We live in an analog world. The D/A converter, or "DAC", is the essential bridge between digital storage and analog playback. Today, virtually every audio device has a built-in DAC. CD players, DVD players, computers, HDTVs, cable boxes, and even smartphones, have built-in D/A converters. But there is a problem - these internal D/A converters are rarely capable of delivering high-resolution audio.
The audio conversion system in a consumer audio device is normally built for a budget of about $5. At this price, the internal D/A converters fall well short of delivering high-resolution audio performance. These internal converters may boast that they support 24-bits and 192 kHz, but in most cases, they cannot even do justice to the CD format. Internal converters typically provide the equivalent of 14-bit performance. The remaining 10 bits serve marketing purposes.
Most audio products now have digital outputs. These outputs bypass the internal D/A converters and deliver raw uncorrupted digital data, losslessly preserving all of the details captured in the recording. These raw digital outputs can be connected to an external D/A converter. The resulting performance improvement is often huge.
Any practical audio system will need a volume control. These days, most audio devices use digital volume controls. These controls place significant demands on the quality of a D/A conversion. An internal D/A converter that starts with the equivalent of 14-bit performance, may only deliver 12-bit performance at typical volume-control settings.
In contrast, the Benchmark DAC3 D/A converter uses a motor-driven 32-bit digital volume control driving a 32-bit D/A conversion stage. This combination delivers true high-resolution audio performance over a wide range of volume settings.
Benchmark's unique hybrid volume-control system delivers maximum performance from analog or digital inputs. A single motor-driven knob controls the volume of the analog and digital inputs, but the two types of inputs are handled very differently:
This hybrid approach eliminates all unnecessary A/D and D/A conversion steps. Analog inputs see an entirely analog path to the outputs. Likewise, digital inputs see an entirely digital path to the 32-bit D/A converter.
All Benchmark DAC3 converters are compatible with our IR remote control. The die-cast metal handset is standard with the DAC3 HGC and is optional with the other models. All functions can be controlled from the front panel or from the remote.
The motorized volume control responds to remote commands. This motorized knob provides remote control volume without the usual performance penalties associated with remote volume control.
The DAC3 includes the input selection, volume control, and output buffering functions of a traditional hi-fi "preamplifier". Like a traditional preamplifier, the DAC3 is specifically designed to drive power amplifiers, but the DAC3 carries this concept to perfection. The high-current output stage of the DAC3 can be programmed to match the input sensitivity of your power amplifier. This unique feature optimizes the interface between the DAC and your power amplifier, giving you the highest-possible system performance.
The DAC3 provides the cleanest, most direct path to your power amplifier. No additional "preamplifier" is required or recommended unless your system includes a turntable. If so, your phono preamplifier should be connected to one pair of analog line-level inputs on a DAC3 HGC or DAC3 L.
In any system, the most transparent performance will always be achieved when the DAC3 is connected directly to your power amplifier.
Most DAC3 models include analog inputs, headphone outputs, remote control, and a 12 volt trigger. These features make the DAC3 much more than an external DAC. The DAC3 will become the main hub of your audio system.
All Benchmark converters are designed to be sonically neutral. This sonic transparency is absolutely essential in the studio monitoring chain. For this reason, Benchmark DAC3 converters are central components in the monitoring systems in many of the world's finest studios.
When Benchmark's professional converters are used in hi-fi applications, studio-quality sound can be enjoyed in a home environment. Enjoy pure music without any coloration from the electronics. Hear the music exactly the way it was heard in the studio, and exactly the way the artists intended.
Discover the natural, uncolored, analog sound of the DAC3.
Transparent sound can go beyond replicating the studio experience. Recordings that have been produced with a natural and unprocessed sound can transport you to the performance space. However, this can only happen when the entire playback chain is selected for maximum transparency.
This experience of "being there" cannot be created by systems that are designed to add warmth or color to the music.