monarchy DAC-pre vs. benchmark DAC-pre

Been reading alot about sources as I begin to set up a new and small 2ch system. Originally thought theintegrated CD route was the way to go, but beginning to wonder about a DAC-pre (and a deccent amp I already have sitting around) and wonder if anyone has directly compared these 2? Also would be interested in other recommedations if similarly priced.

Thanks so much for any input.
I have used them both extensively, reviewed them both, to be found on

They both have merits, and are like opposite sides of a coin. If your rig is comprised of warm/laid back gear and you desire some more definition and detail especially, look into the Benchmark.

If you have what you feel is good amount of clarity but seek a touch of warmth, then go for the Monarchy.

I would characterize both as good value, excellent performance and reliability, but with slightly different presentation, as delineated above.

Also, keep in mind that cabling will influence each significantly. Read my review of the Wire World cabling in this month's reviews to find an alternative method of raising the warmth of a rig though use of DIGITAL cables used as IC's. (NOTE: This was an experiment I conducted with Wire World cables; I'm not guaranteeing that all manufacturer's ICs will work similarly, but it's possilbe. That's something to be explored further.)
Id wish monarchy would make a tube dac without the pre amp.....

As for the system, it is a system in evolution. I have 2 pairs of speakers and will keep the ones I like best after I have played them a bit (B&W 805 nautilus and Harbeth M30). I am deciding about integrated vs. keeping a proceed BPA I have sitting around barely used, vs swapping the proceed for a different 2ch amp... the possibilities are endless.

I would say the outlines of the 2 most likely systems are:

1. CD player - integrated (LFD, Red Wine, Ayre, Naim, Cayin, Rogue, Prima Luna, others are being considered) - M30 (vs. 805s)


2. various sources - dac/pre - Proceed BPA (or swap to other good amp) - M30 (vs 805)

The most cost-effective is likely #2, and the idea of a music server sounds pretty good. I think I would like to settle on the general outline - ie: #1 vs #2, and then fill in the blanks. I am just learning about tubes and DACs, hence my questions. Once I settle on the outline, I will take a plunge, basically, and see how it works. And yes,money is an issue, but I do not have a set budget. Most bang for the buck.
I can tel you that when I found a guy that knows Monarchy products well ,himself being semi retired and a true engineer that also worked for Theta digital he transformed my dac-24 , DIP-48/96 to a standard that you would have to spend at least $6k just to come close ,I have had many complements tere is a lot of potentual there
if you truly know circuit engineering ,not just a modder
part stuffer as I call them and very few have true degrees!