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Benchmark to Meridian/Naim/Arcam = Upgrade?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Just because I'm getting the itch to upgrade and try something new, I've been looking at higher end sources, namely CD players. I'm currently running a Benchmark DAC1 (NAD c521bee as transport) as my source but have been intrigued by the Meridian 588, G07, Naim CD5x, and Arcam CD33, among others.

Will any of these players be a solid upgrade over my current Benchmark source? I've enjoyed the sound of the Benchmark very much, but if I'm buying something new, I think I prefer a slightly smoother, less sharp sound. Anything else I should be looking at?

I will certainly try to audition but for various reasons, it's difficult to do so at this time. I wanted to get some opinions first.

Any thoughts?
post #2 of 25
I personally feel the Meridian 588 is inferior to the 508.24. I felt the 508.24 was something special. It was smooth and romantic, yet detailed. The DAC1 is my favourite source. Although, I like my source and amplification as uncouloured as possible. The DAC1 provides that in spades. I have not heard the NAIM or G07 personally.
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
TrevorNetwork, how do you compare the 508.24 to the Benchmark?
post #4 of 25
so to speak the benchmark would virtually kick ass most times and other times trade punches and counter punches with another source.
in case of the 508 it is like this, the dac1 is faster somehow more accurate, the meridien is smoother in terms of presentation. dac1 will take hold of you and drive you along, the meridien will let you take hold of what you want and then guide you along. that is of course an analogy.
In musical terms, imagine the gladiator soundtrack, if you want to feel the thunder and music shake your bones, then the dac1 will do it, the meridien will build it up but fall a little behind in punch, yet it will create the dark atmosphere of the movie beautifully. both the sources would do justice to most music out there. Its how you like your music. If you like how dac1 plays the music, chances are it will take something very substantial to sway you away.
post #5 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by insomniac
Just because I'm getting the itch to upgrade and try something new, I've been looking at higher end sources, namely CD players. I'm currently running a Benchmark DAC1 (NAD c521bee as transport) as my source but have been intrigued by the Meridian 588, G07, Naim CD5x, and Arcam CD33, among others.

Will any of these players be a solid upgrade over my current Benchmark source? I've enjoyed the sound of the Benchmark very much, but if I'm buying something new, I think I prefer a slightly smoother, less sharp sound. Anything else I should be looking at?

I will certainly try to audition but for various reasons, it's difficult to do so at this time. I wanted to get some opinions first.

Any thoughts?
I heard the Arcam CD33 through a CJ MV 60 at a dealer. It was very smooth yet detailed with holographic imaging, and the soundstage was very deep and very wide. The only thing that gave me pause was that dynamics were a little lacking and my toe didn't get to tapping as much as I would have liked.
post #6 of 25

Thoughts...

I've found that the DAC1 is good enough to my ears where actually finding a truly better CDP is a challenging (an expensive) task. The only digital sources I've found to truly better the DAC1 are the Meridian G08, Accuphase DP-85 and Esoteric DV-50 (though I admit my exposure to sources has been limited) - the 508.24, 588, FMJ CD33 and other players in that similar ballpark simply are a different flavor and not "better" than the DAC1, IMHO. I realize that even though the DAC1 sounds superior to many sources to my ears, it's far from ideal for every listener and there are plenty of folks who wouldn't enjoy its sound.
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilPeart
I've found that the DAC1 is good enough to my ears where actually finding a truly better CDP is a challenging (an expensive) task. The only digital sources I've found to truly better the DAC1 are the Meridian G08, Accuphase DP-85 and Esoteric DV-50 (though I admit my exposure to sources has been limited) - the 508.24, 588, FMJ CD33 and other players in that similar ballpark simply are a different flavor and not "better" than the DAC1, IMHO. I realize that even though the DAC1 sounds superior to many sources to my ears, it's far from ideal for every listener and there are plenty of folks who wouldn't enjoy its sound.
Thanks, NeilPeart, that was my sneaking suspicion. That those other options merely offered a different flavor as opposed to being a noteworthy improvement. The Benchmark for me was such a big improvement over anything else I heard that I loved it. But if I were to be nitpicky, I think I might prefer a smoother or warmer sound. So maybe, the Meridian is the way to go?

KZEE, thanks for your impressions on the Arcam. Sounds like the opposite direction of where I want to go. I want less analytical and more musical. If that means more colored, then so be it.
post #8 of 25
I feel the DAC1 is an excellent DAC, and, if used with Iron_Dreamer's Senn XLR balanced mod, a phenomenal amplifier. The DAC1 is easily the best deal in high-end sources today. It has superior dynamics, speed, transparency, and detail. Nevermind the fact that it is built like a tank, accepts 24/192 input, and has pre-amp ability.
post #9 of 25

...

...and can play DVD-As at full resolution - hearing those well-mastered AIX discs in 24/96 via my balanced-Zu'd HD650 (thanks for the tip Iron_Dreamer) is simply amazing (I wish you guys could visit and hear what I hear)! insomniac, if you're looking for a smoother sound then the G08 is definitely my choice (and even the more affordable 588 is excellent and you may prefer it to the DAC1's sound).
post #10 of 25
I agree with you Neil. It would be a challenge to find a source that sounds better than a DAC1. It would be next to impossible to find one that measures better than a DAC1. I absolutely love mine. You can't go wrong with the Senn-balanced setup either. Phenomenal bass, and separation. The best I've heard the Senn 650 sound bar the Dynahi.
post #11 of 25
NeilPert, how do you do full rez DVD-A? Can it be software decoded or do you need a certain soundcard? If it is software, what software do I need?
post #12 of 25
I would audition the Naim player, I think you may find it has a fun sound that is lacking in the Benchmark (i'm not dissing the benchmark btw), as Naim players are setup to make music sound bouncy and fun, and has a fairly unique sound among players.
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbirkett
I would audition the Naim player, I think you may find it has a fun sound that is lacking in the Benchmark (i'm not dissing the benchmark btw), as Naim players are setup to make music sound bouncy and fun, and has a fairly unique sound among players.
I doubt it, the famed Naim sound is a very good marketing strategy that Naim have managed to develop over the years. That sound is not unique at all, try some of the players with selectable filters and you will notice that there is nothing unique about it.
post #14 of 25

remilard,

PowerDVD 6 Deluxe will output 24-bit 96/192kHz DVD-A via optical or coaxial regardless of the soundcard used - all you need is a DVD-ROM (or DVD/RW) and a soundcard capable of 24-bit 96 or 192kHz output. Of course, un-locked DVD-A media is required (which are rare, especially among pop/rock titles) for full-resolution output; using locked media will yield 24-bit 48kHz output. Some stand-alone DVD-A players will also pass un-locked 24-bit 92/192kHz output (with un-locked media, of course); I use the $80 Panasonic DVD-S47, which passes along the un-molested data to the DAC1 as flawlessly as my soundcard. Still, there are relatively few un-locked DVD-A titles, but that blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the studios who implement such limitations and impose restrictions on the hardcore music fanatics like ourselves - we are not criminals so end this practice! At least some studios like AIX, Chesky, Silverline, Denon and Telarc (among others) understand that the audio enthusiast simply wants to use their own DACs! At least we have more freedom than those poor SACD folk...
post #15 of 25
I like my GO8 very much; long term comparisons are Arcam FMJ 23T and Ahh! Super Njoe Tjoeb (oversampled).
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