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A nice new DAC2 from Benchmark showing at RMAF - Page 15

post #211 of 229
The pot is a relatively cheap one, albeit as i understand it bespoke for Benchmark, i believe its based on an Alps blue pot. Whereas these are not complete junk, they nevertheless still have dreadful channel tracking and can easily be a couple of dB out, especially at low volume settings where such problems are clearly audible channel imbalance. Ok since they are passive components, they do sound OK but the channel tracking issues and inevitable track wear and them resulting crackles, is not very appealing. Check out the duty cycle specs for Alps pots and you will be mortified how low they are.

Given the DAC is constantly whirring the pot - for every volume change, every mute and unmute, every power on and off, every source change - then the early demise of the pot is probably going to occur sooner than people expect. I can only assume Benchmark programmed in these seemingly unnecessary pot movements in order to lower the volume and reduce the rather unpleasant clicks and pops. It's a bodged solution all around.

I would have infinitely preferred an led display, digital volume control and a resistive ladder / stepped attenuator for the analogue inputs.
Edited by Chippy99 - 5/15/14 at 8:04am

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post #212 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chippy99 View Post

Whereas these are not complete junk, they nevertheless still have dreadful channel tracking and can easily be a couple of dB out, especially at low volume settings where such problems are clearly audible channel imbalance. 

 

No measurements of the DAC-1 or DAC-2 that I have seen show any significant channel imbalance. Stereophile measured 0.25 db at high volume on the DAC-2.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chippy99 View Post

...the channel tracking issues and inevitable track wear and them resulting crackles, is not very appealing. Check out the duty cycle specs for Alps pots and you will be mortified how low they are.
Given the DAC is constantly whirring the pot - for every volume change, every mute and unmute, every power on and off, every source change - then the early demise of the pot is probably going to occur sooner than people expect.

 

How long has the DAC-1 been on the market? Must be close to a decade. It is one of the top selling DACs on the market. So where are all the reports of noisy or failing volume controls? It sounds like you don't own one and you don't actually know for certain the make/model of the volume control, but you are claiming faults that no one has actually reported in the real-world (as far as you or I know anyway). Besides that, Benchmark has an excellent warranty and I'm told the in-house repair service is very good.

 

Benchmark touts their measurements because it measures as one of the very best DACs on the market regardless of price. If you don't think measurements reflect the listening experience, I'll respect that, thought I strongly disagree.


Edited by VandyMan - 5/15/14 at 9:40am
post #213 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by VandyMan View Post
 

 

No measurements of the DAC-1 or DAC-2 that I have seen show any significant channel imbalance. Stereophile measured 0.25 db at high volume on the DAC-2.

 

Well Stereophile got lucky then. My DAC1-HDR's is something like 3dB out at its worst point - it's by FAR the weakest aspect of the DAC1's otherwise exemplary performance.  The ALPS spec says up to 5dB out at volumes -60dB to -40dB is within spec, and 3dB of error between -40dB to 0dB again is within spec.  Staggerly bad.  Interestingly I don't think Benchmark quote a figure for the DAC1, despite giving you every measurement under the sun.  I can imagine why they miss this one out!

 

Originally Posted by VandyMan View Post
 

How long has the DAC-1 been on the market? Must be close to a decade. It is one of the top selling DACs on the market. So where are all the reports of noisy or failing volume controls? It sounds like you don't own one and you don't actually know for certain the make/model of the volume control, but you are claiming faults that no one has actually reported in the real-world (as far as you or I know anyway). Besides that, Benchmark has an excellent warranty and I'm told the in-house repair service is very good.

 

Benchmark touts their measurements because it measures as one of the very best DACs on the market regardless of price. If you don't think measurements reflect the listening experience, I'll respect that, thought I strongly disagree.

 

 

Your comment about lack of reports of faulty DAC1's is a valid one, so perhaps they are more reliable than I had at first suspected.

 

Now, how do I "sound like I don't actually own one" exactly?  Frankly that's just a plain stupid comment.  And regards your last sentence, I have no  idea what you are talking about.  I don't recall at any point saying that either the DAC1 or the DAC2 don't sound excellent, because they do.

 

If you want me to DEMONSTRATE that I own both DACs, I am prepared to do this:  Tell me what to write on a piece of paper, and I will write it and photograph it on top of both my DACs.  But here's the deal, I am only going to go through this pantomime - and it is a pantomime - if you give me your solemn word that you will apologise clearly and unconditionally for basically calling me a liar.  Over to you.


Edited by Chippy99 - 5/15/14 at 11:25am
post #214 of 229

I read your previous post ("not that appealing") to mean you don't own one, but it is not important and I will certainly take your word. I assumed incorrectly that if you owned a Benchmark DAC for any significant period of time you would not be claiming the volume control becomes noisy without first-hand experience.

 

It is not just Stereophile that found no significant issues with Benchmark DACs in their measurements (and they have reviewed/measured at least three Benchmark DAC models). Take a look at the anti-Stereophile, The Audio Critic. He has measured a few different models and says about the DAC-1 HDR: "All in all, the Benchmark DAC1 HDR is damn close to a perfect piece of equipment. Neither its digital performance nor its analog performance could be meaningfully improve"

 

I'm glad you enjoy your DAC-1 as much as me. I'm not sure I get why you are making such a big deal about the volume control since your own experience, measurements, etc. don't back the idea that it is significantly flawed. Perhaps it is not ideal for the studio as another poster said. It certainly has some usability/ergonomic issues. However, I see nothing to back your claim that it is noisy, becomes noisy with regular use, or suffers from audible channel imbalance. Sure, no moving part will last forever (nor will some of the electronics like the capacitors), but the Benchmark came out more than a decade ago and, as you agreed, I don't see reports of problems on the audiophile forums.

 

My next DAC will probably be the Auralic Vega, but the Benchmarks are a tremendous bargain and a first-rate DAC, in my opinion. And, actually, I think we share that view!


Edited by VandyMan - 5/15/14 at 12:15pm
post #215 of 229

One more... Ken Rockwell measured a channel imbalance of around 1.5 db on the DAC-1 HDR (worst case), if I'm reading correctly. That is more than others measured and could admittedly be audible for trained listeners under ideal conditions, but it is still very low.

 

http://kenrockwell.com/audio/benchmark/dac1-hdr.htm

 

If you are getting significant channel imbalance, have you tried adjusting the calibration? Here are directions Benchmark sent me a few years ago:

 

Directions for calibrating

Submitted by EliasGwinn on Tue, 2011-03-08 14:01.

Directions for calibrating the DAC1 USB:

WARNING: This procedure involves playing a test tone that should not be played through your speakers.

1. Disconnect all analog cables from the DAC1 USB.

2. Download this test tone (1 kHz sine wave @ -20 dBFS):

http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/audio-test-files/1k%204416%20-20.wav

3. Play the test-tone through the USB input of the DAC1 USB.  Make sure all computer/software volumes are set to 100%.

4. Make sure the rear-panel ‘output mode’ switch is set to ‘Calibrated’ (the upper most position)

5. Measure the AC voltage between the center and ring of one of the RCA outputs. 

6. Adjust the corresponding calibration trim-pot until the voltage measures 0.2 VAC.

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the other RCA output.  Your DAC1 USB is now calibrated. 

8. Delete the test-tone from your computer (or at least remove it from your media player library) to avoid accidentally playing through your speakers it in the future

9. After calibrating, if you are connecting the DAC1 USB directly to an amplifier and/or active monitors, be sure to set the rear-panel ‘output mode’ switch in the ‘Variable’ position (the bottom position).


Edited by VandyMan - 5/15/14 at 1:11pm
post #216 of 229

The "pops" occurring when turning on or off the DAC2 is not an issue at all if you follow a simple procedure: Always have your amp (or powered speakers) off when turning on or off the DAC2.  

 

This means that you turn on the DAC2 before you turn on your amp.  And you turn off your DAC2 after you turn off the amp.

 

Many have done this for years with other preamps to avoid the pop -- the DAC2 is not unusual in this regard. 

post #217 of 229

this is the real big reason we use the dac1 in the studio. we use the calibrated fixed output on the xlr's. it is set with a calibrated certified multimeter.

 

stereophile, at high volume. yeah, the problem with these pots is at low volume. the calibrated fixed is clearly closer than the front pot.

 

I am not a fan of ken Rockwell but he might have actually performed a correct test for once.

post #218 of 229

Just wondering... You are running the calibrated output to powered speakers? Do you correct the speakers for channel imbalance?

post #219 of 229

sometimes. the calibrated are l-r. you set them the same with a multimeter. should check sometimes because it can change.

post #220 of 229
Understand about calibrating, and i am sure it would help. But i found with the -20dB pads, most of my listening is above 11 o'clock where the balance is pretty good. Arguably still audible imbalance, but I've tried to ignore it and since i tend to listen sitting slightly off centre anyway, i've found I can forget about it.

I have to say I love my DAC1, despite this minor irritation. There's much to like about the DAC2 as well. It sounds slightly different - arguably better; the front display of bit rate and word length is useful; the digital channel tracking is of course faultless; and finally the HT bypass is useful. I have the DAC2 driving my power amps directly and my HT processor feeding the DAC2's analogue inputs in HT bypass mode.

The only thing that disappointed was these damned clicks, but it's really not a terribly big deal. It's just surprising given the DAC1 is so polished in this regard.

Happy listening!
Edited by Chippy99 - 5/16/14 at 2:09pm
post #221 of 229
How much better is the DAC2 than the DAC1, SQ wise?
post #222 of 229

I have this DAC and it probably the most resolving source I've heard.  Noticible difference in the all intracacies of the sound.  First thing that has emediately struck me was the additonal defintion to vocals I was hearing compared to my ODAC/O2. Because of this, I thought some well recorded vocals souded different than out of the typical sources.  It was outputting more information that was there, and for this reason the vocals sounded different. The treble is fine, and capable of putting out very fine details.  This comes at a price of it not be a warm source.  Since it has 0 output impedance, it's just fantastic with iems.  I've been listening to my NT6 CIEM out of it and there is nothing that come really come to the level of what I've been experiencing with this source.  I always thought iems have a limit to how much difinition they can output compared to cans, boy was I wrong.  My NT6 sounds like cans, the stage has become much wider and dynamics have much greater deph. The DAC2 shows that NT6 scales well, and NT6 shows that DAC2 is a transparent source that outputs more information that other sources. The treble is accurate since it outputs palette of treble vs some sources that outputs the thick or bold trble, or the dry treble the ESS chips are known for.  Not in this case, and it proves that implemention can really push the ES9018 to it's potential to output very accurate representation of the recording.  I favor this DAC to Hugo, but not a fair comparison as Hugo can be carried around.  Hugo puts out high resolution and does well with pretty much all genre, but to my ears it's not as accurate as DAC2 which is capable of outputting fine treble like the Hugo, but the sound has better definition and more realistic.  One of the worst overprice crap is the Concero HP(avoid like a plague).  My ODAC is much more accurate than the $900 concerto.

 

Oh yeah, and I like the measurements too.  :D 


Edited by SilverEars - 8/16/14 at 10:04am
post #223 of 229

Hey new here but I just thought I would weigh in here as I own both the concero HP and Dac2 HGC as well. I use the Dac 2 for my main speakers and occasionally with a HE500. I use the concero by my bed with a HD 650. While I, too, like the DAC2, I'm surprised you don't enjoy the concero HP.

 

In bit perfect mode, I have a very very hard time telling the difference between it and the DAC2 using either the HD 650's or HD-25ii's... Maybe a tiiiiiiinyy edge to the Benchmark? Maybe? Near-imperceptible at best. In fact, when using the HD 650, I sometimes (depending on track) prefer the concero HP's headphone out to the DAC2's headphone out when the apodizing (sp?) filter is engaged. For some reason, I do not enjoy the concero's IIR filter as much.  

 

When I switch over to the HE 500's, the DAC2 powers them better, and the larger home rig pulls away, but the Concero is not bad there either. Just a touch lean in heavy bass sections. For 850 or so, it's a phenomenal buy, IMHO. 

 

My notes on the Benchmark, were simply that it wasn't there. There's no coloring or boosting or subtracting of any type. Not harsh or smooth or anything like that. Just neutral and resolving. You hear what's on the record and nothing else, which is what I want a DAC to do.  Powers the HE 500 with one arm tied behind it's proverbial back. Also works great running to my studio monitor's. When I auditioned it, I honestly couldn't hear a difference between it and the A. Vega which was the other DAC I was considering (apparently Stereophile had a preference for the Vega, but as hard as I tried, it just wasn't audible to me). The Benchmark CS reputation put me over the edge. 

 

I would prefer a digital volume control instead of a rotary pot, but that's splitting hairs. I haven't seen any reliability issues show up yet. 

 

I also own a Audioquest dragonfly (work rig) and there is an audible increase in quality when stepping up to either the concero or the DAC2 HGC, but considering the cost, that makes sense. 

post #224 of 229

I didnt' think the Concerto HP came close to the ODAC/O2 setup.  Is the HP's filter switchable?  Possibly there was a filter on it, but from what I was hearing, the treble was overly smooth, and didn't sound accurate.  Details were wiped out that the ODAC was picking up.  The comparison was done through NT6 only which seems to reveal treble characteristics very well.  I have tested may DAPs with my NT6, and it does reveal differences that may not be picked up with some iems.  HD800 is a good headphone to test also, but I feel NT6 is better at revealing the source than a full sized can since is much more sensitive and it's ability to isolated ambiant noise.  NT6 has a very clear output and highly resolving do to it's flat response.  ODAC/O2 is a great value for it's price point given that a headphones that are less power hungry such as iems are used.  There are much better options that HP out there for $900, and the price seems too inflated than it's worth.  I wouldn't even take it at $200 given it's inaccuracy.  Just not worth it IMO.

 

I agree that DAC2 is very neutral and resolving, and there is absolutely no color as the measurements show.  This is the type of source I have been searching for, it's a solid performer IMO.

post #225 of 229

Everyone's ears are different. And the NT6's are supposed to be very revealing. But, based on my listening, I find the concero HP very detailed in the treble. I did listen to it with a pair of 535's for a little bit (before I lost them on the subway, uuurrrgggh) and found the top end waaaayyyy more resolving than on the dragonfly.

 

Didn't really ever use the 535s w the dac2, due to me switching the jumpers to full on attack mode for the HE500, and being afraid of blowing the IEMs up...

 

It might have something to do with the filter that was switched on when you listened to it (although if the sound was really that bad, maybe it was a defective unit?). The filters do smooth things a little, but it shouldn't have been crazy different than bit perfect. There are two filters and a bit perfect mode. You switch through them by pushing the volume knob in. Anyway, I don't want to take this thread OT, just thought I'd give my positive experience w/ both the concero HP and the DAC2, FWIW.

 

Just as a side note, they both use the ESS-9018 chip, the concero HP uses the newer mobile 2 channel version of the older 8 channel 9018 in the DAC2HGC. So aside from a slight advantage in noise floor due to channel summing in the DAC2, these two should (operative word "should") have very similar sound signatures. For the life of me, the three 9018 DACS I listened to were all very similar in SQ- DAC2, VEGA, WIESS (something forget the model but it was crazy 'spensive).

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