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DAC2 HGC - Test Report - John Atkinson, Stereophile

January 31, 2014

DAC2 HGC - Test Report - John Atkinson, Stereophile

"The Benchmark DAC2 offered one of the highest resolutions I have measured."

 - John Atkinson, Stereophile



Fig.4 Benchmark DAC2 HGC, spectrum with noise and spuriae of dithered 1 kHz tone at –90 dBFS with: 16-bit data (left channel cyan, right magenta), 24-bit data (left blue, right red) (20 dB/vertical div.).


"The cyan and magenta traces in fig.4 show the spectrum of the processor's XLR outputs with its volume control set to its maximum while it decoded dithered data representing a 1 kHz tone at –90 dBFS.  Other than the spike at 1 kHz, which peaks at the correct level, the traces show only the spectrum of the dither noise used to encode the system. Increasing the bit depth to 24 gave the blue and red traces in this graph. Note that I've had to extend the vertical scale to –160 dBFS to reveal the noise floor. The drop in the level of the noise floor with 24-bit data indicates that the DAC2 offers 21-bit resolution, which is state-of-the-art performance."

"With the very low level of noise and superb linearity, the DAC2's reproduction of an undithered 16-bit tone at exactly –90.31 dBFS was essentially perfect."

"Even driving a very demanding 600 ohm load, the DAC2 offered very low levels of analog distortion, with the third harmonic the highest in level, at –116 dB (0.00015%). Other than the second and fifth, all the other harmonics lie at close to –130 dB. Intermodulation distortion was also superbly low, again even into 600 ohms."

"Regarding channel separation and harmonic and intermodulation distortion for the analog inputs, the results were just as superb as for the digital inputs."

"I examined the Benchmark DAC2 HGC's electrical performance with Stereophile's loan sample of the top-of-the-line Audio Precision SYS2722."

"Summing up the Benchmark DAC2 HGC's measured performance is easy: It's simply superb."

- John Atkinson, Stereophile

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