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benchmark dac1 and presonus cs on test for an hour,my initial thoughts - Page 3

post #31 of 145
Wait, so you've been comparing a modded CS this whole time, and not a stock one? I saw that you mentioned in 1 or 2 posts, but I thought all along that you had a stock unit

How warm are the CS's amp and dac (are BOTH warm?)? Has anyone tried the CS with the SA5000s?
post #32 of 145
Thread Starter 
ferbose and others made all those positive comments about stock units.

the cs is a totally different beast when power conditioning is applied. all those comments were from people that were using powr conditioning.

my mods consist only of an improved specification power supply inside the cs.
alleviating the need for bulky external power conditioning. otherwise my unit is stock. plus bluetack covering the dac and receiver. thats all.

what i am trying to point out is that most people around here feel the cs is equal to at least a $500 head amp and comes close to the quality of some well known $1,000 dacs. plus it has a state of the art preamp. it sells for $400-$500. i don't know how you all define giant killer?

yes there is much better to be had. i'd say starting at $1,500. thats $500 for a head amp and $1,000 for a dac. forget even mentioning the preamp since most of us don't use that feature. so by no means it is the best. i'd certainly say it is an outstanding value. not just as a matter of being inexpensive it is also nearly reference quality.

i will point out once again if you will be trying one it is completely different on a $200 power conditioner than it is straight into the wall. maybe those that found it less than stellar were not using power conditioning?

i also do not understand how ferbose and freeflier both originally stated that it was close in quality to the dac1 then later said the dac1 was much better. i'd like to know why they changed their minds.

i think most would agree the dac1 does not have as good a head amp as the cs. so that is $975 for the dac1 plus an external headamp. of course this hobby is all about diminishing gains. the cs is very good. good enough i say.

edit: nevermind the question below it is the amp not the dac1 that is the issue.
i wish someone would please help me get my dac1 working so i can compare them at home. even though it is not my favorite dac i know it is very high quality. i can only assume mine is broken. i posted about it in another thread that went unanswered.

music_man
post #33 of 145
Thread Starter 
i just got done doing extensive a/b and listening with my modded presonus and the benchmark and apogee.

as i stated before all i did was beef up the power supply.

there is no comparison whatsoever. the presonus blows them away. it is warmer has more detail tighter,lower bass extension and is just cleaner.

the apogee has a meter. it is overloaded by standard spdif and outputs this distortion right through the volume knob into the xlr jacks 'round back. the apogee is very thin. i take back that i thought it was better.

i have all three dacs right here and more. if you guys feel the benchmark and apogee are superior good for you. enjoy them. i know what i will be listening to. no one is wrong here. we all like different things. i am just stating my opinion. no one else seems to agree it is that good. all that matters to me is what i like. you all can enjoy whatever you wish. i just hate to see the presonus constantly get sidestepped into the wrong category. i do not even see the benchmark or apogee as being better than a stock presonus. maybe equal imo. i am defending it but i will not beat this to death. carry on.

music_man
post #34 of 145
music_man, I may have missed it, but what amp are you using with these DACs for your A/Bing?
post #35 of 145
Thread Starter 
at home i am using a krell kav400xi. there is clearly a huge difference between these three dacs. to be completely fair it may be that the krell simply does not like these other two dacs. for some reason both the dac1 and mini-dac go from to low a signal to overloaded way to quickly on this krell.
the real issue is that i cannot seem to set the level right. i have set levels(among other things) for a living for many years so i know it isn't my mistake.
this is what really seems to be hindering their performance. i do not understand because the specs on krells balanced xlr inputs match these dacs.
i don't know if it is the dacs fault or the amp. probably the amp. both the benchmark and apogee are thin,sizzly and on their toes. the cs sounds great through the krell.

i have other high end amps at home but i don't want to go play around with my reference system.

at work i have used genelec and krk powered monitors, crown amps and manley amps. that was with a stock cs. there i still liked the cs better but it was not much of a difference.

now i will say that the cs should only really be bought if you are going to use it as a dac and headamp together. the combination is wonderful. maybe it is the shorter signal path of not having two boxes. i don't know. it is hard to tell which is the good part there, the dac or headamp. they just work well together. this is with k701's and gs1000's. senns do not do nearly as good with it. i think the cs' dac is about as good as the apogee or benchmark not better not a lot worse. the headamp is clearly better than the benchmark and somewhat better than the apogeee. the dac and headamp together in the cs are stupendous with low impedance headphones imo. i think people are making the differences in the dacs to big a deal. it just depends what of sound you prefer. the benchmark is sharp and snappy the apogee and cs are warmer.

anyways i am glad you asked about the amp because i may be getting much different results than other people due to the krell being quirky.

i'd like to apologize for so vehemently defending the cs in my last post. i probably came across as rude. i am sorry if it seemed that way. i just don't like to see something i really like be spoken of as mediocre by others. it makes me feel stupid.

at the end of the day all that matters is what works for each individual person. i don't think you can declare a clear winner of these three. they have different sounds. different strengths and weaknesses. just because they cs is a lot cheaper don't let that fool you. many top producers/engineers are using one.

music_man
post #36 of 145
Thanks for the reply music_man. I wonder if the XLR issue (at least with the DAC1) has to do with their factory default of 20dB attenuation out of the XLR outs? Who knows? Just throwing it out there, I know just enough to get myself in trouble.

But I think you also raise a good point, and one that is an underlying theme in a lot of DAC comparisons. Many of these DACs have their own HP amp and I think people who compare these DACs often are hearing the differences in the HP out and not the DAC (I am thinking particularly of many of the DA10 v. DAC1 debates). Thank you for acknowledging this in your posts; most folks do not.
post #37 of 145
I think syngery has something to do with your opinions. I don't think your K701s would synergise as well with the Benchmark compared to the HD650s. The Presonus would warm the 701s' neutral sound while with the HD650s it may be too warm. (I haven't heard any of these DACs)

By the way I'm really interested, and I'm sure others are, in how the Presonus and Lavry's DACs and amps compare to each other.
post #38 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_man View Post
i wish someone would please help me get my dac1 working so i can compare them at home. even though it is not my favorite dac i know it is very high quality. i can only assume mine is broken. i posted about it in another thread that went unanswered.

music_man
Music Man,

Can I help you get your DAC1 setup?

Elias
post #39 of 145
Thread Starter 
thanks for the offer mr. gwinn.

it is working fine with pro equipment. i intend to leave it there. it is very transparent and i want something that adds coloration in my home system anyways.

i am familiar with calibration of the dac1. as it turns out it is not the krell or these dacs. the sony scd-1 i am using has a super hot s/pdif output. it is overloading the inputs of all these dacs. i tried a mark levinson transport with the benchmark and apogee and everything was working fine. with the benchmark on the -20db jumpers and calibrated on the back pots to +4db.
it also works fine out of a pro daw into several pro amps.

once again i want to mention all of these dacs boil down to personal tastes. there is something here for everyone. not each unit is to everyones liking but they are all top notch performers. i'd say all the ones here are equal quality but in different ways. they sound different. none of them sound poor though.

music_man
post #40 of 145
music_man, have the changes you made to your DAC1 affected your opinion of it relative to the others, specifically the CS? Have you since tested them with a different source?

Also, you had mentioned that "the cs should only really be bought if you are going to use it as a dac and headamp together." But you also seem to have said that it is comparable to equally/higher priced DACs. If you don't think it would be a good match with the Sennheiser line, what DACs under $400 do you think will fair better?
post #41 of 145
music man,

Have you compared the 2 phones jacks (CUE & MAIN). I'd read in the review from ferbose that they have differing sound which seems to be the case from my experience.

Also, I'm interested in your blue tack mod for the DAC. Why is this done and how?

I'm not using mine with a power conditioner, just a Tripp Lite Isobar 4 Ultra - Surge suppressor.

I use the CS DAC with my Woo Audio 3 tube amp with HD 650 & DT-880 as my favs for that. I find that the CS DAC/amp is my best match for Darth Beyers, it controls their massive bass very well.
post #42 of 145
Thread Starter 
my opinion has not changed. i have heard all of these units working properly in the past and even recently.

i think the vast majority of people would not hear huge differences between these dacs. they are small differences. i prefer the cs. most others here do not. there is always the few people that can hear a huge difference between these things. i hear a difference but it is small.

the cs seems very warm and full. like a full bodied wine. a lot going on mixed together. it also has less detail then the benchmark and apogee. the benchmark is sharper and more revealing. the cs is like looking at a water color painting with the colors lushly blended flowing into each other. the benchmark is like an oil painting where every detail stands out as component parts instead of melting into each other. i feel that the cs has deeper bass extension but not tighter. there are trade-offs. neither does everything to my perfect liking. this really is not as big a difference as it seems in words though. i'd highly suggest that each person just go hear them for themsleves.

above i am speaking of the dac only. combined with the headphone amp the only way i can describe the cs is as a full tube amp. it is just super warm and soft. almost smeared. but i like this effect. very soft and fuzzy. not distorted, just very dark,slow and lush.

to be honest i do think i could tell a difference blindfolded. however i bet i could not consistently pick which was which! that is just me personally. what you hear may be completely different. each person hears and perceives differently.

the cue does seem to sound better when it is in the signal chain of the headphone amp. again, this may be perceived. blindfolded i don't know what would happen. i might be very surprised. i think the cue sharpens things up a little to balance it out. because the dac combined with the headphone amp is very dark and slow. i think the cue adds a little snap or pep.
i listen with the headphone knob at 1/8th the way and the cue at 3/4 the way.

the cs is good for listening at low volumes. at higher volumes it's lack of detail becomes more evident. i listen at low volumes.
for studio work the benchmark and apogee are more precise. for my personal enjoyment i use the cs. you may not feel the same. try to go hear them if you can.

the bluetack mod: just take a dab of bluetack and put it on top of the receiver and dac ic's. this can be done to any dac. it may void your warranty. it is supposed to keep vibration out of the chips. again, any improvement heard from this may solely be perceived. i did this when i changed all the power supply parts to better spec components so i don't know if it by itself made any difference. either using power conditioning or improving the power supply of the cs will make it sound better. most everyone agrees on that.

i'd like to thank mr. gwinn again. i am good for the moment. the dac1 is working fine. i intend to use it only for work. it is more of a professional tool and it does it's job properly.


music_man
post #43 of 145
Thread Starter 
mr. gwinn i am well aware of the adjustments on the dac1. mine are calibrated properly and work fine with all my other equipment. maybe something could be done about overloading the s/pdif input?

you could pm me if you wish.

thank you,
music_man
post #44 of 145
My CS is due in tomorrow. I'm coming off of a Constantine DAC so it'll be interesting what I hear. I'm also curious how it'll pair up with my Darkvoice. Always love trying out new equipment!
post #45 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_man View Post
mr. gwinn i am well aware of the adjustments on the dac1. mine are calibrated properly and work fine with all my other equipment. maybe something could be done about overloading the s/pdif input?

you could pm me if you wish.

thank you,
music_man
Music_Man,

I don't know how the S/PDIF could overload...?? The DAC1 can handle up to full scall digital (0 dBFS). It seems very strange, indeed. What was driving it when you experienced this problem?

Thanks,
Elias
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