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benchmark dac1 and presonus cs on test for an hour,my initial thoughts - Page 2

post #16 of 145
I recently talked to some professionals about the Presonus CS, Benchmark DAC1, Lavry DA10, and the Apogee Mini-DAC. They both agreed that the Lavry was the best sounding unit, but that the Presonus CS was the best deal and that it outperforms the Mini-DAC and is slightly behind the DAC1. This however is for a recording studio where neutrality matters, so it makes sense that the warmer and more colored Mini-DAC would be more pleasing to listen to in a headphone system than the cold, analytical DAC1. It does seem though that the Lavry and Presonus CS are both great units for professionals and for audiophiles.
post #17 of 145
After reading this post, I am considering to buy a mini DAC seriously. But, is it good for listening to classical music?
post #18 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMcMasterJ View Post
I recently talked to some professionals about the Presonus CS, Benchmark DAC1, Lavry DA10, and the Apogee Mini-DAC. They both agreed that the Lavry was the best sounding unit, but that the Presonus CS was the best deal and that it outperforms the Mini-DAC and is slightly behind the DAC1. This however is for a recording studio where neutrality matters, so it makes sense that the warmer and more colored Mini-DAC would be more pleasing to listen to in a headphone system than the cold, analytical DAC1. It does seem though that the Lavry and Presonus CS are both great units for professionals and for audiophiles.
Sounds like the CS is either a giant killer outright or awfully close to it.

This has been a fascinating thread to read, in general.
post #19 of 145
Thanks Music_Man for a thorough review. You have confirmed again for me that the CS was a good choice for the system it resides in. The CS drives my HD650s better than any amp south of $1K and up until I recently auditioned the Moth HyperDAC, I feel the CS DAC is one of the best value home audio DACs under $900. I now feel the Moth HyperDac, if it ever goes into production will be a superior home audio DAc on all accounts, then again the Moth is not a three for one deal like the CS. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.
post #20 of 145
x2
post #21 of 145
music_man:
The CS can be had for less than $400 if you get a quote from http://www.northernsound.net .
post #22 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by A.Thorsen View Post
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.
post #23 of 145
^^ Definitely good points.
post #24 of 145
Thread Starter 
wow. it took 3 days for this post to get going. thank you all to those that took the time to thank me for doing this. it took a long time. level matching them is the only fair way to compare and that takes some time to get exact.

cosmopragma, i did say that the benchmark is more neutral than the other two. all though not completely neutral. nothing is. you are correct, you can add color anywhere in the signal chain. i did not "diss" the benchmark. at least i didn't mean to if it came across that way. many feel it's headphone amp is not up to it's dac quality. of course with a $1,000 dac you should probably get an external headphone amp anyhow. it is first and formost a dac. the headphone amp is simply for monitoring it. it is probably a good match to hd650's. to the k701 it did not do so good imo.

it just so happens that the presonus has a even better headphone amp than it's dac. i think this is a fluke really. people just like it. it is colored though. i doubt the presonus enginers intended for that to happen. it just did.
any how i doubt anyone can dispute it is the bargain of the three. i have only ever seen like three or four posts where someone said the presonus is junk. out of the hundreds of posts praising it.

the other dacs are good also. i just personally do not like the benchmarks brutal honesty. many people do like this. the apogee is a little of a cross between the cs and benchmark. it is cleaner than the cs while still being warm. i feel the cs remains the best value of the three.

music_man
post #25 of 145
i love my central station. the headphone amplifier is very good for an opamp design, better than any portable amp i've heard. the dac is great too. definitely not the cleanest piece of work however; check out the power supply... i'd suggest this unit to anyone who wants clean sonics on a budget. not as a standalone headphone amp or standalone dac. however due to its amazing value i think i might stay in the pro audio category when shopping for dacs.

i agree that it's better to add colorations downstream. however, the dac1 isn't without its colorations. it colors in a different way. imagine blurring a picture, turning the brightness up and the contrast down. that's the dac1. the presonus is more like using the art history brush. pleasant but not neutral. i like stuff on the warm side of neutral, something inbetween these two. pleasant but not lush with absolutely everything.

and i don't want to hype the presonus up. it's not worth it if you're just going to use one of the functions; using the headamp and dac makes it a good value. the preamp feature makes it even better. i would probably buy something more minimalist (no mic preamps, no external psu) before modding my presonus. it's a great piece but i'd still have a lot of redundant features.

i will try and get my hands on the mini-dac for a listen.
post #26 of 145
Hmm, maybe this is why I'm not finding my new tube amp to be so great, even though it supposedly is. I think I may prefer the DAC1 with it after reading this.

music_man: can you detail the mods you did to your CS? I know you replaced the PS caps, but i recall you replaced some resistors or the like as well.

-edit- also, while i do have some decent line conditioning (thanks for the help on that music_man), do you think possibly making a diy steps-level power supply for the CS would be very beneficial?
post #27 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by nfusion770 View Post
I appreciate the continued comments as well. I have very little experience with more expensive DACs, but the reviews make it pretty tough not go with a CS. I had 2 and only got rid of the 2nd one because I wanted to clean up my bedroom rig- now simply a squeezebox and an Opera. I have no way of volume matching, so it is difficult to compare the Opera DAC to the CS- the CS is definitely louder- but to me, the CS sounds cleaner and just generally better. For comparison, I think I slightly prefer the Opera DAC to the heralded Squeezebox DAC, but it is pretty close. I haven't really done extensive testing on this, just preference to my ears while messing around.
Quick question since you are comparing CS to Opera DAC. If you were to get one or the other to use as DAC and amp which would you chose?
post #28 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zodduska View Post
Quick question since you are comparing CS to Opera DAC. If you were to get one or the other to use as DAC and amp which would you chose?
Without the slightest bit of hesitation- the Opera.

The Presonus amps are nice for the price you pay and when compared to portables, but they are outclassed by the home amps I have had (GS-1, HR-2, Opera). The Opera amp exceeds the CS amps by a large margin, while the CS DAC seems a little better than the Opera. The difference in the 2 DACs may appear even less if I could level match them, but at this point I prefer to use the CS DAC when I can.

Then again, there is the matter of price- $375 for the CS (at NS&L) vs $1100 for the Opera.
post #29 of 145
i added in a note in my post that i don't want to hype it for a reason. it's awesome for the price, kicks anything else's ass in the range. it's not a "giant killer" though, don't expect it to beat out established home amps.
post #30 of 145
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thelonious Monk View Post
i added in a note in my post that i don't want to hype it for a reason. it's awesome for the price, kicks anything else's ass in the range. it's not a "giant killer" though, don't expect it to beat out established home amps.

it was said in ferbose' review that it clearly bettered the benchamrk dac1's headamp. many people have agreed. that the dac section was very close in quality to the benchmark and under a/b was indistinguishable. it's headamp beat a hornet in ferbose' review and a sr-71 in another review. it's headamp and dac beat a grace m902 in ferbose' review and in my own pro studio. nfusion770 just said the cs dac seems a little better than the opera. in ferbose' review the cs dac beat a esoteric dv50s. this was listening through a cayin ha-1a. ferbose claimed in his review that the headamp in the cs was "as enjoyable" as the cayin ha-1a. in pro reviews the dac is said to be one step behind the benchmark and equal to the apogee mini-dac. in ferbose' review it was compared in a shootout to a aqvox,lavry da10,dac1. the cs held it's own just fine. then there is the preamp. go get a preamp anything like that for less than $1,000. this is all in one box with a short signal path that can still be had for $400.

pro reviews highly regard it.

however! on gearslutz it is trashed constantly. on head-fi it is not hyped because it is "not a giant killer". even after ferbose gave it such amazing praise he found it to be a just an ok value.

to the perspective buyer of the cs: this is because sites like head-fi and gearslutz are about equipment not music enjoyment! the cs is neither sexy or expensive. so no matter how good it is, or what it beats it will not win any awards here. i have many expensive dacs and headamps sitting right here. i am listening to the central station.

furthermore, i have reconfirmed that i hate the benchmark(let's assume this is personal so as to rile no feathers). i will be sending another one back to the distributer in the morning. it is so quirky that i gave up on even getting the proper level out of it. the tiny screw pots in back and the internal jumpers that require opening the unit are a joke. the cs you plug it in and it sounds great. the cs wins again in my book.

music_man
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