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Benchmark DAC2 vs Bel Canto DAC2

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
On Sat I had the opportunity to compare a DAC1 vs my own BC DAC2, thought that some of you might like a quick summary.

Based on new prices, the DAC1 is cheaper. However, because of it's popularity, the DAC1 is actually more expensive s/h, so from a price perspective, there's not a huge amount in it.

The comparison was completed by simply substituting my DAC2 with the DAC1, then swapping around. The system used is listed in my sig.

Differences? There certainly are some. My feeling was that the DAC1 was clearly brighter and came across lighter on it's feet. However, the brightness did seem to be at the expense of tonal colour. What I mean by that is that the DAC1 told you exactly where the vocalist was, the DAC2 then added more of the subtle information on how she was singing. So at first hearing, it appeared that the DAC1 was more detailed, but further listening showed it to be missing some of the nuances that the DAC2 was capturing.

Overall, well I don't think that either myself or the owner of the DAC1 would have swapped for the other unit, so I guess it's a question of personal preferences, and more importantly system synergy. My speakers are fairly forward, so the slightly relaxed manner of the BC DAC2 fits in perfectly with it, allowing me to listen to even modern compressed pop tat without it ripping my ears off. I don't think I could do that with the DAC1. Strikes me that the DAC1 would fit in much better with systems that are looking for a bit more bite and that this would take priority for many users over it's lack of subtle clues as to what was going on.

So for a winner? Neither really, buy on what you need.
post #2 of 16
people that have the dac1 will never trade it. they think it is the best. different people like different types of sonic signature. i like warm and detailed.

what you said about the dac1 is true. people that love it will say that is the way music should be and you will never change their minds. nor should you try. everyone is entitled to their own preference's.

music_man
post #3 of 16
I like my DAC1 (both of them) a lot. I have no idea if it is the world's best DAC, and don't particularly care. It, with the Sennheiser HD25 headphones, is a sonic delight.

I found the DAC1 after searching for a DAC with a built-in headphone amp. It got good reviews so I bought one. It does exactly what I wanted it to: clean up the output from my Squeezebox. I bought the USB version to do the same thing for my computer. That one drives (currently) Shure E500 'phones. IEMs are a hassle, though, for casual listening so I'm looking around for some sealed full-size cans, such as the new Denon.
post #4 of 16
I have the Bel Canto Dac 2 and I really like it alot. I've never heard the benchmark and I am curious about it. Slightly off topic: The Bel Canto Dac 2 is kinda ugly in some ways with it's industrial look and the Benchmark is chic looking with visual appeal. I like that.

I've read on the Audiogon forum that a good number prefer the Bel Canto Dac 2 over the Benchmark. But either way, I assume the Benchmark is a fine DAC and on the A list of "celebrity" gadgets. One thing that impresses me is that in terms of price, the Bel Canto can be purchased used for around $750 or less. Luckily I got mine for only $650 which would be a bargain since this DAC is considered to be on the same level of the Benchmark, which normaly runs around $900 new I think. I'm a happy camper.
post #5 of 16
Expensive little thing.
post #6 of 16

Benchmark DAC1 = The end of all DACs

Do art lovers cover up the paintings with mud just because they don't like the paintings? I like to remove the mud from the music with Benchmark DAC1, it's great.
post #7 of 16
^ ha ha Patrick I love your posts

Is the DAC 1 really as cold, bright and analytical as people say? The DAC 2 has more detail? This is suprising. No doubt the DAC 2 is a bargain if this is true.

Is the DAC 2 or DAC 1 tube sounding at all?
post #8 of 16
I just got the DAC1 which I will be eventually using with an external headamp (GS-1). I was fully aware of the variety of comments floating around about the "cold, analytical" character of the DAC1 (especially using its own phone amp). Using a variety of phones including Grado SR60s and AKG701s, I found the DAC1 to be a very pleasant sounding experience, although admittedly maybe not the ultimate in headphone amps (soundstage seemed a little "flat") - the resolution and overall clarity was just amazing, and I never thought the DAC1 was too bright or analytical, at least for my ears. I've had a number of CD players over the years, including recently some expensive high-end machines (e.g. Ayre), and I think the DAC1 does a better job than any of the internal DACs in these machines.
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick82 View Post
Do art lovers cover up the paintings with mud just because they don't like the paintings? I like to remove the mud from the music with Benchmark DAC1, it's great.
well if they dont like the paintings then maybe covering it with mud would be an improvement. especially if applying the mud is 100% reversable (as is a dac.. it doesn't actually change the original cd)
post #10 of 16
[QUOTE=twsmith;2912647] although admittedly maybe not the ultimate in headphone amps (soundstage seemed a little "flat") - the resolution and overall clarity was just amazing.

I use the DAC 1, including its internal amp, with Beyer 880 and 990s. I recently tried a new digital cable (Stereovox HDXV), in lieu of the $20 "stock" sold by Benchmark, and by far the biggest difference to everyone (non-audiophiles) who listened was that with the new cable the soundstage was more "layered" and not as "flat". (I use quotation marks as these were the words the people independently used.)
post #11 of 16
s.a.b.,
Quote:
I use the DAC 1, including its internal amp, with Beyer 880 and 990s. I recently tried a new digital cable (Stereovox HDXV), in lieu of the $20 "stock" sold by Benchmark, and by far the biggest difference to everyone (non-audiophiles) who listened was that with the new cable the soundstage was more "layered" and not as "flat". (I use quotation marks as these were the words the people independently used.)
anything else improved? how is it different from the BM IC?

i recently bought a DAC1 and am using the standard BM coaxial IC from my Sony DVD. the Stereovox is high on my ICs to try.

thanks.

PACE
post #12 of 16
I use the DAC 1, including its internal amp, with Beyer 880 and 990s. I recently tried a new digital cable (Stereovox HDXV), in lieu of the $20 "stock" sold by Benchmark, and by far the biggest difference to everyone (non-audiophiles) who listened was that with the new cable the soundstage was more "layered" and not as "flat". (I use quotation marks as these were the words the people independently used.)[/QUOTE]

Your experience with the DAC1 when switching in a "better" digital cable is certainly quite interesting although I really didn't find changing around cables to make much audible difference to me. I never used Benchmark's stock cable to begin with but had on hand 3 other cables including an excellent DH Labs cable. The DAC1 sounded fantastic with all of them. When I referred to a "slightly flat" soundstage, this was certainly just my perception when comparing the DAC1 to a Headroom Desktop that I also had -- the DAC1 exceeded the HR with respect to resolution and clarity except for soundstage "depth". In fact the DAC1 provided more soundstage width than the Desktop did. I don't know exactly what factors account for the perception of depth, especially in a headphone set-up, but there certainly are differences among various amps. Perhaps in fact the DAC1 is the more accurate presentation and the Desktop "exaggerates" depth. Regardless, this is a personal listening preference, and in no way detracts from the overall excellent DAC and even amp circuitry in the Benchmark.
post #13 of 16
[QUOTE=fishski13;2913461]s.a.b.,


anything else improved? how is it different from the BM IC?



I wouldn't describe the difference between the 2 cables as "night and day" in any event, but certainly the soundtage/instrument separation was the most noticable. Tonally, perhaps the Stereovox was slightly tighter in the upper bass and a tad less upfront in the lower mids.
post #14 of 16
thanks!

PACE
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by robm321 View Post
The DAC 2 has more detail? This is suprising. No doubt the DAC 2 is a bargain if this is true.

Is the DAC 2 or DAC 1 tube sounding at all?
My opinion having compared the two is that the DAC1 comes across as having more detail as it's brighter. Once you get over that initial impression, I believe that it actually missed some of the more subtle clues and elements of the music as it's more focused on the leading edges than the rest of the tonal parts of the music.

As for "tube sounding". I've heard a LOT of tubes. Some sound turgid and naff, some have the most incredible transient responses and amazing speed. So that would be a pretty inaccurate analogy.

If however you're asking whether either DAC is fairly relaxed, then yes, the DAC2 is.
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