Gary Galo reviews the DAC2 DX from the perspective of an accomplished audio professional. He shares his listening experiences with the DAC2 and several other popular D/A converters. He also takes a detailed look under the hood of the new Benchmark DAC2 DX. If you are looking for descriptions of the sonic characteristics of the DAC2 or if you are looking for technical details explaining what makes the DAC2 family unique, then this is a great read. - John Siau
"The sonic performance of the DAC2 DX is in an entirely new league when compared to the DAC1 (I still have a DAC1 USB available for comparison). First, the tonal balance is extremely neutral, without any of the DAC1’s brightness. The DAC2 DX also has a harmonic richness which, by comparison, I find somewhat lacking in the DAC1."
"Since I reviewed the OPPO BDP-105 in audioXpress, I’ve been searching for a reasonably-priced D/A converter that will actually improve the OPPO’s performance as a stand-alone player."
"Over the past two years I’ve reviewed some affordable D/A converters that have offered excellent performance in their price classes, especially the Parasound Zdac and the PS Audio NuWave. The NuWave, which retails for $995, came the closest. In my review I wrote: 'The PS Audio NuWave DAC offers a slight improvement (over the BDP-105) in soundstage size and localization. The low-order THD added by its discrete output circuitry provides a harmonic richness that is musically extremely engaging. In other areas, (e.g., tonal balance, high-frequency smoothness, and detail), I prefer the BDP-105.'"
"The Benchmark DAC2 DX is a hands-down improvement over the OPPO as a stand-alone player, especially in the areas of inner detail, soundstaging, high-frequency airiness, and bass. The extreme low end is both deeper and better controlled than the OPPO. Dynamics, across the spectrum, are excellent. The DAC2 DX doesn’t offer the slight euphonic coloration that many listeners will find appealing about the NuWave. Benchmark’s goal in all of its products is ultimate precision and accuracy, and the DAC2 DX tells the truth about every source it’s fed, while being free of unmusical artifacts sometimes associated with digital audio."
- Gary Galo, audioxpress
"Before I dig into the sound of the LA4 it is important to know that it employs a wide bandwidth design. The LA4’s bandwidth is specified at 0.2 Hz to 500 kHz."
"Most of the wide bandwidth designs I have heard exhibit ... a purity in tone with superb timing and speed ... the LA4 proved to be no exception."
"The Benchmark LA4 yielded a change that was quickly apparent in several areas. Notably were; bass, upper midrange, treble, low-level listening, and the ability to distinguish the colorations of other components that were contributing to my overall sound."
"Acoustic guitar, piano, and harmonica among many other instruments are presented with speed, clarity, and coherency that made them sound more “present” in the room and less like a recording."
"The Benchmark LA4 is simply the most transparent, least colored, and most revealing component I have had in my system to date. I look forward to it joining my stable of reference components."
- Ken Redmond, The Audio Beatnik
"This little unit will change the way you look and listen to amplifiers."
"My first taste of this remarkable new amplifier came earlier this year in April at Chicago's AXPONA where I discovered it driving a newly redesigned Studio Electric Pasadena loudspeaker, also bearing the Benchmark trademark. Now called the SMS1, the Pasadena's crossover had been reworked by Benchmark, upgraded with very low tolerance components, and the new look, more in line with the look of the rest of the Benchmark product line up, had been adopted."
"The subsequent sound in this room was one of the most musically engaging I encountered at this year's event, a remarkable result considering its modest overall system price of just over $7000, sans source."
- Greg Weaver, EnjoythMusic.com
Jim Austin wrote, "The DAC3 was all about depths, in several respects . . . I heard deeper into the music."
The concise conclusion to John Atkinson's Measurements sidebar: "All I can say is 'Wow!'"
In a Follow-Up, Jim Austin wrote of using the Benchmark processor with the same company's AHB2 power amp—a combination of high source output voltage and modest amplifier gain that he describes as "optimal for minimizing noise and distortion"—and reported hearing "richer and more interesting" reproduction of very subtle details.
- Stereophile Magazine
"Class A+" is Stereophile's highest award for Digital Processors