Jump in now or wait?

Very close to purchasing a Benchmark DAC1 usb to use pc as sole source. Music is saved in apple lossless w/error correction in Itunes. Is it worth buying now (will need to buy new as these units seem to be rarely available used) or is the pace of technology changing/new products coming to market such that I should wait 6 months or so? Have to believe a number of fellow agoners are wrestling with this same issue.

Relatedly, is the DAC1 going to get me sonically where a nice CD player would (thinking of used Ayre CX-7e).

Thanks for any input.
I'm waiting. I'm waiting till there is a wide variety of high resolution downloads available and the hardware and software has been improved over the first generation stuff.

I don't have a problem with playing cds though, and have no desire to rip my collection to a hard drive.
Well you might consider the just released DAC1 pre. But obviously they're going to keep releasing new products every so often. I don't expect any significant advances in sound as we haven't really seen that over the past 5 or even 10 years IMO. All I really see is more refining and voicing to a particular designers tastes. You might as well go ahead and buy otherwise you'll always be waiting for the next thing.

I am wrestling with it as well, Dokosan. I think your post is timely. I am looking to upgrade my digital source, and keep going back and forth between excellent players such as the Marantz SA-7S1 and the Abbindgon AMR CD77 (my top two contenders on the CD side), versus going to PC Audio, with a top notch combination such as the Wavelength DACs or the new kid on the block, the Berkeley Alpha DAC, and a decent music server.

Of late, I am leaning toward the latter, as I read more and more testimonials as to the quality of these setups. As much as I like the idea of having my large CD collection at my fingertips, sound quality is the ultimate priority for me. I am trying to arrange some auditions, but of course there are certain logistical difficulties with this.

I appreciate your post, and do hope others will chime in with their thoughts and experiences.
The DAC1 usb seems to hold it's value. At that price range I don't see too much change. The Benchmark is a piece of pro gear with less mark up than audiophile equipment- hard to beat it. I've been waiting to find a reasonable upgrade for mine. Mostly it is because it is the cheapest part of my rig, and I feel I should ;).
Wireless is correct. The PC as a source, the whole arena of digital playback for that matter, is mature enough that there will be no huge improvements. This is not first generation stuff, it is a variation on technology that has existed for over 20 years. If you wait for a "wide variety of high resolution downloads" you may be waiting forever. We've had SACD and DVD-A for years and there still isn't what I would call a wide variety available on those two.

Get in now.
There is no error correction in iTunes playback. It just reads the data and spools it out, either PCI, USB or WiFi depending on your device. There may be multiple reads when ripping, but no error correction on playback.

WiFi because it is networked has retry and error detection built-in, just like for your print jobs.

There are of course, better USB and WiFi DAC's coming in the future. It is up to you whether you want to wait for them. The DAC-1 can always be sold on Audiogon.
Steve, I've never heard the mention of error correction on playback. Are you saying my computer might not be reading the hard drive correctly and needs error correction?
I currently have the DAC 1 PRE and can say it is a very nice unit and simple to set up and use.

Walter, I would suspect the DAC's in the AMR 777 to be a step up, and should be for the like seven times price difference!

The DAC 1 is a solid and very musical DAC with clear and extended highs that are not harsh. when compared to my Esoteric DV-50s, it didn't have quite the soundstage or air, but was very listenable to, and did a great job even with high bit rate MP3's.
Herman - no, the reads from the hard drive should be error-free. Its the spooling from memory out to the device that has no error correction.

Steve N.
Steve - Hmm. Thought I had this figured out. Will there be a problem going from pc using usb to DAC1 due to this memory spooling issue?

I still don't get it. I'm not saying you are wrong, but I've been involved with electronics and computers for a long time and this is news to me. Perhaps I don't understand what you mean but it seems to me that if computers generated errors reading from memory and transferring the data nothing would ever work.
Dokosan - no problem with USB. Even though it does not have error correction, if you stay shorter than the max USB cable length of 5 meters, you should be fine.

However, you should be aware that not all computers USB ports behave well with streaming audio. Only certain USB ports on a give computer or laptop will work well and some computers, such as inexpensive Dell laptops are terrible for streaming audio. You cannot get rid of the pops and clicks no matter what you try. I recommend Toshiba laptops.

I use the same USB firmware that the DAC-1 uses for my products and for most cases it works perfectly.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Herman - what you need to understand is that the transport protocol that is used for streaming audio over USB is different than that used for printers and disk drives over USB. There is no retry and no error correction for streaming audio. Because streaming audio is real-time and these other peripherals are not, it uses an entirely different protocol. In fact there are actually several different isochronous USB protocols that can be used for audio streaming, all without retry or error detection/correction.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I came very close to going for a PC-type source a few months ago, in part b/c I kept hearing that you could get better sound than out of a CD player. But the thought of having to learn a bunch of new technology, load up a bunch of my CDs, etc., etc., knowing all the while that (a) I don't enjoy technology for technology's sake, and (b) something super duper and newer would be no doubt be coming down the pike in a few years anyway, caused me to decide to go "backwards" and try a tube CD player with a good reputation--so I bought an EAR Acute CD player, and am quite liking it. And I'm really thrilled not to be worrying about all this new technology...yet!
I went from CD to PC-based music a while ago. I used a chaintech 7.1 soundcard (optical output) to a beresford tc-7510 dac, for the whopping grand total of 200$ including shipping, and I will never go back.
After hearing the beresford up against the Benchmark USB DAC1, I am glad I didn't spend the extra 1000$, because it is an extremely close comparison soundwise, although the benchmark obviously wins out in flexibility.
IMO the Beresford DAC is one of the best kept secrets in digital, and suffers from his basic looking case, and not charging enough money for it.
p.s.- I use EAC to get to FLAC and playback is done with FooBar 2000...
Wait. Two issues need time. First, internet cost metering is nearing. So what was free, will cost. You know like the old telephone company/cell business models, flat fee will go away. Second, Blu-Ray should be the new high end audio only format. I've just listened to the Divertimenti Audio Blue ray and it's accompanying SACD and was blown away by the real improvement in sound of the Blu Ray vs the SACD. Since Sony has already mastered on SACD the classics from its library, e. g. Miles/Blue, you can expect a large reissue on Blu Ray. BTW, the Blu Ray deck I used was the PS3, and the sound could not be better. So, when will the first high end Blu Ray appear?
I would jump in now, but I would consider the MHDT Labs Paradisea + DAC instead. Sold factory direct through Ebay only, as well as seen here used occasionaly. I replaced my 3500 Wavelength Cosecant with the Paradisea + and was thrilled with IMPROVEMENTS. The Paradisea + sells for 600. I am still amazed at how good it sounds for the price. I've had some very expensive CD players over the years and to date this is my favorite sounding digital I've heard.
I bought an IMac 24 inch w 500 GB harddrive, feeding an Apogee Duet via Firewire. The Apogee outputs to a Woo Audio 6 Modded headphone amp, then to a pair of AKG 701's.

I found the output exceptionally good- and I'm used to an Exemplar CD player, which is no slouch.

I used a PC for 15 years, and still do for business, but after experimenting with both formats, I chose MAC for music.

No matter which way you go however there are many great options and lots of fun to be had!
I jumped a few months ago. I have a pretty good digital front end in my soundroom (Esoteric X03 SE). I went with a direct PC based system (Gateway PC w/Sigma HD audio on mother board with 75 ohm coax out into Monarchy DIP, into Music Fidelity XDac3 w/XPsuV3 power supply, shunyata diamond back cables and nordost digital cable into Cayin A-50T tube intergrated (Nordost Red Dawn IC) into B & W 685 speakers (monster speaker cable for now); in the soundroom, we added a squeeze box with CI outboard power supply, nordost didigal cable, into benchmark DAC (w/o USB), Shuntata Taipan Helix VX power cable on the Benchmark and Signal Power Cable on CI power supply. The DAC goes into preamp with Tara Labs RSC Air 1 single ended IC (also experimented with Monster Sigma Retro balanced but as my Esoteric uses the only balanced inputs on my preamp, I setled with the single ended for convenience. I didn't do an extended comparison between the benchmark single ended outputs vs. the balanced, though I probably should have). The PC direct system sounds sweet and I listen while I play with the PC; It's suprisingly good actually (I use J River with an Hitachi 1 terabyte external USB2 HD, a Meridian 504 tuner, Farajouda DV1000 as sources (DV1000 used as CD player) (ripping is done with EAC/FLAC files) while I can't compare it to the dedicated sound room, for a few grand, it makes me smile while I listen. The squeezebox/benchmark system in the sound room sounds awesome. The Esoteric is better (more resolved, detailed, transparent, wider & deeper soundstage, lower noise floor, blacker back grounds, deeper base, a bit more musical, better pace, high end extension, etc)but the ability to put together a playlist of a few hours long, comprised of my favorites, kind of off sets things (kind of). The SB/Benchmark is very engaging, not fatiguing, has great low level detail and deep soundstage, though not as wide as I had hoped). There is air around the instruments, it's pretty transparent and, all in all, very enjoyable. I wouldn't give up the Esoteric but if budget was a consideration, I could understand bypassing the CD player and going with, say, a Bel Canto DAC 3 instead of the benchmark. That may very well bring things closer. SACD not withstanding (SACD blows away the flac files through the SB/Benchmark~but also blows away most (not all) redbook CD's through the Esoteric, if I didn't know what I was missing, I'd probably be thriled with the Squeezebox/DAC combo. If your stand alone CD budget is 2,000 - 3,000, I think the PC based system would surpass it (no transport noise w/squeezebox, not having to load CD's individually, etc). I don't use the PC as a CD player, just to rip, since I have the faroudja, which I think sounds pretty good. I have compared the sound of the PC CD player and the Faroudja and it wasn't close. I think the PC CD player does a fine job to rip, but it's just to noisey in a PC to use the drive as a CD player. I do have a Shunyata power cord intp PV with Monster 2000 power conditioner. I don't think upgraded power cables and using a line conditioner on computer (when using as a music server) can be easilly overlooked. The improvements were staggering. I am considering a symposium svelt shelf for under the PC in the future.
As above member Cerrot noted,I also jumped a couple months ago after wrestling around for maybe a year-18 months??Scored a Bel Canto Dac and Mac mini and extra's for 2800$ or so....very glad overall with sound quality and especially ease of song selection.One of the most satisfying jumps in 39 years of owning and lusting over equipment.I understand the view of Cd player owners also.That being said it was a no-brainer after the jump was executed[sp]."Charge em", as we say on Oahu,cheers,Bob
Steve, I see what you are saying. Once it's pushed down the pipe no telling what can happen to it.

Tiger, while it would be nice to believe that Blu-Ray audio would be embraced, history tells us otherwise. SACD and DVD-A are effectively dead.. The average music buyer doesn't care about those so why would they convert to Blu-Ray? Pay per bit may dampen some internet services but I think that it will ultimately win the war and little plastic discs will go away.
Geronimo! Jumping off the cliff. Just ordered the Benchmark with the 30 day trial offer while stuck in traffic on the LIE. Appreciate all the responses. Will post thoughts after playing with it.
Dokosan-I'm in Holbrook. Ordered a bit of gear while parked on the LIE as well.

Enjoy the Benchmark! Go with a good power cable/line conditioner on that puppy.
Dokosan - change the fuses to 3 amp fast-blo while you're at it, (at your own risk).

Steve N.
I picked up a Benchmark DAC1 about 4 months ago. Couldn't be happier. Paired it with Accoustic Zen II IC's and a good power cord.
What powercord recommendations for the DAC1?
I was leaving a response to someone else. Absent one, I may as well jump in. I am very partial to the Shunyata Cables. They have given me excellent results, although I am up to the Taipans and the Pythons, having started with the diamondbacks. The differnece between stock cables and the diamondbacks was noticable, but the more expensive taipans, and then python cables were quite night and day. I can't recommend a $600 power cables for a $950 component without getting laughed at, but I have found the result better than a $1,500 dac, with a stock cord. I must add that my power line feed and power conditioners (Hydra) may give the power cables more of an opportunity to do more, and your experiences may differ, but I am fortunate that my audio dealer is pretty much like a library, where you can borrow a cable and audition for a very long time, so it's pretty easy for me to experiment.

I can't say how invaluable forming a good relationship with a reputable dealer is. My audio guy and I must have similar tastes. He auditions, and recommends. I borrow, and usually end up buying. Some stuff has gone back but what I do like alot of what I take home, and end up purchasing.