Help with BenchMark vs. Museatex Bitstream

I was recently allowed to 'borrow' a Benchmark DAC and I've connected it to my Krell 400xi via the XLR outputs, to my shock the gain stage was actually lower then the single ended RCA's?!? I was under the impression if nothing else I would get a boost in gain from the Benchmark to the Krell.

The gain section of the Museatex is actually higher, as I have to turn up the Krell to 33db in order to hear the same output on the Museatex 20db. I haven't used an SPL meter and simply conducted these tests by ear. I find the Museatex is not only louder but has more inner detail as well.

To be honest I'm quite disappointed with the Benchmark. The back switch is set too 'calibrated' as opposed to 'variable' (which I assume is for headphone volume). I still fail to see how I get a decrease in gain when using the XLR outputs that many Krell owner's say is a complete must!
Balanced connections are 6db higher gain..including the Krell 400xi. It also sounds better on the krell. The DAC must have a problem or you are using it incorrectly.
Hello Dave,

How would one use connectors incorrectly? The 6db gain is higher, is it possible that the output gain of the Benchmark is much lower then the Museatex? Perhaps in order to tune the DAC they've pushed down the gain output to the noise floor of the DAC?
I am also running the DAC 1 USB (calibrated mode) into the 400xi balanced. I did not compare balanced with single ended. There are some gain jumpers inside the DAC that can be user adjusted though I left it at the factory setting.

Just this weekend connected a Transparent powercord for the Krell and moved the stock Krell pc to the Benchmark. This seemed to help the system to fully gel, and in particular the soundstage depth was increased. I did not go to the trouble of testing the new pcs independently.
Lush, I was referencing the possibility that you may not have a setting correct such as the gain/jumpers already mentioned. PC's can make a bit of a difference as well. Outboard DAC's can be problematic to match correctly and cable well...single box players are more purist and less likely to cause problems.
Check the Benchmark instruction manual. This unit has internal jumpers to adjust gain from the xlr outputs. I think they are factory set at -30dB.
The Bitstream has a +3V unbalanced output compared to the Benchmark's +2V.
The owners manual (Revison D page 13) states that the DAC 1 USB ships with -20db pad on XLR but that it can be changed to 0, -10 or -30db. Page 51 shows how the user can adjust.

Would be interested if there is a benefit to changing other than more gain? In my simple mind, the answer is simply to turn up the gain on the Krell. (
Hey Folks,

I have the DAC 1 non-USB and I'm afraid I wasn't given the owner's manual. I've listened now extensively for two nights and have come to some conclusions. When adjusting the volume on the integrated by ear to try and match levels I've found the Benchmark has tighter bass and better separation, having said that the Museatex has a timbre I can't put my finger on but it's a 'you're there' factor that the Benchmark doesn't have. I've also noticed that while the Benchmark offers a deeper soundstage that the Museatex is wider and instruments come well out from the outer edges of the speakers.

I think much of the Benchmark's success is because of the XLR output's into the Krell. Noise floor is lower there is no doubt, bass is tighter and overall it certainly is deeper. It's a series of trade off's it would appear. The relative I borrowed the DAC off of is from Calgary and has spoken to John Wright (Museatex fame) and John has indicated that he can 'tinker' with the Benchmark. If the Benchmark can be tinkered with to the point where timbre's are as natural with acoustic instruments then I might take the plunge and buy the USB version and feed it through a MAC Mini which is something I've been toying with for 12 months.

It should be noted that the Museatex was used with Moray James power cable, digital cable and Harmonic ProSilway MK II's while I used a Blue Circle PC, Harmonic ProSilway XLR and Stereovox digital cable. I listened to a fairly wide variety of music including U2's remastered Joshua Tree, Massive Attack, Beck and a host of other musical cut's that I enjoy. I have the Benchmark until the weekend and will continue to listen. I feel confident in my observations however.

PS. If anybody is after a very good digital cable and doesn't want to spend a lot of money check out the Stereovox. It is quite the cable for such little money.