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Benchmark DAC1 USB or rDac/Lehmann linear cube?

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I have HD800 and Lehmann BCL with USB Dac option and I can assure you that you won't be happy with it's usb dac. The headphone amp itself is brilliant in my opinion, but USB is a big drawback . I would not pay for Lehmann USB, it's a waste of money. I would recommend Lehmann BCL (black cube linear) with no USB and to use external dac instead. I use it with Weiss Dac2 and I'm very happy with this setup.

I audited Benchmark Dac1 USB as well. Much better usb dac then Lahmann's , but as a headphone amp is concerned, I prefer Lehmann BCL.

It does not mean the benchmark is bad, just different.


Hope it helps


2010 Mac Pro (westmere 6-core, 16G Ram)[br]M2Tech Vaughan DAC[br]McIntosh MA6600 integrated[br]B&W805S[br]Luxman P1_u[br]Sennheiser HD800[br]Silver Streak Interconnects

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Without usb option and partnered with a rDAC is my current computer audio combination feeding GS1000i. Only had the rDAC about a week so it may need a bit more burn-in but initial impressions compared to M1 DAC + BCL is less detail, vocals seem smoothed out. I am using the stock PSU with the rDAC and the M1 DAC uses wireworld stratus mains cable plugged into an isotek g2 vision so perhaps not a fair comparison.

Compared to the M1 DAC, the Arcams USB performance is excellent and the main reason i bought it.

If the purchase isn't urgent you could also consider an Audiolab 8200DQ which sounds like it might be a good dac and offer one-box convenience.




MF M1 CDT -> S/PDIF (AES/EBU - Black Rhodium Symphony XLR) -> MF M6 DAC -> MF M1 HPA -> Grado GS1000i


Linux Mint 13 64bit, MPD 0.17.1 (AIF/FLAC) (MPad) -> USB (Wireworld Silver Starlight) -> SotM dx-USB HD (Paul Hynes SR1-9) -> S/PDIF (RCA- Black Rhodium Scherzo) -> Audiolab MDAC (A06) -> Lehmann BCL -> Sennheiser HD800

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I spent considerable time finding the best set up for HD800's.


I've tried:


Grace Design m902

Headphone amp in Weiss DAC202

Cary Xciter amp from DAC202

Benchmark DAC1

DNA Sonett from DAC202


No USB, used toslink from MBP to Grace and Benchmark, firewire to Weiss.


By far, my favorite is the DNA Sonett (with balanced outputs and after market balanced cables for HD800's) from DAC202.


Xciter was second with m902 a close third.


I think the HD800's need tubes vs. say the Denon AD7000's which do better with solid state. If you like a rich tube sound with lots of slam you will prefer the Xciter. The DNA Sonett is like listening to high end SET's.


However, if budget constrained and/or just want one box go for the brand new Grace m903, all new DAC's, asynchronous 24/192 USB, all for around $1,700.


I've had the 902 for about five years and consider it the one of the best all time values in audio.


I lived with all of the gear mentioned for at least a few months.




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HD800 needs high quality amp, no matter tube or solid state.

I prefer solid state. Don't like tube "coloration" . The only time I preferred the tube sound was a while ago (20 years actually) when I was a bass guitar player and got my Fender hooked to Marchall tube amp. Listening to music through HD800 I want to hear the exact final mix produced by the sound engineer at the studio (refined,detailed and transparent)

My Weiss Dac2 paired with Lahmann BCL just deliver that straight to my ears.


..but again ... to each his own... matter of taste



2010 Mac Pro (westmere 6-core, 16G Ram)[br]M2Tech Vaughan DAC[br]McIntosh MA6600 integrated[br]B&W805S[br]Luxman P1_u[br]Sennheiser HD800[br]Silver Streak Interconnects

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I say that having played guitar for over 40 years and still owning around a dozen fine tube guitar amps. They are designed to be colored and distort, and are generally manufactured with cheap components.


"refined,detailed and transparent" are not mutually exclusive with hi end hi fi tube amps. If you believe that, you haven't done much listening.


There are just as many (if not more) compromises regarding "refined,detailed and transparent" with transistors, op amps, mosfets, etc as there are with tubes, especially with a product at the price point of the Lehmann Black Cube.


The Cary is colored, by design I would imagine, the DNA Sonett is not.




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