The Alpha USB
The Alpha USB is an asynchronous High Speed USB to digital audio interface that extracts the highest possible audio quality from computer audio sources.
The Alpha USB features a High Speed USB 2.0 input data connection and switch selected audio output signal type – either coaxial SPDIF using a BNC connector or balanced AES using an XLR connector. Sampling rates up to 192 kHz and word lengths up to 24 bit are supported.
Great care was taken in the design of the Alpha USB to isolate the noisy computer/USB environment from the digital audio output. The USB receiver and processing are powered by the computer, while the output master clocks and line drivers are powered by a separate isolated linear power supply.
Two key factors combine to achieve the excellent audio performance of the Alpha USB – the unprecedented degree of electrical isolation between the USB input connection and the audio output and the very low noise/low jitter performance of the individually tested audio output master clocks.
The Alpha USB is designed to work with both Apple Macintosh and Windows PC computers. Apple Macintosh computers using Snow Leopard or later operating systems have a High Speed USB Audio Driver that interfaces directly with the Alpha USB. It is not necessary to install a special driver. Microsoft Windows PC’s require the included Alpha USB Windows driver which works with Windows XP, Vista and 7.
“I’ll have a lot more to say about this extraordinary new product in my review next issue, but for now you should know that Berkeley’s Alpha DAC Reference redefines what we can expect from digital playback. The Reference is simply stunning in its ability to render instruments as real-sounding objects in three-dimensional space. This startling -and I mean startling- quality is made possible not just by the Reference’s spatial precision, but also by the timbral vividness and extraordinarily high resolution of the tiniest micro-details. What’s more, the Reference performs this magic trick on all instruments simultaneously, even in the most dense and complex passages. This unprecedented (for digital) quality allowed me to easily follow individual musical lines in a way I never thought possible from digital. The build-quality is many steps up from the original Alpha DAC, including a chassis milled from a solid aluminum block. The Alpha DAC Reference is an unqualified triumph. (Review forthcoming)
– Comment by Robert Harley on the 2014 Golden Ear Award the Alpha DAC Reference Series received in the September 2014 issue of The Absolute Sound
A User’s Guide, Windows driver CD and 6’ power cord are included with the Alpha USB.
CONTROLS & INDICATORS
- Output Select: switch selects SPDIF or AES type outputs
- Status LED: Green indicates USB Lock, Amber indicates Standby
- Input: High Speed USB 2.0 asynchronous connection – type B receptacle
- Outputs: switch selectable, coaxial SPDIF – BNC, 75Ω or balanced AES type – XLR, 110Ω
- Supported sampling rates: 44.1kHz to 192kHz
- Supported word lengths: up to 24-bit
- Supported operating systems: Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows
- Enclosure dimensions: 2.3”H X 10.5”W x 5”D, 2.55”H including feet
- Mains power: 100/120/240VAC, 50/60Hz, IEC power input connector
- Power consumption: 3W, designed for continuous operation