Benchmark DAC1 vs Musichall Dac 25.3 : A/B test


I A/B’d these two dacs today (based on my ears and nothing particularly empirical). I’m not sure how relevant this will be as the Benchmark dac1 was released nearly 20 years ago and the MusicHall is nearly 10 years old. That said, the Dac1 seems to still very much be considered an industry standard and I was excited to compare it to this MusicHall (the only Dac I’ve ever owned). FWIW, here are my findings:

See signature for details on full rig/chain. Listened to a variety of different genres flipping back and forth from 20-30 second sections of tracks.

I went in with a bias that the Benchmark dac would beat out the musichall in terms of sq and expected to notice a discernible difference.

I used the spdif digital coax input on both dacs. 

Listening through floorstanding speakers via ultrarendu > schitt eitr > dac > amp and on headphones via ultrarendu > schitt Eitr > dac > headphones, I could not tell a discernible difference. Zero. Zip. Zilch. If anything toward the end of comparing the two I slightly prefered the musichall, and I can’t even articulate why. Perhaps my ears aren’t refined enough. Or perhaps I set my expectations for a variance too high based on everything I read about dac comparisons and the “thinness” or “coldness” of the benchmark versus the warmth of a tube dac like the musichall.

Curious to hear input from others. Maybe differences in SQ are more discernible comparing R2R Dax’s with delta sigma dacs?


dla123
You just learned that if any distortion/noise/coloration is below audible levels, then it is in fact inaudble.
Can be some reasons :
1. Your ears aren’t refined enough to notice the difference.
2. Both DACs are more or less at the same level so there is no real difference between them.
3. Your system is not good enough so it  is not capable to reveal the difference between this DACs.
Another example showing that all well-engineered DAC's will sound essentially alike! The proliferation of DAC's (especially the expensive ones) is a marketing ploy to get the gullible and neurotic to spend more money. 
"Your ears aren't refined enough - your system isn't good enough" LOL! 
"Another example showing that all well-engineered DAC's will sound essentially alike"
LOL !
The MusicHall, like Cambridge TEAC and many others, are tuned for a particular sound. A house sound if you will. Each is different. The Benchmark is a studio DAC. Precise and analytical without coloration. My ears prefer Esoteric, TEAC, MF, Cambridge and not the Benchmark- in my systems. It is the synergy of source amplification and loudspeaker that you want. If I ever develop the performance studio of my dreams it will have the Benchmark. But not for the pleasure of just experiencing reproduced music.  I believe no one DAC is better than another. It is system dependent and you pick the sound you prefer. BTW, my DACs are: Oppo, Minimax, Cambridge and TEAC 503. Good luck!