Benchmark DAC-1, Lavry DA10, Altmann Attraction


Has anyone had a chance to compare any of these 3 DACs?
My understanding based on comments in various forums is that in general Benchmark DAC-1 sounds very detailed, but in some systems may be too thin, with decent but not the best dynamics and soundstage.
Lavry on the other hand sounds more “musical” as compared to Benchmark (whatever that means, could not find much info on its presentation).
Where does Altmann Attraction fall in this picture?
Is it indeed so much better than any of the two mentioned, and are those few reviews justified?
sashav
I bought a Lavry DA10 some months ago and have been very pleased with it. It is not as analytic as the Benchmark, but lacks the sterility (though that is really too harsh a word for the Benchmark.)

I find the Lavry has good depth and resolution with very natural sounding highs. I play a fair amount of acoustic material and find myself sensitive to any stridency in a system. I think it is the lack of that and the ease with which the Lavry presents music that makes it so appealing. It also has a wide dynamic range and maintains it's excellent sound during softer passages.

As far as the Altman, I haven't had any exposure to it.
I have not heard the Lavry but I have the Altmann and the Benchmark. The Benchmark is like white wine while the Altmann is like Red wine. Depends on what you prefer. The Bechmark is detailed almost sterile presentation while the Altmann is a more relaxed almost analog presentation. The Altmann's soundstaging is superior too. The highs sound almost rolled off compared to the Benchmark.
Benchmark phase is so accurate that soundstage images tend to be more accurately positioned between the speakers (impression is a narrower soundstage than most other DAC's or alternatively other DACs tend to have a wider soundstage) Take your pick.
I compared a current Benchmark DAC1 to my DAC 3 and the BelCanto was a very clear upgrade in refinement over the Benchmark , but it should be an improvement as it commands a higher price. The new Bryston BDA-1 maybe great as well but I have not heard this DAC yet. I've seen both the BelCanto and the Bryston go used for around $1400, well worth the few hundred dollars more given improved sonics over the Benchmark.
The Bechmark is detailed almost sterile presentation while the Altmann is a more relaxed almost analog presentation. The Altmann's soundstaging is superior too

What everyone is alluding to is that Benchmark DAC1 is so clean it sounds "thin" especially in the lower mids (think in the direction of a horn sound - that kind of clarity) and the exact phase between the two channels makes the soundstage smaller - less depth and less width. If you prefer a laid back slightly less in phase relaxed sound then almost any DAC will sound preferable to the DAC1. If you have a test CD with in-phase and out-of-phase signals then you will know what I mean - it is nothing near as dramatic as a test CD ( maybe 2% or 3% versus the 100% difference on a test CD) but you get the idea.

Anyway this is my observation and it seems to be backed up by what everyone else seems to hear.
I have had the Benchmark DAC for a while now and here are my experiences.
I'm feeding it directly into a power amp, using the built in analogue volume. I never felt it needs a preamp unless you have more than one source.

I observed it to have very clear and non-fatiging highs because of the lack of distortion and harshness.
I find the bass dryish and therefore very revealing of what's going on in the lower frequencies, without sounding muffled or dark.
I found the midrange just about right, though a little laid back.

Overall it was a little cool sounding but not thin, and I felt that I was a bit removed from the music. That is until I played around with various powercords.
I found that adding a robust sounding power cord transformed this beautiful sounding DAC into a full bodied, robust, and warm sounding unit. I was shocked as this made a bigger differance than interconnects made.

Incidentally the better more detailed interconnects didn't make the DAC sound thin, but just made you know what this DAC is capable of. The powercord on the other hand unchoked the power and let it really sound big and powerful, w/o any loss of detail or soundstage.

These are my experiences so YMMV.
So what powercord worked best for you?
I've tried very few so I have limited experience,. A basic 14 ga PC made an improvement, and my $200 Dynamic Design prototype made a huge diference. I therefore deducted that trying PS Audio's with good bass, or one of the robut sounding PCs available would do what my DD PC did for me.
Couldnt agree more with the prior post about power cords and how they benefit the benchmark dac1. I went from a taipan helix to a python helix. Incredible the impact both cords made.
I absolutely agree with the above two posters on the benchmark and power cords. I also use Python helix Vx and the upgrade was enormous. Also use Tara Labs RSC Air One IC's and that, with the PC (into Hydra 8) made it sound very, very nice.
Cerrot, Mb9061, and Mjcmt,

I suggest you report your findings to Benchmark engineer Elias Gwinn. You will need more than anecdotal evidence though, as everyone knows the power of suggestion or the "placebo" effect.

The people that designed and built the DAC1 do not believe a mere change of power cord should make a difference. If what you say is true and you can prove it then they are wrong. (although it is possible that your power cord is helping something else in the audio chain other than the DAC1 - even if it is connected to the DAC1)
Shadorne,
I've read you condescending posts before. You don't know everything and others have had have had different experiences than yours.
Shadorne,
I've read you condescending posts before. You don't know everything and others have had have had different experiences than yours.

Just trying to help. In the past, I have also been fooled into buying expensive items that actually did nothing. I understand the emotion. No hard feelings.
Shadorne,
Sorry about my defensive response. Thanx.
I haven't been fooled into anything and I'm not reporting anything to benchmark engineers, nor do I appreciate your sarcastic remark. I know what I hear. I was merely reporting it. There are many posts which call the Benchmark analytical and steril. There are also as many saying that's not the case. The posters who say that is not the case have gone to the time, trouble and expense of upgrading cables.
The posters who say that is not the case have gone to the time, trouble and expense of upgrading cables.

You are quite correct I did not go to all this time, trouble and expense. It would also appear to be the case according to a Benchmark Engineer's posts too. I apologise for the sarcasm - it wasn't necessary at all - I should have simply provided the link to Benchmark's own statements about their own product and left it that.

Sorry guys - I owe all all three of you an apology.
Apology accepted, and I appreciate your taking the time to post.