Benchmark DAC1: (see my system showcase for a pic)
9.5" wide by 8.5" deep
2 headphone jacks with level adjustment
Ruler flat freq response from 10Hz to 42kHz
Inputs: Toslink, Coax BNC or RCA, AES/EBU
Outputs: AES/EBU, RCA
Where to begin? I really tried to resist the urge to post this review so soon, wanting to lend more credibility to this, but what
I was hearing compelled me to get the message out---as quickly as possible.
Break-in? Yeah right, I have no mercy on new products, this one got about 25 minutes of run time, thats it. And frankly, if it will get better with time, then bury me in bliss.
I have my CEC CD-3300 CDP connected to the DAC1 via an AES/EBU, 2ft cable from Signal Cable. The DAC is then connected to my MF A3CR via a pair of AQ Copperheads. See my sig for all associated pieces.
I did my initial listening with a mixture of music; Incubus, Morning View; Blue Man Group, The Complex; Kenny Chesney, Greatest Hits; Carpenters, The Singles 1969-1973; and Alter Bridge, One Day Remains.
The first thing that struck me with Incubus, was the how everything sounded completely sorted out. Midrange was pushed back down to the midrange cone, highs left for the tweeter, and bass.......just unbeliveable. The cymbals displayed a 3 dimensional character that sounded like they were literally spread by a fine thread from the front of the speaker, to about 18" behind it. Spooky, real. You could hear the character of the wood stick striking the brass cymbal surface, uncanny.
Blue Man Group reproduce percussion that would knock the fuc*ing wind out of you. Punchy, controlled, slamming bass. Utterly incredible. The louder I cranked it, the better and more real it sounded.
Carpenters allowed me to hear the texture of Karen Carpenters voice like I've never heard it before. Velvety, no longer nasal, just natural and smooth.
Kenny Chesney is a 20bit HDCD, and although this DAC doesn't decode HDCD, it doesn't need to. Again, midrange was just fantastic. Vocals so real it sounds like he's singing in the family room---just the right amount of weight.
Altar Bridges' driving rythm guitars and deep bass lines were rendered cleanly, with just the right amount of presence. Again the punchy solid bass energizes the room's natural resonance and gives a live feel to the music. Vocals sound far less edgy when compared to playback on the CEC using its Burr-Brown DAC's.
- Sound, specifications, and build quality
- 3 selectable digital inputs
- AES/EBU inputs/outputs
- Built-in headphone amplifier w/2 jacks
- Ability to use any digital source, regardless of jitter
- Can be used as a preamplifier and/or dedicated DAC
- No power switch
- LED's are bright to the point of being distracting
Want to save alot of money on your digital front end, and have DAC that has been compared to (and regarded as highly as) multi-thousand dollar products? I won't go into this DAC's ability to negate jitter, you can research that, simply type "benchmark DAC1" in Yahoo or visit the Benchmark website.
Sound quality is extremely non-fatiquing, crystalline, and free of any signs of digital harshness or glare. Bass is the best I've heard out of any digital source; deep, controlled, punchy. This DAC just organizes music in such a way that everything is easily identifiable to it's location, with an absolutely black background. Extremely dynamic with very good low-level resolution as well. Air, imaging and soundstaging are phenominal. This product is a genuine "Giant Killer."