DAC Measurements vs Actual Experience
I have spent the last two days evaluating which of these two DACs I will be keeping:
1) Benchmark DAC3
2) PS Audio DirectStream
I'm foregoing the use of a dedicated preamp; the chosen DAC will serve that purpose.*
I had read up on the technical side of each of these exhaustively before purchase. For those of you who aren't familiar, the Benchmark DAC3 measures quite well in every category. The PS Audio DirectStream, on the other hand, not so much. In fact, Audio Science Review places these two near opposite ends of its SINAD (signal-to-noise-and-distortion) list with the PS Audio being positioned near the bottom. Stereophile also provided measurements in their review that painted the PS Audio in an unfavorable light.
And yet the DirectStream is proving to provide a sound that is more, dare I say, musical. It's a bit more relaxed, sounding a tad reserved in comparison to the DAC3, and the presentation of 100 Hz and lower seems to be slightly vague, but it's also less edgy, possessing a better soundstage, and is overall ever-so-slightly more enjoyable. So what am I doing wrong?
* Is it worth considering putting a dedicated preamp downstream of the DAC3 in hopes of gaining a more favorable sound?