Mini-Dac or Benchmark?

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by John Stafford, Mar 17, 2005.

  1. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2004
    I know the obvious answer is the Benchmark. However, given that everything has the sample rate converted on the Benchmark to the rate that best suits its DA conversion stage, and the signal is then papmpered to sounds great, does this mean that the Benchmark might gloss over some problems with the recording. Is the sound on the Apogee more honest?

    Oh yeah, and is the Mini-Dac as badly built as the Mini-Me?

    I like Apogee stuff, so I'll continue to use it where appropriate, in spite of issues mentioned above, and the fact that they don't answer my e-mails.

    John Stafford
  2. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    My question is, what for?

    If you're using the Mini-DAC, for example, for it's intended purpose - portable converter for remote use - the Mini-DAC would seem to be the way to go, maybe especially in combination with the Mini-Me?

    If you're just attempting to improve the D/A from your PC to your powered speakers, maybe the Bencher? Frankly, I wonder about the value of either, maybe even any outboard converter, unless your needs are stratospheric..?

    I've been looking over reviews for the DAC-1 and the Mini-DAC for the last 15 minutes or so(I've looked before, too.). Far as it goes and their own web sites testimonials(I hate testimonials.) not-withstanding they both seem to be rated "nice for the price", and/or "great for portable use". No one I read offered to trade their equally modern, purpose-built, pro-studio-type units for either of them.

    The large I/O flexibility of the units alone - USB - Toslink - SP/dif - AES/EBU - headphone output, etc., might worry me? I would use only AES/XLR, direct to powered speakers, so where possible I don't want to pay more even for the extra connectors. And if using USB, Toslink and SP/dif, I wonder if you'd hear "better" anyway? And "rugged"? If not for portable use, I hope you wouldn't be getting it into situations where it might bounce down the stairs... The thing shouldn't even need any buttons on it, should it(On/off maybe)? It's a converter. plug it in and it converts. If it needs my help in figuring out how to do that, I don't want it.

    These units are both pricey for what you get. Today, a really good converter is a rather simple circuit. And personal experience with "badly built"(So you say) would instantly put something out of the running for me.

    As someone who needs this stuff to work to make my living - and none of it always works - I also wouldn't consider any piece of gear from someone who doesn't answer my inquiries. The single biggest reason I buy particular brands is for the tech support. Any minutely(Read: Meaningless.) better specs in one or the other brands is truly secondary - even thirdary.

    Don't forget: Even today, these are relatively inexpensive external converters, mostly purchased by folks with relatively inexpensive needs. Most have relatively inexpensive "other" equipment in relatively inexpensive rooms. Point is whether ANY of us relatively inexpensive people could tell if one or the other converter was better or worse? These "differences" the manufacturers speak of are... small, very small. Truth is, if you want a converter that won't "gloss over" anything, to the slightest degree AND you have the capability of hearing the gloss(Or lack of same), maybe neither of these little beauties are for you?

    Portability, flexibility, 1/4" thick aluminum cases not in question then - I just use a fine sound card and it's own A/D-D/A's. I find it hard to believe that either of these units would be better(Or at least enough better) to spring the coin. If you're only looking to "better" your soundcard converters, I suggest spending the outboard converter money on a Lynx or other truly high-quality card or interace.

    Speaking of Lynx. If you really need converters, particularly for lots of I/O, check out the Lynx Aurora. Same or less price per channel, but the(Lynx stated/not yet known to anyone else as it's not quite out yet.) capabilities look tremendous.

    Teddy G.
  3. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2004
    Thanks Teddy for your reply.

    I use the rather good DAC on the Mini-Me, but of course this unit is primarily for AD conversion, which it does very well. I want a very high quality DAC.

    The advantage with the Apogee stuff is that I can run the Mini-DAC through firewire (although this card is not available yet), and pass the Mini-Me to the computer via this box using AES. The whole setup would be very handy. Ultimately sound quality is the only real thing that really matters, so my choice has to come down to this alone, and by all accounts the Benchmark is something wonderful. BTW I can't use Lynx cards as I need something that I can move from computer to computer depnding on the situation.

    Many thanks for your input.

    John Stafford

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