DAC3 HGC - "As close to flawless sound quality as we’ve ever heard."
"The Benchmark DAC3 HGC – which is a combination headphone amp, Digital-to-Analogue Converter (DAC) and preamp – has perhaps the most comprehensive manual we’ve ever seen. Not to say intimidating. It covers not only every single eventuality and situation in which the DAC3 could conceivably be used, but also includes a wealth of technical information, from jitter tolerance to total harmonic distortion graphs."
"The DAC is a small, compact box with black housing and a metal front plate, one that is clearly been designed for insertion into a studio rack but which is equally at home sitting on a shelf next to a pair of headphones or a set of speakers."
"The sleek metal panel looks and feels great, with an engraved Benchmark logo and buttons that have a pleasing solidity to them. Although the features on the front may prove a bit head scratching at first, things like the Dim/Mute option, which lowers the volume twenty decibels with a single press, prove surprisingly useful. And the DAC3 has just the most fantastic volume control: a machined, motorised metal pot that not only moves on its own when commanded (with a pleasing whirr) but also turns beautifully in the fingers."
"A short page through the manual primes you for what kind of experience this is going to be: a complex, technical one, that is going to require a little bit of work to get things the way you want them. Plug and play this is not. In a way, it’s a little refreshing. Although we love the fact that so much audio gear is easy to set up and run, it’s refreshing – even startling – to encounter something that takes a little bit of work."
"If you stick around long enough to learn the ins and outs of this demanding piece of equipment, you’ll be rewarded with some absolutely jaw-dropping sound."
"There is an absolutely staggering amount of high-level technology packed into the tiny black box, and what it amounts to is this: glorious audio quality."
"Whether we were using it as a preamp, a headphone amp, or a straight DAC, it was nothing but outstanding. What grabbed us, more than anything else, was the clarity and realism. We genuinely felt like we were hearing every single note like it was meant to be heard, with almost no coloration or distortion."
"Although it worked well in all genres, it particularly excelled at things like heavy metal, offering mids and highs that really allowed the guitars to bite. And again, everything was just crystal clear, with no distortion whatsoever. It got to the point that we were throwing different styles and genres at it, just to see if we could get it to falter. It didn’t. No matter what we tried, the DAC3 never missed a beat."
"As far as we’re concerned, it comes as close to flawless sound quality as we’ve ever heard."
"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."