"The DAC2 measured specifications are a significant improvement over the already very impressive DAC1, due to the very high resolution ESS SABRE DAC, better components and improved circuit topology."
"However, the impressively improved measurements don't really prepare for the emotional impact of music played through the DAC2. Improvements in objective aspects of performances are there: I can hear keyboard, voice, drum, string and jazz saxophone articulation, timbre and instrument sound much more clearly. The intention of the artists through the mechanics of their playing is much more clearly audible."
"But the communication of emotion is even more greatly improved. Jazz swings better. Classical storms, soars and sings better ..."
DAC1 HDR -"Top 20 Most Notable Digital Products from the Past 20 Years"
Enjoy the Music.com takes a look back at the 20 most significant digital audio products from the past 20 years.
"It is widely known within the high-end audio industry that Enjoy the Music.com gives out very few awards. With the nearly constant barrage with 'best of' and 'top picks' featuring hundreds of products elsewhere, there is little doubt Enjoy the Music.com is perhaps the most conservative of magazines when it comes to giving out special accolades. With our annual Blue Note awards possibly being the most sought-after within the audiophile industry, as only a very small handful of products get special recognition each year, we want to highlight our 20th anniversary by using our 20/20 vision as it were and look back to some of the best gear."
"As Editor and Creative Director for Enjoy the Music.com, it is my honor to look back at the many thousands of reviews and choose the top 20 per category. This month my choices are for the very best digital gear over the past 20 years."
DAC1 HDR -"This little box delivers a mind-blowing audio experience"
"Listening to Irish folk singer Cara Dillon sing “The Lass of Glenshee,” from Live at the Grand Opera House on the DAC1, we were amazed at how much easier we could discern the lyrics through the singer’s lovely brogue. The acoustic guitar, fiddle, drums, and flute, meanwhile, were distinctly rendered so that you could place each note of each instrument in the broad sound stage."
DAC1 HDR -"You will have to spend a very, very great deal of money to find a better DAC"
"When Benchmark Media’s DAC1 digital to analog converter was introduced a few years ago, it not only garnered rave reviews, but those reviewers who performed rigorous laboratory tests only wound up confirming Benchmark’s claims that it was a virtually distortionless device...every now and then, word gets out about really exceptional professional products...and soon audiophiles start buying them."
"... you will have to spend a very, very great deal of money to find a better DAC and linestage than are in this unassuming but nearly perfect unit."
"If accuracy, neutrality, and a very detailed sound is what you seek from your digital music collection, the Benchmark delivers in spades."
"If you like warmed over, lush, or retro sounding source components, you may want to look elsewhere. I can conclude by telling you if I was building another system from scratch, it would more than likely include the DAC1 HDR to serve both as linestage and DAC for a music server and transport."
"I don’t believe you can do better if you are looking for a made in the USA DAC and preamplifier for $1895. Buying a separate DAC and remote controlled preamp will without a doubt set you back more, and in my opinion, with no benefit of added performance."
DAC1 USB - "Enjoy top-notch performance from this truly great DAC"
"Hook up about anything that outputs up to 24/192, even your computer, and enjoy top notch performance from this truly great DAC."
"I loved the mids, highs, and bass which were all outstanding and easily outperformed the competition. I'd buy the Benchmark and forget about the many flavor of the month high priced DACs being touted today."
"The Benchmark DAC1 USB offers big-time sound at a low ball price. Highest recommendation!"
DAC1 HDR - "The studio heritage of this Benchmark preamp is quite obvious"
"The studio heritage of this Benchmark preamp is quite obvious. I'd like to say the sound was lean but not thin. I expect this however is an artifact of my sonic memory, having listened to far too many tubby tubed pre-amps in my past. In fact, I believe it is merely neutral. And unlike all but the best solid state preamps or integrateds I have listened to, there was none of that solid state hash or haze heard through lesser designs. Detail was neither absent nor did it draw undue attention to itself. Highs were not rolled off, nor were they shrill. Bass was as it should be."
"Fit and finish of this component is top notch. My unit came in the black finish and it was physically perfect."
"The Benchmark DAC makes for a smooth and pleasant presentation of music, even on older material like Jimi Hendrix's Blues album (MCA). On "Hear My Train A Comin'" the guitar was lively and clear, while bass of the drums was well portrayed. "Catfish Blues" had a depth and energy that made the piece so powerful to listen to, and the emotion continued through "Voodoo Chile Blues" keeping plenty of air around the instruments making for a very open presentation."
"The Benchmark DAC1 HDR is a landmark piece. Its small size and inclusion of not only a great DAC but remote controlled preamp with analog input as well as a flexible headphone amplifier make this a great piece for a top notch system at a reasonable price."
DAC1 HDR - "Damn close to a perfect piece of equipment"
"What the Benchmark DAC1 HDR adds to or subtracts from its input signal is borderline unmeasurable, so the sonic character of its output is obviously the sonic character of its input."
"All in all, the Benchmark DAC1 HDR is damn close to a perfect piece of equipment. Neither its digital performance nor its analog performance could be meaningfully improved. That’s really all that needs to be said."
"There exist DACs and preamps at ten times the price of the Benchmark, but they aren’t any better. Let the high-end police come and take me away in handcuffs."
DAC1 PRE - "Marks something of a new era in audio"
"I have been listening to the Benchmark conversion method (in the DAC1, which I bought) for more than a year. To say that it wears well would be to understate the case. It has become for me simply the way I listen to CD when I want to hear exactly what is on it. And it seems to do the job so nearly correctly that if I am disturbed by what I am hearing, I look elsewhere for the cause without hesitation."
"To my mind, it is the beginning of a new era in audio, in which the regeneration of the recorded signal has become a solved problem."
"You could use the DAC1 PRE in your office with your desktop or laptop, for a dramatic improvement in sound over your computer's built-in soundcard. And I do mean dramatic. You can drive a pair of powered speakers directly from the Benchmark. Or try a small power amp, maybe even a little single-ended tubed triode."
"As a headphone amp, the Benchmark DAC1 PRE really shone—even with fussy, difficult-to-drive headphones like my reference AKG K-701s, or my affordable faves, the Audio-Technica ATH-AD700s."
"The DAC1 was created with three target users in mind: the professional studio, home use by audio professionals, and audiophiles. Indeed, the DAC1 has been well received by studios and has made inroads into the audiophile community. It is feature-laden and smartly laid out."
"It’s more than a DAC, it’s a pretty doggone good preamp too!"
"It presents hyper-nuanced, super clean sound."
"The Benchmark is a clean, lean digitizing machine. It does set the standard at its price point for pure, unadulterated digital signals coming to your nearest amp(s)."
"If you’re after the most measurably perfect CD sound and endless detail, put it on your own test bench – your audio rack."
ADC1 and DAC1 - "Benchmark’s reputation is well deserved"
"Many people I respect had lauded the DAC1, and I was interested to hear it in my home. Many reviews of the DAC1 had mentioned its headphone amplifier but had said little about it. Being an avid headphone listener, I wanted to see how well the DAC1 would stand up against my usual headphone amplifiers."
"Since then, months have passed during which I've used both the DAC1 and ADC1, and I can say with confidence that Benchmark’s reputation is well deserved. The three most important elements of any product -- build quality, sound quality, and customer support -- are all present in their designs."
"The ADC1 is the most powerful recording tool I've ever used, and is probably overkill for the casual recorder. But if you have a serious vinyl collection to archive, or are setting up a small digital recording studio, it should flawlessly perform to high standards."
"The DAC1 will have a wider audience and can serve many functions: headphone amp, digital preamp, and, of course, D/A processing."
"When I reviewed the DAC1 ... the DAC1's transparency and veracity pleasantly surprised me. It remains high on my 'wanted' list."
"Benchmark thoughtfully provided a DAC1 to complete the set so I was able to experiment and compare the ADC1 using both the DAC1 and my own everyday convertors. In the relatively short time available my earlier conclusions about the virtues of the DAC1 were confirmed. The ADC1 comfortably outperformed my console convertors, exhibiting similar clarity and surgical precision to the D-A."
"The astonishingly solid imaging I know the DAC1 to be capable of was maintained along with the impressive transparency and transient response. Again, I heard things I've not heard before."
DAC1 - "If you are looking to improve your monitoring ...you really must audition the DAC1"
"Its performance is quite extraordinary for the UK retail price, and it competes favourably against units costing considerably more."
"It is a very neat, well-designed package with an excellent feature set, including an internal mains PSU, usefully clean and powerful headphone monitoring, and the provision to configure the analogue outputs for fixed or variable levels."
"If you are looking to improve your monitoring, or to hear what your A-D converters are actually providing, you really must audition the DAC1. I must warn you, though, that this will be hazardous to your wallet — because you'll have to buy it once you hear it. I did!"