Benchmark DAC 3 HGC or RME ADI-2 DAC

I will be buying a new dac, in order to replace my Lavry DA10. I am satisfied with the sound of the Lavry, but it lacks a remote control.
If I do, it will be one of the two mentioned as I am familiar with brands from studio applications. The RME seems like the obvious choice. It has some EQ ability which would be useful to me, reviews about the sound quality compared to everything else are pretty positive, and it's about half the price.

  So which would you choose and why? I'm wondering what I may be missing that might justify the price of the benchmark?
In your place I'd order both from an online pro dealer, compare them in my own system, keep the one I like more and return the other.

Both are dead silent, high resolution, low distortion designs, with the Benchmark having a few dBs lower noise floor, but it's of no consequence to sound quality.

If you plan on driving the amp direct the RME offers a 6.5dB lower max analog level compared to the Benchmark (+1dBu vs +7.5dBu @ 0dBFS on the XLR outputs), so with the Benchmark you might have to use more digital attenuation depending on your listening level and the whole DAC-amp-speakers gain structure.
Thanks for the response. Yes I will be driving the amp directly. It will be a Bryston 4B cubed, so the system will be: transport - dac - Bryston 4B3 - Focal 1038Be.

You make a good point about the output level and the need for digital attenuation. And herein lies the main subject that I wish to understand between the units. When I purchased my Lavry, it was described as having a digitally controlled analog volume circuit. Meaning as I understand it, that the signal attenuation occurs in the analog domain, but is controlled digitally, as opposed to with an audio pot. 

   Now, provided that is correct, it seems that the DAC3 HGC is similar, and that is what they mean by "hybrid gain control".
I do not know how the RME differs in this regard if at all (even after inquiring on the RME site), and in the event that it is different, I don't understand the pros and cons of the different volume control methodologies.
No, the Benchmark's HGC is hybrid in the sense that its analog inputs are kept analog and the volume control is done in the analog domain, while for its digital inputs the volume control is done in the digital domain. So there is no AD conversion of the analog inputs.

Both the RME and the Benchmark (for its digital inputs) control the volume in the digital domain.

An advantage of the Benchmark would be that its analog inputs would allow you to use it as a preamp in the future if you add a phonostage or a DAC without volume control.
The DAC3 volume did not have enough granularity for me to be happy with it. It was rather coarse in the steps available. If I remember correctly I was not entirely happy at low volume. The new Benchmark preamp is supposed to be a big improvement on the volume.

The DAC3 volume did not have enough granularity for me to be happy with it. It was rather coarse in the steps available.
This was with the digital inputs? I guess this is the penalty of using a pot. The RME doesn't have this problem as it uses a precise rotary encoder for VC which works in 0.5dB steps and the display also shows you the volume level.
Thank you for this seigen. You have effectively explained what I could not determine in two weeks of searching.

Here is what Lavry says about attenuation in their DACs. From the Lavry Engineering site:

" Like the highly acclaimed LavryBlack DA10, the DA11 offers extreme transparency and musicality in DA conversion with the ability to control speaker volume using digitally controlled ANALOG volume circuitry. This allows the DA11 to be connected directly to a power amp or powered monitors without a preamp for the ultimate in “straight-wire” listening. With unparalleled precision in channel matching throughout the volume range, this feature allows the listener to easily reset the volume to a known level for consistent enjoyment with minimal signal degradation. "

Does any other company produce a dac with the similar layout of a digitally controlled analog volume circuit?    And ---- does it matter, in the event that it ever did?

Digitally controlled analog volume control just means there's a microprocessor or FPGA that controls the discreet resistor network or ICs used to attenuate the volume in the analog domain.

Other DACs with analog volume controls would be the Teac NT-505 and the T+A DAC 8 DSD.
The Benchmark has a slight edge in pure sonics, but the DSP capabilities of the RME trump all that (5-band PEQ, Bass/Treble adjustment, Crossfeed, and Loudness).
Yes PEQ is very interesting to me because while I typically avoid eq for pleasure listening, I also do alot of transcribing, and I suspect that the PEQ could really help me highlight the individual parts that I need to hear.

Also, I have no need for analog inputs, and the price point is certainly better so the RME seems like the clear choice. The only downside I see is it does not have a trigger to turn the amp on.
Yzzsantabarbara, I currently own the Benchmark DAC3 HGC and had same issue with the volume control adjustment. I had to open the DAC and move the XLR output pads to the 20 db position so to have a proper volume range adjustment. The factory standard setting is set at 0 db for the Benchmark amplifier. Once this was corrected, I had linearity in using my volume control.

you sent a text message to my post about the Benchmark Dac3 B.  I stated I was looking to replace my Dac 3B with another DAC. You asked why: My name is Robert, see my post: To answer your question, I love my DAC 3B, have NO issues with it at all. Benchmark company is GREAT and RORY who deals with most if not all customers is GREAT.  I was just thinking of adding it to my second system in my house and replacing it with something else.  Not sure why, just to try another DAC?  hope this helps.

seems like you still dont have the result. yet.

why not just learn the comments in the first few post to order both and test for 1 week. then leave the one you like.


but from above post that i can see the benchmark D3 get problem---maybe minor but will be very anoying issue some day on the volumn control.


dont forget to leave your comparison result and final dac you choose here. lol thank