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Benchmark DAC1 now available with USB - Page 56

post #826 of 3034
Quote:
Originally Posted by euclid View Post
holy crap! could 12.3v XLR out be dangerous high input into a preamp? i only have 15ft cable run.

is there any way to get the voltage under 6v for the XLR in calibrated mode, < 3.0v for each phase 0 and 180?

ps: i think i know why people have been happy with the balanced HD650 directly from the XLR output
12.3Vrms will not be 'dangerous' for your pre-amp - that is, it will not damage your pre-amp. However, it may cause distortion if the pre-amp is not designed to accept +24 dBu input (which is the case for most 'audiophile' pre-amps and amps). Ideally, it would accept +24 or even +28 dBu to maintain the highest signal to noise ratio. That is, the S-to-N ration suffers when the signal has to be attenuated just to get into the (pre)amp, then the signal is boosted again within the (pre)amp. But....such is the case with most 'audiophile' (pre)amps. The attenuators in the DAC1 make it compatible with this type of gear, but also compatible with professional gear that will accept 'full-swing' signals (+24 dBu or greater).

If you set the output attenuators of the DAC1 to -10 dB, the max Vrms (in factory-set calibrated mode) will be 3.88V. The DAC1 is factory-set with -20 dB attenuation, which will yield a max Vrms of 1.23V.

Thanks,
Elias
post #827 of 3034
Quote:
Originally Posted by EliasGwinn View Post
12.3Vrms will not be 'dangerous' for your pre-amp - that is, it will not damage your pre-amp. However, it may cause distortion if the pre-amp is not designed to accept +24 dBu input (which is the case for most 'audiophile' pre-amps and amps). Ideally, it would accept +24 or even +28 dBu to maintain the highest signal to noise ratio. That is, the S-to-N ration suffers when the signal has to be attenuated just to get into the (pre)amp, then the signal is boosted again within the (pre)amp. But....such is the case with most 'audiophile' (pre)amps. The attenuators in the DAC1 make it compatible with this type of gear, but also compatible with professional gear that will accept 'full-swing' signals (+24 dBu or greater).

If you set the output attenuators of the DAC1 to -10 dB, the max Vrms (in factory-set calibrated mode) will be 3.88V. The DAC1 is factory-set with -20 dB attenuation, which will yield a max Vrms of 1.23V.

Thanks,
Elias
thanks very much for the explaination. from my expereince most sources that output 2.5v are still too powerful to plug in directly to power amp, therefore the preamp is actually attenuating the source signal. i think in my system a 12.3v input signal would only allow me to use the first two or three volume steps of my preamp stepped attenuator even in +0db unity gain, major attenuation would be in order.

its nice to know that by setting the jumpers a more civil voltage can be output from the DAC1, i see how a professional application would differ though.
post #828 of 3034
Quote:
Originally Posted by euclid View Post
... a more civil voltage ...
post #829 of 3034
Quote:
Originally Posted by puntloos View Post
Hi guys,

OK my test between the Benchmark DAC1, The Bel Canto DAC3 and the (built-in) DAC inside a Bow Technologies ZZ-Eight CD player is done.

Well, there's good news and bad news for Elias. (& co)

The good news is that the DAC1's audio quality beats the $7500 CD player's easily. The bad news is that the Bel Canto DAC3 sounds just as good as the Benchmark to me and one of my friends. The second friend had a mild preference for the DAC3 - so I returned the DAC1 (not just because of the minute possible audio quality difference, I was also allowed to still return the DAC1, and the DAC3 would have to be sold secondhand if the DAC1 had the way stronger vote.)

Did you compare the DAC1 via USB over the DAC 3 over USB using a 24/96 source? This may be important for those who see USB as their only acceptable alternative to computer-based audio and the DAC3 does not support 24/96 over USB. They claim, however, that it sounds as good if not better...just wondering if you tried this particular set up in your A/B testing.

Some more specifics:

Setup Used:
- Bel Canto Evo 4 gen2
- Quad 989 speakers.
- PC playing various audio sources (winamp -> kernel streaming -> M-Audio Revolution 5.1 -> 75ohm coax cable)

The test:
Essentially two people sat behind eachother (in the center of the room), while a third person would secretly switch between the 3 devices as source. Devices were all matched to the Bow's audio output. I know, this isn't exactly fair since at least the DAC3 uses digital attenuation. Oh well.

The ABX tests were then done with multiple sources :

- Always a use - Madeleine Peyroux (HDCD and normal CD)
- November '99 - Manu Katzche
- One without the Other - Dorian Michael - 192/24 DVDA
- Bad Condition - Steve Pierson - 96/24 DVDA

Sony Sound Forge 9 was used to downsample sources when needed. (best quality)

Of course for the CD player, some sources had to be downsampled. I have no idea how to make HDCD sources so the CD player had the advantage with Madeleine, but the disadvantage with the DVDA sources.
The DAC3 was not able to handle 192Khz sources, so we downsampled.
The results basically were as follows:

The statements below were verified by doing the actual ABXing, i.e. if the listener was able to pick out the source they claimed had their preference 3 out of 4 times when been given samples without telling which was which. Also a statement is only mentioned below when 2 out of 3 of our listeners agrees.

- We were able to distinguish between 96/24 sources and a 48/16 downsample, also played with the same DACs. (downsampling 96 to 44 did seem less fair). The differences were subtle, usually described as more defined highs, but also the stereo positioning seemed more defined.

- The CD player lost in every situation except when playing the HDCD version while the DAC's had to upsample the normal CD data. The conclusion seems to be that if you have a choice, get the HDCD.

- Lagavulin Whisky tastes very nice.

- The sound the CD player made was, in general, much thinner and sounded anemic. Also the depth of the soundstage just seemed less deep, all instruments sounded like they were on one line right between the speakers, no 3rd dimension.

- Nobody could distinguish between XLR and RCA('tulip') connectors anywhere in the signal line.

Finally, we tried introducing jitter by (instead of using 75ohm coax cable) we used two long (10m) single strands of standard lamp wire. No luck, both DACs played just fine.

In the end I guess the conclusion must be that sound-quality wise the DAC3 and the DAC1 are very close rivals, and your choice will be mainly based on things like:
- Aesthetics, few people will disagree that the DAC3 is built 'prettier', while the DAC1 is an industrial looking piece of equipment.
- Headphone outs. The DAC3 has none.
- New Price: DAC1-USB was about $1300, DAC3 is $2500 (also USB)
- Remote: DAC3 has one, DAC1 doesnt.

In my case, I bought a brand-new, in-warranty DAC3 for $1500, which perfectly matches my Bel Canto amplifier, so the choice wasn't hard. Sound quality wise, either will do just fine for most people, including me.
Did you get a chance to compare a 24/96 source with the DAC1 over USB with the DAC3 over USB? I obviously ask because the DAC3 does not support 24/96 over USB but they still claim their implementation sounds just as good or better than the DAC1 24/96 over USB. If you use a PC as a source, USB is a must and I wonder what your tests may have turned up.
post #830 of 3034
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmk005 View Post
Did you get a chance to compare a 24/96 source with the DAC1 over USB with the DAC3 over USB? I obviously ask because the DAC3 does not support 24/96 over USB but they still claim their implementation sounds just as good or better than the DAC1 24/96 over USB. If you use a PC as a source, USB is a must and I wonder what your tests may have turned up.
Hmm, nope, both DACs claim that the source is really irrelevant (be it USB/SPDIF/TOSLINK, all simply get 'dejittered' and the perfect input signal gets fed to the DA section) so comparing 24/96 and 24/48 (I think thats the current max of the DAC3 on USB) is a bit unfair.. I don't have a long USB cable anyway. But why do you say that using the PC as a source, USB is a must? My M-Audio card nicely supplies 192/24 from its SPDIF, which I've tested with some DVD-audio tracks at that rate.

btw Bel Canto is planning to release an update to their USB in Q3/Q4 2007 which should get them in line with the DAC1. But again, USB really Isn't my cup of tea.
post #831 of 3034
Quote:
Originally Posted by puntloos View Post
One more quick question for Elias (but others are welcome too ):

- Given a pristine (or at least not badly damaged) CD, would you prefer a 'high end CD transport' with SPDIF out, or a 'standard' computer (PC + normal CDRom player with proper ripping software and SPDIF out), or no preference at all?

Small elaboration:
Many audiophiles seem to think that some hugely expensive CD transport can more accurately read CDs than a normal PC CDrom player can, even though the PC uses all ripping techniques like C1/C2 correction, accuraterip etc etc. Any truth in this?

Mind you when a CD is (badly?) damaged I'm at least a bit more open to believe that a top class CD player might be able to approximate the original data better than a CDRom player. Still, the CDRom player isn't in a hurry and could take as many tries as it wants to read the real data..

Thoughts?
Oh yes, when it comes to me, i have thoughts indeed about that topic. Thoughts of huff, to be honest. Why? Because there are so much rumours and absolute nonesense about this that it is unbelievable. One could really doubt the human's common sense.

Claims that a stand alone player or a cd-rom drive will be able to read the data better or worse in general are false as well. A cd-rom drive has - per se - a better chance to read the required data more than once - when they are reading faster than at single speed (for real time playback). However, in regular playback mode (let us call it CDDA-reading in opposite to DAE), it performs the same as a stand alone player. Some differences exist when it comes to interpolation between wrong or missing samples. Stand alone players are often in advantage here. But this don't has to be this way necessariliy. Some drives were tested in this regard by Pio2001 here for example:

http://pageperso.aol.fr/lyonpio2001/dae/dae.htm

Puntloos, please always keep in mind that - regardless of any introduces jitter at the output - every transport will provide you exactly the same data as far as it is possible for it to reconstruct the data without errors. Same data and a DAC which doesn't care for jitter --> same sound. Period.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EliasGwinn View Post
Puntloos,

This is a very good question...and, unfortunately, I don't have an answer for you. We've been asked this question many times, but there are so many factors which would make it incredibly difficult to test. Specifically, it would be difficult to say that one type is better because every drive uses different lasers/readers/decoders/drivers... In other words, its completely possible that CD player 'X' is better then CD-ROM 'Y', and CD-ROM 'Y' is better then CD player 'Z'....even if 'Z' is $10,000!! (Please don't ask me what CD player 'X' is... )
Elias, i have to admit that i was a bit surprised about this answer. The question is actually easier than you possibly think. Benchmark itself claims that their DAC1 produces the same sound when fed with the same data, no matter how much jitter the stream contains. The question if different transports provide the same data (after the C1/C2-stages) can be easily proven. Every PC will reveal this. So any other answers to certain scenarios can be derived from this perception.
post #832 of 3034
Quote:
Originally Posted by puntloos View Post
Hmm, nope, both DACs claim that the source is really irrelevant (be it USB/SPDIF/TOSLINK, all simply get 'dejittered' and the perfect input signal gets fed to the DA section) so comparing 24/96 and 24/48 (I think thats the current max of the DAC3 on USB) is a bit unfair.. I don't have a long USB cable anyway. But why do you say that using the PC as a source, USB is a must? My M-Audio card nicely supplies 192/24 from its SPDIF, which I've tested with some DVD-audio tracks at that rate.

btw Bel Canto is planning to release an update to their USB in Q3/Q4 2007 which should get them in line with the DAC1. But again, USB really Isn't my cup of tea.
Actually, I would argue it is not unfair. Bel Canto told me they think their 24/48 over USB sounds better or at least as good compared to what they have heard from any current DAC who claims to support 24/96 over USB. The only one I know of is the DAC1.

As for USB being a must, that may be an overstatement since there are other options but from a practical pov, I prefer USB because it is universally available with every PC and MAC currently sold and I enjoy the flexibility computer as a source component brings to me. I know SPDIF supports 192/24 and therefore the DAC3 would be comparable to the DAC over SPDIF but I wonder about Bel Canto's claim.
post #833 of 3034
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmk005 View Post
Actually, I would argue it is not unfair. Bel Canto told me they think their 24/48 over USB sounds better or at least as good compared to what they have heard from any current DAC who claims to support 24/96 over USB. The only one I know of is the DAC1.
Perhaps they were indeed thinking of the Benchmark when making the claim, perhaps not. Fact remains that I couldn't even distinguish the DAC3 from the Benchmark when the DAC3 was given 'even more' advantage - (24/96 - not just 24/48) while the DAC1 got 24/96 too. (and as most people here agree, which connection type, USB, SPDIF/etc, don't matter).

As mentioned, one of my listeners had a 'slight preference' for the DAC3, which was reproducable, so appearantly he had the better ears, but it was a minor preference.

And all that's is even leaving the difference between 'perfect reproduction' and 'sweet sounding' alone.

One thing I can say is that Im fairly sure that Bel Canto, like Benchmark, have not committed the sin of trying to 'pretty up' the sound just to sway uncritical people with 'earpopping' effects.

Quote:
As for USB being a must, that may be an overstatement since there are other options but from a practical pov, I prefer USB because it is universally available with every PC and MAC currently sold and I enjoy the flexibility computer as a source component brings to me. I know SPDIF supports 192/24 and therefore the DAC3 would be comparable to the DAC over SPDIF but I wonder about Bel Canto's claim.
Agreed I guess, it might be very convenient at certain moments. For someone who is 'serious' about their home setup though, it's simply not much of an issue since with a $50 pci card you get more range (both cable-length and khz/bitdepth-wise).
post #834 of 3034
Quote:
Originally Posted by puntloos View Post
(and as most people here agree, which connection type, USB, SPDIF/etc, don't matter).
This is true to an extent. But, to avoid confusion, it should be pointed out that there are major differences in the USB capabilities between the Benchmark DAC1 and the Bel Canto DAC3. Specifically, the Bel Canto is only capable of up to 48/16...it cannot stream 24-bit audio via USB. This means that any 24-bit source or any 16-bit source that was increased to 24-bit will be truncated.

The DAC1 can stream 96/24 'bit-transparently'. Even the M-Audio PCI cards are not capable of bit-transparency. The DAC1 is the only device (including PCI, USB, etc) we have found to be proven 'bit-transparent' when streaming digital audio from a computer at resolutions up to 96/24.

Thanks,
Elias
post #835 of 3034
Quote:
Originally Posted by EliasGwinn View Post
This is true to an extent. But, to avoid confusion, it should be pointed out that there are major differences in the USB capabilities between the Benchmark DAC1 and the Bel Canto DAC3. Specifically, the Bel Canto is only capable of up to 48/16...it cannot stream 24-bit audio via USB. This means that any 24-bit source or any 16-bit source that was increased to 24-bit will be truncated.

The DAC1 can stream 96/24 'bit-transparently'. Even the M-Audio PCI cards are not capable of bit-transparency. The DAC1 is the only device (including PCI, USB, etc) we have found to be proven 'bit-transparent' when streaming digital audio from a computer at resolutions up to 96/24.

Thanks,
Elias
This is what got me firmly into the Benchmark world. I woke up and realized that it was so much easier for me to manage my music on my PC...and along came a device that made my computer sound GOOD.
post #836 of 3034

question about DAC1USB lineout

My Benchmark DAC1USB is the cornerstone of my system(s), extremely happy with this product. I would like to run this out to multiple amps. What is better solution:

1. run RCA out to amp 1, and use an XLR to RCA converter simultaneously out to amp 2 (can this be done, any issues?)

2. get an input/output switcher, like one of those Mapletree Audio boxes (adding another box and more interconnects degrades sound?)

thanks in advance for any input
__________________
post #837 of 3034
Hi All,

First I want to thank all of you for a terrific thread: it's rare to see a truly useful discussion anywhere online, and I don't believe I've ever seen someone in Elias' position contribute to such a degree. Wonderful resource.

After reading all (42!) pages of this thread, I bought a DAC1 USB. I've been using it is my main headphone amp (Senn 650s, AKG 271s, and Beyer 990s) and it drives my main system (rotel driving B&Ws). Here are my thoughts after two weeks of use, in no particular order:

-Outstanding sound, especially the low noise floor, unassailable detail, faithful reproduction, and bulletproof reliability (even when switching out of "standby" mode, though still an odd choice not to have a power button!) I've never heard an artifact or noticed any jitter. It's just transparent.

-Great build quality. Chunky, detented volume control feels nice, faceplate is well-milled, connectors (esp. headphone jacks) are solid. The only part I was surprised at was the RCA outs - I thought I was going to crash through the rear faceplate when I was attaching my interconnect. The aesthetics could use a little work, but I'm not picky, and there's come cache to having a component that looks like it belongs in a studio (I have the black, non-rackmount).

-My motherboard has S/PDIF RCA out, and I can hear absolutely no difference between this and the USB input. EXCEPT: when I plug my iPod into my computer and it is doing a heavy sync via USB, the PC (brand new top-shelf HP media center) struggles to stream consistently and the sound gets choppy and I can't listen to it. I imagine this is true of using an external USB HDD as well. So I'm currently only using the digital output from my motherboard (anyone want an X-Fi XtremeMusic?)

-Preamp section. I would love to use this unit as a preamp, but the lack of a remote to select inputs is a deal killer. I echo the suggestion made earlier that Benchmark start working on a preamp or integrated amp with the DAC1 technology (and headphone amp).

-Installation. The unit worked perfectly as soon as I plugged it in. The Wiki on Benchmark's website and this thread helped me get Vista and iTunes/foobar up to snuff. I'm interested to hear what Elias finds when testing the final release of Vista.

So, after all that, my new favorite toy is going back to Benchmark...so I can get a DAC1. I don't need the USB input, and for $300, I can sacrifice the functionality. So a simple question: is everything the same on the DAC1 as it is on the DAC1 USB? Have there been any changes to the DAC1 in the last few years, or would even a used unit provide the same performance?

Outstanding product, and I recommend it to everyone who asks.
post #838 of 3034
The headphone amp has been tweaked a little bit in the USB version...check your owner's manual for more info (i don't have it in front of me).

I don't think its an earthshaking change, but it did sound like they made some adjustments based upon their experience with the standard DAC1.
post #839 of 3034
Quote:
Originally Posted by integrale View Post
So a simple question: is everything the same on the DAC1 as it is on the DAC1 USB? Have there been any changes to the DAC1 in the last few years, or would even a used unit provide the same performance?
integrale, see this post:
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/2815332-post216.html

Mark
post #840 of 3034
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivendell61 View Post
BOOOOM!

Rivendell, that is one heck of a second post!

Thanks!
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