A nice new DAC2 from Benchmark showing at RMAF
Jun 25, 2013 at 7:31 PM Post #106 of 247

StudioSound

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My spectacular luck with electronics continues, and in less than a month, the volume control has broken on my DAC2. :frowning2:
It is somewhat concerning to me, because although the volume is adjusted digitally inside the Sabre DAC chip, it is controlled by the position of the knob on the front of the device.

So when the volume control locks in place with the motor running as it has started to do now, the volume does not change.
I had thought that the volume knob was really just a visual indicator when using digital inputs, rather than actually doing anything - I thought it was only "active" when using the analog inputs.

The reason this concerns me is thinking ahead long-term. Moving parts are always the most likely to fail, so even if I get this replaced and it works as expected, in 10+ years it's probably going to fail again.

Does anyone recall this happening with the DAC1 HDR units?
I'm wondering if this is a very isolated failure, or if it has happened before.
 
Jun 26, 2013 at 3:34 AM Post #107 of 247

MayaTlab

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I don't recall ever reading something about generalised reliability issues with the HDR's volume control. But now that I'm trying a DAC2 I can tell that I'm already worried about the volume control - it feels flimsy (and it's annoying, and it's noisy as hell, and it's too slow).
 
Appart from that so far I've only had time to try it with a pair of HD650 and HD800 straight from the headphone amp. At least the latter seems transparent as it's able to give, I think, justice to the DAC's resolving abilities, but, as I expected, I also think it sounds too thin / lean. I'll try the analog outputs at the back later on and play with the internal jumpers.
 
Jun 26, 2013 at 3:45 AM Post #108 of 247

CybDev

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Hm, mine works perfectly still, but then I don't play with the volume much...
Not the best news, seeing as I also seem to have that same kind of legendary luck around electronics :frowning2:
 
Jun 26, 2013 at 3:47 AM Post #109 of 247

MayaTlab

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Also, has anybody been able to make sense of the jumpers position controlling the headphone output gain ? The manual (p. 26, Rev.D) says that "[size=10pt]When jumpers are installed at position “A” the headphone amplifier gain is decreased by 20 dB. When jumpers are installed at position “B” the headphone amplifier gain is decreased by 10 dB." But then it features three pictures which show a completely different arrangement : in the "A" position, the legend says attenuation is 0 dB, and then the other two show the jumpers arranged in a perpendicular fashion for the -10 and -20 dB attenuation settings (none of which correspond to either the A or B position). Any idea ?[/size]
 
Jun 26, 2013 at 1:00 PM Post #112 of 247

Bmac

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No problem adjusting the jumpers here. Set to 0dB and working great with my HE-500's and K701's.
 
I would not worry about the DAC2's reliability. I believe Benchmark products are as reliable as you're likely to find, and in the event that something should fail I don't think you'd ever have a problem getting them serviced directly from the source.
 
Elias from Benchmark was very active for a long time in the Benchmark DAC-1 PRE thread, I'm curious if he's been watching this thread as it would be great to have him around to answer questions...
 
Jun 26, 2013 at 3:37 PM Post #113 of 247

StudioSound

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As everyone says, just follow what the manual shows. (look at the rest of the board to check you have the orientation correct) I had to reduce it to -20dB on mine.

Regarding the volume pot, to be clear, I don't think this points to any unreliability with the DAC2 - I really do have extremely bad luck with electronics, and I was wondering if this was possibly the first reported case of it happening - I haven't been able to find any reports of it failing on the DAC1-HDR, and that's been around since 2009.

And while a motor will probably eventually fail, most DACs require manual control so they don't even have this feature, and the control still works just fine manually.
My parents have an old Aiwa stereo that will have been the cheapest option available at the time, which is at least 15-20 years old, and its motor is still working fine today.
I really think it's just bad luck on my part, and I'm sure it will be taken care of promptly.
 
Jul 14, 2013 at 2:05 AM Post #114 of 247

tgx78

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Initial impression: Just received the exaSound e20 mkII and been extensively comparing it against the Benchmark DAC2.
 
Benchmark is a very fine DAC with solid build quality, but to my ears, exaSound performs better in almost every way.
I guess it shouldn't be too surprising since e20 mkII costs $500 more than DAC2.  
Also there was another member here or computer-audiophile(dot)com returned his DAC2 & Mytek192 after sampling the e20. 
 
Playing DSD256 file (which recorded in DSD256 sample rate) for the first time, my jaw literally dropped to the floor. 
Purity of presentation with amazing level of transparency is simply astounding.
 
I played violin for last 20 years and I cannot believe how timbre and imaging can be so accurately portrayed on digital domain.
I always found a problem with solo violin pieces how location of single instrument tends to wander around and hard to localize, but with this file and a DAC capable of playing it, I can finally hear one instrument at very stable position with
acoustic reverberation convincing enough that I felt like I was sitting in front of the performer.
Background seems as black as it can be, even though my Magnepan 3.5s are not known for dark & silent background.
 
Jul 14, 2013 at 9:56 PM Post #115 of 247

Cristello

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This realization is probably because the DAC2 decodes and converts any DSD files to PCM format before output. There would likely be some errors present in the conversion, putting the DAC2 at an unfair advantage...
 
(...at least I think it does, so please correct me if I am wrong!)
 
You might want to compare PCM to PCM directly (with the same file and source, of course) to level the playing field, in this case.
 
Jul 14, 2013 at 10:29 PM Post #116 of 247

tgx78

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Quote:
This realization is probably because the DAC2 decodes and converts any DSD files to PCM format before output. There would likely be some errors present in the conversion, putting the DAC2 at an unfair advantage...
 
(...at least I think it does, so please correct me if I am wrong!)
 
You might want to compare PCM to PCM directly (with the same file and source, of course) to level the playing field, in this case.

 
Yeah E20 plays DSD files natively upto 12.288MHz. so it was kind of given that e20 would outperform DAC2 in this area.
 
I did compare high resolution PCM and redbook files between the two today and yes gap is much less, but I still prefer E20 by fair bit of margin. PRaT is quite amazing with this DAC and sound-staging seems slightly more cohesive than DAC2.   
If I put numbers (this is very subjective so just take it with a grain of salt), I would give DAC2.. 88/100 in technicality and 86/100 in musicality. E20.. 90/100 tech, 92/100 musicality.
 
For a reference. Schiit Gungnir  + Vlink192 for me was 81 (tech) / 87 (music)
 
Jul 15, 2013 at 6:09 AM Post #117 of 247

StudioSound

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This realization is probably because the DAC2 decodes and converts any DSD files to PCM format before output. There would likely be some errors present in the conversion, putting the DAC2 at an unfair advantage.
John Siau goes into detail about how DSD is handled here: http://www.realhd-audio.com/?p=74

I don't understand the recent obsession with DSD - it's technically inferior to PCM, and has a ton of ultrasonic noise that needs to be filtered out. The only thing it does "better" than PCM is a dirac pulse, which is theoretical and not relevant to real-world audio.


Benchmark is a very fine DAC with solid build quality, but to my ears, exaSound performs better in almost every way.
I guess it shouldn't be too surprising since e20 mkII costs $500 more than DAC2.
I haven't compared the two, so I can't say which is better one way or the other, but $500 is nothing when you are looking at devices in this price range. I don't think it's an indicator of performance at all. The components in either of these devices will be significantly less than their cost, and pricing will largely be a marketing decision.

Yeah E20 plays DSD files natively upto 12.288MHz.
so it was kind of given that e20 would outperform DAC2 in this area.
With your emphasis on numbers, and "well X is bigger, therefore Y" it reads like you are listening with your eyes more than your ears. I'm not saying that's the case, that's just how it reads.

How do you think PCM compares between the two? (particularly 16/44) Considering how little DSD content exists compared to PCM, it seems like that would be more important.
 
Jul 15, 2013 at 7:15 AM Post #118 of 247

tgx78

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Quote:
John Siau goes into detail about how DSD is handled here: http://www.realhd-audio.com/?p=74

I don't understand the recent obsession with DSD - it's technically inferior to PCM, and has a ton of ultrasonic noise that needs to be filtered out. The only thing it does "better" than PCM is a dirac pulse, which is theoretical and not relevant to real-world audio.
I haven't compared the two, so I can't say which is better one way or the other, but $500 is nothing when you are looking at devices in this price range. I don't think it's an indicator of performance at all. The components in either of these devices will be significantly less than their cost, and pricing will largely be a marketing decision.
With your emphasis on numbers, and "well X is bigger, therefore Y" it reads like you are listening with your eyes more than your ears. I'm not saying that's the case, that's just how it reads.

How do you think PCM compares between the two? (particularly 16/44) Considering how little DSD content exists compared to PCM, it seems like that would be more important.

 
So you don't understand the recent obsession with DSD.. well have you actually heard any of DSD materials before you say this?
 
in many cases output of PCM DAC has higher level of noise in ultrasonic range than DSD DAC...
 
For some strange reason PCM guys are really busy trying to bash DSD, while I'm not seeing DSD guys running around bashing PCM guys
 
There is a long debate about DSD format vs PCM here: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/dsd-or-not-dsd-16093/
Just read the first few pages and you will gather significant amount of information about both formats.
 
My music library consist of roughly 50% DSD (SACD rips) / 45% redbook PCM / 5% high res PCM so my goal was to find the best sounding DSD DAC under $3000.
 
Maybe you missed my last post, but I did compare 16/44 files between the two and noted that they are technically very close, but I still prefer E20s sound signature over DAC2.
 
With my emphasis on numbers, I admit I shouldn't have used the word 'outperform' there.
Because DAC2 simply cannot play DSD128 & DSD256 files, comparison should only be made when both DAC are playing DSD64 materials.
 
Jul 15, 2013 at 7:43 AM Post #119 of 247

StudioSound

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There is a long debate about DSD format vs PCM here: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/dsd-or-not-dsd-16093/

Just read the first page and you will know why DSD is superior to PCM. 
You will have to be more specific, because I can't see anything which shows that DSD is superior to PCM - unless you are referring to the Dirac Pulse or Korg marketing information.

On the next page, you will see a paper which goes into a lot of detail about why 1-bit Sigma Delta Modulation (DSD) is inferior to multi-bit audio: http://sjeng.org/ftp/SACD.pdf

My music library consist of roughly 50% DSD (SACD rips) / 45% redbook PCM / 5% high res PCM so my goal was to find the best sounding DSD DAC under $3000.
That's surprising, but it's understandable that you would care more about DSD than PCM in that situation. I have a massive collection of CDs which go back to the 80s, and a limited number of SACDs from the last five years or so.

Maybe you missed my last post, but I did compare 16/44 files between the two and noted that they are technically very close, but I still prefer E20s sound signature over DAC2.
Sorry, I did manage to skip over that. I saw that you compared high res PCM but not 16/44. Don't know how I missed it!
 
Jul 15, 2013 at 9:11 AM Post #120 of 247

Baxide

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I was reading a thread on another forum a few weeks ago. Some links to references were also there. The subject covered the info that DSD audio tracks were derived from PCM master tracks. This has me wondering why anyone would want to treasure DSD over PCM.
 

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