended by the manual. Now, I accidentially left it at full throttle (level 60) and I could swear that is sounds better. Of course I adjusted the volume of the Pre-amp. Knowing that this never can be a perfect calibration, even at different volume levels, the level 60 position is noticably better.

    How can that be ? Has anyone made the same observations ? I am just confused as to whether I am just hearing things ? Why is the company's recommendation 54 ? Am I doing harm to the BADA if I constantly let it play at full output level ?

    Thanks for sharing some ideas and own observations with me...
    Cheers
    Christian
    Equipment: Macbook Pro / Amarra, Pure Vinyl / DAC: Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC / Pre: Classé SSP 300 / Amps: Antique Sound Lab Hurricane (Tube-Monos) / Speakers: ELAC FS 609 XPi / Cables: Sun Wire Reference , HMS Gran Finale Jubilee, Audience Powercord / Power: PS Audio Power Plant P5

  2. #2

    Spacecowboy,

    The harm may be to the receiving end of things and not the DAC. Remember that unit is also a preamp and that may have something to do with the setting. You need to do the a/b test at the same volume as any increase in DB can be mistaken as a slight sound improvement. For example things may have a bit more bass and so on.

    Jesus R
    www.sonore.us
    SONORE computer audio - Rendu | microRendu | Sonicorbiter SE

  3. #3

    I owned the Berkeley for over

    I owned the Berkeley for over a year and several times ran it at a 60 (max) output level with no issues. If it sounds best to your ears at that level than I don't see what the harm would be. I know from talking to Berkeley that other users have reported a similar finding. BTW, have you tried bypassing your pre-amp and going direct from the Berkeley to your amps?
    Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

  4. #4

    Thanks guys...

    Now I feel better, it seems that my ears are not fooling me completely...

    Does bypassing the Pre really bring a lot ? I would need additional XLS cables and would only go for that investment if the outcome is at least significant.

    What are your experiences in bypassing the Pre ?

    Cheers
    Christian
    Equipment: Macbook Pro / Amarra, Pure Vinyl / DAC: Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC / Pre: Classé SSP 300 / Amps: Antique Sound Lab Hurricane (Tube-Monos) / Speakers: ELAC FS 609 XPi / Cables: Sun Wire Reference , HMS Gran Finale Jubilee, Audience Powercord / Power: PS Audio Power Plant P5

  5. #5

    Generalizing won't be helpful

    It all depends on the quality of your existing pre, and it's configuration. And your amplifier setup, as regards inputs, for example.

    Experimentation might be the order of the day- just try it.

    Your Classe preamp appears to be a AV/HT oriented unit, surround sound and all, DD inputs, etc. Often these units don't have quite the level of transparency as a dedicated two channel unit; I think this is due in part to the volume control chips they use, which even for the more expensive TI/BB versions are not an ideal solution- one reason Ayre has implemented their own custom solutions, for example. Classe may have, too. But Ayre doesn't do surround preamps. If you can try it out without too much expense, perhaps even borrowing a needed cable from a dealer, I'd consider that.

    I have an Ayre preamp which is fully balanced internally, driving balanced inputs on Ayre power amp. The BADA works in that mode, and frankly whether it's worth it or not depends as much on what other inputs one has in the system and whether the Ayre K5 is fully up to date in configuration, or if it's an early release model with no updates.

    The BADA drives balanced nicely, and soon it's going into a secondary system at home where it will be used without a preamp- the functionality is fine standalone, and as can often be the case, sometimes less is more- there are certainly some Preamps I've owned previously and that were pretty good in their day that would only degrade the output from the Alpha DAC. In fact, I'd be careful about any preamp after the BADA, just as I would the power amp.

    Like many things in life, it just depends on the overall circumstances, what other source units, you have, etc.

  6. #6
    Disruptive Audio_ELF's Avatar
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    Bypassing pre-amp...

    Christian,

    Maybe you're system is not located in a way this is possible, but can you not unplug the cables from the output of your SSP300 and put them into the outputs of your Berkerley instead - no extra cables needed at least for testing.

    Of course long term you end up with a less usable system as you have to move cables around depending if you are using the SSP300 or the Berkerley DAC.

    Eloise
    Eloise
    ---
    ...in my opinion / experience...
    While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.
    And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.
    keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

  7. #7

    Bypassing the preamp

    Bypassing the preamp is the way to go, unless you like the color your particular preamp adds.

    I started with the BADA running to a BAT VK-51SE tube preamp, but eventually preferred just driving my tube monos directly with the Berekeley, via long run XLRs, and am happy as can be now, sold the BAT long ago. The tube monos are a nice complement to the very articulate signal coming from the dac.

    /LM


  8. #8

    OK...convinced ;-)

    Dear All,

    thanks for all the helpful comments :-)

    I guess going direct is the way to go...but I want to retain my AV-Preamp in order to be able to create a "virtual" surround even from my stereo music (particularly classical recordings), which is very nice from time to time (although not really "high end").

    As the Classè Amp allows for both RCA and XLR I could do both ways.

    Will test this after returning from my vacation in the States :-)

    Thanks again and I will give an update after test.

    Cheers
    Christian
    Equipment: Macbook Pro / Amarra, Pure Vinyl / DAC: Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC / Pre: Classé SSP 300 / Amps: Antique Sound Lab Hurricane (Tube-Monos) / Speakers: ELAC FS 609 XPi / Cables: Sun Wire Reference , HMS Gran Finale Jubilee, Audience Powercord / Power: PS Audio Power Plant P5