Benchmark Dac3


I purchased the Benchmark DAC3 and hooked it up (with just the included Monoprice USB cable) to my MacBook Pro playing lossless files ripped from my CDs. Using the HT bypass to play through my Krell integrated amplifier into Audio Physic Virgo speakers (as well as listening through the headphone amp and HGC volume control driving Beyerdynamic DT 880s). With the panoply of input options I was able to do direct A/B comparisons between my Krell CD player and iTunes as well as between the digital and analog outputs of the CD player. I immediately discovered the balanced XLR connection making a huge difference in bringing out subtle details such as the breath of vocalists and the note decay of wind and string instruments.  Is this the case with all sources or just with this DAC?  If it is the case with all sources then I could never imagine purchasing a DAC (in an equivalent price range) which only provides RCA interconnections.  Is this more about the Benchmark DAC or the difference between balanced and single-ended operation?  Would you purchase a DAC without balanced XLR connections?
dave1215
XLR is always better than cheap crap RCA. However if you are lucky and using limited equipment (more gear = higher probability of ground loops) and short runs then RCA can sound just as good. 


XLR is always better than cheap crap RCA. However if you are lucky and using limited equipment (more gear = higher probability of ground loops) and short runs then RCA can sound just as good. 

I have both DAC1 and DAC2 from Benchmark. Just curious have you compared DAC3 to predecessors - the trouble is that the DAC1 was already so good!!!!! Can't say I can hear an improvement myself!!!

Shadorne, this is my first Benchmark DAC so unfortunately I am unable to provide a comparison with predecessors.

Nonetheless, so far I am very happy with this well-designed and excellently-built little piece of equipment...and certainly glad I didn't fall prey to purchasing an alternative DAC in the same price range without balanced connections. 

I would love to compare the Benchmark 3 to the new Gustsard pro.

Tim