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Good dacs with balanced outputs


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I am seriously thinking about replacing my Benchmark HGC DAC 2 as its so buggy. Any recommendations? I am worried about losing performance

 

Thanks!

Benchmark HGC DAC2 / Ncore NC400 / Anthony Gallo Strada 2 / Anthony Gallo TR-3D Sub / Van Damme 6mm Speaker Cable

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Thanks ajoe, did you compare it to anything else? Looks really great.

 

I auditioned at the dealer, but didn't compare to anything else because there is nothing I know of that has the feature set I was after, which like you included balanced out.

 

And all of the reviews on this unit have been extremely positive.

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I am seriously thinking about replacing my Benchmark HGC DAC 2 as its so buggy. Any recommendations? I am worried about losing performance

 

Thanks!

 

All of the AURALiC Vega, the MOON by Simaudio Neo 280D and 380D, and the Hegel HD12 have balanced outputs and are very good DACs. (Disclaimer: I'm an authorized dealer for AURALiC, Simaudio, and Hegel.) Different feature sets and different price points, but all excellent values.

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The Ayre QB-9 DSD is balanced differential and outputs a healthy 3V. Only has one input though.

Roon client on iPad/MacBookPro

Roon Server & HQPlayer on Mac Mini 2.0 GHz i7 with JS-2

LPS-1 & ultraRendu → Lampizator Atlantic → Bent Audio TAP-X → Atma-sphere M60 → Zero autoformers → Harbeth Compact 7 ES-3

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Do you require the DAC to have built in pre-amp (a volume control)?

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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This is another good choice, especially if headphone listening and the ability to run directly into a power amp are important. (Disclaimer: I'm also an authorized BMC dealer.) The PureDAC and the Hegel HD12 both have these capabilities. The AURALiC Vega and MOON Neo DACs don't. Of course, there's the MOON Neo 430HA with DAC. But that's pricier than either the PureDAC or the HD12.

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Are you looking for a standalone DAC? Or one with a built in headphone amp like your Benchmark? Budget?

Main System: Mac mini (Audirvana+, MMK, JS-2) -> ISO Regen (LPS-1) -> Icron 2201 (Rex LPS-1.2) -> ISO Regen (LPS-1.2) -> Ayre QB-9 Twenty -> Headamp GS-X Mk2 -> Classe CT-M600 -> KEF Reference 201/2

 

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I àuditioned the Benchmark with the Auralic Vega. I found the Benchmark rather flat and veiled. The Vega was more open, more dynamic and gave a more realistic presentation. I ended up going with Auralic. Of course it's a step increase in price but I only wanted to do it once. And I wasn't needing a headphone amp.

 

I've been running the Vega for 5 months and am most pleased. Only two peeves. It's so revealing some vocals come across dull and recessed. I've coming around that they're badly recorded and the DAC is just showing the source for what it is. I'm now fine tuning other elements in my system to improve the SQ best I can.

 

The other thing are the output levels. I can play music at a setting of 1 (out of 100 steps - 0.5 dB/step) and here it load enough. I think they could back the output down 3-4 dB.

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I am seriously thinking about replacing my Benchmark HGC DAC 2 as its so buggy. Any recommendations? I am worried about losing performance

 

Thanks!

 

Could you please explain what the bugs are? I been primarily using my micro for DSD upsampling but I just ordered a balanced cable to try out the Mj2 with the balanced out of the benchmark. I will report back once I test it out...

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in boths windows and linux its not always recognised, basically. a workaround is to only put into standby and not turn off, and that has a benefit too as it doesnt send the stupid electrical pop down the line on standby as it does on power off. It also has a really strong grip in exclusive use that makes it impossible to switch between youtube and, say, j river withut a reboot. My Nuforce HDP conversely works wondrefully all the time!

 

in answer to the other questions, I need volume control but dont need a headamp. My budget is essentially limitless, but I dont buy into snake oil so I wont be buying DCS ;)

 

I do, however, wonder whether I should get a cheap, simple DAC (like those simple cheap boxes or even a DIY) and a really nice pre amp - like a McIntosh?

Benchmark HGC DAC2 / Ncore NC400 / Anthony Gallo Strada 2 / Anthony Gallo TR-3D Sub / Van Damme 6mm Speaker Cable

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+1

 

Auralic Vega

 

+1

Source:

*Aurender N100 (no internal disk : LAN optically isolated via FMC with *LPS) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch - split for *LPS) > Intona Industrial (injected *LPS / internally shielded with copper tape) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > W4S Recovery (*LPS) > DIY 2cm USB adaptor (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > *Auralic VEGA (EXACT : balanced)

 

Control:

*Jeff Rowland CAPRI S2 (balanced)

 

Playback:

2 x Revel B15a subs (balanced) > ATC SCM 50 ASL (balanced - 80Hz HPF from subs)

 

Misc:

*Via Power Inspired AG1500 AC Regenerator

LPS: 3 x Swagman Lab Audiophile Signature Edition (W4S, Intona & FMC)

Storage: QNAP TS-253Pro 2x 3Tb, 8Gb RAM

Cables: DIY heavy gauge solid silver (balanced)

Mains: dedicated distribution board with 5 x 2 socket ring mains, all mains cables: Mark Grant Black Series DSP 2.5 Dual Screen

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I went from a Benchmark DAC2 HGC to a Hugo then to a Hugo TT, which I use driving active speakers. The Hugo TT is extraordinarily good, so do please add it to your shortlist. There is a very favourable review of it in this month's Stereophile where, fwiw, it comes out better than the Vega. There are any number of implementations of the ESS silicon - Benchmark, Auralic, Oppo, Exasound et al; the TT is unique, and special.

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Any of the Mytek models (especially the Brooklyn and Manhattan).

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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ahhhh zenpmd !!! i think you might be running into USB 1.0 vs USB 2.0 mode problem with Benchmark DAC2.

When powered on (need to do that only once) you need to put it in USB 2.0 mode. To do that press 'USB' button on remote and your DAC2 lights will flicker (keep USB pressed for 4-5 seconds) and if top light goes next to '4x' that is USB 2.0 mode. Do the same thing again, it will switch back to 'USB 1.0' mode. ... Mine is connected to power all the time and i switch it off by putting it in standby mode on remote (or pressing power button on the DAC itself). I do NOT disconnect it form the power. When due to storm or fuse going dead (once or twice a year) ... my DAC is not recognised by my headless squeezelite player and then all i need to do is press USB button on remote for 5 seconds and im good to go. Squeezelite finds it ... worse case i need to reboot the PC which anyhow is what i do after power cut.

 

That is (in addition to sample rate changes) only major gripe i have with DAC2.

 

hope this helps. (see my post in the other thread on DAC2 re. Linux support)

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I simply don't trust Chord and that Hugo TT is ugly as hell!!!

Okay so looks are in the eye of the beholder, but may I ask in what way you "don't trust Chord"?

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Okay so looks are in the eye of the beholder, but may I ask in what way you "don't trust Chord"?

 

How can you trust any company who produces an electronic board in an overpriced case and charges northward of 10k for it? In the same way, how can you trust any company who prices copper at ££££ per m

Benchmark HGC DAC2 / Ncore NC400 / Anthony Gallo Strada 2 / Anthony Gallo TR-3D Sub / Van Damme 6mm Speaker Cable

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I recently purchased a used Bryston BDA-1 dual-differential, balanced DAC with XLR outs and one of the best out there for choices of inputs:

 

USB 1.1, 4x SPDIF (2 BNC, 2 RCA), 2x Optical (TOSLINK), AES/EBU

 

But yes, USB is basically worthless. If you want a newer version, which supports async and has upgraded DACS, it will cost you double. It's the BDA-2. Since I only paid $850 for mine, I find it one of the best bargains in high-end DACS out there. I use a USB-SPDIF converter via BNC to feed the DAC, so the USB deficiency did not impact me.

 

If you are budget constrained at all, this is a very good solution.

 

If you have a higher budget, my research lead me to the Auralic Vega, but I've never had the pleasure of hearing it.

 

Best Regards,

 

Ron

Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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ahhhh zenpmd !!! i think you might be running into USB 1.0 vs USB 2.0 mode problem with Benchmark DAC2.

When powered on (need to do that only once) you need to put it in USB 2.0 mode. To do that press 'USB' button on remote and your DAC2 lights will flicker (keep USB pressed for 4-5 seconds) and if top light goes next to '4x' that is USB 2.0 mode. Do the same thing again, it will switch back to 'USB 1.0' mode. ... Mine is connected to power all the time and i switch it off by putting it in standby mode on remote (or pressing power button on the DAC itself). I do NOT disconnect it form the power. When due to storm or fuse going dead (once or twice a year) ... my DAC is not recognised by my headless squeezelite player and then all i need to do is press USB button on remote for 5 seconds and im good to go. Squeezelite finds it ... worse case i need to reboot the PC which anyhow is what i do after power cut.

 

That is (in addition to sample rate changes) only major gripe i have with DAC2.

 

hope this helps. (see my post in the other thread on DAC2 re. Linux support)

Normally you have U lit, then either 24 or 16 lit, then either 44 or 48 lit. When my dac is plugged in although registred by linux the only lights which will display are U and 44. No light on 16/24. That is showing the problem but even Beenchmark wont tell me what it is.

Thanks but I dont think that is right. In USB 1.0 or 2 mode it doesnt work.

Benchmark HGC DAC2 / Ncore NC400 / Anthony Gallo Strada 2 / Anthony Gallo TR-3D Sub / Van Damme 6mm Speaker Cable

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If you are ready and willing to convert Redbook to DSD 256 on the fly with HQ Player, the ExaSound E22 with a good 12 volt power supply can be absolutely superb :-)

 

Native DSD 64, 128 and 256 are the icing on the cake

 

ExaSound volume control is top notch, I can not hear it in action

Sound Test, Monaco

Consultant to Sound Galleries Monaco, and Taiko Audio Holland

e-mail [email protected]

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