ReView: Benchmark DAC-1 USB VS Lyngdorf CD-1

Category: Digital

Benchmark DAC-1 USB and Lyngdorf CD-1.
Both units are about the same, talking technical, since date of arrival.
DAC-1 has lots of interesting features, the CD-1 is a onebox cdp.
It can be used as a fine transport and offers a variable analogue output.
From full analogue gain (voltage) and current. Maximum output is 3.85V.
It is possible to lower it by 0.5 db steps by 12.0db.
The CD-1 has a class A output and a build quality i am completely sold on.
DAC-1, was set up, as suggested by Rory Rall from Benchmark media.
Internal jumpers set at factory setting, used in calibrated mode.

I used both units with same aftermarket power chord, SignalCable Magicpower Digital Ref, on and off a balanced mains transformer (made for sources) with huge reserves.
Both units were used in balanced mode, SignalCable Silver Ref (xlr, obviously:)
Both units were used, connected to Wyred 4 Sounds STI-1000 (integrated amp).
A European brand loudspeaker, XTZ 99.38.
A 3 –way, loudspeaker with a 10 inch alu coned bass driver, 6½ inch magnesium doped mid and a ribbon tweeter.
It offers lots a features, as optional: ported or bass reflex, separated filterboxes and settings at the filter.
(Room tune)
Speakers are placed at feets decoupling them from floor, as is amp and cdp and dac.
Cables are from the manufacturer.

Without dissecting the very subtle, this is what my ears noticed.

Using Benchmark at first, switching to the Lyngdorf unit.
From bottom end to lower midrange i noticed a significant gain on impact and dynamics.
The Lyngdorf clearly proved to have, both better grip and control.
With a bass extension the DAC-1 could not match. CD-1 simply hit harder, with a richness and fullness, though without bloom or excess. No smearing of micro dynamics or bass overpowering the delicate midrange. What also striked my directly switching units, was the relaxed way the CD-1 portrayed the music in, but believe me when i say this is no sleeper. On the contrary, it really fit you well if you like more sense of drama.
In compairson, the DAC-1 was lean, almost as if this area was more remote, say further back in soundfiled and not as powerful. Dynamical contrast was not on par with CD-1.
I would not say the Lyngdorf was warm, but i would say i felt that the Benchmark was audibly more dry/ sterile and a tad hard in tone.
A slight cold presence and more forced presentation in direct compairson.
If these two were described in colours, the DAC-1 would be slightly grey and bleached in compare. This is not to say CD-1 is coloured.
I have always liked the ambience of the Benchmark, but i can’t say the Lyngdorf was worse. The DAC-1 might be more open in the top, i can't deny that.
They are simply coming on, in different manner from each other.
I suspect, if bass and lower mid is portrayed with less energi. The sound appears more ambient.
Listening to rhythm sections, no matter fast or slow, complex or easy going.
Metal, pop, rock, indie, vocal, electronica etc etc.
The Lyngdorf held each sound, each note, in a more controlled and firm manner.
Bass lines, drums etc, had a better contrast, topped with a, extension and firmness that directly made it feel so right. There was no boomy bass, no rolled off upper frequencies. For vocal(s) the breast tone were richer followed by a smoother more organic sense. Instruments like guitars, cellos, piano, violin, did sound more round and rich with a great tonal colour. Microdynamics developed defined and emerged well from the more powerful wall of rhythmic section.
The slight, hardening of tone in my ribbon tweeters - that was appearent with DAC-1, was now rounder and smoother, not lacking in resolution or energi.

My conclusion is that DAC-1 USB is still very good (it doesn’t sound bad), offers lots of great features that CD-1 does not have.
Build quality of CD-1, is IMO, way better than expected in this price range.
As for the sound it produces, i think it’s heck of a unit and i am clearly positive to it. Soundwise, it offers better more analogue sonics, better dynamics and swings bass extension and does so with control and grip.
It does work very well with my unforgiving ribbons tweeters and the clean and fast sounding W4S STI amp.

My main idea, writing this is not to badmouth DAC-1.
The idea came up as i had in mind to leave DAC-1 USB for modification.
Analogue part, signal path and powersupply.
I contacted Benchmark, knowing this was not a political correct move, but anyway!
I also approached Great Northern Sounds, aswell as different modding companies. It seemed i was left with offers from 50% up to 120% of DAC-1 USB’s retail.
I was recommended, not to do the upgrades.
So, as a cd fan (i don't buy sacd and i don't download), i opted for the move of changing to a onebox cdp of similar price range.
The idea of the Danish unit (Lyngdorf) came up due to the fact, that it was used in a test with Benchmark dac-1 and April Musics Stello latest dac . The Lyngdorf, seemed to me, better than both of the dacs.
So, my (re)view is more of an idea, to those using DAC-1, maybe looking to modify or go for a onebox cdp.
I don’t intend to make a compairson with way more expensive units.
As for me, i had dropped a 1K at the Benchmark mod and was also planning to buy a transport with aes/ebu connectors.
I am very satisfied