"The ADC1 USB is very natural sounding. What I put in, is what it captures. Should I wish to color a track, I can call upon other gear in my rack."
"In a mastering context, a neutral, flat-sounding converter is very desirable."
"Benchmark’s trademarked UltraLock clocking scheme delivers quality conversion even when slaved to a suboptimal external clock."
"The best standalone clock in the world becomes irrelevant if the receiving converter’s locking system botches the signal. Unfortunately, many manufacturers skimp on PLL synchronization. Thankfully, not Benchmark."
"One of the non-obvious features provides multiple digital outputs. The ADC1 USB has a total of five digital outs: one XLR, two coaxial, one optical, and one USB. These can operate simultaneously at up to three independent sample rates."
"You could cut a CD-R via a 16-bit, 44.1 kHz signal to a standalone CD writer in real-time, while simultaneously recording to a DAW at 24-bit, 96 kHz."
"The effective input range of the ADC1 USB spans from −5 dB to +39 dB. At a gain setting of 0 dB, the converter will reach full-scale (0 dBFS) with a +24 dBu input level. Just flip a switch from variable to calibrated to remove the potentiometers from the circuit."
"Although I like the aesthetics of the black-faced Benchmarks, I must admit that the brushed silver units are impressive in person. The online photos do not capture the added dimensionality of the textured metal. For those with an odd-number of half-wide units, the company offers a blank plate in matching brushed silver with an engraved logo. After seeing it close-up, I confess I would happily pay for the panel. It’s really sweet."
Like most of the Benchmark line, the ADC1 USB is half-wide, which means you’ll need to sort out how you want to mount it if you’re committed to a rack. The manufacturer offers two options — a joiner plate and a custom tray.
"I'm asking because clearly Benchmark is a highly regarded company here, and plenty of ASR members own Benchmark amplification/DACs. We know they are top of the heap in terms of measured performance, outdoing plenty of the competition in terms of typical distortion measurements."
- @MattHooper, AudioScienceReview.com
AHB2, LA4, DAC3
Subtle aesthetics? Check.
Unobtrusive size? Check.
Solid build? Check.
Made in America? Check.
Best in class? Check.
Superior performance proven by Amir? Check.
Superior customer service? Check (and not just in audio world; best customer service I have experienced from any company, anywhere, ever).
Expensive? For me, yes. Limit of my budget, but buy once cry once.
"The afternoon before the start of the show I ran into John Siau of Benchmark Media Systems. He says to me quietly, “make sure you stop in our room, we have a surprise!” With curiosity suitably piqued, Co-Editor Jim Clements and I paid a visit ..."
"The results were pretty astonishing. A stable, enveloping stereo image that was devoid of any distortion whatsoever."
- Carlo Lo Raso, Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
"Sound was extremely well-integrated and controlled, and the bass memorable."
"The Note received signal through the introductory version of the company's Liquid Cables. Each cable contains 27,000 wires. The company's introductory Elephant memory player joined Benchmark Media's AHB2 power amps, DAC3 B D/A processor, and interconnects."
"With the aid of a forthcoming DEQX HDP4 processor that's due in the fall, the system sounded super on a 16/44.1 file of the famed rendition of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, recorded by Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra for Reference Recordings."