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Thread: Benchmark DAC-1 - Need help and opinions guys!

  1. #31
    Moderator / Treasurer/Marketplace Czar boputnam's Avatar
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    Please go to the SACD - Discussion Thread for further discussion.
    bo

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  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Pachkowsky
    I am contemplating buying the following:

    http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/dac1/

    Does anyone have experience with this dac?

    Thanks
    I have a Benchmark DAC1 and an AH! Njoe Super Tjob with upsampler and 1964 Amperex white labal PQ tubes. I go back and forth between the two and listen on horn speakers (Klipschorns).

    The Benchmark is a great unit. Unbelieveable detail and bass response. The AH is actually very close with all of the upgrades, but the Benchmark would beat it if the AH was not upgraded. The AH is better for listening to poor recordings, everything sounds good on the AH. The Benchmark is better on good recordings, meaning super detail if you like that.

    Both have a very wide and deep soundstage and the speakers just dissapperar.

    Chris

  3. #33
    Senior Member 4343's Avatar
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    Thumbs up I only heard them for a few minutes...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Pachkowsky
    I am contemplating buying the following:

    http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/dac1/

    Does anyone have experience with this dac?

    Thanks
    But on my last install we used those in all the conference rooms, some of the rooms had JBL , some Tannoy, lots of Genelecs too. All the passive speakers used QSC amps. I did get a chance to listen longer to the one in the tele-conference room, ran optical out of my portable CD, tried the headphone jack, etc. Even made the Genelec 1029's sound good! Nice feel to the volume knob, nice solid feel to all the connections. Rack mounting a single unit was like $100 for the bracket, so get a pair...
    Mike Scott in SJ, CA
    Drive 'em to the Xmax!

  4. #34
    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    Benchmark Dac1 Review

    This review is based solely on what I perceive to be the quality of the sound on my system. There is no technical data.

    Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Is it worth the price?

    That depends on how far you want to go to increase the quality of your player. I have a Sony CDP-D11 and suspect it could be considered a slightly above average machine. Does it improve the overall performance of the system?

    Absolutely, it does!

    I will attempt to describe the differences I heard starting with the most obvious or profound.

    Soundstage

    I would say there is at least a 20 to 30 percent increase in the width of the above. This was obvious on every selection played. I would say the depth also increased on a smaller scale, but appeared more dimensional or layered. I noticed this especially on Diana Krall’s “Live in Paris”. I have become a huge fan of Anthony Wilson and his guitar work is distinctly left and up front. Diana’s piano is more centered and slightly right while her vocals are dead center and overwhelmingly clear, compared to the Sony on board dac.

    I also noticed the layering effect on several tracks of Leonard Cohen’s “Ten New Songs”. The background vocals on this selection are beautifully recorded with some great overdubbing and time delays. Cohen’s voice has a natural timbre that has interesting harmonic overtones. This was one of the recordings that showed the claimed non existent jitter distortion. I did an a/b switch back and forth from one player to another several times during these auditions and was quite taken back by the difference. In all fairness the 2 players always sounded different but not to this degree.

    Imaging

    Definitely more defined but less impressive than the above.

    Bass Response

    What they claim is true. The low end is definitely tighter and more controlled. I really noticed this on a special recording of Diana Krall’s “All or Nothing at All”. This was recorded by Al Schmitt and the master was used to add an up front drum track by session drummer Ben Foster. Steve Schell would not leave my house till I made a copy for him! I was lucky enough to meet Ben at an LA studio where he gave me the copy. If you’re a kit fan this is an outstanding recording.

    I would have to say the greatest overall improvement along with the wide soundstage is the mid frequencies. All vocals appeared more distinct and clean with wonderful timbre. Muddy Waters vocals on the MFSL release of 1964’s “Folksinger” sounds awesome through this dac. Neil Young’s “Prairie Wind” is another treat cover to cover.

    I have definitely started to run out of things to upgrade and will have the thrill of trying out a Boulder 1010 fully balanced preamp very soon. I will definately be posting about that.

    The Bottom Line:

    If you need the extra quality squeezed out of your cd’s without breaking the bank this could be a good investment for you. I will be keeping mine.

    Hope you enjoyed the read.

    Ken

  5. #35
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    Hope you enjoyed the read.
    Yes, I did. Thank you.
    In.

  6. #36
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Thanks Ken... those observations correlate with the improvements that I have heard when I abandon the built in DAC on my Sony DVP-S9000ES and digitally feed the DACs in my DEQX PDC.... that sentence is a real alphabet soup!

    Anyway, I must say that all of your descriptions seem on the money from my experience. So, how would you compare this improvement to the improvement you experienced by switching to your current preamp from your last?


    Widget

  7. #37
    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget
    So, how would you compare this improvement to the improvement you experienced by switching to your current preamp from your last?


    Widget
    Now there is a loaded question. I would have bet that everyone would love the Tad Signature 150, but as you know our friend in Binghampton NY did not care for it. However, I got 2 very nice private messages from members who did buy the Tad and were very happy. Go figure, it just proves we all have different tastes. I must admit to being curious about a high end SS such as the newer Perreaux. I have no regrets selling the Adcoms of which I had 3. My goal is to hear a Tad on Bo's 4345's (but don't tell him) .

    PS: I really did not answer your question. The answer is the preamp change was of greater benefit as far as I am concerned.

    Ken

  8. #38
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    No loaded or trick questions...

    I guess what I was trying to get was what type of change does a preamp swap make in your opinion...

    To me if we are talking really good preamps the change may be a subtle tonal change and an increase or decrease of grunge... I don't think they can take a CD and open it up and make it more analog sounding like a good DAC can. I suppose if the tonal change is significant, that can make the perceived change seem quite dramatic. Obviously if one preamp has a polite midrange it may sound veiled and one with a peaked midrange could sound more detailed...


    Widget

  9. #39
    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget
    I guess what I was trying to get was what type of change does a preamp swap make in your opinion...

    Widget
    Overall the change was most noticeable in the extreme low bass (less than 50hz) and a smoothing of the high end. I suspect its similar to what I am told a tube amp would do on horns.

    Ken

  10. #40
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    In my vernacular that would be tonal and grunge... and would you say that is a more significant improvement than the openness of soundstage etc. from the outboard DAC?


    Widget

  11. #41
    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget
    In my vernacular that would be tonal and grunge... and would you say that is a more significant improvement than the openness of soundstage etc. from the outboard DAC?


    Widget
    In my case yes.

    Ken

  12. #42
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    I realize, like talking about music, talking about the nuance of High Fidelity is like "dancing about architecture." I was just trying to put together some sort of reference so that we can get a better grip on what you have experienced and what you're saying...

    This is along the lines of some of our private conversations when you say that changing "X" made the system sound 90% better... I never did get the meaning of that. I was simply trying to establish some data points. I'm bringing all this up because I got the feeling you thought I was cross examining you rather than trying to have a dialog.

    Anyway... I think I got it. I hope all of this makes sense to others.


    Widget

  13. #43
    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget
    I realize, like talking about music, talking about the nuance of High Fidelity is like "dancing about architecture." This is along the lines of some of our private conversations when you say that changing "X" made the system sound 90% better... I never did get the meaning of that.

    Widget
    That's understandable. I will try to be more specific when describing things in the future. I believe I used that statement when describing the switch from the 750 to the Tad. I meant overall and in literally every aspect, I was shocked at the difference on my system.

    Ken

  14. #44
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    Hi Ken,

    Muddy Waters vocals on the MFSL release of 1964’s “Folksinger” sounds awesome through this dac.

    Hey- his vocals on folksinger sound awesome, period! - but if the DAC makes it better....maybe I need to look in to squeezing my cd player for it's last drop. Thanks for the follow up!

    Take care up there,
    Travis.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by hapy._.face
    ..but if the DAC makes it better....
    I think my band needs a DAC...

    John

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