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A nice new DAC2 from Benchmark showing at RMAF - Page 4

post #46 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtinto View Post

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

Hahaha, yes you are absolutely right, that's embarrassing, thanks for correcting me :-)

I very much liked the "Bryston Limited: BDA-2 External DAC" (did I get it right now? :P)
The audio quality is impressive, and I couldn't fault it in any way, note that I only had a chance to test it as a DAC for the SRM-323S for my SR-009 and with Lynx Hilo as an amp with HD800.
I was pretty much aiming for a good DAC for my SR-009 setup, so I spent rather little time feeding the BDA-2 into the various other units I had (many of them had analog inputs and could be used as amps for HD800)

The feature set is somewhat limited compared to the competition I listed, but from a purely sq point of view it's as good as any of the others I tested.
I would actually fail 2/3 of the time when blind testing vs. the DAC2 for most of my sources, I might have thought the BDA-2 was a little more neutral when it comes to the bass response, but in a good way. (I think I'm ending up in the "prefers analytical sound" category).
The BDA-2 is a lot larger than the rest, and much heavier.
I really like the subtle indicator LED's, unlike many who are way too bright these are just right.
Unlike the DAC2, where you need to go to their website to download the drivers for windows, BDA-2 comes with a re-usable usb stick (one of those shaped like a key) with the drivers on it.
There is a warning sticker over the usb port telling you to install the drivers before attaching the usb cable, however the driver installation on win7 insists on connecting the cable before drivers are installed...
I tried some of the upsampling features but failed all the blindtests, guess my ears are not good enough to pick up any differences there.
All in all, if the DAC2 wasn't such an amazing package, I would have gone with the BDA-2 I think.
It also looks amazing in a rack with the other Bryston units, I'm particularly fond of the black faceplates :-)
post #47 of 229

Thanks CybDev

The BDA-2 and the DAC2 both seem to be great choices

I'm looking forward to hearing them soon

post #48 of 229

Surprised to not see more impressions of this DAC, given the wide use (and long life) of it's predecessor. Any more thoughts on how this compares to the PWD, Anedio, Weiss, etc.?
 

post #49 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonance View Post

Surprised to not see more impressions of this DAC, given the wide use (and long life) of it's predecessor. Any more thoughts on how this compares to the PWD, Anedio, Weiss, etc.?
The issues for me that have stopped me purchasing one are that firstly, I think it's an ugly design - even when compared to previous Benchmark DACs. I think it's a step backwards to use push-buttons for the interface - even if it offers more direct controls now. And not only that, but there doesn't appear to be any way to disable the ultra-bright blue LEDs that they've covered the front of it with. I hate blue LEDs.

The headphone output stage is the same HPA2 amplifier used in previous designs. Not that it is a bad design, but it's a bit weak compared to what else is available today.
And as a result of keeping the same headphone output stage, it means that it's still lacking independent volume controls - or even the ability to set a fixed offset so that one control keeps both headphones at the same volume.

It's also disappointing that losing the analog circuitry only knocks $200 off the price with the DAC2-D as well.
I would have hoped for a bigger price difference than that to make that compromise worthwhile.


I'm quite sure that the audio performance is outstanding. But at $2000 ($3000 where I live) it needs to get everything else right too.

That doesn't mean I have found anything better yet, but it has stopped me from buying one so far. I might wait for the next round of DSD-capable DACs to come out and see what's available then.
Edited by StudioSound - 4/28/13 at 12:43pm
post #50 of 229
Just for the record, the LED's are not really that bright.
But yes, you can't disable them...
post #51 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by CybDev View Post

Just for the record, the LED's are not really that bright.
Well that's good to hear. I wish you could disable them though.

I just happened to be offered a really good price on a DAC2 - cheap enough that I can overlook some of the concerns I had - and I'm thinking of going for it.

Something I need to know about it though; are there any pops or clicks when you change sample rate? What about going from PCM to DSD?

One of my biggest annoyances with my current setup is that when I'm outputting via WASAPI from my PC and having it automatically switch sample rates, there's a loud "pop" and half a second of silence as it switches. If you're going through a playlist that has a mix of CD-quality tracks, HD tracks, and DSD audio, this is very distracting.
Edited by StudioSound - 5/3/13 at 3:54am
post #52 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by StudioSound View Post

Well that's good to hear. I wish you could disable them though. Are they flush with the front of the unit, or recessed slightly? (being recessed makes it a lot easier to block them out)

I just happened to be offered a really good price on a DAC2 - cheap enough that I can overlook some of the concerns I had - and I'm thinking of going for it.

Something I need to know about it though; are there any pops or clicks when you change sample rate? What about going from PCM to DSD?

One of my biggest annoyances with my current setup is that when I'm outputting WASAPI and having it switch sample rates, there's a loud "pop" and half a second of silence as it switches. If you're going through a playlist that has a mix of CD-quality tracks, HD tracks, and DSD audio, this is very distracting.

Flush, but indented tiny ring around the "head" of the LED.

No pops, but using Audirvana for mac there is a half-second/second delay/silence when switching samplerate and wordlength.
I don't have my windows pc here right now, but I seem to remember that beeing the same, definitely no pops or distortion.

I haven't found anything that doesn't have that delay tho, tbh the DAC2 usb performance on linux/mac/windows was one of the reasons I chose it.

Edit: LED depth
Edited by CybDev - 5/3/13 at 6:49am
post #53 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by CybDev View Post

Slightly recessed, which means you can cover them nicely with a piece of black duct tape if you get the black front, the texture even semi-matches wink.gif
Well I was hoping to use something a bit neater than duct tape. If they're slightly recessed, it shouldn't be too bad to cover them up in an unobtrusive way though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CybDev View Post

No pops, but using Audirvana for mac there is a half-second/second delay/silence when switching samplerate and wordlength.
I don't have my windows pc here right now, but I seem to remember that beeing the same, definitely no pops or distortion.

I haven't found anything that doesn't have that delay tho, tbh the DAC2 usb performance on linux/mac/windows was one of the reasons I chose it.
Thank you. I don't mind a half second of silence when switching between formats - it's mainly the pop/click or other noises that bother me.

Currently, I just upsample everything to 192kHz when playing mixed content so that you avoid that noise when it switches sample rate, but with the DAC2 supporting DSD, I would want to be bitstreaming that rather than convert it to PCM.


Are you still happy with it? It seems like you went through a lot of DACs before settling on the DAC2-HGC.
post #54 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by StudioSound View Post

Well I was hoping to use something a bit neater than duct tape. If they're slightly recessed, it shouldn't be too bad to cover them up in an unobtrusive way though.
Thank you. I don't mind a half second of silence when switching between formats - it's mainly the pop/click or other noises that bother me.

Currently, I just upsample everything to 192kHz when playing mixed content so that you avoid that noise when it switches sample rate, but with the DAC2 supporting DSD, I would want to be bitstreaming that rather than convert it to PCM.


Are you still happy with it? It seems like you went through a lot of DACs before settling on the DAC2-HGC.

So the LEDs are actually completely flush, with a small ring around the plastic "head". I was confusing it with one of the other DAC's I tested I guess.

I completely agree with the pops/clicks/insanely loud static noise(hi Lynx Hilo), and especially with dodgy drivers that was problematic. The DAC2 has yet to pop/click/noise when switching wordlength/samplerate, Granted, I only briefly tested the opical inputs, and not the coax at all.

While I primarily use it as a DAC for my SRM-323S/SR-009 rig, I also think it does a very good job driving the HD800 as well, but there seems to be a majority of people that disagree with me on that one...

I'm still happy with it, and use it every day smily_headphones1.gif

If I had to complain about something it'd be paying the insane price it goes for here in Norway (almost 2600USD rolleyes.gif), the "HT" feature that really just turns on another LED and is a volume preset, and no ability to turn off all the LED's tongue.gif

Edit: incorrect info about LED depth
Edited by CybDev - 5/3/13 at 6:48am
post #55 of 229
I'm really crap at taking pics, especially with a cellphone, but maybe these will help you regarding the LED's:


post #56 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by CybDev View Post

So the LEDs are actually completely flush, with a small ring around the plastic "head". I was confusing it with one of the other DAC's I tested I guess.
No problem, just makes it a little more awkward to cover up. (rather than simply fill the recess with putty - what!? it works, blends in, and doesn't leave a residue...)

Quote:
I completely agree with the pops/clicks/insanely loud static noise(hi Lynx Hilo), and especially with dodgy drivers that was problematic. The DAC2 has yet to pop/click/noise when switching wordlength/samplerate, Granted, I only briefly tested the opical inputs, and not the coax at all.
Optical and Coax aren't my main concern either, USB is probably going to be the main input I use.
No noises when you restart the computer with the DAC connected and switched on (another problem with Lynx gear I think?) or when you turn the DAC on with the volume turned up? (not that you should do that)

I am guessing that it will be silent no matter what you do though.

Quote:
While I primarily use it as a DAC for my SRM-323S/SR-009 rig, I also think it does a very good job driving the HD800 as well, but there seems to be a majority of people that disagree with me on that one...
I am of the opinion that DACs and Amplifiers are not something to be "paired" with a device - they should be as neutral as possible, which means that they should work well with any headphone you connect up to them as long as the output impedance is low enough (it is) and it can supply enough power.

Benchmark Media seem to think the same thing.

Are you using the HPA2 with your HD800, or is it just operating as a DAC for you?
Quote:
If I had to complain about something it'd be paying the insane price it goes for here in Norway (almost 2600USD rolleyes.gif), the "HT" feature that really just turns on another LED and is a volume preset, and no ability to turn off all the LED's tongue.gif
That sounds like the "really good discount" price I have been offered. rolleyes.gif ($3100 normally! mad.gif)
Quote:
I'm really crap at taking pics, especially with a cellphone, but maybe these will help you regarding the LED's:
Hm, I was thinking of getting it in silver, but now I don't know. Thank you for taking the photos.
post #57 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by StudioSound View Post

No noises when you restart the computer with the DAC connected and switched on (another problem with Lynx gear I think?) or when you turn the DAC on with the volume turned up? (not that you should do that)

When you turn off the DAC2 it takes a few seconds, the volume knob is servo controlled and turns itself down to minimum before it shuts down.
When you turn it on again it restores volume to the level it was when you started the shutdown sequence.
I never forced the volume pot to max and then tried to turn it on, but I would guess it would work fine with USB seeing as it should just register the same way as when switching wordlength/samplerate.
I might have forgotten to mention it, but when you adjust the volume you will be able to hear the servo, it's not very loud but it's not exactly quiet either. I usually don't play too much with the volume controls in a listening session so it never bothered me.
Can always just place it further away and use the remote that comes with it tongue.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by StudioSound View Post

I am of the opinion that DACs and Amplifiers are not something to be "paired" with a device - they should be as neutral as possible, which means that they should work well with any headphone you connect up to them as long as the output impedance is low enough (it is) and it can supply enough power.

Benchmark Media seem to think the same thing.

Well there seems to be some strong opinions on both sides, I'm leaning towards that point of view myself but try to keep an open mind.

Oh, I guess I could have pasted this before, I did ask for more detailed specs and this is what I got:
Quote:
From: Rory Rall
Date: Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 4:39 PM
Subject: RE: Benchmark DAC2-HGC amp specs

Hello,

This is the best I can do at the moment from some previous calculations with the HE6 headphones. I hope it's helpful.

Our headphone amp (HPA2) will drive most any headphone available and to very high levels. Here are a couple of articles that relate to headphone amps.

http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/discuss/feedback/newsletter/2011/12/2/0-ohm-headphone-amplifier-sonic-advantages-low-impedance-headphone-amp

http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/discuss/feedback/newsletter/2011/12/1/do-specifications-lie-do-our-ears-lie-where-does-truth-lie-examination

The HE-6 will only be 5.5 dB quieter than the HD 600 at a given volume setting. The DAC1 should have absolutely no trouble driving the HE-6.

The HE-6 is 50 Ohms while the HD600 is 300 Ohms. This means that 1 mW occurs at a much lower voltage for the HE-6. HE-6 is 1 mW at 0.22 Vrms. The HD 600 is 1 mW at 0.55 Vrms. This is an 8dB difference that helps offset the 13.5 dB difference in sensitivity. 13.5 - 8 = 5.5. This means that the HE-6 is only 5.5 dB quieter than the HD 600 when driven by the same voltage.

The HPA2 current limits at 0.8 A. The maximum peak current that could be delivered to a 50-Ohm headphone given our 18 volt rails is about 15V/50Ohms = 0.3 Amps.

Into a 50-Ohm load we can deliver more than 20 Vrms. At 20 Vrms, the output level of the HE-6 will be an ear-splitting 122 dB on musical peaks.

Rory Rall
Sales Mgr.
Benchmark Media Systems, Inc.
203 E. Hampton Place, Ste 2
Syracuse, NY 13206
http://www.benchmarkmedia.com
800-262-4675
fax 315-437-8119



Quote:
Originally Posted by StudioSound View Post

Are you using the HPA2 with your HD800, or is it just operating as a DAC for you?

Yeah, I use it for my HD800 whenever it's not practical to lug around the stax.
But to be honest, the stax does get most of the listening time smily_headphones1.gif


Quote:
Originally Posted by StudioSound View Post

That sounds like the "really good discount" price I have been offered. rolleyes.gif ($3100 normally! mad.gif)
The MSRP seems to be $2000, but for me there is a 25% VAT on top of whatever I want to import, so I guess 2600 wasn't that bad for me. A benefit of buying them locally for me is also Norwegian consumer laws that gives a 5 year limited warranty no matter what the vendor says, so that's worth something... smily_headphones1.gif


Quote:
Originally Posted by StudioSound View Post

Hm, I was thinking of getting it in silver, but now I don't know. Thank you for taking the photos.

Yeah my demo sample was silver, I prefer the black finish myself. Then again I was always partial to black and "anonymous"/neutral designs...
Edited by CybDev - 5/3/13 at 8:10am
post #58 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by CybDev View Post

When you turn off the DAC2 it takes a few seconds, the volume knob is servo controlled and turns itself down to minimum before it shuts down.
When you turn it on again it restores volume to the level it was when you started the shutdown sequence.
That's a nice touch. I guess it isn't an issue - I won't be adjusting the volume when it's off.
Quote:
I might have forgotten to mention it, but when you adjust the volume you will be able to hear the servo, it's not very loud but it's not exactly quiet either. I usually don't play too much with the volume controls in a listening session so it never bothered me.
I'd prefer that it was silent, but I suppose it's necessary to implement the highest quality remote-controlled volume control.
Quote:
Oh, I guess I could have pasted this before, I did ask for more detailed specs and this is what I got:
Sounds like the HPA2 is nothing to be concerned about then. I'm still surprised that they didn't change the design though. Maybe they felt it wasn't necessary.
Quote:
The MSRP seems to be $2000, but for me there is a 25% VAT on top of whatever I want to import, so I guess 2600 wasn't that bad for me. A benefit of buying them locally for me is also Norwegian consumer laws that gives a 5 year limited warranty no matter what the vendor says, so that's worth something... smily_headphones1.gif
Very nice. Benchmark Media void your warranty here if it is imported, so I have to pay local prices.
Quote:
Yeah my demo sample was silver, I prefer the black finish myself. Then again I was always partial to black and "anonymous"/neutral designs...
A black unit disappears amongst a stack of other gear - but I find that silver gear is actually less noticeable and blends into a room better if it's just sitting on its own. The DAC2 is more two-tone than silver though, which is why I am unsure about it.

I guess the DAC1-S just wasn't popular enough for them to justify custom parts beside the faceplate. After that they just used the components from the black version:
http://i.imgur.com/sx1PwvG.jpg
(even there, they used black bolts though)

I wish Benchmark Media cared more about the look of the unit to create something as nice as vintage audio equipment.

It's stupid really when it is studio gear that belongs in a rack... but I can't help wishing it looked better. redface.gif
Edited by StudioSound - 5/29/13 at 8:22pm
post #59 of 229
Oh, big warning: ONLY the frontplate is white/silver, the "box" itself is still black.


I would venture a guess that it's a pretty standard volume control attached to a servo system for the physical movement part.
I could be wrong, but I think the servo on the volume control is a gimmic, something they bolted on to make it look cool or smth... Like the "HT"-mode...

Still, that does not change the fact it is a good DAC and a good amp imo smily_headphones1.gif
post #60 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by CybDev View Post

I would venture a guess that it's a pretty standard volume control attached to a servo system for the physical movement part.
I could be wrong, but I think the servo on the volume control is a gimmic, something they bolted on to make it look cool or smth... Like the "HT"-mode...

That's how motorized volume controls have been made for as long as I can remember. It is not a gimmick at all.

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