Benchmark DAC

Great reviews, lots of positive feedback. OK why do I see so many come up for sale on the board? Is it because there are just so many? Is it because they show off every defect in the rest of the system. I can't believe that it is because it is so hard to set up.
Just wondering. INWANW
A couple of reasons... they recieved a good review in Stereophile so that sold a huge amount of them. Secondly, after those people bought them, they realized that they weren't a panacea to the usual problems that plague us, mainly digital issues.

You'll notice this phenomena with any component you see a lot of. For example, the good reviews Totem products get, for a while it was the Zu Adiagio, I could on and on but you get the picture. A great review in Stereophile will make a company and then a year or two later you'll see lots of that product for sale on the 'gon.

Not that they're bad products by any means, just the usual cycle of buying and selling. I wouldn't worry about it, don't expect miracles, but the more popular brands, Krell, McIntosh, etc. you'll see a lot of for sale along with a strong naysayer contingent. Buy what you want and don't worry too much. The more obscure or less mainstream the brand as a general rule the more trouble you'll have reselling.
They are everywhere. They are cheap. They are good. No surprise really. People try them and then try something else without breaking the piggy bank. They aren't going to solve a room acoustics, a speaker, aesthetics, sound flavor or an amplifier problem though. People buy and sell for many reasons - some may even prefer distortion over clean sound (why else are there CD loudness wars). They are great tool to clean up any old jittery digital (they claim to be able to clean up jitter down to 1 HZ which few designs can achieve)
The DAC1 does a fantastic job of cleaning up jitter and will put a smile on your face for a day or two. Then you may realize it's bright (or that it exposes the rest of your system as being bright), or just shows you that your music collection may have some awful recordings. I had one for 10 months and tried it on no less than 3 different amps, eventually sold it. That said, a lot of people love its sound. You can always try it and sell it if it's not for you (I sold mine in a day, literally, though I lost a few hundred as I bought it new).
The Benchmark DAC is easy to set up. It's a bargain used and even new seems a good buy. In fact, I'd love to find good one on Audiogon but, after a recent glut of them, they seem to be in short supply now. I owned one for a good while and, as is the way in this strange hobby, sold it in order to try something new and different. I have not heard anything since that I prefer to the Benchmark, although, if memory serves, the Cambridge 840 CD player might be its match. I liked the Benchmark better than two CD players I owned, a Rega Apollo and a Naim CD5i. The Benchmark does not smooth over rough edges or add midbass warmth -- it seems, to my ears, both neutral and engaging, clear but not bright. It won't do wonders for a lousy recording, but that's no fault of the DAC. I liked it. I miss it!
Benchmark is fairly detailed, but a decent NOS dac will smoke it for overall musicality delivering better vocals, acoustic piano while matching its detail. Head to Head with an Audiosector/Audio Zone for example it's no contest.
I agree with Celtic66, as a NOS DAC is what I eventually ended up with (an MHDT Havana). You'll need to make sure it gets a clean digital signal(low jitter), as I believe most NOS DACs don't have the capability to deal with jitter like the Benchmark DAC1.
The same question could be asked about any number of products on Audiogon. It makes me laugh when people like Celtic66 say product A will "smoke" product B in something as subjective as musicality.
The same question could be asked about any number of products on Audiogon. It makes me laugh when people like Celtic66 say product A will "smoke" product B in something as subjective as musicality.

And there is your answer as to why. Audiophiles are selling the Benchmark DAC1 by the boatload, as pretty much any decent product will smoke the DAC1...
I will say I personally liked the DAC1 better than the Bel Canto DAC3. And that it did work well with a Musical Fidelity A308 integrated I had owned before (though that was with some "dark" speaker cables). I think the common theme with most digital products, including most DACs, is brightness or etch or glare or whatever. Some are more bright than others (i've owned four that I fed via an IMac or pc/laptop, so maybe the sources were at fault). Even the Havana was a bit bright until I fixed some other areas in my setup.
I am a Benchmark owner, and it has made me search for the next level-it makes my squeezebox sound so incredibly good, I keep thinking there may be something that makes it sound even better - then I read and read and realize unless I spend MEGA bucks, Ill stick with my Benchmark. Maybe that's whats going on with all the sales.

I would be curious to find out what the sellers ended up with, and what they think of the change. Anyone care to chime in?
I don't think you'll find much more out there that gives you the detail the Benchmark does. Rather than spending a grip more on another DAC, buy a high-end power cord and see what difference that renders. I put a Python Helix on the one I used to own and was suprised at the improvement. Adding Hi-Fi tuning fuses to the DAC did help with some of the etch/glare (albeit subtle change, but noticeable since all you have to do is swap fuses back and forth to see the difference).

That said, I still sold the DAC1 as it was too bright for my setup.
I had the USB Benchmark recently for a couple of weeks and I thought it was very detailed and clear, but just wasn't "musical". I guess by this I mean that I just couldn't listen to it for long periods of time, I thought it was clinical sounding. I didn't think it was bright or etchy though, maybe it's a matter of mating it to the right equipment for the best sound.
I remember several years back there was an inexpensive DAC that was THE rave for its price point. I ordered one with great anticipation that it was a panacea for everything wrong with digital. After a total of 3 days, with a 30 day money back guarantee, I was ready to return the unit at the chagrin of the dealer who told me to just let it break in, give it a chance. Out of respect for him I did give it a chance, a week of constant playing. Unfortunately, nothing changed, it was positively digital sounding, the upper frequencies were absolutely unlistenable, but it did offer detailed sound with quite decent bass yet I couldn't for the life of me understand what all the fuss was concerning this piece. I eventually sent it back, waiting the full 30 days so the dealer wouldn't come back and accuse me of not giving it a chance.

Lesson learned, good digital doesn't come cheap. I'm unfamiliar with the Benchmark but from what I've read about its sonic characteristics, I wouldn't commit to it without listening first. Then on the other hand, if you can pick one up cheap enough used with the realization that it could be sold without too much of a loss it might well be worth investigating sound unheard. No knock, I haven't heard this product but often times something too good to be true often times is just that! Cavaet emptor.
The Benchmark DAC1 is no longer really a rave product. It came out about seven years ago and was a bit hit in pro audio (yes it was raved about back then) but the fact that it is still popular today suggests it is simply a good product (good sound at a good price).