DAC3 DX Review - John Gatski, Everything Audio Network

DAC3 DX - "Open, smooth detailed sound with that recording studio accuracy that I am used to from Benchmark." 

"I cannot say enough about the DAC3 DX’s sonic character of transparency and accuracy."

"Jitter is in the past"

"Benchmark was a pioneer in jitter reduction in D/A converters, and the effective UltraLock2(TM) jitter attenuation system, asynchronous upsampling remain unchanged in the DX."

Build quality

"The DX is very well built, using low-noise voltage regulators, and the circuit board has six layers of copper and includes 3-dimensional shielding for critical signals. Components are chosen for the most linear response and lowest distortion."

Passive output attenuators

"The passive output attenuators on the XLR outputs optimize the gain staging between the DAC3 and the power amplifier or powered monitors. Most amplifiers and powered monitors will require the -10 dB setting. The Benchmark AHB2 accepts full studio levels and requires the use of the high amplitude setting (attenuators off). These pads are very important for optimizing the SNR of the entire playback system."

Status Indicators

"LEDs for word-length verification, ... and LEDs for sample rate status ... are key to showing that bit-transparency is maintained from the audio player or computer to the DAC."

Remote Control

"The remote control duplicates all front panel functions including input switching, volume, dim/mute, and polarity controls. The classy remote is made of aluminum and has a nice feel; the buttons are easy to operate."

"Sonic Excellence!"

"My DSD DSF rip (of the often played) Warren Bernhardt - So Real SACD sounded incredible through the MartinLogans using this DAC. The audible cymbal splash sheen detail is like hearing the cymbal in the front of your listening room."

"Same with the Steinway piano tone. Upper register notes are so live sounding. The “air” and “space” around and between the instruments is simply stunning when played on the best gear."

"On numerous hi-res tracks, the opinion was the same: sonic excellence!"

Dual-Buss Feature

"With the dual-buss feature you can control the level of headphone amp and the analog balanced or unbalanced line outputs separately. Or you can set the line outs to the fixed level and still have variable headphone level control."

In my studio, I connected the DAC3 DX’s balanced outputs to a Benchmark AHB2 amp, which powered a set of Amphion closefield speakers. With the dual-buss feature, I was able to monitor via headphones to check the detail, balance and low level noise; yet, I also could alternately listen and control volume to the Amphion speakers.

Awards

"The DAC3 DX most certainly gets an EAN Stellar Sound Award, and should be closely looked at by pros and audiophiles alike."

2017 EAN Product of the Year

- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network

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