Comparing Oppo HA-1 & Benchmark DAC-2 HGC
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T Bone

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I currently own an Oppo HA-1 (and I love it!)  
That said, I feel like I can get a lot more out of my Audeze LCD-3 headphones.
 
I have been researching worthy upgrade candidates.  I have focused my search on DAC/AMP combos that are similar to my current HA-1, but with superior sound.
One of the leading contenders is the Benchmark DAC-2 HGC.  

Both use DAC's that are based on the Sabre ESS 9018 chip.  If my info is correct; the benchmark uses 4x DAC chips while the Oppo uses a single chip.
 
How are the DAC sections going to compare?  Are they going to be essentially the same since they're based on the same chipset?
 
As far as features go - the Oppo pretty much kicks just about everything's *ss!  You can't beat that sweet display and the myriad connection options including apple airplay and bluetooth.

The oppo also has a 4-pin XLR balanced connection.  I like that since I have a custom 4-pin silver dragon cable for my LCD-3.
The benchmark DAC 2 uses a traditional 1/4" plug.   ...nothing wrong with that, but considering it has balanced XLR outputs in the rear, it would be nice to have a balanced headphone option up front.  
 
Has anyone compared these two units?  Is the Benchmark a "step up" or are they really siblings?
 

 
 
 

 
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jonahsfo

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I have both. I truly adore both.

The Benchmark is a better DAC. The Oppo is a very good DAC with a damn good headphone amplifier.
I do prefer the sound of the headphones I use with a balanced cable, though, so I have to use a separate headphone amp when I use the Benchmark.

If I had to have just one, I would go for the Oppo. It's much more versatile .. it has a great UI, sounds great, and does just about anything I could imagine. I've even used the bluetooth for AptX streaming, and I've had it running some powered studio monitors.

Headphones:
LCD-X: I tend to listen to these most on the Oppo. The combination is great.
HD800: Benchmark + Bryston BHA-1 is probably my favorite pairing. But they sound awesome on the Oppo -- but the Benchmark/Bryston combo is just better.
HD600: probably prefer the Oppo
HD650: better on the Benchmark + a balanced headphone amp
 
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