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Benchmark DAC1 USB

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I have a Benchmark DAC1 USB. I would like to upgrade to the "next level". Only one question. What is the next level? Is it a quantum leap in price? Any specific product suggestions out there?

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post #2 of 21
Beyond that you will have to pick something that gives you a subjectively better sound. From a measurement perspective the DAC1 is amongst the top DACs out there. Even a Boulder 2020 does not quite measure as well.

Depending on your budget you could try some of the more esoteric converter designs

Chord DAC 64
Lavry Gold
MSB Platinum DAC III
DCS Elgar, Paganini, Scarlatti
Wadia has some strange boxes as well


post #3 of 21
I'm not familiar with your setup so please don't take this the wrong way, but perhaps there are other devices in the cain that would benefit more from an upgrade?

A DAC should give you a true uncoloured translation of your audio. If the DAC1 isn't doing that for you then I guess you need to look elsewhere as you have suggested.

My impression is that there seem to be many DACs out there that offer more of a sideways step than a forward one. But then I guess there's little to be lost by trying something new to find out - best way to check IMO - and you'll always find someone here to take audio gear off your hands if you don't want it!

Good luck with your search...
post #4 of 21
wavelength brick dac?
post #5 of 21
Maybe approach it from a tech standpoint. Maybe look into DACs w/ separate power supply housings, etc.
DACs seem to be a hot button topic to talk about, as its impossible to not offend anybody, so I'll just echo the sentiment that some are 'sidegrades'. I upgraded and 'sidegraded' at the same time, and am never looking back.
post #6 of 21
How about a mod to your Benchmark from Empirical Audio:

Interconnects and Cables by Empirical Audio
post #7 of 21
Originally Posted by BigEat View Post
I have a Benchmark DAC1 USB. I would like to upgrade to the "next level". Only one question. What is the next level? Is it a quantum leap in price? Any specific product suggestions out there?
yes. 3 plus grand..
post #8 of 21
don't you have an SA60. why do you need another DAC - for computer use?
post #9 of 21
It would be helpful, if you flesh out your profile so we can make a suggestion or three. Maybe, there are other components that could use an upgrade.
post #10 of 21
What is the next level beyond flat frequency response and inaudible distortion, and even the elimination of possible chimeras such as jitter?
post #11 of 21
You can probably find something slightly better than a DAC1 for significantly more money. Upgrading your DAC from a DAC1 is probably the least cost efficient way of upgrading your system; you will probably find MUCH greater returns from upgrades to almost every other component in your system.
post #12 of 21

DAC1 Upgrade

Unfortunately in my experience to move significantly beyond the DAC1 would require a sizable investment (one that would probably lead to further upgrades throughout one's system). Sure options like the Lavry are there, along with many other DACs within that vague price range - you may or may not prefer their interpretation of DAC design. However, the only DAC I have ever heard that truly sounded like an upgrade (in nearly ever regard) to the DAC1 for me was the EMM Labs Meitner DCC2 SE. Others may argue that they hear "huge" differences even among the lower-tiered DACs like the Benchmark, Lavry, Apogee, etc. - that may indeed be true, but to me those are more akin to "side-grades," or flavor differences. The EMM Labs gear is the only source to ever truly awaken me to the vast potential of digital (and make my wallet retreat in cowardly humiliation).
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Let me catch uo. I should have included my other equipment.

Source - In this example, Apple TV connected to the Benchmark via digital out

Amp - Ray Samuels B-52

Interconnects - Balanced out from DAC to B-52 via Audioquest King Cobra

Headphones - AKG 701 with balanced cables

Other Source - Esooteric DA 60 directly to b 52

thanks to all.
post #14 of 21
I have a Cambridge Audio Azur 740c, which as a DAC sounded more or less at the same level as a DAC1. I've had goodness knows how many hours/days/months with a X-03SE and while the Esoteric is most definitely better, the difference is not as massive as the price difference suggests. Quite honestly, I think you're looking at spending a huge chunk if you want any night and day increase in sound quality.

I have very limited experience with the Chord DAC64 used with the Blu transport. It's pretty darn good, but will set you back a few times the cost of a DAC1.

What's your target price range anyway? There are quite a few top-notch CD/SACD spinners that have DAC functions as well: dCS, Meridian, Resolution Audio, APL HiFi, etc... Have you considered upgrading your SA60 to one of them?
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
In terms of simple price point I've been considering the Bel Canto DAC3, but I'm not sure there is much by way of sonic improvement even though the price is about twice that of the Benchmark.
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