Benchmark ADC-1 Shipping

Discussion in 'Live Sound' started by MasonMedia, Aug 23, 2005.

  1. MasonMedia

    MasonMedia Guest

    Hello all,

    At long last, today I received an email from Benchmark announcing the first shippments of the long awaited ADC-1 converter. This is the companion to the DAC-1. Retail is $1,775.

    Excuse the hype, but it's probably justified... the press release:


    Benchmark Media Ships New ADC1 Analog-to-Digital Converter

    SYRACUSE, New York, August 23, 2005 - After over two years of
    development, Benchmark has begun shipping the new ADC1. The ADC1 is a 2-channel 24-bit 192kHz A/D converter designed for the most demanding professional audio recording applications. The half-wide unit can be installed in a 1RU space with a second ADC1, a blank panel, or another half-wide unit such as the Benchmark DAC1. Designed to provide the very-highest performance, the ADC1 is a superior value at $1,775.

    "This is the converter that so many of our DAC1 customers have been asking for," said Allen Burdick, President of Benchmark Media. "It perfectly complements the DAC1 in both appearance and performance. Now our customers can find freedom from digital artifacts caused by jitter and aliasing."

    The exclusive UltraLock(tm) circuit provides jitter-free performance
    while automatically locking to any incoming clock source including word clock, super clock, and AES. The front-panel gain controls make it easy to adjust input levels, while the 9-segment full-digital meters clearly and accurately display all transient events to help the user avoid clipping. The optical output supports both AES and ADAT formats (including ADAT SMUX) providing maximum flexibility. The separate, fully-independent auxiliary output can follow the main output, or be used to feed a second recording device at a lower resolution.

    Regarding the extended product development effort for the ADC1, Allen Burdick said, "I would have loved to see this product ship sooner, but Benchmark won't rush a product to market. We took the time to do it right, and I'm confident the market will appreciate the sensational performance."

    Benchmark Media Systems, Inc. is a privately-held manufacturer of
    ultra-high-quality audio equipment. Benchmark has been in business since 1978 providing leading-edge performance to broadcasters, recording studios, sound reinforcement contractors, and home audiophiles.

    High resolution photos are available at:


    For more information call Jed Burdick at 1-800-262-4675 or e-mail:
  2. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2004
    I would have ordered one of these without reservation a few months ago, but the more I use my DAC-1, the more uncertain I become about it. In some regards it is amazing, but I sometimes end up checking on 'lesser' converters for the things the DAC-1 seems to miss.

    Am I alone in this?

  3. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Home Page:
    Yes. :shock:
  4. 0VU

    0VU Active Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    No - you're not alone.

    After reading the rave reviews here and elsewhere on line I thought I'd better try one. After trying it out over a couple of days, I wasn't sure about it - something seemed to be wrong. I thought I may have a faulty unit as it nowhere near lived up to the online raves so I got it swapped for another one and took it with me as a backup/headphone amp for four day mini festival I was recording with a colleague. I also took along my normal backup headphone amp/DAC (Grace m901) and normal monitor DAC (dCS 904). (Headphones were Sennheiser HD650s and HD580s.)

    I found that afer 4 days I'd hardly used the Benchmark as I couldn't rely on what I was hearing from it. It puts out a nice easy to listen to sound but (imo) it's not accurate/neutral and nowhere near as good as I was expecting it to be. I'd say it's a nice enough sounding box that does some things very well indeed but it's not really reference quality. My colleague also listened and his comment was that it was "ok but nothing special - it's too hi-fi".

    When I got back, I had the opportunity to A/B it with the Grace M902 after which, the Benchmark went straight back.

    OK, the the boxes I compared it to were both more expensive than the DAC1 but after the comments I'd read, I was expecting something really special. What I got was a pleasant enough but not great DAC with an ok headphone amp. It's quite good value, even at UK prices, but I won't be buying one as in comparison to my present gear it offers nothing to make it stand out. The Grace m902 on the other hand.....:D

    I'd still like to try the ADC though.

    (Is now a good time for me to don my asbestos suit and find a safe hiding place? :wink: )
  5. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2004
    I haven't used the Grace, but I have heard a lot of wonderful things about it. It's a little out of my reach at the moment (especially after dropping €1,000 on the DAC-1 :wink: ).

    Anyway, I enjoy using it with my CD player, and it's great to hear lots of detail. My one gripe about it is that it masks certain aspects of the sound. I don't have any decent converters to compare it to, and the alternatives are the USB return on an Apogee Mini-Me (which is really only intended headphone use when over-dubbing) and an Echo Indigo PCMCIA card, which I bought because it is very handy when I want to do some listening on my laptop and don't want to drag a DAC around with me.

    What really surprised me about the DAC-1 is that it covers up differences in my mics that are much more audible when listening on the Apogee, albeit with an awful lot of mush and a lack of clarity. I find this very strange considering that the DAC in the Apogee is just tacked on to the ADC as a convenience.

    Zilla has already given me some reasons why this might be the case, one of which might be the op-amp it (the DAC-1) uses.

    Maybe I expected to get Lavry Gold performance, but I have to admit that I have gotten a lot out of the DAC-1, and given the choice would buy the same unit again as it is great for the price. Still its very strange that a DAC that can be a stunning performer in so many respects can conceal things that are audible on equipment that is inferior to it in almost every respect.

    Still, the difference it has made as part of my hi-fi has been great. It outdoes hi-fi equipment that costs several times the price, but of course that's not monitoring.

  6. 0VU

    0VU Active Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Blimey, things are expensive over the water there ;) I was offered one for £600 delivered - your VAT is higher than ours though isn't it?

    I know what you mean about masking - that was our big problem with it too. I think we decided that it seems to be holding back a smidge on some parts of the range, notably around 3.5 -5kHz (ish), which gave it an apparent improved clarity and extra detail, especially in the top end, but at the expense of true transparency and accuracy across the audio band. I can see why it's immediately appealing though - the impression of detail/clarity and bass extension is very impressive. It took me a little while to get past that to what it was that bothered me about it.

    I'm still looking for a small, portable DAC with a decent headphone amp and I felt that though the DAC-1 is a good DAC to listen to, it isn't what I'd want for monitoring. I tried mixing a few things through it and found that the mixes were somewhat hard sounding when played back through my normal system. Listening to CDs and some old mixes through it, I kept wanting to put in a little bit of eq to smoth out a hole. I could probably get used to it pretty quickly but the M902 didn't cause me the same problem (though it's not perfect either). I know it's more money but it does more (including a USB input :wink: ) and imo it does it enough better to make it worth saving up for.

    I might be being too hard on the DAC-1 - it is very good for the price. I can't think of a DAC I've heard that's actually better than it below about £1000. It's nicely put together too. Perhaps I was just disappointed that it didn't live up to all the "best DAC in the known universe"/"giant killer" type reports that I keep reading about it.

    (Thanks to the Mods for cleaning up the mess I made earlier with the double postings :cool: )
  7. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2004
    Prices are very high here, and VAT is 21%, but I got mine from the UK. I got Turnkey to pricematch a place in Germany that had it for €1000, which came to around £680 -it's a pity I didn't know somewhere they had it cheaper :(

    The only UK dealers I know of are Digital Village, Dolphin and Turnkey, and none of them are particularly cheap -AT4060 at DV costs £1574.99 (I got one from America for $670) yet a 4033 is only £154. I really need to do some serious research finding a consistently cheap dealer in the UK. You would laugh at me if I told what Irish dealers charge for audio gear. I don't know of anybody who buys mics over here unless they need something in an emergency.

    I am probably being way too hard on the DAC-1, as I feel it is a great bargain, and I do like it a lot, but I don't suppose there's a DAC that could live up to the hype.

  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Fredericksburg, VA

    I've resisted buying one to this point. I think they're nice, but not worth the $$$. (Especially with that VAT!!!)

    In any case, I've had plenty of opportunities to use it, but never bought one. I recently got the Aurora 8 and haven't even thought about it since. IMO, the Aurora 8 is every bit as good, but I feel I don't hear stuff that ain't there or vice versa.

    I just can't say enough positive stuff about it! (I'd write a review, but I'm afraid people will start to think I only write reviews about stuff I REALLY like!!)

  9. Gonz

    Gonz Guest

    Hi John and OVU

    Howdy Guys; I'm a newbee at this forum, but i've posted some in the SMR forum and Audiogon, etc..

    I am a Sound engineer University of the Republica in Uruguay (Faculty of engineering), post degree in the Technological Institute of Campinas Brazil (analogous to MIT in USA), where I finished my career, I 've designed a couple of recording studios (small label) but my passion always have been music reproduction not recording.
    Also designed a couple of night club and discoteques in the 80's in Brazil and Uruguay where i'm from originally.
    Since then lived in USA since Sept '83 and just keeping the hobby of Audio at the high end consumer level, to my satisfaction of frustrated career . .
    I have a comment to John and to OVU about their observations of the B.M DAC-1.
    I am Not qualified to talk about the ADC, yet don't need one, just experienced with the DAC-1 compared against some world class contenders from Levinson, Classé; a very old and sometimes underestimated California Audio Labs AlphaTubed DAC.(Choice of tubes will make or brake the DAC's sound quality NOS tubes sound the best on it
    Guys I think youre wanting to evaluate the DAC-1 as a headphone amplifier to which I hat to say utilizing Grado RS-1 (yes those wooden cans that look like WWII airplane headphones, I found them to be the most incisive and precise tool to evaluate (ruthlessly and very transparent) the music. not a professional monitor, in fact will not take the beating of high level outputs from some consoles, but is shows you everything you did in the recording both good and bad, and that's a invaluable tool to me.

    I've heard better headphone amps in my days now as a DAC, men ohh man, if this is not ruler flat, at 16 bits at 24 bits and everything in between then I don't know what it is.
    Evaluation system not only with headphones but also a combination arsenal of gear to listen to music that includes but not limited to Classé preamp, Threshold amplifier, Aragon god ol 4004 MK-II modified, Audible Illusions tubed preamp, Threshold Preamp, a couple of monoblock amplfiers designed and hand built in the Check republic (you have to hear the transparency and neutrality on these babies!!)
    From there to NHT 3.3's NHT Super One XU's (Made in UK), NHT SB-3 (great for the money), also at hand JBL Control 5 (just for unplugging my ears and burn in amps, etc. not really an evaluation tool for me.
    at hand but not owned a couple of Revel Performa, Von Sweikert VR-4 SE, Wilson Audio Watt Puppy gen 5, 6 and 7.
    Cables from Kimber, Monster (not the ones form the regular stores), Audience, Van Damme (UK), Home made cables as well, also active cables as well (impedance compensation) cable runs kept to a maximum of 4 Ft for signals and 10 Ft to speaker cables.
    I can keep going but don;t wish to bore you to yawns with unnecessary details.
    The point, as a DAC, the DAC-1 is one outstanding piece of gear, as a heaphone amplifier being reasonable, but when you isten to it with headphnoes that cost $700 in the US let's not forget the whole DAC and headpohne amp costs $975 here in the US, guys . . .
    Prpbably better matched with some lower end Senheissers, or Fostex, or Lower end Beyers . . . you know what I mean . . .
    As far as monitoring, if I would be the recording engineer for a live recording or even in studio there is no way I would monitor from the DAC direct, probably I owuld use as a point of reference just that.
    As a recording engineer My recordings never met my own expectations and compared to the recordings of the 60's Stan Getz's Music, Gilberto, Dave Brubeck Quartet (and Quintet), I could not measure up to the trasnparency and essence of the capturedimage and emotion of such type recordings, that's why I have chosen to retire form the recording media and just keep it as a hobby, very happy evaluating equipment, cables, music, etc.
    My reccomendatrion, if you must monitor form other step not form mixing, guys buy an awesome headphone amplifier that will be capable of accurately portraying the recording without missing anything between 20 to 100 Hz, (very hard to do), and remember the signature in the timbre of most mid and hig acoustic instruments occurs above 12KHz, and up to 24, even 30 KHz. that's why Vinyl still sounds so real and pleasant to audiophiles willing to put with tha pain os cleaning and spinning records, cleaning needles, etc.etc. . . .
    Also that's why DVD-A sound a lot beter than standard CD, right?
    Well that's enogh I think for my first posting, I just want for you guys to know that it is an honor to be able to participate with you in this forum.
    I also aprticipate in other forums where we get the feedback from audio designers of high Caliber, here I feel compelled to share information and learning from some other sections of this forum as well.
    Go ahead and hook up the DAC-1 to a good preamp, amp and be carful what cables you hook it up with DAC 1 does not like Mogami, does not like Belden, neither likes good old Canare; find neutral cables, stay away from professional or microphone cables, to my ears, they're a little challanged when it comes to frequency extremes, and they are very impedance dependant I cannot prove in a lab environment but that is what my ears tell me . . .
    Thanks for reading; don't forget to make the music fun!!

    God Bless

  10. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2004
    Re: Hi John and OVU

    Hi Gonzalo and welcome!

    Reading our posts it looks like we were evaluating the DAC-1 as a headphone amp, but in our lengthy exchanges it just turned out that way. I have always found that what comes out the back of the DAC-1 is better than what comes out of the headphone socket -as one might expect given that the headphone amp is the same as used in a unit costing less than $200 as far as I know. I see the headphone amp as a bonus.

    I nearly always use Grado headphones, and I think the whole range is wonderful. I intend to buy the Grado headphone amp for the times I want to use headphones to monitor from the DAC. When using headphones that are more difficult to drive, I will be grateful for the headphone amp on the Benchmark.

    Now that I have the DAC-1, which I have always thought was very good overall, it's time to make the best of it. Besides, it makes my rather ordinary CD player sound great!

  11. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2004
    VAT sucks, but if I imagine that €1=$1 that takes care of the VAT. Not so long ago the dollar was worth more than the Euro, so things could be worse.

    I'd love to read a review of the Aurora :cool:

  12. Gonz

    Gonz Guest

    If you could send the Aurora

    Hey John, veru true your comments also if you could get the manufacturar to send me an Aurora I will be happy to evaluate it critique it and give you direct comparisons, that's what I really like to do.
    Soem people believe I have a good ear even soem manufacturers of high end audio gear I cannot name send me "stuff" to evaluate and beta test before they even out pricing on them.
    What model Grado cans do you have?
    If you';re going to get yourself a heaphone amp let me know I can probably help Save a couple bucks, "I know some people that know some people that, . . .. "
    Also a good headphone amp is the built by Music Hall, they have a few models even one I believe with tubes that a couple of peole I repsect say it sounds great.
    The sonic signature of the RS-1 is extremely similar to the SR-225 for a considerable amount less ($$$) if you wish to knwo the truth.
    Not many people will have enough heaphone amp quality to really show the difference there.
    That's my 2 cents.
    Anyway Take care
  13. Sanity Inn

    Sanity Inn Guest

    not much to add except welcome to the forum Gonz...

    peace for now


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