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Ten reasons to buy Benchmark DAC1 - Page 2

post #16 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teerawit
I think Distroyed already supported his opinion in his post.
He did. He owned it and the 0404. What do you guyz want? Off the top of my head, I can think of several head-fiers that were not that impressed with the DAC1 and a gaggle full that love it.

Myself, I thought it was an excellent source - very neutral, sharp, with extreme resolution. Overall, a vast improvement over the 1212m I owned at the same time. I have never heard a 0404. The biggest problem for me was the "accurate" bass (according to the literature included with the DAC1) which to me was lacking. Maybe my ears are too used to the euphoric variety.

My current stock 555es is close in articulation and better in dynamics and low end. But the highs are grainy and the sound isn't near as effortless.

The DAC1 is an excellent source IMO, but like anything in audio, you pick your poison and synergy desired in your system. That is more important than the individual accolades of one component. IMO
post #17 of 72
I personally think the 0404 vs DAC-1 comparison wasn't backed up with anything, saying he owned both doesn't really tell us what he thought of each besides one being 'better' than the other.

The 0404 has a bassy, musical sound signature with recessed highs, the DAC-1 has little bass, is quite cold and has an accent on the treble, I think both sources are really not comparable...

All this to say, if you couldn't hear a significant difference between the DAC-1 and a stock 0404 (both of which I currently own) then you should worry about your DAC-1, maybe send it to Benchmark and use that warranty...
post #18 of 72
I own a source that's way better sonically to my ears, and it's slightly less expensive, but it doesn't provide a built-in amp or preamp functionality and it's not transportable.
What makes the Benchmark unique are the combined features in one small case.
post #19 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmopragma
I own a source that's way better sonically to my ears, and it's slightly less expensive, but it doesn't provide a built-in amp or preamp functionality and it's not transportable.
What makes the Benchmark unique are the combined features in one small case.
What source do you have?
post #20 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teerawit
What source do you have?
I just wanted to post that a look at my profile might answer your question, but to my surprise there is no profile to speak of, even the birthday is not mine.Mysterious.
However, I really like the Aqvox USB 2 D/A , available only in central Europe.
post #21 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Distroyed
I'll be disagreeing with this post. I was very dissapointed with my Dac1; the sound quality was barely any better than my stock Emu 0404 with no amp with my Senn HD 650's. Indeed, my $100 Headsave Classic offers a larger % increase in sound quality than the Dac1. The XLR mod is horrible; it takes away from the Senn signature. People who like it probably shouldnt be using Senn's in the first place. The two headphone outputs share the same power source, meaning volume is halved. Not to mention, it's a poor amp to begin with. It doesnt come close to producing bass with the power the Senn's are capable. As for tweaking... I expect a product for a grand to not require tweaking to sound good - such isnt the case.

Of course, this is all my opinion. But that's the point. Almost everyone here raves about the quality of the Dac1; I think it should be known that there are those of us who dont feel it's worth the price and everyone who lauds it is exaggerating. I hope this frees the encumberance a number of people feel after browsing this forum; you might just find you dropped nearly a grand on a product you'll be reselling within a month. Certainly buy used to make sure (negating the last point of color, for a while anyway) if you must.
I have never owned EMU soundcards, but your post makes sense to me. With the advances in upsampling and D/A chips, good digital is becoming cheaper all the time. The differences between decent digital sources are pretty small IMHO. Yes, two sources might differ in imaging, bass impact, details, etc., but to my ears these differences are much smaller than switching from one reference headphone to another, for example from HD650 to DT880. For me the largest difference between sources is digititis that mars the harmonic richness and ambience in classical recording, and jazz to some extent. For rock/pop I probably would probbaly care more about the bass than the digititis. HD650 has a slightly veiling coloration to my ears but lots of warmth and smoothness, which might be a good cure of digititis by itself. When a reference headphone like HD650 is in place, the choice of upstream equipment IMHO is all about synergy with this headphone, synergy with respect to your ears and your music tatse. Although DAC1 is what I would call "good digital," only you can decide if it fits well into your system.

As for tweaking with the five different ways to output DAC1 unbalanced, I actually think it is tremendously useful. To strive for the last bit of refinement, some tweaking is always useful to achieve better system synergy. $5k tube amps can be tweaked by changing tubes, and many people love them for the tweakability. Quite often poeple are stuck with reference systems that are not tweakable and still wish to get a bit more of this and a bit less of that. They eventually resort to exotic cables and power cords, which are almost always ridiculously overpriced, to change the sound by 0.2% (YMMV). Tweakability is a good thing, IMHO.

BTW, I think lifting the safety ground is not really a tweak but a way to upgrade the sound. I recommend all DAC owners to try it because the adapter is so cheap. There is no real danger involved. DAC1 is a small current device. In fact, in some Asian countries like Taiwan there is no safety gound in the outlet. Living in Taiwan for twenty years, I have never heard anyone getting electric shocks using indoor appliances in a dry environment.
post #22 of 72
Very informative thread. Thanks.
post #23 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmopragma
A DAC1 and the SR225 is my favorite combo for hardrock.
I own gear that's way more refined than that, but who cares about "refined" when it comes to headbanging.
Nicely said! Finesse is the last thing you need to make things rock.
Grado cans are all about "fun" in an aggressive way.
I wish I had experienced the Grado sound earlier.
On the other hand, I listen mostly to classical, and therein timbre and ambience are golden.
Classical and rock are like two different worlds of music and IMHO it is best to find headphones and amps specialized for each.
post #24 of 72
For those of you claiming I didnt back my opinion up... you need to read more closely. I made a comparision to the analog out of my Emu 0404 and the Emu 0404 digital out --> Benchmark Dac1. There was not much of a difference imo between the unamped, analog signal of the Emu 0404 --> HD 650's vs. the digital out of the 0404 -> Dac1 -> HD650's (the balanced made a larger difference, but negatively). Im not comparing it to any $1000 cdp's; you're missing the point of my post. I made reference to the HS Classic, which adds, say, an additional 10% improvement to the sound imo, compared to the 5% improvement that the Dac1 offers. The former costs $100, the latter nearly 10x that price. My point isnt that it doesnt sound better (it does, if only slightly), but that it's not at all worth its price compared to other routes one could take to increase the sound quality for the money. That is, the Dac1 has reached that point where the audiophile habit becomes bad economics. Unless one is reaching for the last 2%, this is the wrong product to buy, and even then, I'm sure there are better products out there if money isnt an issue.

And so you know, there are other reviews out there (at other forums, at least; probably here as well) that share my opinion, who have the $1000+ cdp's by which to make the comparision you seem to think I was trying to make. Let google be your guide.
post #25 of 72
Ferbose,

Thanks for the write-up. IMO, you're doing some of the best work on Head-Fi these days - thoughtful, comprehensive reviews and comparisons presented with a modesty that lends considerable credibility to your opinions.

I was disappointed that my suggestion for a blind comparison of the modded vs un-modded DAC1 didn't come off in the busy SoCal meet. I would very much like to hear your opinion if you manage to get together with Brian to compare units.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferbose
BTW, I think lifting the safety ground is not really a tweak but a way to upgrade the sound. I recommend all DAC owners to try it because the adapter is so cheap.
In my setup I have an SACD player and the DAC1 connected to HeadRoom amp with dual inputs. And I've discovered that I need at least one of the three components to be grounded to avoid hum. The SACD player is a two-pronger. The HeadRoom has a grounded plug - and a ground-lift switch that eliminates the problem if I set it to "off" but the folks at HeadRoom suggest that this degrades the sound through the headphone outputs and is intended for when the unit is used as a preamp. So... that makes the DAC1 my system grounder. I'm not much of a techie; is there a way around this to see if I can hear the benefits of the DAC1 with ground lifted? FWIW, all components are plugged into an Adcom ACE-515 line conditioner.

Thanks much,
Beau
post #26 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beauregard
Ferbose,

Thanks for the write-up. IMO, you're doing some of the best work on Head-Fi these days - thoughtful, comprehensive reviews and comparisons presented with a modesty that lends considerable credibility to your opinions.
Thank you for kind words, Beau.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beauregard
I was disappointed that my suggestion for a blind comparison of the modded vs un-modded DAC1 didn't come off in the busy SoCal meet. I would very much like to hear your opinion if you manage to get together with Brian to compare units.
During the So-Cal meet I was invited to A/B between the two since I provided the stock DAC1 for comparison. I did not do it because I thought it be extremely difficult to pick up small differences in such an environment. A mini-meet would be a better way to do such comparison.

[
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beauregard
In my setup I have an SACD player and the DAC1 connected to HeadRoom amp with dual inputs. And I've discovered that I need at least one of the three components to be grounded to avoid hum. The SACD player is a two-pronger. The HeadRoom has a grounded plug - and a ground-lift switch that eliminates the problem if I set it to "off" but the folks at HeadRoom suggest that this degrades the sound through the headphone outputs and is intended for when the unit is used as a preamp. So... that makes the DAC1 my system grounder. I'm not much of a techie; is there a way around this to see if I can hear the benefits of the DAC1 with ground lifted? FWIW, all components are plugged into an Adcom ACE-515 line conditioner.
I am not an expert on grounding. I thought if you lift the ground of all the components you should not hear hum due to ground loop. Hum is usaully due to grounding the system at two different positions. One ground connection or no grounding at all should not cause ground loop. Is your SACD player connected to a dispaly device which is also grounded? Cable TV's coaxial cable is also connected to the ground outside the house. All kinds of coaxial cables connect the chasis gorund of the linked components, but a Toslink does not.
post #27 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Distroyed
For those of you claiming I didnt back my opinion up... you need to read more closely. I made a comparision to the analog out of my Emu 0404 and the Emu 0404 digital out --> Benchmark Dac1. There was not much of a difference imo between the unamped, analog signal of the Emu 0404 --> HD 650's vs. the digital out of the 0404 -> Dac1 -> HD650's (the balanced made a larger difference, but negatively). Im not comparing it to any $1000 cdp's; you're missing the point of my post. I made reference to the HS Classic, which adds, say, an additional 10% improvement to the sound imo, compared to the 5% improvement that the Dac1 offers. The former costs $100, the latter nearly 10x that price. My point isnt that it doesnt sound better (it does, if only slightly), but that it's not at all worth its price compared to other routes one could take to increase the sound quality for the money. That is, the Dac1 has reached that point where the audiophile habit becomes bad economics. Unless one is reaching for the last 2%, this is the wrong product to buy, and even then, I'm sure there are better products out there if money isnt an issue.

And so you know, there are other reviews out there (at other forums, at least; probably here as well) that share my opinion, who have the $1000+ cdp's by which to make the comparision you seem to think I was trying to make. Let google be your guide.

You're using a DAC that resamples up to 192KHz, I think its pretty normal theres not that much difference between analog and digital inputs, although IMO there is one, even if it is not as big a difference than listening to a stock emu 0404 vs DAC-1 each on its own.

Of course there are certainly better sources out there around the same price range, that is not something I doubt, but I think that in its price range, there is currently no better external DAC. CDPs is another matter, but then there are 3000USD+ CDP I've heard which don't sound as good as the DAC-1 imo.

Anyway, you should reread your previous post, because nowhere in it is a comparison between analog and digital, all I can see is

Quote:
Originally Posted by Distroyed
I was very dissapointed with my Dac1; the sound quality was barely any better than my stock Emu 0404 with no amp with my Senn HD 650's.
and such a comparison is IMO not very accurate.
post #28 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmopragma
I just wanted to post that a look at my profile might answer your question, but to my surprise there is no profile to speak of, even the birthday is not mine.Mysterious.
However, I really like the Aqvox USB 2 D/A , available only in central Europe.
Off Topic-Go into your profile and try to edit it...if you still have a problem, let me know.
post #29 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferbose
... During the So-Cal meet I was invited to A/B between the two since I provided the stock DAC1 for comparison. I did not do it because I thought it be extremely difficult to pick up small differences in such an environment. ...
... which further confirms my admiration for the way you approach this hobby!

Quote:
... I thought if you lift the ground of all the components you should not hear hum due to ground loop. Hum is usaully due to grounding the system at two different positions. One ground connection or no grounding at all should not cause ground loop. Is your SACD player connected to a dispaly device which is also grounded?...
In my setup, the "no grounding at all" option produces the hum, which, like you, I didn't think it should.

I've experimented with a number of components and, in the simplest case, with a single player (no connection to display device or cable system) connected to the amp (no DAC) and ground floated on the amp, an ungrounded player produces hum and a grounded player doesn't. The only way to get rid of the hum in any combination I've tried is to insure that one of the components in the setup is grounded and connected via coax connections to the others as you described.

The manual for my line conditioner says you can get AC hum in "high interference environments" when only using two-pronged plugs and it provides a ground tap that can be used to connect to the ground connection on a preamp to eliminate the problem. My head amp doesn't have such but I assume that I could accomplish the same thing by taping the lead to the chassis or wrapping it around one of the RCA jacks. Soo... then my question becomes whether I'm doing anything different than throwing the ground switch on the amp - with its supposed detrimental effects.

Aarghh... it occurs to me that this is getting lengthy and OT and it's time to stop typing and do some more experimenting and maybe have a chat with someone at HeadRoom. Though if anyone has something to contribute, I'd be most appreciative! If I don't manage to get much further in my understanding of this, I'll start a thread with my questions.

Anyway, thanks for the advice - and I'll look forward to seeing your impressions from the mini-meet!

Best,
Beau
post #30 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferbose
BTW, I think lifting the safety ground is not really a tweak but a way to upgrade the sound. I recommend all DAC owners to try it because the adapter is so cheap. There is no real danger involved. DAC1 is a small current device. In fact, in some Asian countries like Taiwan there is no safety gound in the outlet. Living in Taiwan for twenty years, I have never heard anyone getting electric shocks using indoor appliances in a dry environment.
Excuse my ignorance, but could you explain "lifting the safety ground" to me. How do you go about it with the DAC-1, is it just a matter of disconnecting the earth wire from the plug on the power cable. Also why would it inprove the sound.

Thanks
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