The Benchmark DAC1 is praised by audiophiles worldwide for its detail and great sound. Add one to your studio and you'll hear more detail in your mixes than you ever have before!
I truly do not miss my money. Not one bit. Exactly how I like my music to sound. Perfect. Made in the USA. Thanks Dan!
Solid Construction and Professional Quality Performance
The Benchmark DAC1 2-Channel 24-bit 192kHz D/A Converter bears the mark of quality from the ground up. Housed in a rugged metal ½ rack design the DAC1 feels solid and well built. Within the frame of the DAC1 are a wealth of features and I/O including coaxial, XLR, and optical digital inputs, balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA outputs, two TRS headphone outputs, large front panel gain control, three way toggle switch, and left and right calibration potentiometers.
After much debate and several demos from other leading converter manufactures I chose the DAC1 as my go to D/A converter for monitoring out of my DAW. I run a modded Digidesign 002 rack which never impressed me conversion wise, even with the upgraded conversion mods. The Benchmark DAC1 opened up the stereo imaging and clarity which allowed me to make better decisions that translated better across multiple playback systems. I say this after living with the DAC1 in my studio for over 6 months. I’m not here to qualify a brand new purchase with praise which usually wears off after the initial honeymoon period with a new toy; however, I must state that my ability to make key judgments during a mix has improved which in turn has given me greater confidence as an engineer. That in my opinion is a quality that is worth every penny. The DAC1 doesn’t hit you in the gut right out of the box. My first impressions were of a slightly more focused sound and greater clarity like I was no longer hearing a colored image. It wasn’t drastic but I suddenly noticed that I was no longer correcting mixes as many times as I had been in the past. Running around to different playback systems from the car to the home stereo became less frequent.
Translation from studio to the outside world is what we are all after and the Benchmark DAC1 delivers. It’s hard not to make the decision to upgrade to professional DAW monitoring for the cost of the DAC1. It offers professional performance for an affordable cost that doesn’t break the bank. Couple this along with the various I/O available, solid construction, and great design make the DAC1 standout among its competitors.
Don't Bother Looking at any other 2 Channel DACs
I use this for playback with an Audio Research LS-22, VT-150, and Acoustat Spectra 22 speakers. This little box gives back perfectly the analog of the digital signal fed to it. Stunning recordings are perfectly stunning, and poor recordings are perfectly poor. There are no lies here, no cover ups, and no exagerations.
Don't be fooled by the tiny size. This little box is a serious piece of equipment. It is easily worth several times its selling price!
I'm going to purchase the USB version to monitor recordings on location.
Great Product...Least Expensive Way of Making Your CD Player Sound GOOOOOOOD!!
Let's do the easy part first: Complaints about the Benchmark DAC1. I cannot think of a single complaint! Maybe it just doesn't cost enough???? Nah!!
Now the harder part: The Benchmark DAC1 is without question an easy piece of equipment to run. Plug it in and it's on. It can stay on 24/7/365 and I can tell you there is a break-in period of about 7-10 days of continuous "on" before it sounds it's best. Plug it directly to your amp via balanced leads, or as in my case, by RCA plugs to the pre-amp. Run a Toslink optical (as I did) from player to DAC1 and sit back and be amazed. You can also use a BNC connection, or Co-ax from player to DAC1. I am using a VTL 5.5 pre-amp and VTL MB-450 monoblocks in the triode mode (usually) and Dunlavy V speakers. Currently I'm playing and recording CDs through a Tascam CD RW 750. This probably is not the best re jitter, but it was a major improvement from my dear Sony ES 707D (built like a tank, but now about 27 years old!). I heard a sudden and great increase in the bass, mid-bass, and upper-bass information, and it was tight! No sloppy "tubey" bass either. Additionally, the silence between pieces is greater, voices are sharper and clearer, and there is detail in recordings that I've not been hearing before. Covered in jitter-laden sludge!! The sudden improvement in sound quality is simply amazing...and for only about $1,000 US buckaroos. This DAC1 makes most of my CDs sound greatly improved, some sound very much the same, and a few are clearly poorly recorded and suffer from digital jitter being put onto the disc, and of course the DAC1 cannot remove that. I love Portishead, but now the recording "Dummy" sounds tinny and brash and suffers from digititis. Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has never sounded so good. I have been listening to LPs about 95% of my listening time, and boy!!! has that changed!!
This leads to my final issue. Toslinks are NOT all created equal. I bought a Hosa 3 ft. Toslink and a Monster 3 meter Toslink. Through the Hosa the bass etc was there, but sibilants are slightly too hissy and spitty. There is a slight "grain" to the sound and it just isn't quite clean. Voices have a slight edge to them, and finally increases in volume seemed to come in increments, rather than linearly. The Monster cured all of the above and to me sounded more "analog" if you will. I have not tried BNC or Coaxial connectors, and have not tried XLR directly to the amp...not yet, but if that could provide another layer of improvement...who can resist?
Summary: If you have a CD player that is not of the quality of the Meridian 808 then you need this piece of equipment. For $975 plus $60 for Toslink you really should consider the Benchmark DAC1.
The perfect "preamp"
As if mere words can convey the DAC1's performance! Every textbook praises and accolades would be apropos as adjectives. An excellent digital to analog converter with the benefit of an added gain control to be used as a hi end preamp. Will give the multi-kilo bucks dacs like DCS, Accuphase, and Nagra D a run for the money! Truly whips the competiton and llama's A$$!!!