I s Benchmark the "Benchmark"

Benchmark DACs and other products always seem to get a good and widespread positive buzz as being on the cutting edge technically and moving the ball forward every few years as well.

As one who has never knowingly heard a BEnchmark product I wonder what Audiogoner's who have heard current Benchmark products, amps and DACS mainly, think of BEnchmark compared to their other favorites?

Benchmark gear is modest cost in these parts. Is Benchmark really a "benchmark" for performance and associated good sound or just another player.
I like my DAC1. It sounds better now that I use USB from JRiver instead of sourcing from a CD player, but there could be many reasons for that. I haven't tried much else, but I feel confident that Benchmark gets it right and is a great neutral unit to build around. If I'm going to color or flavor the sound,I'd rather do it with other components. Seems like on the bench, Benchmark is the benchmark. My upgrade will be to DAC2.
I have Benchmark DAC1 with updated Op-amps. It works
well with my warm sounding speakers. According to
Benchmark's technical Director John Siau it was purposely
designed not to sound warm, but rather natural. Warm
sounding gear can be wonderful with voice or guitar but
can, in worst case, make percussion instruments (with
complex harmonic structure) like piano to sound out of

In addition DAC1 has strong jitter suppression making
sound cleaner, than many, including me, got used to.
Initially it sounded so clean that I listened if
instruments in the recording were not missing. Because
of that many call it clinical, sterile sounding suitable
for sound engineers and not for the audiophiles. In the
recording studio test all people agreed that Benchmark
DAC1 sound was the closest to original performance, but
it wasn't their favorite DAC.

First DAC1s sounded little thin because of NE5532 Op-
amps. Around year 2000 Signetics factory burned down.
Texas Instruments bought license and made larger die,
fuller sounding chips. I replaced them with even better
sounding National Semiconductor Op-amps, that newer
Benchmarks use. Also, output impedance on RCA outputs
was too high making it less than perfect in some systems.
Benchmark corrected this (revision).

To me it is a fantastic sounding DAC while, according to
reviews DAC2 supposed to be even better. I use it
without preamp - straight to power amp. There might be
better performing DACs but Benchmark is very good for the

As for Benchmark being Benchmark - sound is a very
personal thing and is also system dependent. Some people
love DAC1, others hate it.
Benchmark and any other products that have a their roots in Pro Audio are going to be as accurate as to the best of the company's ability . How it translates with your equipment no one can say . If you are trying to achieve a system as accurate as possible it is a good start .
My findings have been the most "accurate" gear allows for the greater amount of recordings to sound best .
Being a casual listener and having used two of their DACs, I really like the Benchmark products. I started with the DAC 1-USB and upgraded to the DAC2-HGC. Really only because I had a little mad money for once. I wlll say it was a nice upgrade in sound quality. Very clean sounding and the music seems to come from a completely black backround. Made my room sound larger yet fuller so to speak. When I listed the DAC-1 on A-Gon it sold in less than an hour. Every once in a while I look for listings here and they are almost non-existant, so I feel they are a sought after product.
Mine is played through a Krell KCT pre & FPB300cx with my Sony laptop & Jriver. It never makes a sound, it's made in USA & Rory at Benchmark is a cool guy if you ever need any info.
I hope this helps, John.
bel canto dacs are better sounding.
Chris I have a bel canto c5i integrated. The dac is pretty good and probably not bel cantos best so that says something. Would like to compare to Benchmark. I also have mhdt Constantine dac in my main rig currently. It is very musical and engaging but the bc is probably more detailed.
I just bought a Benchmark A/D converter after having a very long conversation with a tech at Benchmark. I had previously bought a Tascam DA-3000 which has a very poor sounding analog front end. I plan to use the Benchmark to do the A/D conversion, and feed the digital to the Tascam. Then let the Tascam generate the digital WAV files from the 24 bit/96K digital stream from the Benchmark.

The benchmark does not use a discrete component analog front end like the Ayre, but they do use some of the best sounding opamps in use currently. AD797s (John Curl's reportedly favorite opamp) and LME49860. They also use a minimum of coupling caps that are triple bypassed with NPO ceramics.

I will be testing this setup in the next few days and report back. I was impressed by the Benchmark tech as he really new nitty gritty details of their product, and emphasized they do a lot of listening in the design process (they are not just "pro-sumer" like Tascam, Berringer, and other companies).
Emotiva DAC sounds much better than Benchmark and far cheaper. Both got trial period so be your own judge,

Please elaborate what you hear as different or better between the two.

Benchmark sounds unnaturally thin and just unnatural. Emotiva just sounds perfect, every day I am astonished by how good my system sounds. 

You really need to try both in your own system, interactions between components can be nasty especially if you are on a audiophile setup so there is no telling which is better for your system.
I have a DAC1 USB. I use the digital optical. I like it alot. But I purchased a Schiit Bifrost Uber which was 1/2 the price some 10 year later and I like it as much.
Coli can you elaborate on the difference?