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A nice new DAC2 from Benchmark showing at RMAF - Page 3

post #31 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by shuttleboi View Post

The Benchmark DAC2 has all the specs I would ever want. However, I'm not a fan of the front plate. There are way too many LEDs (16 by my count). Looks like a spider's face with a bunch of little eyes. I don't care that the DAC2 is designed for "professionals"; the product manager for this unit should take a class in user interface design.

 

 

 

The previous DAC1 series looked much more refined and easy to use.

 

 

An obvious competitor is the Grace m903, which I think looks great.

 

 

 

anybody care to share any opinions on the Benchmark DAC2 vs the Grace m903?  trying to decide on a DAC in their "class":

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/647436/better-dac-than-the-anedio-d2-dac-sub-2000-good-with-macs-integrated-headphone-amp-balanced-xlr-outs#post_9085649


Edited by aphinity - 1/24/13 at 11:54pm

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post #32 of 231

I find the design of the Benchmark DAC1 to be quite user-friendly

I have a DAC1 on my desktop. It's user interface is as simple and functional as I could ask for

The DAC2 will likely be great, but pricey ...

post #33 of 231

I dont think that this dac was made for the pro market!!! sacd is not even sold anymore are they??

among other things like not having aes in the dac1 has high Z bridging on its bnc, calibration for fine tuning!!!

no the dac2 is defo for the audiophile market.

post #34 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3K weave View Post

I dont think that this dac was made for the pro market!!! sacd is not even sold anymore are they??

among other things like not having aes in the dac1 has high Z bridging on its bnc, calibration for fine tuning!!!

no the dac2 is defo for the audiophile market.

 

Can't comment on the rest of what you've said, but just correcting on the bolded statement :-

 

Yes they are, and some are even being re-issued (e.g. Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me", this time from a proper master). More recently in the past 6 months, there's been more online soft format sales in DSD format (think primarily DSF rather than DFF though) - and that's where there's a slight surge in DSD support on desktop DAC such as the DAC2, HP-A8, Mytek's, Invicta, etc.

post #35 of 231

New to HF as a poster, but a longtime listener... :-)

 

I've just gotten my new DAC2, and it's pretty impressive. I listen mostly to HD800s through a DAC1-PRE -> Schiit Valhalla (I found the HPA2 to be just too clinical in combination with the DAC1). I've also not been able to let go of my Transporter ... using the smooth filter takes the edge off of bright recordings. I've even used the Transporter through an H1 (Benchmark's outboard version of the HPA2 with balanced inputs).

 

But now I'm listening to the DAC2 through its built-in HPA2 amp, and it is head and shoulders above any earlier combination. There's a sense of transparency and space, rather than over-analysis. Like my old Stax Omegas, a bit, but more dynamic.

 

Sometimes I've felt that the HD800s are too good at exposing the weakness of source components, and that's when I accuse them of being bright or too analytical. My experience with the H1 (outboard HPA2) in combination with other DACs bears this out. I have hooked the HD800s and the H1 to some high $$ DACs, and found them to be less strident than the DAC1.

 

Before, I preferred the DAC1 -> Valhalla to the DAC1's internal amp. With the DAC2, I find that using the Valhalla takes something away, and that the internal HPA2 does all the right things without ever making me want to turn it down.

 

I mentioned Stax earlier: I sold my SR-007 mk1 and 717 amp a few years ago. I loved the ease of the Stax setup, but I wanted the punch of dynamics (K701, then HD800). I missed that ease and musicality before today; now I think that I might have it all in one package. 

 

I'm very, very glad that I bought this thing.

 

Sources: Benchmark DAC2, Logitech Transporter, Levinson 390S, DAC1-PRE

Amps: Benchmark H1, Headroom Micro, Schiit Valhalla

Cans: HD800, K701, HD650

Living Room: Classe SP-800, CT-M600, KEF Reference 207.2

post #36 of 231

i wonder how the dac 2 would pair with the fostex TH 900's?


Edited by jronan2 - 1/31/13 at 4:26pm
post #37 of 231
post #38 of 231
Ordered me one of these, the wait begins... :-)
post #39 of 231

I bought DAC1 almost 9 years ago and never liked the built-in amp, being kind of lifeless and not particularly high-resolution, easily beaten by a Ray Samuel's cheapest portable amp. But the converter is great and I keep using it for years without bothering to upgrade.

 

Now it looks like Benchmark has also optimized the analog components in DAC2 not just for superior specs but for enjoyable sound as well. I am glad that your impressions suggest that the built-in amp is now much more music-capable. Based on the measurements in the manual, DAC2 is basically a distortion-less D/A conversion "within the realm of standard measurements." The distortion numbers are so low that they ought to be inaudible.

I don't doubt that there could be higher degrees of audible distortions when measuring dynamic IMD or playing real music. But the simple fact is that DAC2 is a super-low distortion converter and probably measures as well as anything out there.

 

I don't think that lower measured distortion means better sounding. Adding the right analog components could easily make the sound more enjoyable even if more distortions are introduced. The primary example is adding vacuum tubes. 

 

But I will be very confident in buying DAC2 as the source component to give me a clean start. To tune the sound to my own flavor, I would go back to the old school way of using an 2A3 or 300B single-ended amp to drive my K1000. Direct heated triodes produce ridiculous amount of low-order harmonic distortion but for real music they can be transparent and sweet. It's funny that I would want at the same time the newest, distortion-less DAC and the oldest amp design with DHTs and tube rectifiers. I would try different tubes especially at the preamp position to find a flavor that works for me, knowing quite well the the "flavor" thing defies available measurements.

 

It looks like it's time for me to upgrade my DAC, but the price tag is not as friendly as it used to be at $995 for the legendary DAC1. Considering inflation, enhanced functionality, and component upgrade, I have to admit that the price increase is fair.   

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mgeagan View Post

New to HF as a poster, but a longtime listener... :-)

 

I've just gotten my new DAC2, and it's pretty impressive. I listen mostly to HD800s through a DAC1-PRE -> Schiit Valhalla (I found the HPA2 to be just too clinical in combination with the DAC1). I've also not been able to let go of my Transporter ... using the smooth filter takes the edge off of bright recordings. I've even used the Transporter through an H1 (Benchmark's outboard version of the HPA2 with balanced inputs).

 

But now I'm listening to the DAC2 through its built-in HPA2 amp, and it is head and shoulders above any earlier combination. There's a sense of transparency and space, rather than over-analysis. Like my old Stax Omegas, a bit, but more dynamic.

 

Sometimes I've felt that the HD800s are too good at exposing the weakness of source components, and that's when I accuse them of being bright or too analytical. My experience with the H1 (outboard HPA2) in combination with other DACs bears this out. I have hooked the HD800s and the H1 to some high $$ DACs, and found them to be less strident than the DAC1.

 

Before, I preferred the DAC1 -> Valhalla to the DAC1's internal amp. With the DAC2, I find that using the Valhalla takes something away, and that the internal HPA2 does all the right things without ever making me want to turn it down.

 

I mentioned Stax earlier: I sold my SR-007 mk1 and 717 amp a few years ago. I loved the ease of the Stax setup, but I wanted the punch of dynamics (K701, then HD800). I missed that ease and musicality before today; now I think that I might have it all in one package. 

 

I'm very, very glad that I bought this thing.

 

Sources: Benchmark DAC2, Logitech Transporter, Levinson 390S, DAC1-PRE

Amps: Benchmark H1, Headroom Micro, Schiit Valhalla

Cans: HD800, K701, HD650

Living Room: Classe SP-800, CT-M600, KEF Reference 207.2

post #40 of 231
The wait is over! biggrin.gif

My DAC2 finally arrived this morning :-)
post #41 of 231
What do you think of it so far.....
post #42 of 231
Using it as a DAC for my STAX SR-009's now and it's pretty much the same good impression as when I had one on loan and directly compared it to Grace Design m903, MyTek Stereo192, Lynx Hilo, and Bryston BDA-2.

It has the lowest noise level of anything I've ever tried my Shure SE-535's with as well.

Oh, the HT passthrough is a bit of an overstatement tho, its basically a volume preset that will affect all the outputs...
Not a feature I plan on using a lot, so for me it does not matter, but thought I'd mention it.

I guess I should mention I started out looking for an amp for my HD800, and ended up looking for a DAC for my STAX SRM-323S/SR-009, but landed on the Benchmark DAC2 which has both the amp and DAC part.
I haven't listened much to the HD800 with it yet, just 5-10 hours when I did my comparations that I mentioned, but I felt it was a very good match for that aswell. Sadly I've shelved the HD800 after I got the STAX setup...

I went through a relatively long list (imo) of amps and DACs before I settled on the DAC2:
- Burson Soloist
- Auralic Taurus
- Schiit Mjolnir
- Schiit Lyr
- Auralic ARK MX+
- Schiit Gungnir
- Burson Conductor
- Schiit Bifrost
- Antelope Zodiac
- Sennheiser HDVD800
- Fostex HP-A8C
- Grace Design m903
- MyTek Stereo192
- Lynx Hilo
- Bryston BDA-2

Not saying I ended up with the "best" gear, but to my ears the DAC2 did excellent.

It has optical and usb inputs, both SE and balanced line-out outputs, it works both as a standalone headamp (2 jacks, one will mute the line out when connected (can be changed via jumper)) and drives both the Shure SE-535 sensitive IEMs as well as the HD800, and it performs excellent as a DAC/preamp, it plays DSD, comes with a remote control, and works fine in Mountain Lion, Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux 12.04 over USB without issues when switching wordlength and freq.

Granted, it does not look shiny, or classy, so if you're into design and big "impressive looking" things then this is not for you.
It's small, has a few buttons and clear blue LED's for indicators, no fancy LCD display or "simplistic" glossy finish.
You can get rackmounting brackets for it (it's more of a pro-audio than audiophile design I guess...)
Basically a very functional design.

It has one tiny drawback, but that might just be more of a preference thing, and that is that I find it a bit on the warm side when it comes to bass, but it has good resolution and isn't "boomy" or anything.

Hopefully this means I can hold off on more DAC upgrades for a few years :-)

No, I have no affiliation with Benchmark, but so far I've been impressed with them, both the product and their service(only dealt with Rory Rall).

Edit: s/Burston/Bryston/g
Edited by CybDev - 3/20/13 at 4:07pm
post #43 of 231
Oh, I got the black faceplate, and the HD800 did see a good 2 months heavy use, just 5-10 hours with a DAC2 :-)
post #44 of 231
Thanks for that. I'm thinking of gong with the black faceplate as well. Sounds like a great piece of kit.
post #45 of 231

CybDev,

I'd like to hear your thoughts about the BDA-2 when you get a chance.

I've mis-typed Bryston for Burson, or vice-versa, but you came up with an entirely new brand named "Burston"

Cheers on your journey

 

beerchug.gif

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