Originally Posted by A.Thorsen
Sounds like the CS is either a giant killer outright or awfully close to it.
Differences between sources are generally subtle anyway IME.
I have auditioned all the mentioned DACs (and a few more) but my conclusion is quite different.I guess it's simply a matter of taste, preferences and synergy with the transducer downstream.
Overall I still like the Benchmark best, and that's the reason why I still own one.It just provides a clear and relatively uncolored sound, and from my point of view that's good.Nothing wrong with some pleasant coloration, but in my experience it's better to infuse it downstream by tubes or a transducer with strange frequency response, built-in reverb or even equalization upstream.
Even the built-in headphone amp is far from being shabby.It's the same phenomenon.It just conveys the signal clean and clear, and it's quite easy to add a more romantic sound into the mix by utilizing an appropriate standalone amp.
Again:There's nothing wrong with tailoring the sound to your liking.I do listen most of the time through pleasant sounding expensive amps.
Rudistor RPX 33 dualmono (SS,$1700), Audiovalves RKV (tube hybride,$1400), a DIY amp ( tube amp,$500 for parts) and a few more, but at the end of the day the Benchmark HPA2 is the reference.From time to time it's refreshing to listen to the sound without the expensive electronic coloration, and at least the Benchmark amp is a valuable tool for evaluating what other amps are actually doing to the sound.
I know I'm the only one since the Benchmark has fallen somewhat out of favour, but to me the Benchmark is still the reference at it's price point.
It's not the flavour of the month anymore but it doesn't deserve to be dissed.