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DAC3 Review - Rob Boffard, The Master Switch

DAC3 Review - Rob Boffard, The Master Switch
Benchmark DAC3 HGC Black with remote

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."

Benchmark DAC3 HGC closeup

"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."

Benchmark DAC3 HGC - Internal View

"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."

- Rob Boffard, The Master Switch

Read the entire review →


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