Product Review

Benchmark DAC-1 DAC/Preamplifier

Part II - On the Bench, and Conclusions

November, 2003

Jason Victor Serinus


On the Bench (JEJ)

The following tests used digital signals input (XLR) to the DAC-1.

At 1 kHz, THD was very low.

IMD was also very low, using 1 kHz and 1.5 kHz sine waves.

With 5 kHz and 6 kHz input, IMD was still a low 0.0012%.

At this higher frequency of 10 kHz, THD was still very low.

IMD with 11 kHz and 12 kHz input, was only 0.0011%.

Using a set of multiple frequencies, IMD remained very low.

Going to 24/96 digital signals, using 1 kHz, THD was 5 times lower than when using the same frequency but at 16/44 sampling. Notice also that the noise floor is lower with 24/96 than with 16/44.

IMD was also much lower using 24/96 than 16/44 for 1 kHz and 1.5 kHz sine waves.

Again, with 24/96, the IMD was about 5 times lower than when input with the same frequencies (5 kHz and 6 kHz) at 16/44 sampling.

10 kHz at 24/96 sampling was very, very low.

As with the other tests, IMD was much lower using 24/96 sampling at these frequencies.

IMD was just about at the limit of our test equipment here, with multiple frequencies at 24/96 sampling.


The DAC-1 is a major achievement. Far more than a taste-of-the-high-end toy, it is a bona-fide audiophile product whose sound is astonishing for its price. I would think that readers who own relatively inexpensive one-piece CD players equipped with digital outs would find investing in a DAC-1 plus a decent digital cable and power cable (for a total outlay of $1100 - $1500) would deliver an entirely new dimension of sonic pleasure. Similarly, those owning older, lower-priced DACs or less than stellar preamps might find using the DAC-1 in stand-alone mode a revelation. Its limitations, which are most noticeable when auditioned through equipment that costs far more than the DAC-1, are relatively minor when compared to its pluses. If your budget is small, but your love for music unbounded, you owe the DAC-1 a listen.

- Jason Victor Serinus -

Associated Equipment:

Digital Front End:
Sony 707ES transport modified by Alexander Peychev
Audio Alchemy DDS-Pro transport
Theta Gen. 5A single-ended DAC (to be replaced with the Gen.VIII); Benchmark DAC-1
Perpetual Technologies P-1A with Modwright modified Monolithic Power Supply and Revelation Audio umbilical power cable

Bruce Moore 100W dual mono tube power amp with Electro-Harmonix KT-88s and Siemens Cca tubes

Bruce Moore Companion III tube preamp with Electro-Harmonix gold pin 6922s and Jan Philips 12AU7 equivalents;
Reflection Audio Om-1 Quantum battery-powered preamp in non-battery mode

Talon Khorus X speakers (with latest modifications)

Digital: Nordost Valhalla interconnects and digital interconnects
Nordost Valhalla bi-wired speaker cable

AC Power Cables:
Elrod EPS-1, 2, and 3 and EPS Signature-2 on main chain plus Harmonic Tech, Nordost, and AudioPrism Super Natural S2 elsewhere

PS Audio P600 Power Plant power synthesizer with MultiWave II
PS Audio Ultimate Outlet; PS Audio Power Ports
Michael Green Deluxe Ultrarack, Basic Racks, room treatment, and Audiopoints
Black Diamond Racing Cones
Inner tube, maple cutting boards, bags of sand
Shakti stones on Amp and Monolithic/P-1a
Bedini Quadra Beam Ultraclarifier
Audioprism Stoplight and Blacklight, Marigo Disc
Gryphon Exorcist
Sheffield/XLO degmagnetiser and break-in disc and Ayre demagnetizing disc


Copyright 2003 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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