Benchmark DAC3 HGC D/A Converter - A New Reference


Benchmark DA3 & DAC2 HGC Digital to Analogue Converter
 

I've been a fan of Benchmark's products since the launch of the legendary and multi award-winning DAC1 HGC digital to analog converter, and I still remember how impressed I was by the big, rich sound such a tiny unit produced. Things only improved with the DAC2 - notably with the respect to the soundstage, tonality and timbre. 

 DAC3 HGC - £2,349 & AHB2 Power Amp -£3,199

DAC3 HGC - £2,349 & AHB2 Power Amp -£3,199

And now the DAC3 HGC has arrived at Audio-philia, featuring the new ESS Technologies ES9028PRO converter chip. It has near identical looks to it's predecessors, fitting perfectly on the AHB2 power amplifier. 

While waiting for the DAC3 to arrive I spent a few days with the DAC2 so I could easily compare the two. 

Wow. The DAC3 immediately sounded much smoother and more dynamic. It boasts the same qualities as the previous generations, and brought a new level of resolution to the table. The biggest improvement of all is a grown-up attitude, a confidence that only the best designs possess.

The DAC3 already has me under its spell and I can't wait for it to be fully run-in. It does indeed define a new reference. It's no wonder that Benchmark have won so many accolades around the world.


DAC3 VS. DAC2

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

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

DAC3 VS. DAC1

The DAC3 and DAC2 added these features that were 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 with Auto-On Function
  • Home Theater Bypass
  • Digital Pass-Through
  • High-Headroom DSP
  • Dual-Domain Hybrid Gain Control
  • Additional I/O