The Sony XA777ES is a great SACD player and transport. I got mine used and modded for $1,500.
Slov_dream: you can definitely use the volume control to make this unit a combined dac, single-input preamp to drive an amplifier. The volume control also controls RCA jacks on the back.
This DAC has a resampling scheme that has very strong jitter reduction, but I'm not sure about the transport requirements. Perhaps just call Benchmark and ask - they are very helpful.
1) You can indeed use the Benchmark as a pre-amp. There is a rear-mounted switch where you can choose between line-level output or variable output via front-mounted volume control.
2) The DAC1 seems to be pretty tolerant of its transports. I've used it on several sources, and I don't think I can credibly tell the difference between my cheap-ass DVD player, my not-at-all-cheap Simaudio Moon Equinox, and Apple Airport Express (with lossless-encoded files).
3) There is a front-panel switch where you can toggle between the S/PDIF, AES/EBU, and TosLink inputs, so you can have more than one source connected at once.
I use a mid 90's vintage Conrad Johnson transport with my DAC-1 and works great. I also have an Polk XM Satellite receiver connected and toggle between the two sources. Have not tried utilizing the DAC-1 directly into my amp; but is an option described in the owners manual. As long as you do not have any analog sources you could run without a pre. Second the advice of contacting Benchmark Media....very easy to do business with.
I was able to notice a difference between my Parasound belt driven transport & my Phillips 963sa. The Parsound sounded much better, musical & smooth vs. bright & analytical with the 963. I am also using a DH Labs digital cable.
I use my Benchmark as a volume control/pre-amp. I have it connected to my BAT VK60 with excellent results.
This is a hard choice...does the DAC1 have a toggle switch to change the voltage from american to european? Seeing as my integrated amplifier has amplifier pre-outs I will try both scenerios, either way I will keep it and if it sounds better bypassing the pre-amp section on my integrated than I can sell my integrated and put the money towards and even better amplifier, should I go about it this way?
Yes, you can use both outputs at the same time. I use the XLR outputs to drive a headphone amplifier and the RCA outputs to drive computer speakers (this is for my computer system). By the way, you can also use the two headphone outputs on the front while using the XLR and RCA outputs on the back!
The DAC1 is just an amazingly flexbile device. Now if it only had USB input it would be the greatest computer audio device ever conceived. I guess it works pretty well from non-computer transports as well (but why would anyone want to use one of those?).
FYI... According to Benchmark, this morning... at some shows they use a $100 - $200 DVD player for their transport device. As the 'jitter correction' of the Benchmark DAC1 reduces/eliminates jitter as one of it's foremost functions... as an earlier poster mentioned hearing no significant diffs with several transports being used... Won't do SACD. Does the other forms of conversion, DVDA, CD red book, DVD.
One note of importance... DVDA media from some production giants like Warner Bros. have been encoded to prevent copying... and in so doing, they 'flag' the transport to downsample to PCM via the digital outs. Others, do not 'protect' from copying... hence they do not 'flag' the device to down sample to PCM... ex. Chesky. I forget the others mentioned, there were three or four mentioned.
The rep I spoke with emphasized that older model DVD players were not outfitted with the chip that detects the protection... some were ridiculously cheap.. but price of the transport is not the issue with the Benchmark DAC1, it's the 'jitter correction' technology that will overcome the transport irregularities. Hence the use of the inexpensive players at shows.
The rep also covered the use of IC's, and power cords, indicating they have found little differences in that regard. Leaving it up to the individual and their prefferences. I asked what they use in their R&D, he said Canare (canary), $20 - $30 xlr, and offer all the IC'S they use in house. Optical, EBU, etc. at additional but most affordable costs... if for no other reason, just to get started, or use as ones own 'benchmark'.
I also pointedly asked about any issues regarding using my xa 777 with it, and he made no statement as to any problems arising from that combo. PC, DVD, CD, no matter the digital source, they all interface via the TOS, coaxial, or SPDIF connections... and the DAC1 handles them all.
Do bear in mind, these statements herein are those of the Benchmark rep, not my own personal experience. One last thing, they offer a money back deal if not satisfied. That alone, says a good bit right there.
...thought to pass that along for posterity... or curious others with Q's about the DAC1.