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Thread: Benchmark DAC-1

  1. #1

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    Default Benchmark DAC-1

    I need help. I am currently using a Parasound model 2100 preamp. I was told that the Benchmark DAC-1 can also act as a preamp. I noticed that there are no Tone Controls on the Benchmark though. So will I be getting a flat tone all the time if I use the Benchmark DAC-1 as a preamp? And if I do decide to use this as my preamp, how will I connect it to my Cambridge 740C and my Parasound 2250 amp? OR, can I still choose to use my model 2100 preamp? Meaning connecting the DAC-1 to my 740C only? And set the back of the DAC-1 to fixed instead of variable? On the back of the Benchmark DAC-1 are L and R pots for what? Are they to be used when the setting is variable? I think the DAC used by Benchmark for the DAC-1 is made by Analog Devices so are they better compared to the two WM740 built inside the 740c? My post sounds so much like audio nervosa, it probably is but I appreciate any feedback if anyone has had any experience using the DAC-1 from Benchmark.

  2. #2

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    There are no tone controls on the BM, as there shouldn't be. Your 740C will connect digitally to 1 of the BM's inputs. Your amp will connect via the BM's RCA outputs. You'll need to switch the BM to preamp mode on the back. Leave the "pre-calibrated" pots alone---you need test equipment to adjust these. You'd be hard pressed to out-do the Benchmarks digital and analog sections.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  3. #3

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    Hey Steve. Thanks. The back of the Benchmark DAC-1 has a switch for preamp mode? Where is that? The only switch I see is the one for fixed vs. variable. Also, I am sort of like a Tone freak and I know I shouldn't be. But I really think that the sound coming from the DAC-1 will be phenomenal. Even though it will essentially deliver a flat tone, the "noise" and so called distortion will be less, right? I would need to buy a Toslink cable from the Benchmark site. The guy I spoke with from their offices said that all their cables are studio quality. And they are not that expensive. Also, will you categorize the sound from the DAC-1 "warmer" or "articulate"?

  4. #4

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    Switch it to variable, this allows "preamp mode" and use of the volume control on the output jacks. The BM is extremely low distortion, and if you have decent speakers, you won't need tone controls. This is a studio piece of gear, it's intended for absolute neutrality, and telling it like it is.

    You don't have to use Toslink if your CDP has a coaxial digital output.

    What speakers are you running? Once you get used to NOT using tone controls, you'll never go back. With a system as nice as yours, it's time to ditch the bass/treble knob and hear the music the way it was recorded.
    Last edited by steveinaz; 06-12-2013 at 10:17 AM.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

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    Good Afternoon Steve. The back of the CDP has both Toslink and SP/DIF outputs. My speakers are Polk RTiA7's. Are these considered decent speakers? They are bi-wired using 8TC's from Kimber. Would you suggest retaining the Parasound preamp 2100 and just using the BM DAC-1 as an external DAC? Maybe I'll try both. But I would like to get away from the Tone Controls eventually. It induces listener fatigue, I know.
    BTW, your gear is the bitchin' one. Thanks for all your help.

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    I personally would just use the BM as my preamp/DAC. The RtiA7's are nice. SPDIF (coax) would be the optimal way to go from your CD player.

    Blue jeans cables makes very nice/inexpensive digital coaxial cables. I use their Belden 1694.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

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    Steve. You got it! I'll be purchasing my first Benchmark DAC in 2 mos.
    Let's keep in touch. What kind of music do you listen to?

  8. #8

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    Abba to Zepplin...LOL, enjoy the Benchmark, it's an excellent piece IMO; I've been running one for 9 years.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  9. #9

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    Abba and Zeppelin are both classics.
    Thank You so much for your encouraging support on the BM. I know that I will not suffer from buyer's remorse, like I usually do.

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