Buy 2 components and get 4 free cables. Free shipping on USA orders over $700.


Your Cart is Empty

DAC3 Review - Ben Shyman, Home Theater Review

DAC3 Review - Ben Shyman, Home Theater Review

Benchmark DAC3 HGC Black with remote

DAC3 - "Its Sound is Among the Best at Any Price"

"Benchmark Media began in the mid-1980s providing audio equipment to television broadcast facilities. Today it is recognized amongst recording professionals and high-end audio enthusiasts for producing high-end, sonically transparent components."

Benchmark DAC3 HGC Silver with remote

"The DAC3 is solidly built ..."

"The components look as if they were designed for studio performance. If you are seeking slick, contemporary componentry with digital displays and backlit remotes, you will fare better shopping elsewhere."

"Features include a hybrid gain control (the digital and analog volume paths are discrete), a high-current preamp output with multiple settings that can be adjusted to better match the input sensitivity of your power amplifier, analog inputs, a headphone amplifier, a home theater pass-through, a 12-volt trigger, and the same heavy-duty metal remote control that the company has offered for years. The front panel includes eight LEDs that indicate which input is in use, as well as six LEDs that indicate sample rate and word length. This is incredibly helpful ..."

"While the DAC3's aesthetics are identical to those of the DAC2, the similarities stop there. All major changes and upgrades are internal, the biggest being the ESS ES9028PRO digital-to-analog converter. As of this writing, only three companies utilize chips in the new ESS PRO lineup."

"When I first began evaluating the DAC3, I was impressed with just how quiet it really is."

"The DAC3 also possesses an uncanny ability to resolve hidden details that typically get lost in a mix. With more resolved detail, the tonality of instruments sounds more real. As someone who played guitar for the better part of two decades, I felt like Laurence Juber (Altered Reality, Narada, TIDAL Hi-Fi), Richard Thomson (Acoustic Classics, TIDAL Hi-Fi) and Keb' Mo' (Just Like You, Epic, DSD64) were present and performing in my listening space. The vivacity and energy of their recordings took on new life and kept me fully engaged, even when re-listening to the tracks multiple times and finding new details to appreciate."

"The DAC3 also consistently underscored the ability of my Pass Labs XA30.8 and First Watt SIT-2 to produce highly accurate, precise, three-dimensional soundstages. The front-to-back layers and horizontal placement of instruments and vocals in A Love Supreme, Live in Amsterdam by the Branford Marsalis Quartet (Sony Masterworks, 24/48) and 1 by The Beatles (EMI/Apple, TIDAL Hi-Fi) were delivered with punctuated accuracy."

"The DAC3 soundstage is highly accurate, and its sound is among the best at any price."

"The DAC3 employs a state-of-the-art ES9028PRO SABRE digital-to-analog converter and will outlive the usual rapid technological obsolescence of most DACs."

"The headphone amplifier is a highly worthwhile addition to the HGC and DX models."

"The Benchmark DAC3, despite showing no differences in the aesthetics department over the DAC2, is a meaningful step forward in digital-to-analog conversion. It utilizes a state-of-the-art chipset from ESS and is somewhat future-proof as a result, compared with other DACs. I never owned the DAC2, but I did own a DAC1 for several years, and the sonic improvement here is significant on many levels."

"Like any component at any price, the DAC3 is not for everyone. However, if your priority is digital conversion of your favorite two-channel music and movies with purity and transparency, the DAC3 should receive your fullest consideration."

"It resolves digital sources with precision and finesse; and, whether you decide to use the DAC3 as a preamplifier/DAC or a standalone DAC, it is a complete winner and will be right at home in any audiophile two-channel system."

- Ben Shyman, Home Theater Review

View full article →

Also in Reviews

AHB2 Review - Constantine Soo, Dagogo

AHB2 Review - Constantine Soo, Dagogo

by Benchmark Media Systems April 02, 2024


Benchmark AHB2 - Black


"The AHB2 bridgeable stereo amplifier ... was the topic of a recent discussion between American electrostatic panel speaker manufacturer Sound Lab’s president, Dr. Roger West, and me."

"In our discussion, he related his highly positive experience in driving even his largest, $55k Majestic 945 panels with the $7,000 pair of Benchmark Media AHB2 monoblocks, along with the $3,050 LA4 Preamplifier and factory XLR cables."

"Dr. West described the AHB2 as a class AB design using “feed-forward distortion reduction [thus removing] any possibility of pushing the margin of safety of a standard feedback loop, used in most amplifiers, into an unstable oscillatory mode.”"

"He further shared with me that “this is of most concern on powerful musical transients. The distortion of the amplifier in the balanced mode is astonishingly low even at just below the clipping level of 380 watts.”"

"The prospect of the AHB2’s specified distortion level of 0.00015% or lower when at full volume is comical at first glance, but upon actual audition the impact of the achievement is very audible from medium-high listening levels and upward."

"It was unlike any other sub-$20,000 amplifier I have auditioned."

"My audition of the Benchmark Media AHB2 amplifiers underscores the reason Dr. West is so taken by it, and confirms the design is best described as a watershed moment in the high-end audio industry."

- Constantine Soo, Dagogo

Read Full Post
DAC3 Review - Jerry Del  Colliano

DAC3 Review - Jerry Del Colliano

by Benchmark Media Systems April 02, 2024

Benchmark DAC3 B with Silver Faceplate

"Benchmark is a stalwart brand in pro audio, but has carved out a very respectable niche in the audiophile world with their diminutive but powerful components."

Benchmark DAC3 B Studio Version with Rackmount Faceplate

"The audiophile world sometimes looks to the professional audio world for enlightenment, especially on the digital side of things, and Benchmark Media is one of the companies that we put high on a pedestal."

"They are hardcore digital engineers freezing their asses off in upstate New York as they come up with some pretty innovative ways to get your varied digital sources sounding as much like the master tape as possible. Thank you for your service, gentlemen."

"If you really want to hear what your music sounds like in today’s streaming-driven world, this might just be the DAC that you need to test out."

- Jerry Del Colliano, Future Audiophile

Read Full Post
DAC3 & AHB2 - System Review, Trevor Butler,

DAC3 & AHB2 - System Review, Trevor Butler,

by Benchmark Media Systems March 28, 2024

Editor's Choice Award - DAC3 and AHB2 -

"I began with the DAC3 HGC and AHB2 powering the glorious Morel Avyra 633 three-way floorstanders."

"This pairing created a full-bodied sound which brought the recording to life."

"Notable from the off was the bass from the DAC3 HGC and AHB2."

"Wow! It was deep, tight and conveyed a real feeling that the electronics were in charge of the transducers."

"Involuntary foot-tapping confirmed the timing ability and the overall presentation was spot-on, the Benchmark electronics created a fluent sound across a vivid soundstage; performers evident both tonally and spatially in an easy-to-believe presentation that brought the performance close."

"The Benchmark’s ability to retrieve deep-down detail and display it so well across the soundstage, with accurate positioning and convincing layering, made for a glorious re-creation of the recordings."

"To my mind the AHB2 is an amplifier with no obvious characteristics of its own: the level of transparency is sublime."

"Above all, the improved transient response performance stood out in a presentation that was not only lively but incredibly fast and revealing. The attack and decay displayed was awesome and not something I expect at this price point."

"The Benchmark DAC3 HGC and AHB2 are cracking products, sonically superior to a lot that’s available and well priced."

"They are superbly designed and built to an extremely high standard."

- Trevor Butler,

Read Full Post