Wavelength Cosecant USB v3 vs Benchmark USB DAC1

Now that both the Wavelength Cosecant USB DAC v3 (now with ASYNC mode) and the Benchmark USB DAC 1 and DAC 1-PRE support 24-bit audio at sample rates up to 96 kHz without the installation of any drivers or other special software. I am having a hard time choosing between them. My primary headphones are the Ultrasone UE 9 and the Grado GS 1000. Has anyone out there heard both side to side at any of the meets??? Are there specific advantages of one over the other?
I haven't had the Wavelength yet, but the Benchmark DAC 1 PRE is in my home now and is a really good little unit. Very smooth and dynamic with excellent detail and air, top end is very accurate without being harsh, I haven't tried the headphone outs yet...
I am not a fan of the Benchmark in its current form, nor its old one. I've tried both extensively an could not warm up to either one. On the plus side I found them tremendously detailed and neutral. On the (big) minus side they occurred to me as hard and etched, mostly in the highs. They definitely felt very SS for lack of a better descriptor. I tried listening and comparing both in at least two very different systems I was used to. I did not compare them to the Cosecant, but in the case of the earlier version, I did have a Wavelength Brick on hand, and with the latter more recent version I had a MHDT Paradisea as well as a Modwright 9000ES modded player without the tube output. In both cases the tube DACs occurred to me as more natural and relaxed, albeit in the case of the Brick, a bit too much so, though I'd still prefer listening to it over the early Benchmark I compared it to. The Benchmark had it over the tube DACs in the bottom end, and consistently occurred more foreward and aggressive in comparison. I just could not bear the highs, which ultimately caused me to send the latter version back to Benchmark after three and a half weeks. Overall the Modwright sounded the best of the four offering many of the strengths of the Benchmark which much better balance IMHO. But that is not a DAC. The Brick was nice, but had its limitations - though very listenable and throwing a great soundstage it seemed to soften things out and slow them down ...it definitely took the digital edge of things, but perhaps at the expense of rendering some detail. I don't think it is as good as the Cosecant judging from the comments of those who have owned both. Sorry I can't offer a direct comparison, but thought the observations may help. Obviously plenty of folks love the Benchmark (John Atkinson among them), so that's not to say you wouldn't. I just don't get it from the two I've listened to.
Hi Jax, it's a difficult thing: does the Benchmark sound as you described it because it is a very analycal and honest piece of hardware or does the Wavelength make music more palatable by softening the transients somewhat? I think the question is: which of the units comes closer to the sound of the master tape?

This could also be system dependent, FWIW I ran the Benchmark with Transparent reference balanced interconnects and speaker wires to an ML 433 amp and Escalante Fremont's, so my system is very accurate and revealing, and I found no harshmess in the Benchmark.
Hi Jax, it's a difficult thing: does the Benchmark sound as you described it because it is a very analycal and honest piece of hardware or does the Wavelength make music more palatable by softening the transients somewhat? I think the question is: which of the units comes closer to the sound of the master tape?

I'm not in the camp of neutral and accurate, analytical, honest, nor do I care about how the component brings the sound closer to that of the master tape (if it does, that's great, but it's not what floats my boat on face value). I care about how the music sounds coming out of my system in my room to my ears. I tend to like components with a boost in the lower mids, or on the warm side if you prefer. In the case of the Benchmark I did indeed feel that it did fit your descriptors (and my additional ones above). Perhaps some of my lack of enthusiasm for it came from that squeeky clean, sterile feeling. But I'm sure that 90% of why I didn't like either example came from the strident highs. I'm totally open to the idea that it could be something system dependent, though I did try it in three different systems the first time (2 tubed amps and 1 SS amp), and more recently in two different systems. Could be cabling...could be the rooms (several involved first time, only one the second), could also be break-in in the case of the latest as it was new and I probably only put about 200-300 hours on it. I did have a few friends come by each time and compare with the other DACs and my observations were mirrored in the first instance, and not quite so strongly in the second. I heard the Benchmark USB sounding outstanding with no such stridency in at least one room at RMAF, which would lead me to think it has the potential to do just that. Sadly I could not get it to perform as I heard it with the resources I had on hand. As far as your descpription of how The Brick made the music more 'palatable' - I did feel that DAC was indeed softening out the music, but I do not think that is simply because of the tube output, or rather I think there are implementations of tubed outputs in DACs and players that do not overly soften transients. Notably the Paradisea + I use, and even more so the Modwright player with tube output I use render remarkable detail, soundstage and clarity. As I said, I did not mean my comments on the Brick to be a necessary reflection on the Cosecant. I would imagine the later is a superior implementation of the technology, but I have not heard it so could not comment. Hope that helps clarify my observations.
Since the topic touched on the differences between the Benchmark DAC1USB and the Wavelength Brick, I should reiterate some comments I had posted on my system pages:

Benchmark DAC1USB vs. Wavelength Brick

Here are some comments on the two different DACs and my reasons for keeping both. Overall the difference reflects some of the observations mentioned in the reference DAC thread on Audiogon:

Reference DACS: An overall perspective

Even though neither is quite a reference DAC, according to these classifications the Benchmark is a category I and the Brick certainly a category II DAC.

Some personal experiences with the DACs: I have been running the Brick for a long time but the one thing I never quite got a grip on is the bass. Depending on the piece it even sounded sometimes a little disconnected from the rest of the spectrum. Comparing to my analog system, with my previous turntables, a Michell Tecnodec and a VPI Scout it wasn't quite so obvious, but when I got my DPS turntable, I realized how much more the my main system is really capable of.

So in an attempt to improve the bass and top end detail, I tried a Lavry DAC for a while. More recently, I got the latest Benchmark DAC1USB after a friend bugged me about it (he liked the Bechmark more than the Lavry). I heard earlier versions of the Benchmark and never quite liked it very much - strident highs, the usually glow that surrounds instruments which is so typical of upsampling. However with the latest version Benchmark really did well. It has a very tight solid sound, great extended bass, a fairly open midrange, instruments are well separated and the top end is smooth without any hint of the earlier strident highs.

After getting the Benchmark, I got to improve the Brick a little more by doing some very careful tube rolling. With the Mazda Triple Mica, flow and coherence is a little better than the Benchmark, but it still looses control somewhat in complex passages especially for classical music. With a Siemens 12AU7, the bass of the Brick is tighter and drums are as explosive as with the Benchmark.

Overall the difference could be easiest heard on a tabla piece by Zakir Hussain: The Benchmark has a very tight sound, is very lively and dynamic, the Brick has more flow. When the tabla is hit, the Brick takes longer to decay, even if the drum is touched at the edge to deaden the sound. The Benchmark stops and starts much faster as you would expect from live tabla. I think these characteristics result in the observed difference, i.e. the better transients of the Benchmark vs. the flow of the Brick.

In summary, what I really liked about the Benchmark the most was how transients and dynamics are preserved. Many CDs sound very exciting whereas the Brick can be laid back at time. The Brick has its strength in the natural decay of tones, which the Benchmark sometimes cuts to short. For spatial presentation, the Benchmark has the better separation between instruments, especially in complex passages, whereas the Brick sketches a more realistic three-dimensional picture for single instruments. The Brick did particularly well with solo piano. Overall for complex music and electronic music I would give the nod to the Benchmark, for a more natural sound and small ensembles I would prefer the Brick.

Overall I think there is a clear difference in presentation, whether it is better or worse depends on your taste and the rest of the system. Several friends liked the Benchmark more especially since I have an all tube system. Right now I am using both in my main system, as both are very enjoyable and I might switch based on mood.

One final comment: For the Brick tube rolling is essential. IMO it performs far from its best with the stock tubes. Try the Mazda Triple Mica or the Siemens 12AU7. Single 12AU7 NOS tubes are fairly affordable and can be found easily…

I should emphasize that I still feel the same about the DACs. Also, the Benchmark seems to be working extremely well in my system without strident highs as Marco described. As for the Cosecant, I heard a V2 earlier and actually preferred the Brick. I felt that the Brick, with appropriate tube was superior to the stock Cosecant. Also, the Brick had a purity to the midrange that the Cosecant could not quite match. I am extremely curious about the new version of the Brick and Cosecant though.

Hope this helps...

From what I've read about the Wavelength DACs, I think you need to careful of, and should ask people to specify, which versions or DAC modules they heard. There seems to be quite a shift between the original non-oversampling versions and the later ones. Even the evolution of their power supplies exerts an influence.

Beware the broad brush. . .
Err, this thread is like 4+ years old.