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Just announced: Berkeley Alpha USB Interface

KEF R Series

Just got this from Berkeley Audio:

The Alpha USB computer interface has now been announced and has a retail price of $1,695. Please contact your Berkeley Audio Design dealer for more information. We will have information about the Alpha USB on our Website in about a week.

Order in!

[Update]

Somehow, I missed the announcement over at Computer Audiophile on Monday. Unlike Chris, they actually told me to wait for the official release (Wednesday) before posting anything. LOL.

He has pics, too, which I’ll temporarily repost (hope that’s okay, Chris):

The official word is that the Berkeley folks are in fact licensing the Streamlength code from Gordon Rankin’s Wavelength company. This is interesting, as they had originally indicated that they would be doing a ground-up build of their own code, much like what the Sonicweld folks did for their Diverter. It also raises a question as to the performance of this unit as compared to the Wavelink unit that Gordon has been selling for quite a while now. Both units support 24bit/192kHz file playback, both use the same async code, both have outputs that are galvanically isolated from the input. But the Wavelink is $900 and the Berkeley is $1700. What gives?

Well, the for the additional $800, you get a second output and a “better” power supply. According to the press release that CA republished:

The USB receiver and processing are powered by the computer, while the output master clocks and line drivers are powered by a separate linear power supply.

This is very interesting. According to the Wavelink’s designer, this shouldn’t be necessary. Apparently, the Berkeley folks disagree. Such is the nature of the audio high-end.

Additionally, you get an AES/EBU output interface. Historically, this has been the preferred and manufacturer recommended interface to use on the Alpha. Again, opinions differ widely on whether the AES interface will under-perform the BNC-connector S/PDIF interfaces favored by Wavelength and my own reference, the Redbook-only Legato from Analog Research Technologies. At least with the Berkeley device, the choice is up to the user; the Legato and Wavelink are single-output-only converters.

I suppose the only way to tell whose cuisine reigns supreme will be to test them side by side.

Well, I’m not waiting. I have my order in for the Alpha interface, possibly-excessive extra costs and all. We’ll see what shows up in April/May.

About Scot Hull (998 Articles)
Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.