Benchmark DAC3 HGC Digital-to-Analog Converter

Benchmark DAC3 HGC Digital-to-Analog Converter

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A NEW REFERENCE - GOING BEYOND THE LEGENDARY DAC1 AND DAC2

The DAC3 is Benchmark's newest 2-channel D/A converter featuring the new ESS Technologies ES9028PRO converter chip, and has lower THD and THD+N noise than Benchmark's DAC2 converter.

Benchmark's DAC1 and DAC2 D/A converter families 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 the DAC2. Benchmark converters are in daily use at many of the world's finest recording studios and mastering rooms. Benchmark converters are also enjoyed by thousands of audiophiles. Benchmark has raised the bar again ... the DAC3 defines a new reference.
 

REFERENCE PERFORMANCE

The DAC3 delivers outstanding musical detail and precise stereo imaging. It employs 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 this processing includes 3.5 dB of headroom above 0 dBFS. This headroom prevents the DSP overloads that commonly occur in other D/A converters.

Four balanced 32-bit D/A converters are summed together to create each balanced analogue output. This 4:1 summation provides a 6 dB noise reduction, and gives the DAC3 industry-leading performance.
 

DAC3 VS. DAC2

The DAC3 builds upon Benchmark’s highly successful DAC2 product family. The DAC3 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 signal
     

VOLUME CONTROL

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.
 

HYBRID GAIN CONTROL

Benchmark's unique hybrid volume-control system delivers maximum performance from analogue or digital inputs. A single motor-driven knob controls the volume of the analogue and digital inputs, but the two types of inputs are handled very differently:

  • Digital inputs pass through a 32-bit digital volume control.
  • Analog inputs pass through a traditional analogue volume control.
  • Both share the same knob.

This hybrid approach eliminates all unnecessary A/D and D/A conversion steps. Analog inputs see an entirely analogue path to the outputs. Likewise, digital inputs see an entirely digital path to the 32-bit D/A converter.
 

HI-FI PREAMPLIFIER

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 analogue line-level inputs.

In any system, the most transparent performance will always be achieved when the DAC3 is connected directly to a power amplifier.
 

SIT IN THE PERFORMANCE SPACE

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 colour to the music.
 

MAIN FEATURES

  • Sample Rate Display
  • Word Length Display
  • Digital Inputs (5 total)
  • Analog Inputs (2 total)
  • Analog Outputs (3 total)
  • Digital Pass Through
  • Native DSD Conversion
  • Polarity Switch
  • Asynchronous USB 2.0
  • Driverless Asynchronous USB 1.1
  • Home Theatre Bypass
  • Bi-Directional 12 Volt Trigger
  • Low Power Consumption
  • Hybrid Gain Control
  • High-Headroom DSP
  • UltraLock3™ Jitter Attenuation System
  • Quad 32-bit balanced D/A Conversion System
  • Multi-Mode Asynchronous USB Audio System
  • Distributed Power Regulation


Benchmark DAC3 HGC Reviews

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