Benchmark DAC3 HGC (w/ ESS Sabre 9028PRO)

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  1. onsionsi
    Did you get a chance to compare DAC3 to Chord Hugo2?

    Bear in mind i'm asking for portable DAC.

    I'm asking to the sound wise.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
  2. MacedonianHero Contributor
    Portable question the Hugo 2. Sound quality wise, I give the nod to the Hugo 2 as well. But if I need a balanced DAC to feed a balanced amp like my Liquid Lightning 2 or GS-X Mk2, then the DAC HGC has the advantage. Both are still quite excellent!
  3. whill
    Does this mean Mr. Macedonian Hero that you prefer the sound quality of Hugo 2 that DAC 3?

    Thank you.
  4. MacedonianHero Contributor
    It depends on what you're looking for. If you want a great desktop solution with balanced outs, the DAC3 is simply awesome value, but if you want some portability too, then the Hugo 2 is tough to beat. I'm quite glad I have both. :)
  5. whill
    Thank you MacedonianHero.
    MacedonianHero likes this.
  6. MacedonianHero Contributor
    No problem! :)
  7. EndGameSearch
    This thread has gone cold but I'll ask regardless. I've had my DAC3 for 5 days and am very pleased with the sound. All around it's a great DAC. This is my first desktop set up and I have been using a Hugo 2 for transportable/mobile usage since they first started shipping. After getting use to the Hugo I was a little surprised the DAC3 playback was limited to 192kHz. I only have a few albums at a higher rate and primarily use Tidal through Roon so it's not a big deal. However, I do enjoy Roon's upsampling ability which is now limited as well. I trust my ears more than any number or other subjective view, but I am curious to get feedback from others on the merit of sending a raw data stream to the DAC3 vs upsampling? I know Rob Watts of Chord is adamant that his DACs do a far better job upsampling than any available SW application. In general I would run the native bit rate from Roon to the Hugo but at times I would upsample to 786 and did not notice any ill effect.

    So what's the general consensus with the Benchmark DAC3? Is it "best" to send a 44.1/16 stream directly to the DAC3 or is there value in Roon's upsampling to 176/24? So far I can not tell a difference but I'm also using new headphones and a new tube amp. With so many new variables, it's hard to get a fair comparison just yet.
  8. MacedonianHero Contributor
    Just a heads up that the DAC3 can also support up to DSD64.
    swspiers likes this.
  9. Hermitsden
    I've exchanged DAC3-HGC with the DAC1-Pre trade-in program of Benchmark in October. I'm very happy with the upgrade. The DAC3 integrated the sonic characteristic of DAC1 and DAC2 with best implementation of current ES9028Pro SABRE chips: quieter background noise, lower distortion, faster switching PLL lock times, and more accurate frequency response, timing as well as imaging depth. As the result, there are better control of mid-bass, extending low bass, and increased imaging with more focused mid-range and treble that were missing in the transition to DAC2 (however, the DAC2 remains the better match of sonic synergy in my 2nd system for more near-field listening). Now I don't have to worry about the lack of balanced output, and missing analog inputs of Hugo2. It'll be just if it's worthwhile to replace Mojo for portable usages. Anyway, I'm still very interested to learn the sonic differences of DAC3, Hugo2 and DAVE, if someone would like to share his own experience.
    swspiers likes this.
  10. chungjun
    Benchmark DAC3 vs Hugo 2, may possibly head out to try and see if I could audition these two to implement for my desktop / headphone setup.

    Have been trying to read around and it seems Hugo2 are getting much more attention in the market.

    That said, the reviewers at The Master Switch (, with their gears review parameters / criteria, seems to prefer DAC3's sonic performance over Hugo2. Interested to find out if anyone having had the experience to choose between the two and ended up keeping DAC3 over Hugo2? I noticed @MacedonianHero made a choice to keep Hugo2. Others?
  11. MacedonianHero Contributor
    I've reviewed both as well for Headphone.Guru and love both! That said, the Hugo 2 comes out on top for me. :)
  12. Maelob
    And great support even after warranty, I had a DAC1 repaired a few years back, good communications and service. Highly recommended
  13. MacedonianHero Contributor
    No doubt. The folks at Benchmark are on the ball!
  14. luckybaer
    I want one of these. Badly.
  15. music_man
    If this does not beat the Hugo 2 it most obviously does not beat DAVE. How is this Stereophile class A+? Not to mention by far the least expensive A+ DAC. Payola?

    I would like something not bigger than this physically that is truly Summit.
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