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DAC1. A good entry level DAC for a balanced experience? - Page 2

post #16 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by lowmagnet View Post
Maybe the XLR should be reserved for driving a pair of studio monitors instead.
Can the DAC1 be used as a preamplifier in this case? There would need to be some way to boost/attenuate the volume.

Either way, there should be some sort of amplification after the XLR outputs, be it from studio monitors' internal amps or from a preamp/power amp in a home system.
post #17 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by infinitesymphony View Post
Can the DAC1 be used as a preamplifier in this case? There would need to be some way to boost/attenuate the volume.

Either way, there should be some sort of amplification after the XLR outputs, be it from studio monitors' internal amps or from a preamp/power amp in a home system.
The case internally has -30 dB, -20 dB, -10 dB, and 0 dB attenuation for the XLR internally, plus you can use the front attenuator on the font to control powered monitor volume. You'd need an amp for non-powered devices.

I'm considering a powered monitor pair for my DAC1 (Near-field, most likely considering my rooms) and wouldn't hesitate to drop them right off the back of the Benchmark.
post #18 of 34
I'm using the DAC-1 balanced directly to HD650s via a Zu Mobius (they know all about this and will put the XLRs on correctly to work with the DAC-1 if you ask). I first read about this from Iron_Dreamer, and I believe it's known as the "Iron_Dreamer mod".

I set the internal jumper to 0 dB attenuation, as Iron_Dreamer suggested this would be the best impedance match for the HD650s. The volume knob on the front of the DAC works great. The only caveat I have for you is that it gets very loud, so you need to keep the volume control turned down. I've got it at 9 o'clock right now which is about the max. I can listen.

Actually at one point I had the headphone cable rubbing on the volume knob, and accidentally turned it all the way up. I couldn't figure out how my speaker system got turned on until I realized what was happening. Impressively my cans still work (phew!) -- instant burn-in I guess.

The sound is awesome! Balanced mode really lights up the Senns. Excellent bang-for-the-buck. My next (major) upgrade will probably be a separate balanced amp, although I wonder how much better the sound will actually be.

I'd say to give it a go -- you won't be sorry.
post #19 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by OracleGuy View Post
I'm using the DAC-1 balanced directly to HD650s via a Zu Mobius (they know all about this and will put the XLRs on correctly to work with the DAC-1 if you ask). I first read about this from Iron_Dreamer, and I believe it's known as the "Iron_Dreamer mod".

I set the internal jumper to 0 dB attenuation, as Iron_Dreamer suggested this would be the best impedance match for the HD650s. The volume knob on the front of the DAC works great. The only caveat I have for you is that it gets very loud, so you need to keep the volume control turned down. I've got it at 9 o'clock right now which is about the max. I can listen.

Actually at one point I had the headphone cable rubbing on the volume knob, and accidentally turned it all the way up. I couldn't figure out how my speaker system got turned on until I realized what was happening. Impressively my cans still work (phew!) -- instant burn-in I guess.

The sound is awesome! Balanced mode really lights up the Senns. Excellent bang-for-the-buck. My next (major) upgrade will probably be a separate balanced amp, although I wonder how much better the sound will actually be.

I'd say to give it a go -- you won't be sorry.
Aren't the newer model internal jumpers already set to 0DB attenuation? Need to check the manual again..
post #20 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by kool bubba ice View Post
Aren't the newer model internal jumpers already set to 0DB attenuation? Need to check the manual again..
-20dB is the default.
post #21 of 34
Could someone explain the "Iron_Dreamer mod" a little more? I just ordered one of the new DAC1 USBs and would really like to skip the step of purchasing a separate balanced amp to put between the DAC1 and balanced Senn HD650s. Is there an elegant, no-so-expensive or troublesome way to get the benefits of balanced output directly into the HD650s (besides upgrading to balanced cables, of course)? As I understood it from another thread, the difficulty arises with loss of quality due to distortion because the output current of the XLR outs is so high. Is there a way to attenuate that current, or, coming at it from the other side, some way to artificially raise the impedance of my HD650s?

Bravo to anyone who can tell me how to get quality balanced output just from the DAC1 USB!! Thanks!
post #22 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by schaqfu View Post
Could someone explain the "Iron_Dreamer mod" a little more?
i think it is just shorting the third pin. but i don't own a dac1, so i'm not really sure.
post #23 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by vcoheda View Post
i think it is just shorting the third pin. but i don't own a dac1, so i'm not really sure.
If you're referring to the GND pin, and by shorting you mean connecting left GND to right GND, the DAC1 manual specifically warns against this action. It apparently introduces distortion into the system.
post #24 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by schaqfu View Post
Could someone explain the "Iron_Dreamer mod" a little more? I just ordered one of the new DAC1 USBs and would really like to skip the step of purchasing a separate balanced amp to put between the DAC1 and balanced Senn HD650s. Is there an elegant, no-so-expensive or troublesome way to get the benefits of balanced output directly into the HD650s (besides upgrading to balanced cables, of course)? As I understood it from another thread, the difficulty arises with loss of quality due to distortion because the output current of the XLR outs is so high. Is there a way to attenuate that current, or, coming at it from the other side, some way to artificially raise the impedance of my HD650s?

Bravo to anyone who can tell me how to get quality balanced output just from the DAC1 USB!! Thanks!
Well, you have to have a balanced cable one way or the other. I took the easy way out and ordered mine that way from Zu. You could modify the stock Sennheiser cable too if you wanted to, to add the XLR connectors. I don't know the nitty-gritty of that, but I think Iron_Dreamer did post the details way back if you do some searching.

I believe the impedance of the HD650s (300 ohms) is high enough to work well with the DAC-1's balanced outputs.
post #25 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Awk.Pine View Post
The Audio Critic concludes "that the Benchmark DAC1 has no sound of its own, transparently passing on to its output the quality of its input. Whatever sonic peculiarities may perchance be audible are due to the input signal, not the DAC1 circuit. Even if the circuit were a lot less perfect, that would still be the case." Good entry level, if you ask me.
That review means little as The Audio Critic does 95% of there reviews with scopes and 5% with there ears. Everytime I read that rag I think of my old timer friends that claim lamp cord is just as good as any of that fancy speaker wire.
post #26 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by vcoheda View Post
I just went through the same thing. I wanted to experience balanced from my HD650s. I looked at the DAC1, DA10, and Mini-DAC. I went with the Mini-DAC. Heard it sounds better as a DAC than the DAC1. And the Lavry did not have a USB port, which I wanted. From what I read all drive the Senns pretty well via the XLR outputs.

Just need some balanced cables now.
I've heard nothing but great things about the SQ of the miniDac.

I've even used one for some hours in a studio and never felt any fatigue.

http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/minidac.php
post #27 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by insidiousness View Post
I've heard nothing but great things about the SQ of the miniDac.

I've even used one for some hours in a studio and never felt any fatigue.

http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/minidac.php
i'm listening to balanced senns right now straight from the Apogee. Sounds great.
post #28 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by vcoheda View Post
i'm listening to balanced senns right now straight from the Apogee. Sounds great.
Can you describe how it differs from the same sound out of the headphone jack? What's the relative value of the improvement? I.e., how much is too much to spend on getting expensive balanced cables and stuff to pursue better sound out of the xlr balanced outputs? Is it a marginal difference or does it tickle your skull?
post #29 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by schaqfu View Post
Can you describe how it differs from the same sound out of the headphone jack? What's the relative value of the improvement? I.e., how much is too much to spend on getting expensive balanced cables and stuff to pursue better sound out of the xlr balanced outputs? Is it a marginal difference or does it tickle your skull?
I haven't done any direct comparisons yet. But I do have a good idea of what my Hd650s sound like single ended. I have owned them for a long time and the difference between singled ended and balanced, even on my Apogee, is not subtle. The separation and detail is vastly improved and the sound is no longer slightly recessed or dark. The scaling is not as good as I remember it coming from a true dedicated balanced amplifier, but it is still improved over single ended. If you are a skeptic about going balanced, listen to the HD650s. It they don't convince you of the difference, then nothing will. Plus, the cost was not that great as I was in a market for the new DAC. The option to also go balanced was just a nice bonus. I bought a Zu for my Senns (not cheap), but you can buy a balanced cable for around or slightly under $100.
post #30 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by schaqfu View Post
Can you describe how it differs from the same sound out of the headphone jack?
Quote:
Originally Posted by vcoheda View Post
...the difference between singled ended and balanced, even on my Apogee, is not subtle. The separation and detail is vastly improved and the sound is no longer slightly recessed or dark. The scaling is not as good as I remember it coming from a true dedicated balanced amplifier, but it is still improved over single ended. If you are a skeptic about going balanced, listen to the HD650s. It they don't convince you of the difference, then nothing will. Plus, the cost was not that great as I was in a market for the new DAC. The option to also go balanced was just a nice bonus. I bought a Zu for my Senns (not cheap), but you can buy a balanced cable for around or slightly under $100.
What your are hearing most on the Apogee is the large difference in coloration between its headphone jack, which is quite warm sounding (good for Grados & Qualias), and the much more neutral XLR-outs.

In fact, the Apogee's XLR-outs sound not so different from the Benchmark's as far as neutrality, unlike their respective headphone-outs.
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