Benchmark DAC2 HGC D/A processor/headphone amplifier Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Analog Sources: Clearaudio Ovation turntable/tonearm with Talisman V2 cartridge.
Digital Sources: Benchmark DAC1 HDR; Hewlett-Packard EliteBook laptop running JRiver Media Center 18; Bel Canto Design DAC3.5 VB Mk.II D/A converter & CD2 CD player & VB1 power supply; CEntrance DACMini CX.
Preamplification: Clearaudio Basic+ phono preamplifier.
Power Amplifiers: Rogue Audio M-180 monoblocks.
Loudspeakers: Revel F208.
Headphones: Sennheiser HD600.
Cables: USB: Cardas Clear, DH Labs. Digital: Silver Sonic D-110 AES/EBU, Stereovox hdvx coaxial. Interconnect: Sain Line Systems Pure (balanced) & Pure (unbalanced). Speaker: Kimber Kable BiFocal X. AC: Sain Line Systems Reference.
Accessories: Ready Acoustics room treatments, ASC Tube Traps, Butcher Block audio table.—Erick Lichte

Benchmark Media Systems, Inc.
203 E. Hampton Place, Suite 2
Syracuse, NY 13206
(800) 262-4675

russtafarian's picture

Did you evaluate the DAC2's analog line stage?  If so, what are your impressions?  

I've used the DAC2 HGC since November 2012 as a DAC and preamp, so take this for what it's worth.  I found the line stage to be impressively transparent and resolving.  My vinyl playback setup took a nice step forward in sound quality when I connected the phono stage to the DAC2's analog input.  The ability to tie together and control both digital and analog sources equally well makes the DAC2 HGC an exceptional value at this price point.

agrave02's picture

Oh man. I was saving up for the NAD M51 and now this review comes along. 

I was dissapointed that you did not compare the two for that selfish reason. But they are both at the same price point - NAD is $2,000 and a Class A+ recommended, was hoping that it would be compared to the Benchmark unit. 

Damn. This really does throw a wrench into things.

ylb35's picture


Many thanks to you and Sterophile for such review, I really appreciate.

You were speaking about Bel Canto, and what about the Audio Research DsPre ?

Despite the ARC is less versatile and may cost four DAC2 ^^,
Your evaluation between those two pieces of art, about pre amplifier section and UBS/DAC should be very very interesting,

Hope to read you again

Best regards

Johmck's picture

I have noticed that the Benchmark Dac1 is going for cheap on the various audio web sites -- I guess once a new vers comes out that happens.
I liked that you saw fit to compare the Benchmark, but the thing about this review is it is a little too pat and predictable in claiming the Bel Canto sounds marginally better than the Benchmark product, thus I suppose leaving all parties satisfied with their purchase.