DAC3 - "Produced definitions of clarity that pushed away inner walls"
"There’s no denying that Benchmark are well known in the Hifi world for producing DACs which produce clean, uncoloured and truthful music."
"The core characteristic of all Benchmark DACs is to extract all the detail as transparently as possible, remain flat and cohesive in its presentation and allow the listener to engage deep into the music."
"Harmonically the DAC3 produced definitions of clarity that pushed away inner walls, giving height, depth and a feeling of surround sound."
"The precision in which the DAC3 produces each note is combined with a real flow to the music."
"Nils Lofgren’s live version of ‘Keith Don’t Go’ showed the potential speed and precision of the DAC3, strings started and stopped on a dime, decays were never sacrificed for precision and using the DAC3 really and truly lifts a veil from the system. Combinations of full bodied undertones and crisp leading edges brings music to life, extracting far more information in all areas of the frequency range than DACs costing quite a fair bit more… and the implementation of the ES9028PRO is just superb."
"When a female artist such as Rachelle Farrell takes a breath, it’s a breath that is heard, not a sound that resembles a breath. When Joss Stone’s lips touch in-between words a moistness can be heard. When Chris Jones has a little hum while the intro is being played it’s very evident and puts a smile on my face as I can then imagine him eager to get going. All these small significant moments increase the reality of a performance."
"There’s a lot of praise I could give to the Benchmark and some of it in all honesty is to my surprise, I am most taken aback by the sheer cohesiveness produced in conjunction with the amounts of detail available; it’s all done so effortlessly."
"Precision, depth, tonal accuracy and the freedom of the music within the soundstage and for whatever genre I played. The hybrid volume control is very nice and the tactile feel of the knob itself is very good, the facility itself was used with the active setup and its implementation is very well done. Equally so was the remote control which I used generally to adjust volume levels in this setup and also when listening to my headphones through the DAC."
"My system felt like a dominant force when I introduced the Benchmark DAC3 HGC to the middle shelf of my rack. With the implementation of the latest ESS9028PRO chip from Sabre, Benchmark’s own team of experts, tweaking the accompanied circuitry and the feature rich design offered in this petite package, a genetically modified version of the already popular DAC2 is born."
- Dan Worth, Hifi Pig
"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!""
"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
"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