Grace Design m902 vs. Benchmark DAC1?

Has anyone tried these units head-to-head? Both are Stereophile Class A, both are well regarded in the pro audio world. One Stereophile reviewer preferred the Grace, but another uses the Benchmark. The Grace has advantage of remote volume control and an additional analogue in, but it is significantly more expensive. I anticipate getting one of these two products to go into my main system streaming Apple Lossless from an Airport Express via toslink. Thoughts and recommendations appreciated, particularly if anyone is in a position to compare the way they sound.
I haven't. But I have read comparisons at and the concensus was that the Grace was inferior to the Benchmark. But I know at least two people that preferred the Grace. I have a Benchmark, but don't use it much anymore. It is a bit too thin for my liking, but its 'transparancy' can be exhilerating and can be just what some systems need. The Grace is, I understand, softer and fuller. Less impressive to audiophiles overall but easier to live with in some systems.
I have done a direct comparison with a DAC1 and a Grace 901. (the 901 was the pre-curser to the m902. the m902 has basically the same analog circuitry as the 901, and the DAC has been improved). The other gear used in the comparison was a Denon 2200 player, using the S/PDIF outs. then to a BAT vk60 amp with Von Schweikert VR4 speakers.

I prefered the Grace over the benchmark. both were very detailed, the DAC1 had a bit of a "sizzle" (for lack of a better term) in the high end. The grace unit was smoother and had a noticeably deeper low end. In deciding to stick with the Grace, I don't feel that I've lost any detail or transparency, but rather, similar detail as the benchmark, with better bass extension.
It was my DAC that Jason & I put head to head. The Grace was smoother & fuller sounding. They were very close but only b/c they were slightly different in tone. I think it is a flavor thing. In the end I kept my Benchmark b/c it wasn't worth the price difference between the two IMO. It is VERY close between the two, you can't go wrong either way.

The Benchmark is slightly thin & brittle sounding where the Grace is a little fatter & slightly more laid back. I am on the prowl to find a new DAC but I don't feel the Grace is a big enough step up for me to justify the cost.
you might want to check John Mark´s columns on the Stereophile -site. He has compared both units, and prefers the Grace, especially as a DAC
the electrocompinet dac is very good(though you didnt include it, you might want to give it a audition).. the retail has just been lowered from $2200 to $1700 and they go for $1000 used

it is a very musical unit and has no shortcomings for a sub $5k dac..if anything, it is a little bit on the "lush" side. incredible bass slam, cohesive top to bottom, and the one of few "musical" dacs to come on the scene.
I agree with Mikesinger. I think both of these DAC's can be beat for slightly more money in a big way.
I agree. Even the similarly priced Lavry Black is a significant improvement. The second hand price on the Electrocompaniet gets my vote for probably the best bargain around. Another interesting DAC I am looking into is the Zhaolu, which starts at USD80!! But certain upgrades need to be ordered and you need to pay freight, taxes etc and it could cost you up to $500. I have one here but it needs another week or so of running before I will listen to it properly. However some reports from acquaintances indicate it is at least comparable with the Benchmark and better in the areas where the Benchmark is weak.
Kerimf, I'm in a similar situation. Apple Airport Express for streaming, just need a DAC to fulfill the potential. Currently have the Benchmark and I think I'm seeing similar results as reported on 6moons, stereophile, in that the resulting sound is wide with precise soundstaging and great air, yet analytical and not terribly involving. Granted it's my first DAC and I'm impressed nonetheless! However, I want to add SACD down the road and I like the analog input option on the Grace. I ordered it today and am ready for a weekend showdown with a non-broken-in Grace vs. the 3 wk old Benchmark. I'd like to hold onto both longer, but my 30 day trial with the Benchmark is expiring soon!
Well I pretty much don't have much more to add than what's already been posted. To me in my permanent rig the Grace m902 seems warmer than the Benchmark DAC1 with more depth in its soundstage. Bass sounds more full as well; I don't think I've lost any of the detail or transparency either. A good example is the fingersnaps, bass notes, and echo in the recording room (Dianna Krall's Love Songs DVD-A) had twice the amount of air and 3D character with the Grace. I wholly concur with Stereophile's comparisons between the two. I returned the Benchmark today and I'm keeping the m902.

P.S. - I picked up the m902 for $1450 w/free shipping from
I think that the headfi comparison was pretty acurate. The Grace might sound better at times, with more bass, but the reason for that is that the Grace is romanticizing the sound. The Benchmark is revealing the truth.