Benchmark DAC3 DX - Digital to Analog Audio Converter

by: Benchmark Media Systems, Inc.


    Benchmark Performance

    DAC3 vs. DAC2

    The DAC3 builds upon Benchmark’s highly successful DAC2 product family. The DAC3 maintains the familiar DAC2 form factor, but adds the higher performance available from the new ES9028PRO D/A converter. The DAC3 DX offers the following improvements over the DAC2 DX:

    • Active 2nd Harmonic Compensation
    • Active 3rd Harmonic Compensation
    • Lower THD+N
    • Lower passband ripple
    • Improved frequency response
    • Faster PLL lock times
    • Faster switching between inputs
    • Adjustable calibration

    DAC3 vs. DAC1

    The DAC3 and DAC2 add these features that are not found on the DAC1:

    • Asynchronous 192kHz USB Audio 2.0
    • 32-bit D/A conversion system
    • Word Length Display
    • Sample Rate Display
    • Polarity Control
    • Direct DSD D/A Conversion
    • -20 dB DIM
    • Bi-Directional 12V Trigger
    • Power Switch 
    • Home Theater Bypass
    • Digital Pass-Through
    • High-Headroom DSP
    • Dual-Domain Hybrid Gain Control
    • Additional I/O

    DAC3 Technologies

    3:1 Parallel Conversion Structure

    The conversion system in the DAC3 DX achieves a 4.77 dB signal to noise improvement through the use of 3:1 summing on the main output bus. The ES9028PRO D/A is an 8-channel 32-bit converter. In the DAC3 DX, three channels are summed in the analog domain to form each of the two output channels on the main bus. The remaining two channels provide the aux bus outputs

    The 3:1 summing also improves the THD. The non-linearities in individual conversion channels are averaged across the four summed channels and incoherent non-linearities are attenuated by up to 4 dB.

    Harmonic Compensation

    The ES9028PRO has two distortion compensation systems that independently remove most of the 2nd and 3rd harmonic distortion in the D/A converter. Benchmark's ultra-clean analog output stages allow these systems to be fully leveraged in the DAC3 series. To the best of our knowledge, no other D/A converter has lower THD than the Benchmark DAC3 series.

    The DAC3 DX is Benchmark's newest 2-channel D/A converter.  When compared to the legendary DAC1, the DAC3 series has lower noise, lower distortion, and improved accuracy. The DAC1 and DAC2 series converters have become the reference standard in many of the finest recording studios and mastering rooms. The DAC3 defines a new reference.

    DAC3 converters deliver outstanding musical detail and precise stereo imaging.  They employ an advanced high-headroom digital filter design, and a high-sample-rate Asynchronous USB Audio interface. All inputs are fully isolated from interface jitter by Benchmark's new UltraLock3™ jitter attenuation system.

    Internal digital processing and conversion is 32-bits, and includes 3.5 dB of headroom above 0 dBFS. Three balanced 32-bit D/A converters are summed together to form the main output bus. Two channels are reserved for the auxiliary RCA output bus.

    The performance of the DAC3 DX exceeds the measurement limits of today's state-of-the art test equipment.

    Native DSD Conversion

    DSD (in DoP 1.1 format) is automatically detected on USB, coaxial, and XLR digital inputs. The system seamlessly switches between native DSD and native PCM conversion. DoP 1.1 is supported by many media players, and DSD downloads are now available from several sources.

    Enjoy seamless transitions between native DSD and native PCM playback.

    Direct Connectivity to Power Amplifiers and Powered Monitors

    Benchmark DAC1, DAC2, and DAC3 converters are designed to directly drive power amplifiers and powered speakers. Benchmark converters feature adjustable low-impedance passive attenuators at the XLR outputs that can be used to optimize the interface to the power amplifier (or powered monitor). The sonic importance of these attenuators cannot be overemphasized. Proper gain matching between the DAC/preamplifier and the power amplifier is essential for achieving peak system performance. The attenuators allow precise matching to all amplifiers and powered monitors.

    Passive output attenuators are only found on Benchmark converters - don't settle for anything less.

    Sonically Neutral

    All Benchmark converters are designed for maximum transparency. This transparency is absolutely essential in the studio monitoring chain. DAC3 converters are ideal for critical reference-quality professional systems. In home applications, the DAC2 delivers the sonic signature that was created in the recording studio.

    Hear the music exactly as it was heard in the studio.

    Take the Studio Home

    When Benchmark's professional converters are used in hi-fi applications, studio-quality sound can be enjoyed in a home environment.

    Discover the natural, uncolored, analog sound of the DAC3.

    The Digital-Only DAC3 for Audio Professionals

    The DAC3 DX is the DAC3 of choice for users who do not need analog inputs.

    The DX is well suited to the needs of professional users and includes an XLR AES digital input. The DAC3 DX is the only DAC3 model that includes dual stereo output buses. The analog output buses can be independently set to fixed or variable gain. The DAC3 DX is also the only DAC3 available in a rack-mount version.

    A New Reference - Going Beyond the Legendary DAC1 and DAC2

    Benchmark's DAC1 and DAC2 series converters have been the reference to which other converters have been compared. It is rare to find a converter review that does not draw comparisons to the DAC1 or DAC2. The DAC1 and DAC2 have been some of the best-selling 2-channel reference-quality converters and are in daily use at many of the finest recording studios and mastering rooms. Benchmark converters are also enjoyed by thousands of audiophiles. Benchmark has raised the bar ... the DAC3 defines a new reference.

    Professional Applications

    • Reference-Quality Studio Monitoring
    • Sound-Card Elimination for Computer Audio
    • Stand-Alone Headphone Amplifier  for Digital Sources
    • USB to SPDIF Transfer Device

    Hi-Fi Applications

    The DAC2 DX uses digital connections (USB, Optical, Coaxial, or AES) to bypass the low-quality built-in converters that are included in many audio products. 

    • Audio Output Device for Music and Video Servers
    • Home Hi-Fi Playback from Digital Sources
    • Audio Output Device for TV and Home Theater Systems 

    Add Benchmark Cables to Complete Your New System

    Benchmark offers a no-nonsense selection of very high-quality cables.  Benchmark cables are designed for durability and transparency, and most are manufactured in the USA. Our optical cables are manufactured in Canada.


    DAC2 and DAC3 Awards

    [powr-photo-gallery id=38247f01_1458569008900.5] 

    DAC1 Awards

    [powr-photo-gallery id=38247f01_1458569008900.6]


    Benchmark Technologies

    Benchmark includes some exciting technologies in the DAC2:

    • Hybrid Gain Control
    • Low-Impedance Passive Output Attenuators
    • High-Headroom DSP
    • UltraLock3™ Jitter Attenuation System
    • High-Headroom 32-bit DSP
    • Quad 32-bit balanced D/A Conversion System
    • Multi-Mode Asynchronous USB Audio System
    • Digital Diagnostic Display
    • Volume-Control Bypass
    • Digital Pass Through
    • Distributed Power Regulation
    • "Zero-Ohm" HPA2 Headphone Amplifier

    Hybrid Gain Control

    The DAC3 DX combines passive low-impedance attenuators, a 32-bit digital gain control, and a servo-driven volume control. All analog outputs are controlled by the rotary volume control unless the calibrated output function is selected. The motorized volume control moves in response to commands from the remote control. Audio does not pass through the volume control. The position of the rotary knob is precisely measured, and digital gain coefficients are calculated. The gain coefficients are filtered and passed to a 32-bit high-headroom DSP system. The 32-bit output of this system is connected directly to the array of 32-bit digital to analog converters. This system can provide a wide range of volume control without losing resolution. The DSP system preserves precise L/R balance, and precise stereo imaging, while avoiding any source of noise and distortion.

    The volume control is one of the most critical functions in the audio chain, enjoy the best system available.

    Low-Impedance Passive Output Attenuators

    Benchmark's unique passive output attenuators provide distortion-free gain reduction without reducing the dynamic range (or SNR) of the converter. The attenuators optimize the gain staging between the DAC3 DX and the power amplifier. This optimization is absolutely essential for maximizing the dynamic range of the entire playback system. Much of the success of the DAC1 and DAC2 converters can be attributed to the passive output attenuators. Musical details can be obscured by system noise whenever a preamplifier and power amplifier are improperly matched. The passive attenuators enable full use of your power amplifier's dynamic range.

    Experience new details in your favorite recordings.

    UltraLock3™ Jitter Attenuation System

    UltraLock3™ is an improved version of the UltraLock2™ system used in the DAC2 product family. On both of these systems, DSP processing is 32-bits, DSP headroom is 3.5 dB, sample rate is 211 kHz, and jitter-induced distortion and noise is at least 140 dB below the level of the music - well below the threshold of hearing. But, the new UltraLock3™ system provides instantaneous (6 ms) lock times. This makes it much easier to perform A/B comparisons between two digital inputs.

    Benchmark's UltraLock3™ system eliminates all audible jitter artifacts.

    High-Headroom DSP

    All D/A converters need 3.5 dB "excess" digital headroom, but few have any headroom above 0 dBFS.

    All of the digital processing in the DAC3 DX is designed to handle signals as high as +3.5 dBFS. Most digital systems clip signals that exceed 0 dBFS. The 0 dBFS limitation seems reasonable, as 0 dBFS is the highest sinusoidal signal level that can be represented in a digital system. However, a detailed investigation of the mathematics of PCM digital systems will reveal that inter-sample peaks may reach levels slightly higher than +3 dBFS while individual samples never exceed 0 dBFS. These inter-sample overs are common in commercial releases, and are of no consequence in a PCM system until they reach an interpolation process. But, for a variety of reasons, virtually all audio D/A converters use an interpolation process. The interpolation process is absolutely necessary to achieve 24-bit state-of-the art conversion performance. Unfortunately, inter-sample overs cause clipping in most interpolators. This clipping produces distortion products that are non-harmonic and non-musical . We believe these broadband distortion products often add a harshness or false high-frequency sparkle to digital reproduction. The DAC3 DX avoids these problems by maintaining at least 3.5 dB of headroom in the entire conversion system.

    We believe this added headroom is a groundbreaking improvement delivering significant sonic advantages.

    Quad 32-bit Balanced Conversion System

    Four balanced 32-bit D/A converters deliver audio to Benchmark's low-impedance current to voltage converters. The main bus feeds the balanced XLR outputs and one set of unbalanced RCA outputs. The main bus uses 3:1 redundancy to reduce conversion noise by 4.77 dB. The redundancy also tends to reduce distortion. A fourth set of conversion channels are reserved for the auxiliary bus that feeds the second set of RCA outputs.

    Similar redundancy is built into the native DSD conversion system.

    The analog circuits that follow the D/A converter are carefully designed. Benchmark has leveraged its long history of building high-end analog audio equipment, in order to create an outstanding analog output stage.

    Digital converters are never better than the analog stages that support the conversion process.

    Multi-Mode Asynchronous USB System

    Benchmark's USB system supports USB Audio 2.0, DSD, and USB Audio 1.1. It is frequency agile, and will follow sample rate changes initiated by the computer and/or the media playback software. In all modes the USB communications are asynchronous in order to eliminate unnecessary sources of jitter.

    The DAC3 DX has a low-jitter master clock which controls the transfer of audio data from the computer to the USB sub-system. The computer asynchronously transfers audio data to a buffer in the DAC3 DX. The contents of the buffer are then asynchronously transferred to the D/A conversion sub-system. This second asynchronous transfer eliminates any traces of jitter that accumulate as the data is transferred between the USB and conversion subsystems. No traces of jitter-induced distortion are measurable to our measurement limits (better than -150 dBFS). This truly represents the state-of-the art. Enjoy the convenience of computer playback without compromise. The Asynchronous USB system supports USB Audio 2.0 for high-resolution 192kHz, and DSD playback. No drivers are required for MAC operating systems. An easy-to-install driver adds 192 kHz and DSD capabilities to Windows operating systems.

    An asynchronous, driverless USB Audio 1.1 mode supports sample rates up to 96 kHz. This USB mode can be selected from the front panel or from the remote control. The driverless USB Audio 1.1 mode allows quick plug-and-play connections to Windows, MAC, iOS, and many Linux operating systems without installing drivers. Just plug in the USB, and the DAC2 DX becomes an available audio device.

    The USB subsystem remains active when the DAC2 DX is powered down. This prevents interruptions to the computer playback operations and eliminates the need to reconfigure the computer every time the converter is turned on.

    Enjoy the convenience of USB connectivity without any compromise to audio performance.

    Digital Diagnostic Display

    Ever wonder why that 192 kHz 24-bit download on your computer just doesn't sound right? Your media player may be down-sampling to 44.1 kHz and/or truncating to 16-bits. Many media players apply poor-quality sample rate conversion and truncation. Fortunately these problems can be eliminated with the selection of a good frequency-agile media player. The sample-rate and word-length displays on the DAC3 DX confirm the proper operation of your media player. These tools are also essential in the studio - get instant confirmation of sample rates and word lengths. The DAC3 DX measures the sample rate and examines bit activity, it does not use metadata flags (which are often incorrect).

    Know when High-Resolution Audio is being delivered to your DAC.

    Volume-Control Bypass

    The DAC3 DX has two analog output busses. Each bus can be placed in a calibrated volume-control bypass mode in order to provide a full-level output while using an upstream digital volume control or downstream analog volume control. This feature is useful in many professional applications and it is also useful when the DAC3 DX is feeding a Hi-Fi preamplifier.

    The bypass function should be enabled whenever a Hi-Fi preamplifier is inserted between the DAC3 DX and the power amplifier. However, for best performance, Benchmark strongly recommends connecting the DAC3 DX directly to the power amplifier. The DAC3 DX performs all the functions of a DAC and a Hi-Fi preamplifier - a separate downstream Hi-Fi preamplifier can only degrade the performance.

    The Volume-Control Bypass provides flexibility for specialized applications.

    Digital Pass-Through Function

    The second coaxial input can be reconfigured as a digital output. In output mode, any selected digital input (including USB) will pass through to the coaxial output. The digital pass through is bit-transparent and even supports DSD (DoP 1.1). Dolby digital and DTS formats can be passed through to a surround processor.

    The Pass-Through Function provides a coaxial output for any USB-connected computer.

    Power Switch

    The DAC3 DX will enter a standby mode if the selected digital input is inactive for more than 5 minutes. Operation will resume when the selected digital input become active.The power switch places the DAC3 DX in "full shutdown". Power consumption is less than 0.5 W in "full shutdown". The DAC3 DX will respond the IR remote or the 12V trigger while in "full shutdown".

    The DAC3 DX saves energy by meeting or exceeding all standby power standards.

    Low Power Consumption

    The DAC3 DX uses high-efficiency low noise power supplies and may be operated from any standard international voltage without adjustment. Low-noise audio circuits require generous amounts of power. High-efficiency circuits in the DAC2 DX deliver this power without wasted energy.

    Power consumption is 12 W - typical.

    Distributed Power Regulation

    To achieve the lowest possible noise, the DAC3 DX uses distributed power supply regulation. Each critical subsystem has at least one dedicated low-noise voltage regulator. There are 20 voltage regulators in the DAC3 DX.

    This power system is so effective that there no evidence of any AC line-related hum and noise are at least 135 dB below the calibrated output level.

    "Zero-Ohm" HPA2 Headphone Power Amplifier

    The DAC3 DX features the HPA2 - Benchmark's signature high-current, 0-Ohm headphone power amplifier. The HPA2 is arguably the ultimate reference headphone power amplifier. It will deliver the full rated performance of the DAC3 DX to the headphones. The HPA2 maintains less than 0.001% THD+N into 30 Ohms. The DAC3 has two 1/4" headphone jacks on the front panel. The performance of the HPA2 remains consistent even when two headphones are being driven simultaneously.

    The 0.11-Ohm output impedance of the HPA2™ maintains tight control of headphone transducers.


    Audio Performance

    Fs = 44.1 to 96 kHz, 20 to 20 kHz BW, 1 kHz test tone, 0 dBFS = +24 dBu (unless noted)

    SNR – A-Weighted, 0 dBFS = +28 dBu

    127 dB

    SNR – Unweighted, 0 dBFS = +28 dBu

    125 dB

    THD+N, 1 kHz at 0 dBFS

    -111 dBFS, -111 dB, 0.00028%

    THD+N, 1 kHz at -1 dBFS

    -112 dBFS, -111 dB, 0.00028%

    THD+N, 1 kHz at –3 dBFS

    -116 dBFS, -113 dB, 0.00022%

    THD+N, 20 to 20 kHz test tone at –3 dBFS

    -108 dBFS, -105 dB, <0.00056%

    Frequency Response at Fs=192 kHz

    +/- 0.005 dB (20 to 20 kHz)

    -0.013 dB at 10 Hz

    +0.005 dB at 20 kHz

    +0.006 dB at 40 kHz

    -0.002 dB at 80 kHz

    Frequency Response at Fs=48 kHz

    +/- 0.006 dB (20 to 20 kHz)

    -0.015 dB at 10 Hz

    -0.001 dB at 20 kHz


    -120 dB at 20 Hz

    -120 dB at 1 kHz

    -106 dB at 20 kHz

    Maximum Amplitude of Jitter Induced Sidebands (10 kHz 0 dBFS test tone, 12.75 UI sinusoidal jitter at 1 kHz)

    < -144 dB

    Maximum Amplitude of Spurious Tones with 0 dBFS test signal

    < -138 dB

    Maximum Amplitude of Idle Tones

    < -147 dB

    Maximum Amplitude of AC line related Hum & Noise

    < -135 dB

    Inter-channel Differential Phase (Stereo Pair – any sample rate)

    +/- 0.25 degrees at 20 kHz

    Inter-channel Differential Phase (Between DAC3 DX Units Fs<110 kHz) Any sample rate.

    +/- 0.25 degrees at 20 kHz

    Maximum Lock Time after Fs change

    400 ms

    Soft Mute Ramp Up/Down Time

    50 ms

    Mute on Receive Error


    Mute on Lock Error


    Mute on Idle Channel


    50/15 us De-Emphasis Enable

    Automatic in Consumer Mode

    De-Emphasis Method

    Digital IIR

    De-Emphasis Supported at

    Fs = 32, 44.1, 48 kHz


    Group Delay (Latency)

    Delay – Digital Input to Analog Output (function of sample rate)




    1.36 ms at 44.1 kHz

    1.27 ms at 48 kHz

    0.90 ms at 88.2 kHz

    0.82 ms at 96 kHz

    0.51 ms at 176.4 kHz

    0.47 ms at 192 kHz


    Digital Audio Inputs

    Number of Digital Inputs (switch selected)

    6 (1 USB, 2 Optical, 1 XLR, 2 Coaxial)

    Number of Channels


    Input Sample Frequency Range

    28 to 210 kHz (Coaxial and XLR)

    28 to 96 kHz (Optical)

    44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz (USB)

    Maximum Input Word Length

    24 bits

    Digital Input Impedance

    75 Ohms Coaxial, 110 Ohms XLR

    DC Blocking Capacitors on Digital Inputs

    Yes (Coaxial and XLR Inputs)

    Transient and Over-Voltage Protection on Digital Inputs

    Yes (Coaxial and XLR Inputs)

    Transformer Coupling on Digital Inputs

    Yes (XLR Input)

    Minimum Digital Input Level

    250 mVpp (Coaxial and XLR Inputs)

    Jitter Tolerance

    (With no Measurable Change in Performance)


    >12.75 UI sine, 100 Hz to 3 kHz

    >1.5 UI sine at 20 kHz

    >1.5 UI sine at 40 kHz

    >1.5 UI sine at 80 kHz

    >1.5 UI sine at 90 kHz

    >0.25 UI sine above 160 kHz

    Jitter Attenuation Method

    Benchmark UltraLock3™ - all inputs


    Balanced Analog Outputs

    Number of Balanced Analog Outputs


    Output Connector

    Gold-Pin Neutrik™ male XLR

    Output Impedance

    60 Ohms (Attenuator off)

    425 Ohms (Attenuator = 10 dB)

    135 Ohms (Attenuator = 20 dB)

    Analog Output Clip Point

    +29 dBu

    Factory Set Bypass Level (at 0 dBFS)

    +24 dBu (Attenuator = 0 dB)

    Output Level Range (at 0 dBFS) In ‘Variable’ Mode

    Off to +28 dBu (Attenuator off)

    Off to +18 dBu (Attenuator = 10 dB)

    Off to +8 dBu (Attenuator = 20 dB)

    Output Level Variation with Sample Rate (44.1 kHz vs. 96 kHz)

    < +/- 0.006 dB


    Unbalanced Analog Outputs

    Number of Unbalanced Analog Outputs


    Output Connector


    Output Impedance

    30 Ohms

    Analog Output Clip Point

    +13.5 dBu

    Factory Set Home Theater Bypass Output Level (at 0 dBFS)

    +8.2 dBu (2 Vrms)

    Output Level Range (at 0 dBFS)

    Off to +12.2 dBu (3.2 Vrms)

    Output Level Variation with Sample Rate (44.1 kHz vs. 96 kHz)

    < +/- 0.006 dB


    HPA2TM Headphone Outputs

    Number of Headphone Outputs


    Output Connectors

    ¼” TRS with switch on left-hand jack

    Output Impedance

    < 0.11 Ohms

    Output Level Control

    Stereo Control on Front Panel

    Output Level Range (at 0 dBFS) into 60-Ohm Load

    Off to +22 dBu (9.7 Vrms)

    Maximum Output Current

    250 mA

    Overload Protection (independent per channel)

    Current limited at 300 mA, also thermally protected


    > 500 kHz


    -100 dB, 0.001% into 30 Ohms at 50 mW

    1.26W maximum into 30 Ohms


    Status Display

    Indicators - Type and Location

    16 LED’s on Front Panel

    Selection/Status Indication

    2 – Mute, Dim
    6 – Input
    2 – Bypass/Calibrated Output
    2 – Word length
    4 – Sample Rate


    AC Power Requirements

    Nominal Input Operating Voltage Range (VAC RMS)

    100 – 240V


    50-60 Hz


    < 0.5 Watts Idle
    12 Watts Typical Program
    15 Watts Maximum


    5 x 20 mm (2 required)
    0.5 A 250 V Slo-Blo® Type

    Min/Max Operating range (VAC RMS)

    90 – 260
    47 – 63Hz



    Form Factor

    ½ Rack Wide, 1 RU High

    Depth behind front panel

    8.5” (216 mm)

    Overall depth including connectors but without power cord

    9.33” (237 mm)


    9.5” (249 mm)


    1.725” (44.5 mm)



    DAC3 DX only

    3 lb.

    DAC3 DX with remote control, power cord, extra fuses, and manual

    4 lb.

    Shipping weight

    7 lb.

    DAC3 DX Features

    • Sample-Rate Display
    • Word-Length Display
    • Six Digital Inputs
    • Three Stereo Analog Outputs
    • Two Independent Analog Output Buses
    • Digital Pass Through
    • Dual HPA2 Headphone Outputs
    • Headphone Mute Switch - left headphone jack mutes main output, function may be defeated
    • Native DSD Conversion
    • Native PCM Conversion
    • Asynchronous USB 2.0
    • Asynchronous USB 1.1 for Driverless Operation
    • Volume Control Bypass Function for Main Bus
    • Volume Control Bypass Function for Auxiliary Bus
    • 12V Trigger I/O - for sequenced system power switching
    • Mute Relays - on all analog outputs
    • Optional IR Remote Control - with heavy-duty metal housing
    • Power Switch
    • Low Power Consumption


    Rack-Mount Options

    The DAC3 DX is available in rackmount chassis. Non-rackmount versions can also be rackmounted using Benchmark's 1-RU tray.  All Benchmark DAC3, DAC2, DAC1, ADC1, and MPA1 products are housed in a 1/2-wide 1 RU chassis.  Two units can be mounted side-by-side in a standard 19" rack. The rackmount version of the DAC3 DX is 1/2 rack wide and requires a blank plate and coupler if mounted by itself.


    Detailed specifications and performance plots are available in the downloadable manual.

    DAC3 DX Manual


    AHB2 - Driving Martin-Logan ESL 11A Electrostatic Speakers

    Capital Audiofest 2017

    "The folks from Benchmark and Martin-Logan teamed up to do something just a little different, and entirely enchanting, in the Jackson Room!"

    "The resultant sound was extremely clean and fast, surprisingly dynamic, and the space, as you'd expect with good multi-channel, was get-up-and-walk-around through. Well done!"

    - Greg Weaver,

    View full article →

    DAC3 Review - Jim Austin, Stereophile

    Benchmark Media Systems - October 12, 2017

    DAC3 › HiFi ›

    DAC3 HGC"Astonishing Fidelity and Emotional Expressiveness"

    "Benchmark Media Systems’ DAC3 HGC is evidence that an engineering-focused company—one that seems to spend more time staring at instruments than testing its devices with their ears, and that cares more about transparency than it does about whether or not you like the sound their products make—can produce a product of astonishing fidelity and emotional expressiveness."

    "Science works ... never underestimate a good geek."

    - Jim Austin, Stereophile

    View full article →

    DAC3 HGC - "All I can say is 'Wow!'"

    "The Benchmark DAC3 offers extremely low levels of harmonic distortion from all its outputs. Intermodulation distortion was similarly vanishingly low."

    "No power-supply–related spuriae can be seen, and the random noise floor lies below –160 dBFS!"

    "When the DAC3 decoded dithered 16-bit and 24-bit data representing a 1 kHz tone at -60 dBFS, the increase in bit depth dropped the noise floor by more than 30 dB, indicating that the Benchmark’s resolution is at least 21 bits."

    "This as good as a DAC can currently get!"

    "All I can say is 'Wow!'" - John Atkinson

    View full article →

    DAC3 Review -

    Benchmark Media Systems - October 03, 2017

    AHB2 › DAC3 › HiFi ›

    DAC3 DX - "The DAC3 hits the mark..."

    "If we had to categorize the sound of the DAC3 using three words, those words would be precision, precision and precision."

    DAC3 DX with AHB2

    "Partnered with the AHB2 power amplifier, the system represents a significant powerhouse in a relatively small footprint."

    "Dynamics were surprisingly tight, quick and responsive in a manner that would make most audiophiles take another look at the “pro” side ..."

    View full article →

    DAC3 HGC - "At the top of its class ... highly recommended."

    "I’m immediately struck by the way the depth presented by the current model immerses you in the recording."

    "Having put the DAC3 through its paces with a wide range of tube and solid state amplifiers for The Audiophile Apartment, as the core of a high performance, yet highly compact system, the DAC3 is a charmer, indeed."

    "The three-dimensionality is the best I’ve achieved on my reference system."

    "This is a special digital product indeed."

    "Since the introduction of the original DAC1, Benchmark has set the industry on its ear..."

    "We gave the original DAC1 our first Exceptional Value award in issue 3, and the current DAC3 HGC is an equally good value, earning this award again in 2017."

    - Marck Marcantonio, Tone Audio

    View full article →

    DAC3 HGC - "I am confident in saying the DAC3 has hit the Goldilocks spot in tonal balance."

    "Benchmark was and is a pro audio brand at the forefront of the democratisation of the recording industry and audiophiles became interested in the product line toward the end of the last decade."

    "Despite looking very similar to the DAC1 and DAC1 HDR, and virtually identical to the DAC2 HGC, the DAC3 HGC brings a lot of ‘new’ to the table."

    "There’s an intrinsic sense of honesty to the sound ... it always sounded, just right… in the Goldilocks sense." 

    View full article →

    DAC3 Review - Rob Boffard, The Master Switch

    Benchmark Media Systems - June 13, 2017

    DAC3 › Pro Audio ›

    DAC3 HGC"As close to flawless sound quality as we’ve ever heard."

    "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."

    View full article →

    DAC3 HGC"Benchmark has taken an already remarkable product and moved it to the next level"

    "Benchmark Media Systems, Inc.’s DAC series of high-performance digital-to-analog converters (DACs) have earned the respect of audio enthusiasts and professional users alike for their state-of-the-art performance, including exceptional audio transparency and vanishingly-low levels of noise and distortion. Now Benchmark has made its DAC3 even better with the upgrade to ESS Technology’s new ES9028PRO DAC chip."

    The ES9028PRO has four key areas of improvement over its predecessor:
    • Total harmonic distortion (THD) compensation
    • Improved oversampling filters
    • Improved phase-locked loop (PLL)
    • Improved power supply distribution

      "Benchmark considers the THD compensation to be the most significant improvement."

      - Gary Galo, AudioXpress

      View full article →

      DAC3 Review - Marty Feldmann, Connoisseur Corner

      Benchmark Media Systems - April 07, 2017

      DAC3 › HiFi ›

      DAC3 - "Musical truth"

      "So, what exactly is musical truth?"

      "The truth is when your senses receive what the artist intended to portray. When the audio quality gets to your ears at a more accurate level, the groove and emotion of the music improves accordingly, getting you closer to exactly what occurred in the studio or at the live concert, in a blood, sweat and tears kind of way…" - Marty Feldmann

      "The folks at Benchmark Media, with their background in the recording industry, are driven to get that musical truth into the home with their products. With the release of the original DAC1 models and the second generation DAC2, Benchmark has been on the bleeding edge of digital technology trends, especially from a price/performance perspective."

      "In my time with the DAC3 I kept going back to my musician days, and the time I would spend in the studio. The immediacy and intimacy of how everything sounded, from single tracks to the completed mix of a song all came to mind. That says a lot to me about this DAC…! Musical truth…"

      - Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, Connoisseur Corner

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      DAC3 Review - Ben Shyman, Home Theater Review

      Benchmark Media Systems - March 29, 2017

      DAC3 › HiFi ›

      DAC3 - "The DAC3 soundstage is highly accurate, and its sound is among the best at any price."

      "Benchmark Media began in the mid-1980s providing audio equipment to television broadcast facilities. Today it is recognized amongst recording professionals and high-end audio enthusiasts for producing high-end, sonically transparent components. This philosophy is inherent in all of Benchmark's products--digital-to-analog converters, analog-to-digital converters, preamps, and amplifiers--and it plays right into the sweet spot of high-resolution audio."

      "After Benchmark announced the release of the DAC3 HGC, I was quick to contact the company and request a review sample. I was excited after reading about Benchmark's enthusiastic endorsement of the new ESS PRO SABRE chips and had a hunch that the new DAC3 could be a significant step forward in Benchmark's DAC lineage."

      "The DAC3 also possesses an uncanny ability to resolve hidden details that typically get lost in a mix. With more resolved detail, the tonality of instruments sounds more real."

      - Ben Shyman, Home Theater Review

      View full article →



      Detailed specifications and performance plots are available in the downloadable manual.

      DAC3 DX Manual


      Windows operating systems require a driver when operating in USB 2.0 mode (required for 192 kHz operation).  No driver is required for Mac or Linux operating systems.  No driver is required for any operating system when operating in USB 1.1 mode (sample rates up to 96 kHz).

      DAC3 and DAC2 Driver

      DAC Application Notes

      DAC App Notes

      More DAC Reviews

      DAC2 Reviews

      DAC3 Reviews


      Click here to view a list of recommended accessories for your DAC3 DX!


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    This Benchmark product was designed, assembled, and tested in the USA using USA and imported components. Most major components are made in USA.

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