Berkeley Reference 3 Arrives

  • 2 min read

Just look at these awards!  

Berkeley Audio has been a cutting-edge digital manufacturer for well over a decade now and Pearl Audio is one of their oldest dealers. The performance of the Berkeley DAC speaks for itself. We became a dealer after hearing Magico paired with Berkeley at shows and in manufacturers' listening rooms. We started with the original Alpha DAC 1, then Alpha DAC 2, then the Reference Series which is now in its third and best iteration.  

Robert Harley, who wrote The Complete Guide to High End Audio and serves as the Editor of The Absolute Sound, reviewed the Series 3:

“The Series 3 extends the Alpha DAC Reference’s status as the ne plus ultra in digital decoding, and will remain at the front end of my reference system....The Series 3’s deeper bass, wider dynamic expression, superior bottom-end articulation and textural resolution, and enhanced top-end openness are clearly major advances....With less accomplished DACs, it sounds as if a whole layer of very low-level information has gone missing.”

         —Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound, October 2019

Full text: The Absolute Sound Review of The Berkeley Alpha Referece Series 3.

Robert Harley also runs Magico speakers in his home reference system - the Q7 and M6. Magico loudspeakers have such low distortion that you hear everything as if under a magnifying glass - the smallest details come through. This means that there's no place to hide should your DAC have even the slightest haze of electrical noise. This environment is also where the Berkeley DAC will shine and reward with more resolution, more communication, and more involvement in given musical piece. Put on Lady Gaga and she's not just a superstar, she's a GREAT singer with tremendous nuance in timing, phrasing and expression. Her albums are like layers that you can listen to for little bits of musical magic. Love Lady Gaga!

The Alpha Reference 3 has been here for week so it's not fully broken in but already it's sending chills of amazement through us as we listen to it with our new Magico M2 loudspeakers and the Aurender W20SE. The digital sound transcends in terms of low level detail and sheer realism. It's a little spooky to be honest - you think the singer is actually sitting in front of you. I've clapped - I admit it.

Some specifications:

• PCM audio from 32kHz to 192kHz
• MQA Rendering audio quality to 384kHz and above
• Ultra-low phase noise conversion clocking
• Ultra-low distortion variable output attenuator
• Outputs can connect directly to power amplifiers

Battery powered music servers like the Aurender W20SE are the way to go. Battery mode playback is much much quieter. You see hints of this when simply unplugging the battery connector on a laptop, but add in the extra resolution of a flagship music server and it's an even more pronounced effect.


John, Russ, Connor & Tara.