Right On!, Elizabeth.
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1. Lots of interest and users of Benchmark because it represents a good value.
2. Not all Benchmarks are the same. My understanding is that the design has evolved and older Benchmarks may not be up to snuff with newer and it may be hard to tell exactly what version someone is selling. So there may be some risks associated with knowing what you are getting when buying used.
I questioned this in another audio site forum at least two years ago, and there was a very large number of DAC1s for sale here then, as I was considering buying one (I didn't - I ended up buying a one-box Raysonic). My perception at the time was a lot of folks thought they sounded sterile and overly analytical. I have heard a music server through a Benchmark DAC with back to back comparison to a good (well, much better)analogue setup so the test wasn't very fair but it wasn't overly appealing to me. You have to wonder why they hit the resale yard so quick...
My perception at the time was a lot of folks thought they sounded sterile and overly analytical.
That is a fair comment - it certainly won't flatter a bad recording - in fact chances are you 'll more easily hear whatever errors there are in the recording. It is kind of a "pro sound" or precise sound and lacks the "organic" sound that people find less fatiguing.
mhdt Paradisea or Havana also I believe fits your criteria. I opted to go that way rather than Benchmark initially. I like the Paradisea very much, but now that I am also running a tube Pre-amp (ARC sp-16)that provides some nice tube "magic" without sounding inherently "tubey" or warm, I would love to still hear the Benchmark for comparison.
May I suggest a finacial reason? Well, I'm gonna anyways.
Within the past year the Benchmark DACs have received glowing reviews in the US and British hi-fi zines. This resulted in hugh consumer demand. I think there were some, er . . . , entrepreneurs out there who bought up a bunch and have been reselling them, 1 at a time, mostly here on Audiogon.
Naw, just the usual audiophile buzz. Great Stereophile Class A rating, everybody buys them, them the online buzz starts that they are harsh or bright or something similar, and boom they are off and being dumped. Look at the NAD M3 integrated. SP Class A, flying off the shelf, somebody writes on a forum that they are dull, or something like that and boom, everybody's is suddenly dull, and they are being sold off. Both I'm sure are fine products, but suffer from being popular and popular leads to being a target my guess. On the other hand as they get dumped off cheap, you get a deal on a top rated product, providing you can handle the shame heaped on you for buying a dull or bright product !!!
I think it is mostly people wanting the USB model. They sell the one without to get the one with. The benchmark does not seem to lose much money in the used market, reason unknown. Most items when they are updated the older ones used price tanks. I don't see the ones with the USB very often other than new.