Benchmark DAC1 Pre

G'day guys,

Well my Benchmark DAC1 pre should arrive here on Monday (I believe I am one of the lucky ones in Aus to actually get one in). Anyway, I have a quick question with connections.

I am wondering what the best way to hook it up to my set-up will be.

Option 1: XLR out from Benchmark to XLR in of my mono-blocks and RCA out of Benchmark to RCA in of Subwoofer.

Option 2: RCA out of Benchmark to Subwoofer RCA in> RCA out of Subwoofer to RCA in of mono-blocks.

Anyone have any thoughts on what will give me the best audio quality?

Option 1 should give you the best sound quality.
All things being equal, the fewer connections the better; therefore Option 1 should be better.

However, all things may not be equal. You use Option 1 if you run your speakers full range. You typically use Option numnber 2 if you want the sub to filter the output so that the main speakers do not have to reproduce the bass.

Try both and see which you like.
I'd go option 1. If you can adjust the gain on your monoblocks or sub such that you drive the benchmark harder (louder) then you can eek the most out of its high performance specs (channel sep, S/N). I believe it comes with attenuator straps in the -20 db position (so you can go higher if you amp will take it by changing these). The DAC1 has very high crystal clean output - so you should try to exploit it (provided you do not overdrive the input to the sub).

Here is an article explaining why you should use XLR (all my gear is connected this way). While I think you can do well with RCA and often differences will be inaudible there is no doubt that XLR is superior. Most audiophile problems with interconnects are due to ground loops and shield induced hum/noise on imbalanced RCA connections. Ground loop problems alone may explain most of the wondrous effects of changing interconnects, as reported. Bear in mind that not all XLR is the same - a key aspect to the design is having the same impedance with respect to ground - true balanced lines with balanced circuits.
I agree with the others that option 1, has advantages. I run balanced everywhere in my main system (and office system, too, as soon as the new monitors show up). However, I wouldn't want to run unbalanced to the sub unless it's pretty close to the preamp and/or your cables have good shielding. You might consider a Jensen input transformer for your sub so you can run balanced to it.

You didn't say what your main speakers are, but unless they are truly full range you might be better off using a bass management controller with balanced connections for integrating the sub.
I would strongly recommend (if possible for your subwoofer) that you run the subwoofer off the amp and not the preamp. I think it integrates better than having two different loads (speaker amp and subamp) pulling from your preamp.

Hi Warnsey,
I'm in the same boat with the DAC1 Pre. (Also in Oz)I waited over 5 weeks for mine, which came on Friday. Apparently the distributor doesn't like to keep stock. The manufacturing date on the base of the unit is Sept. 15th - 11 days after I paid for it!
Because my XLR to RCA cables are the generic pro variety, I decided to run the RCA to the power amp with higher quality cables, and the XLR to the sub.
It sounds great. Not having anything in the same league to compare it to, I can only say that it leaves the Squeezebox analog output for dead, as well as my much loved old Rotel 965BX LED CD player.
In my set-up it is replacing (at least temporarily) an ME-25 pre-amp and feeding a Rotel 990 power amp and Sonus Faber Concerto or Spendor 2/2 speakers.
First impressions (switch on audiospeak) are: more detail; liquid mids; much more distinct tonal colours; very easy to listen to for hours (and hours!); recordings seem more differentiated from each other; I can "hear" the space where the recording took place far more clearly than ever before - reminds me of vinyl.
Thanks for the responses guys. Just got the Benchmark today. It is a beautiful bit of kit (I didn't realise how cute and small it is). At the moment I am running option 2 as I don't have a spare XLR cable at the moment. However, I will further experiment soon.
I'm very interested in your impressions of the Benchmark on your particular horn/tube based system. I'm thinking you should have a really good thing going with this particular combo.