I don't believe that the DAC 1-Pre has a USB input, which may be helpful to you in the future. For less money, you could look at the MHDT Paradisio (+?). Just my 2 cents worth. Happy Listening
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The DAC1 PRE has a USB input. Benchmark already updated the PRE and it's called the HDR. The HDR uses better op amps in the output stages, a motorized Alps potentiometer, includes a very nice aluminum remote, and it has a two-stage muting function. The HDR is $300 more expensive than the PRE, and Benchmark claims there's little if any audible difference. I just got an HDR and all I can say is that it is the only DAC/pre-amp to unseat my Levinson No 39 from its spot in 15 years. On the other hand, the first you time you see one of the Benchmark products the small size and low weight do take some getting used to for the price, especially after getting used to boat-anchor-heavy Levinson stuff.
Wow, a lot of mis-information here. I've owned benchmark DACs for a few years. I started with the plain DAC1 and now own the DAC1 pre. The DAC1 pre has the same upgrade op amps throughout the analog stage that are in the HDR model. It also has the upgraded RCA plugs AND the DAC1 pre has the USB input along with the toslink and coax digital inputs. There are only 2 differences between the top of the line HDR model and the DAC1 Pre model.
1. The HDR has a remote control.
2. The HDR has a motorized ALPS volume control.
Other than that, the HDR and the PRE models are identical. If you do not plan to use the DAC1 as the preamp, then the two models are effectively identical.
Regarding the sound, the HDR and the PRE sound identical when used in fixed output mode to a preamp. They do not sound identical to the USB and base DAC1 model though. the HDR and the PRE models are more transparent and smidge more forward sounding. This is my findings after hundreds of listening hours with these DACs. They are all world class DACs IMO.
Ya know, Jaxwired, you should check your facts before you accuse me of spreading misinformation. Check the comparison chart on the Benchmark web site. The PRE and HDR are not identical in circuit design. The PRE uses the older op-amps in one of the output stages. I doubt there's even the slightest bit of difference in sound quality when used through a pre-amp or to directly drive power amps in most home environments, but you're still dead wrong.
Well, on many sites I could just delete my previous erroneous and embarrassing post, but on this site you can't delete anything. Jaxwired is correct and I was incorrect. The PRE and HDR both have the same op-amps. I was thinking of the USB, and I somehow got things all mixed up. I don't know what to say except to apologize.
Play nice guys! Yes, I know personally from Benchmark (I've had the DAC 1 pre and HDR from them) that the only difference is the powered volume and remote. It is a great little piece! Awesome DAC and the analog section is pretty damn good as well. Yes the small size is bizarre at first but once you get used to it you will see all kinds of benefits from the small size. The only down size is if you use large heavy cables it can tend to drift on a shelf!
People that value truth over pride are my favorite people. Ivrrobinson is a stand up guy.
Benchmark Media should really do a better job of differentiating between their models. Lots of people find it confusing.
Another tid bit that people don't know is that Benchmark has upgraded parts on occassion from the earliest models of the DAC1 and never changed model names to indicate these changes so all DAC1s may not sound the same.
Here's the comparison chart for anyone wondering about the 4 versions of the DAC1:
Features in all models:
UltraLock jitter-immune clock-isolation technology
Built-in HPA2 reference-grade 0-ohm headphone amplifier
24-bit, 192 kHz digital input capability
Balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA stereo outputs
True-analog volume control on front panel
Calibrated and variable mode to accommodate various systems
Trim-pots for calibrating output levels
Output attenuators for XLR outputs
Internal power supply with low-radiation torodial power transformer
Built in USA
AdvancedUSB input capable of full-resolution 24-bit / 96-kHz
State-of-the-art LME49860/LME4562 high-current op-amps
USB Ouput stage only
PRE Throughout entire analog stage
HDR Throughout entire analog stage
Selectable gain-range for headphone amplifier
USB 2 ranges
PRE 3 ranges
HDR 3 ranges
Auto-mute function built into headphone jack
Number of digital inputs
Number of analog inputs
High-quality Teflon, chassis mounted RCA connectors
Standby ON/OFF button
Custom-built motorized Alps potentiometer