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Hi Chris et al,


I've been reading, reading and reading about DACs for my music server and I believe I've come to the short end of a funnel.


First off, I can't do a Weiss or a Berkeley. $5K is out of the question.


I'm trying to keep it under $2K. My shortlist is now:

The Bryston

The PS Audio

The Benchmark


My input would be via USB.


Question 1: Chris, I've read that you have used the Benchmark quite a bit, but it has not made the 'CASH' list. Why?


Question 2: One of the priorities is to have a very good headphone setup which the Benchmark addresses directly. What do I do with the Bryston and the PS with no headphone output? Need I buy a seperate dedicated headphone amp and what cost would that add to the equation, or can I route the DAC of choice through a standard amp/receiver with headphone outs with equal success, or would that 'muddy' things?


Thanks for any and all input.



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Hi Monk,


I’m in a similar boat to you but looking to connect the DAC to a MacPro and no headphones.


Max budget £2k - the US and Canadian products are more pricey over here :(


I’ve got my shortlist down to: (in order of price, most expensive first)

The Bryston

Bel Canto DAC3

The Benchmark

Stello DA220 Mk2

Cambridge Audio 840C (CDplayer/DAC)


Chris have you listened to the DAC3 and how does it compare with the above?


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Hi eric - I have listened to the DAC 3 at 16/44.1 and 24/96. From what I've heard it is a very nice piece and has a volume control allowing you to bypass a preamp. I should be able to do some critical listening very soon and will have a better opinion on the over all performance after this listening takes place.


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Hi Chris,


I look forward to hearing your results. It’s difficult to hear demo’s of the various DAC’s so your opinion and reviews are greatly appreciated.


The Bryston is great for all it’s inputs but I only need the one connection so I’m hoping there's a cheaper DAC out there with equal sound quality to the Bryston or maybe even better. Not that the DAC3 is any cheaper but I do like it’s compact size and looks.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Chris;

I would also like to hear your opinion of the DAC 3 having owned this unit with level 2 mods from parts connexion. See the link. http://www.underwoodhifi.com/mods_bcd.html

In particular pay close attention to the imaging and depth of sound stage.

Make sure you test it with music off of a computer.

For sure have it run a 24 / 192 music track.


Cheers; Glenn

Ps; For headphones I made a cable that ran from the balanced output.


Antec=>MediaMonkey=>Aduiophile 192=> Spectral Audio=>Act 2=>noise

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