benchmark and apogee

anybody out there have any experience with the benchmark dac 1 and the apogee dac 1 in their high end systems?

just bumping this aged thread up as I am interested, too.
left a lengthy response the other day, but don't know what happened, never got posted. lets try again in short form. basically, liked the apogee slightly better than the benchmark, and picked up 2 apogees and 1 belcanto dac2 for my 3 different sonos setups. bottom line: apogee was slightly fuller sounding, whereas the benchmark was maybe slightly more analytical but drier. since the apogee was several hundred cheaper new vs new price, i went with apogee. test system includes B&W 803s2, acurus dia100. hope this helps. feel free to email if you need more info. regards jeff

What you report about the Benchmark DAC1 is very consistent with what I observed and many others have reported. To my ears it happens to work well with my speakers so I am happy with a less "full" sound. I have not heard anything quite as detailed as the DAC1 without sounding harsh and I understand that many people will not like this aspect but it suits me. I admit though that there is not a lot in it between one good DAC and another - at least to my "tin" ears.

I have to admit, in researching the benchmark, I was VERY excited and very much wanted to hear it live up to it's press, but it just didn't do it in my set-up. In fact, I could barely tell any difference between the 3 different dacs. However, to be fair, all three were being fed by the sonos unit, and I was trying to see how close I could get the sonos to sound like my main rig (now my second best rig, hooray!). Fact is, all three got the sonos pretty close to the main rig, but just couldn't match it. Seems like the old Adcom GCD600 feeding the old Acurus DIA100 integrated couldn't be bested by this sonos-to-outboard dac setup. I did NOT, however, try any of the dacs being fed by the adcom cdp as a transport, and that may have yielded different results. So that's my big disclaimer.

OT: BTW, most impressed with your HT setup. Do the embedded ATC's give decent imaging and localization of instruments? My HT system has N803's in cabinets, and this really detracts from imaging/localization (at least until I pull them out of the closet for serious 2 chnl listening!!).
Do the embedded ATC's give decent imaging and localization of instruments?

Yes and No. Let me explain. If you mount speakers in a cabinet or wall - it is
essential to build a frame around the speakers in order to make a smooth
tranistion between the speaker baffle and the wall surface. Without the "picture framing" around the speakers you get a lot of edge diffraction which kills the imaging and soundstage. When you have a smooth transition (rather than just a "hole" for your speakers) then you actually get better imaging and soundstage than with the speakers freestanding. Most studio main monitors are built this way - installed in walls (there are several good reasons to do this).

Like these ATC's in Doug Sax Studio If you look at my virtual system you may notice a similarity in the way my ATC speakers are mounted. Of course I have a place for a TV and the wall provides equipment storage space in my case too - which is less
ideal but a lot more practical.

Doug Sax is working on a new recording format. As far as I know he chose
Benchmark DAC1 for his studio to go with the ATC's. The Mastering Lab (Doug's studio) has more audio engineering awards (Grammy's etc.) then anyone any other and his lengthy mastering credits reads like a who is who of the music industry. I trust his ears much more than mine - I doubt I'll change this DAC anytime soon.
Shdorne, thanks for the reply. I have repeatedly tried to reply, but agon doesn't seem to like me anymore, lol. Short answers: can't build a frame around top mounted tweeter like N803, but see the logic. as for apogee vs benchmark, lets just say that both are very good and highly regarded units, and it really depends on ones setup and ears. Good luck to OP, try them both.
apogee vs benchmark, lets just say that both are very good and highly regarded units, and it really depends on ones setup and ears.

For sure - when I decribe Benchmark as thin and detailed with precise and narrower soundstage I was trying to describe it realtive to other DAC's. Frankly, the differences between DACS are not something that worries me and my tine ears all that much. I'd say it is all pretty close when you got my kind of ears...
Not to make too much of a generalization, however it seems that folks with "metal dome" tweeters have issue with the Benchmark. I have the Benchmark DAC PRE I really like but my speakers are Harbeth M40 (soft dome) that are on the warm side. I had B&W N804 a few years ago and they always preferred a less analytical DAC. The Classe DAC I had worked well with the B&W's.
Frank_sm - My Benchmark was on the bright/brassy side with aluminum dome tweeter. After replacing with soft dome tweeter it is way better. Tweeter (Morel Supreme 110) is a little on the hot side but also much cleaner (underhung motor).
That is a nice tweeter but it rings (like most metal drivers) - see the Cumulative spectral decay at 9000 Hz. Of course a speaker designer will try to notch filter this problem out and being a single frequency that is not hard to do - although at elevated SPL's as the tweet warms up (impedance rises) and ringing becomes more excited then the notch may not be as effective or as precisely tuned. Some metal or ceramic drivers have rubber dots on them to try to correct this or even some damping paint. Some have elaborate arrangements with the "backwave". There is no doubt these type drivers get an impressive frequency response but resonance such as you see here is never a good thing.

Thanks. It shows as one hot high sibilant - audible at first but much better now (but still there). I will think of notch filter at 9kHz. In spite of that it is still a lot cleaner than $25 Vifa it replaced.

I would not do this again - it is way to complicated and requires equipment (and experience) I don't have (not to mention room acoustics). I updated crossover components and was planning to continue further (Dueland resistors and capacitors) but it's another $400. I want to listen to new Revel Studios 2 and possibly get used one within few years.
I will think of notch filter at 9kHz.

Most speakers with metal or ceramic drivers have notch filters built into the crossovers - the frequency, depth and width (Q) of the filter need to be chosen carefully though. You would probably need to be able to perform waterfall plots to make appropriate adjustments.
Shadorne: What do you mean by "metal or ceramic drivers"? What are the others? I suspect that every tweeter has many points of resonance to different extend.

I don't know how to make waterfall plots - have to read about it. Wouldn't spike at 9kHz show with frequency sweep?
Any rigid driver of very light weight material is prone to "ringing". Think how a cymbal is made...a rigid disc of metal...touch a cymbal even lightly and it will ring for a long time at low levels but audible. In the case of a cymbal it vibrates at many frequencies due to its mottled hammered surface - it "shimmers". In the case of a metal driver then its shape will also influence the kinds of sounds it makes - shape it like a cup or a bell then it will tend to ring at certain frequencies. Manufacturers normally compensate for this with a notch filter.

A woven fabric/silk/paper&pulp type driver will also be light but not as rigid and not as will not resonate like a metal or ceramic driver. This is called "internally damped" it means that when it flexes it quickly stops and it also loses energy more quickly - less efficient and higher frequencies will roll off sooner.

Some hybrid designs use CLD - constrained layer damping - a viscous fluid between two rigid cones. Some use rubber dampers stuck to the cone. Many are coated with a damping fluid.

In any case, if you want to use an internallly damped cone then you forgo frequency bandwidth and may also need to carefully support the less rigid cone in the middle with a larger voice coil (expensive) or carefully shape it (dome) and drive it with a bigger motor and magnet (expensive). The bonus is that the limited bandwidth internally damped driver will have excellent transient response and waterfall plot - it plays a sound without adding coloration.
Shadorne: Morel Supreme 110 is a soft dome tweeter. It has huge magnet but for another reason (underhung coil).

Making notch filter seems to be easy but tuning it might be difficult. I have decent microphone (Blue condenser) but have to find computer program for plotting.

Revel Ultima2 uses Beryllium tweeter that, according to Stereophile review, reproduces deep brassy sound of cymbals - not the shimmering alone. I noticed deeper/fuller sound of cymbals at the concerts than played thru my (and others) system.

Cymbals are of all kinds so be careful reading to much into the sound. Sabian are made in eastern Canada - each one hand made and tuned by ear. It also depends how they are hit - closer to the edge or towards the bell - how large is the bell. Large cymbals will resonate more and will shimmer less. Curved shapes towards the edge will get you into "gongs". Man there is just everything out there...that is why music is so wonderful. be careful interpreting what you hear at a concert versus at home - studio drum sets are very likely differently setup from those used at concert.

If a tweeter produces a deep brassy sound (more so than say a soft dome tweeter) then you might ask yourself is it the rexcording or is the tweeter behaving like a "bell" itself......are you hearing tweeter ringing? Remember brass instruments are resonant devices which ring (sizzle) too. I am always wary when a speaker produces something noticeably more pronounced than others... a reviewer may say this is impressive or a good is certainly a difference...but is it right??

That is a very good question. People compare to sound at the concert as reference point. It doesn't work well for popular music or jazz (bad acoustics). Symphony orchestra might be the reference if you can afford good seats.

Getting back to Benchmark - It was compared to few other DACs in the studio by playing instrument (guitar) and comparing recorded sound played thru DAC to direct sound. Benchmark scored the highest.

That does not surprise me. It does sound pretty clean or neutral compared to many things that are quite clearly colored (often in a nice way but colored nevertheless) but that is just my impression - I made no tests like you have done.
Shadorne - I haven't done any tests - it was review I read.
What is good for me might (like neutrality) be bad for somebody else. Good example of this might be sound of the guitar that is often described by presence, projection, separation, sustain and tone. Most of people care for tone. Classical guitarist needs presence, sustain and separation while flamenco guy doesn't care about presence, hates sustain but needs huge projection. There is no instrument that would satisfy everybody.