Benchmark DAC1 USB w/ Focal XS - observations

Because of the way my system is set up, I have a Benchmark DAC1 next to my iMac. When switching between the main set up and the Focal XS computer speakers, I have to go to "settings" then "audio" and select either the DAC1 or the XS system which is not difficult, but very annoying.

Last week I ordered a 1/8" to RCA cable from BlueJeans with the intentions of using the RCA outs from the Benchmark (main system uses the XLR outs) straight into the 1/8" input on the XS and bypassing the internal usb dac of the Focal speakers.

To put it bluntly, the DAC1 sounds significantly better than the built in DAC of the Focal XS system and it should at double the cost of then entire speaker system. The speaker system sounded really good before, but not quite up to "audiophile" standards. Using the DAC1 straight into the speakers really opened them up, especially the top end. Will the XS replace my main system? Of course not, but it's definitely the best sounding desktop system I've heard.
Good for you. Computer audio and in particular USB can be a minefield for problems. The Head-fi forums about Benchmark DAC1 makes this very clear (not everything is "bit transparent") - some version of iTunes are best avoided.
I think you're on the right track with the RCA to 1/8" mini plug into the Focal Speakers. I would be surprised if the Focal System had an internal DAC, but I'm not familair with them, and actually it wouldn't matter because by using the RCA mini, you will effectively be bypassing any internal DAC anyway. However, just because a speaker system accepts USB, doesn't mean that it has an internal DAC.

Well..., after a little checking it seems that the Focal XS System does have a built in internal DAC, but you're certainly on the right track using the mini Analog inputs, with that great sounding Benchmark DAC.

You are right Rich, the Focal's do indeed have a built in DAC, but the DAC1 sounds better.

I really wasn't expecting any huge gains in sound quality, I was more interested in not having to switch back and forth between the two sources, but I was pleasantly surprised.

As an added bonus, the noise floor is apparently lower using the DAC1.

My next experiment is to use the optical output from the iMac into the DAC1 to isolate the computer from the audio systems. As of now, the iMac, DAC1, and XS are all on different outlets. By using an optical cable, I can provide galvanic isolation between the computer and the audio systems.

BlueJeans make excellent cables too.

I'm using DAC1 USB with Mackie powered speakers, and I am equally impressed. My DAC1 is currently with Parts Connexion for a $500-ish mod...hoping to enjoy the Benchmark experience even more.

Glad you're having fun with this.