DAC3 HGC Award - Stereophile

September 13, 2018

DAC3 HGC Award - Stereophile

DAC3 HGC - Class A+ Recommended Component - Fall 2018 - Digital Processors

Jim Austin wrote:

"In fact, I found the sounds of the two DACs quite different. The DAC1 was brighter. . . . The DAC3 was all about depths, in several respects: the sound was weightier, with a darker frequency balance; the soundstage was deeper—I heard deeper into the music." The more concise conclusion to JA's Measurements sidebar: "All I can say is 'Wow!'"

'Class A+' is Stereophile's highest classification for digital processors. Stereophile defines Class A and the digital processor Class A+ as follows:

"Best attainable sound for a component of its kind, almost without practical considerations; "the least musical compromise." A Class A system is one for which you don't have to make a leap of faith to believe that you're hearing the real thing. With Super Audio CD, DVD-Audio, and Hi-Rez PCM and DSD files now available, we have created a new Class, A+, for the best performance in those digital categories."

Read more at Stereophile →



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DAC3 HGC - "2018 Digital Component of the Year" - Stereophile

November 21, 2018

Tie for First Place, 16x Price Difference

"This contest produced another tie, and yet another contrast between two wildly different philosophies—economical, if not technical. As Jim Austin pointed out in his initial review, the DAC3 HGC D/A processor from Benchmark Media Systems—a company known for making pro-audio as well as domestic-audio gear—sells for less than the price of certain high-end interconnects. The dCS Vivaldi D/A processor sells for 16 times the Benchmark's price, and in our pages was first reviewed, by Michael Fremer, as part of a $114,996 dCS digital front end."

"Both DACs impressed their respective reviewers with magnificent sound—and in his measurements for both, John Atkinson offered the same one-word conclusion: "Wow!""

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DAC3 & AHB2 in 5.1 Surround - Kalman Rubinson, Sterophile
DAC3 & AHB2 in 5.1 Surround - Kalman Rubinson, Sterophile

November 02, 2018

"In my September 2018 column, I wrote of my discovery of miniDSP's U-DIO8, which converts multichannel data fed to its USB port to eight S/PDIF or AES-EBU outputs at resolutions of up to 24-bit/192kHz. Armed with a U-DIO8, you can use three or four of your choice of stereo DAC."

"I went commando with the DAC3s directly connected to the three AHB2s. All three DAC3s were set to Home Theater Bypass, and I used JRiver Media Center's volume control."

"For the first time I can recall, I heard no noise from my system, even with an ear flush against a tweeter."

"I know that we audiophiles can obsess about small changes and make them seem more important than they actually are, but that's what this hobby is about: Eliminating as many audible flaws as possible, however tiny. In this case, the effect was striking at first listen, and endured through everything I played, even tracks that had troubled me before."

- Kal Rubinson, Stereophile

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LA4 - "Best of RMAF 2018" - SoundStage! Hi-Fi

November 01, 2018

"RMAF 2018 was really good, with significant numbers of attendees, and more new-product introductions than I remembered ever seeing there."

"Led by engineer John Siau and based in Syracuse, New York, Benchmark Media Systems has built a sterling reputation for making compact, well-engineered, moderately priced electronics that challenge the state of the art, both on the test bench and in the listening room."

"What I took notice of were the specifications: total harmonic distortion of less than 0.00006%, and a signal/noise ratio exceeding 135dB from 20Hz to 20kHz."

"If those claims are true, and there’s no reason to believe they aren’t -- Benchmark gear has always performed as specified on the test bench -- the LA4 should be about as transparent-sounding a line-stage as you can find at any price." 

- Doug Schneider, SoundStage! Hi-Fi

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