Monitoring DAC

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by John Stafford, May 24, 2005.

  1. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    As well as the headphones I mentioned in my other post, I'm also curious about what DAC people round these parts use.

    I'm thinking of buying the Benchmark DAC-1. While I was initially suspicious of it as it upsamples or downsamples everything (to 110 kHz?), but I haven't heard anything bad about it. Surely it has some nasty secret! I've more or less decided not to buy the Apogee Mini-DAC, although I like the Mini-Me.

    I'm also considering the RME standalone converter (ADI2) as it converts both ways. I'll probably be using the E-mu 1616M to pass everything back and forth to my laptop.

  2. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    The DAC-1 is the best bit of audio gear I have ever owned, apart from the Nagra of course. It has made the most profound difference in sound quality, and enabled me to understand the real issues affecting sound quality in my recordings. Unreserved recommendation here. No nasties hidden anywhere that I can see.
  3. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    We own two of the DAC-1s and they are GREAT!

    The only problem I have ever been aware of was the pot they used for the volume control on the original DAC-1s becomes noisy. Benchmark is aware of the problem and will fix the older models for free. The new pot seems to be a better pot and has click stops added.

    I can only say that after listening to the DAC-1 we sold our Mark Levinson Model 36 DAC. Enough said.

    It is probably a phrase you have heard often but this DAC will allow you to hear things you have never really heard before. It has changed the way we do mastering. I am using it with a Bryston 4B power amp and Alon IV speakers in our two mastering suites and I personally don't think you could find a better sounding more detailed setup. MTCW

    Best of luck!
  4. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Wow! Thanks folks -that is SOME recommendation! And all for under a grand.

    I suppose my minds made up. So it won't be the Apogee then :wink:

    It sounds like what my setup really needs.

    Many thanks
  5. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Looks like I'm a bit late, but FWIW, I love my DAC-1 too... When I went to Australia last year to record a concert, I traveled with 1 piece of gear- my DAC-1. 'nuff said?

  6. foldedpath

    foldedpath Guest

    I'm also in the market for something like this. I'm currently using an RME Multiface as the DAC for my monitors, and as a headphone amp.

    Has anyone here tried the Grace m902?

    There are a few nice extra features compared to the Benchmark, like more inputs for comparing multiple sources, direct USB connection, etc. Also the headphone amp has a crossfeed to simulate speakers... although I'm not sure how well that works in practice.

    OTOH, it's $600 more than the Benchmark, and I don't know if the extra features are really worth it, or if the sound is as good as the Benchmark. I just wondered if anyone here had tried it yet. Or failing that, do Grace DAC's have a good reputation overall? I don't hear the name mentioned much in the usual places, outside of preamp discussions.

    Mike Barrs
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Pile another positive opinion on about the Benchmark. I like it A LOT. Though, I truthfully don't own one yet, I've been fortunate enough to have one at my disposal pretty much whenever I need it. It does everything as mentioned above. You really will find it hard to believe that you missed all THAT before.

    As for the Grace - I'm a big fan of ALL things Grace. However, the big drawback, to me at least, for the 902 is the lack of balanced outputs. This hurts since so many of my amps have only balanced ins. I'd hate to have to go through a transformer and potentially negate all the positive characteristics of the HP amp / DA in the first place.

  8. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Heard the original 901, but not the 902... The 901 was a pretty stunning sounding piece of gear. My recollection was that it was much better than the Benchmark, but it is also more expensive. The Benchmark definitely has more features and for my work has been fantastic (especially for the price).

  9. 0VU

    0VU Active Member

    I normally use dCS 952, 954 and a Grace 901 (usually just for cans).

    I'm just about to spend some time checking out the Cranesong Hedd192 and a few other Cranesong boxes - anyone here got any good/bad experiences of their stuff? I've used the David Hill designed electronics that ATR Service include in their Aria upgrade for analog machines and they sound stunningly good which made me put a load of Cranesong kit on my audition list.

    For lower bitrates/wordlengths the converters in a Sony PCM9000 are pretty good.

    I've still got to try out a Benchmark DAC but it seems they've sorted out UK distribution and with the rave reviews it's getting around here, amongst other places, I'll be doing that soon.
  10. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Mine is on it's way from London, and I can't wait for it to arrive. I'm hoping for lot from this box, so I hope my expectations are not unrealistic.

    Anyway, I cant wait!

  11. Sanity Inn

    Sanity Inn Guest

    A friend of mine is using the DAC 1 in his stereo set up ( not a cheap set up)

    does one only need the DAC unit or do you guys get the A/d converter aswell??? if i got my poop straight lol

    does this mean i need to sell my RME adi 8 DS ???

    thanks for the feedback

  12. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    There's an ADC counterpart as well, but it's more expensive -a little under twice the price.

  13. Sanity Inn

    Sanity Inn Guest

    Thanks John I saw that

    just wundered if the DAC users are also recording with said counterpart

    they also have an 8 in 8 out unit for 5000 bucks

    wasn't sure which was more important, hearing what your A/d converter did with the DAC or actually using Benchmark's A/d also

  14. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Hi SI

    That's an interesting question. When my DAC-1 eventually arrives, I intend use a feed from my ADC (Apogee Mini-Me) to the DAC-1 while recording, given that it's what goes to the computer that matters, so monitoring what the ADC is doing, instead of what the mics or preamps are doing before conversion would seem to have some advantages.

    Still the AD conversion is ultimately going to decide the quality of a recording, but that's probably not much good if you can't make the optimal choices owing to deficiencies in monitoring.

    I suppose it's one of those unanswerable questions that could start an endless debate!

  15. 5flagsaudio

    5flagsaudio Active Member

    I use the Grace M902. One of the drawbacks as mentioned is the lack of balanced outs, but that is now an option for this unit. I like it a great deal. It always goes on location with me. The X-feed circuit does an OK job of getting the sound out from inside your head, but it's no replacement for monitors. That being said, I do miss it if I listen on cans through other methods.
  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Wow...this is an old one...

    I'm glad to see that the 902 now has the option for balanced out. I may find the need to get one now!
  17. 5flagsaudio

    5flagsaudio Active Member

    Yeah, nothing quite like a n00b to a forum dragging up old topics. But I figured it was an important note about the m902 since that was nearly everyone's biggest complaint about the unit. FWIW, I bought mine strictly as a headphone amp so unbalanced outs were not a big deal for me. Recently they emailed me letting me know about the balanced upgrade, but I figured I had better things to spend $200, for now, than a balanced upgrade.
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