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Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L (Read 3289 times)
beowulf
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Re: Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L
Reply #15 - 05/20/14 at 00:39:35
 
Hi FB, thanks for the assessment and it sounds like you're enjoying this component quite a bit.  Lets hope the treble loosens up a bit more to take the edge off that final few percent.  Its nice to hear that your opinion is on target with others as well.  Yes, from what I've heard that is the nature of the ESS9016 chip, but I believe there is some success with components such as the AURALic Vega, but others not so much as the Ranking of 21 DACs and DAC Configurations (and why chocolate ice cream must die) as those guys are not a fan of that chip ... but I have seen the potential and think it can get better.

I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar with FooBar (I use JRiver), but I do use the ASIO driver with my Windows 8.1 based PC and it goes off without a hitch.  But IMO there is very little (subtle at best) difference that I can hear in comparison to ASIO and WASAPI.

I posted this in the PS Audio thread, but thought it may be good here as well:

I would like to add one more DAC that I have personally heard several times and really like and that is the McIntosh D100.  Though it uses the Sabre ESS0918 chip, it does not have the upper treble problems usually associated with it (at least that I have heard with it so far).  I know this chip can decode DSD and when I listen to the D100 I almost feel as if it is doing the same thing as the DirectStream in that is it so smooth that it is upsampling everything to DSD (although Mac is not admitting anything to this), but this is just an assumption that I'm making because of the refinement/smoothness/fullness that I'm hearing and I don't think that I'm the first person to come to this conclusion either.

So I highly recommend a listen to the D100 if you get the chance.  Considering the level of build quality and the sound that the D100 is putting out ... I'm still shaking my head that McIntosh released this component at $2500 msrp ~ which I know is not pocket change, but I believe this DAC to be on the level of the DirectStream (or not too many notches below the DS) and possibly even better than the AURALic Vega (which is one of my all time favs), but comes in way under in price comparison.  Of course YMMV, but I do believe that this may be the best bang for the buck McIntosh product that they've ever released and possibly one of the best DACs currently out there.
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Fireblade
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Re: Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L
Reply #16 - 05/20/14 at 13:10:42
 
Hi beowulf, thanks for the heads up!

The chip in the NFB 3 (2014) is the Sabre ESS9018 (not ESS9016, which I believe is the one used by the Resonessence Concero).

In any event, as I stated in the Head-Fi forum, I find the unit as a terrific bang for the buck given the level of its presentation, and because it creates great synergy with the tube-based characteristics of my gear. The combination is amazing!

If you have use for the balanced outputs, the NFB 1 (2014) is the best choice. With my beloved Mini-Torii, I really don't have use for these, and having upgraded the NFB 3 with TCXO clocks and OCC wire, I thing this is the best choice in my particular case.

I've read raving reviews on the Mc D100, and it sure makes sense for someone in that budget ballpark, as it's just at another level.
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« Last Edit: 05/20/14 at 13:12:41 by Fireblade »  

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4krow
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Re: Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L
Reply #17 - 05/20/14 at 16:04:16
 
 Guys,

  I just gotta say, your killing me. I have never wandered into the dark DAC forest, but if I did, it would be in search of the Benchmark. It looked to have the features that I like. Then you guys come up with a bunch more possibilities. Yikes, my head might explode.
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Fireblade
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Re: Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L
Reply #18 - 05/20/14 at 19:04:20
 
Well, the Benchmark is a good reference, just slightly on the expensive side, but full of worthy features. Since I don't have a use for those features and the Audio Gd is also DSD and DXD capable, I find it a steal at the current promo price given how nice it sounds.

The Audio Gd unit is sturdy, heavy and very well built and I've found out Audio Gd really puts quality components in those circuits.

It took about 3 months of online DAC research and consultation into that 'dark DAC forest' before I decided on it, but I'm satisfied with the results.

The top of the line ESS9018 chip-based NFB 7.32 from Audio Gd is a balanced output design with one of the best power supply arrangements in a DAC circuit  (power sourcing and handling is crucial for sound quality in a DAC), and it still costs a fraction of the Benchmark.

The designer of Audio Gd, Kingwa, is very responsive and always  eager to provide explanations or suggestions on requests coming his way. I know, because I've contacted him several times already. This and the company's reputation around the world also made me feel safe with my decision.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L
Reply #19 - 05/21/14 at 19:54:18
 

That's a great price for what that unit does.

Does it have the option for playing music back off a portable hard drive, or is it only able to stream off a computer?
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Fireblade
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Re: Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L
Reply #20 - 05/21/14 at 22:03:05
 
Interesting question ... I honestly don't believe so.

I know my external (portable) Portfolio WD drive hooks up to my laptop through a USB input but it behaves as a dummy terminal, whereas all DACs require either a native operating system that supports the audio protocols in streaming processes, like in most Apple computers, or the installation of specific drivers for PC operating systems like Win 7, 8, etc.

Unless the external (portable) drive is capable of handling an operating system intelligent enough to decipher the instructions imbedded in such drivers, I don't believe this is feasible.

The Audio-Gd takes USB, Coaxial/BNC-S/PDIF and Optical inputs, so connecting a laptop to the portable drive and simultaneously the laptop to the DAC is feasible, as the laptop carries all the protocol processing and the drive becomes just a passive (dummy) storage device.

I would rather use a laptop with plenty of HD space (and skip the portable HD) connected directly to the DAC. The irony is, this DAC is large and heavy, so its portability is a not one of its features. The cause of this extra weight and size is the power supply network  arrangement feeding the different digital and analog circuit sections to minimize jitter.

I hope this helps
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beowulf
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Re: Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L
Reply #21 - 05/22/14 at 02:04:00
 
+1 to what FB said ... I don't see how (as a headless unit) this could be done.  It's not like the Oppo which has its own OS that is capable of doing that.  Think of this more as an upgraded sound card for a PC or Mac (and possibly Linux, etc.) wherein it relies on a host OS ... you could probably hook up an iPad/iPhone type of device to it through the USB, but again that is dependent on the host OS.

This company has a great following over at head-fi and I would have to believe they make some really good stuff from the feedback they receive.
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« Last Edit: 05/22/14 at 02:15:01 by beowulf »  
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L
Reply #22 - 05/22/14 at 14:52:15
 
Beowulf, funny you mention the sound card thing, that's exactly how I was thinking of it as well.

Maybe I'm being a bit extreme, but I try to keep my chain as simple as possible, and I like the idea of a DAC with an "OS" so I can just plug my external drive into it and have my music right there. I'm trying to avoid the computer altogether.

I think the Oppo has spoiled me a bit, but I should probably look more in jriver and using my computer more. I'm pretty sure my Oppo sounds better with connected portable drive than the computer, but I think that's also because it processes the two streams differently. So that's an Oppo thing and not a digital source thing.

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beowulf
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Re: Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L
Reply #23 - 05/23/14 at 05:49:52
 
Quote:
LR said,
Maybe I'm being a bit extreme, but I try to keep my chain as simple as possible, and I like the idea of a DAC with an "OS" so I can just plug my external drive into it and have my music right there. I'm trying to avoid the computer altogether.

I think the Oppo has spoiled me a bit, but I should probably look more in jriver and using my computer more. I'm pretty sure my Oppo sounds better with connected portable drive than the computer, but I think that's also because it processes the two streams differently. So that's an Oppo thing and not a digital source thing.



I wouldn't be so sure to jump to the conclusion that it's going to sound better on your Oppo.  It is no doubt the Swiss Knife of the Audio Industry and an excellent piece of audio equipment and I have a BDP-95 which is capable of playing off a hard drive as well, but after living with an HTPC with JRiver, an external DAC and an NAS there is no going back for me, not only that but sound wise the Oppo BDP-95 can't compete.  

It seems as if it might be complicated, but once its setup it's a piece of cake and exploiting JRiver for all its worth is just downright fun to me.

Right now I'm surfing the web on a 65" HDTV writing this post on my wireless keyboard sitting in the sweet spot on my couch while listening to Goin' Away by Lightnin' Hopkins 24/192 with JRiver tweaked out for optimum listening.  I like the capability of playing music and surfing/reading at the same time all from one device ... it's like everything is here at my finger tips and all the JRiver tagging features make sorting your music library really fun.

I rent a 3 bedroom townhome and all my CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays and even a portion of my Vinyl Records are ripped to a WD MyCloud NAS, which is accessible from every room in my townhome that has a PC and JRiver installed (technically I can access it without JRiver, but the sound/video and overall experience is not as good IMO).
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L
Reply #24 - 05/26/14 at 19:29:54
 

That sounds awesome - like a much more refined version of what I'm doing with my home theater/two channel setup.

I'd like to get a NAS, I just can't spend $1000 on the one I want right now.  :)

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beowulf
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Re: Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L
Reply #25 - 05/27/14 at 03:53:36
 
I have a really simple one that cost less than $125 on sale.  I plan on getting one more (dobule the size at 4TB) so I can back one up to the other.  This one was simple to set up and I was up and running within 30 minutes or so.

I don't think anything extreme is needed when setting up a home network (most NAS are overkill) when using a PC with JRiver's bit perfect playback and a good DAC (or the Oppo would also be excellent).
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L
Reply #26 - 05/27/14 at 07:00:46
 
I've already got 12 Terabytes on my server - and it's not redundant in any way. So I really do need a good sized NAS.
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beowulf
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Re: Benchmark DAC2 HGC & L
Reply #27 - 05/27/14 at 18:53:20
 
12TB!!!  Well, when you put it that way Grin
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