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DAC - Benchmark DAC 1 USB


This month I have been interested by DAC coming from the professional world. This world hosts a lot of brands such as: Mytek, Lavry, etc... You certainly know that when we test a professional device we nevertheless still expect the highest musicality from it.
When I got the opportunity to review the BENCHMARK DAC 1 USB, I obviously accepted even if I personaly do not need a USB input.

This DAC has got a lot of positive reviews from the international press, manly related to its non-USB version. It is made easily available through a large distributors network.

Here is a view of the front plate fo the BENCHAMARK DAC 1 USB:

and here is the back:

and the post interesting, the internal view:

I have used a integrated CD player during a long period, but I have to recognize that a good drive + an external drive combo provides (most of the time) a better result.
Since I have started to compare the DACs, only 5 of them clearly outperform the other ones:
-Wadia 2000
-Wadia 9
-EAD 9000-mk3
-Counterpoint DA-10 new version, with the full upgrade by Mike ELLIOTT, including the Rapture Premium 24/192kHz DAC card
-Fidetech DSP-03
I still use the same Reference System #2 with my KRELL MD-10R drive and a Stereovox XV-Ultra digital cable.

The BENCHMARK DAC-1 usb cabinet is very small and light, so it very handy to perform the comparisons during the reviews. It offers a lot of various inputs and outputs, and even includes a preamp section: congratulations !
The front plate is black and its price is around 850-950€ in France.

The internal DAC chip comes from Analog Devices, it is a AD1853, 24 bits 192kHz, multibit delta-sigma.


I started by listening my integrated WADIA 850 CD player using a few CD that I perfectly know. Then I have compared with the BENCHMARK DAC-1 USB (without listening to the USB section).

The difference is high. The WADIA offers a "one block resoution" whereas the BENCHMARK is sonically closer from the concert sound, with a good localisation of the musical sources in the soundstage. The small details are clearly audible.

So, you could mind: but what is the difference with the reference DACs ?

The answer is the magic. This kind of magic that makes the music alive in your home, even more pleasant to listen to.
Is this magic really necessary for a "standard" configuration ? the answer is probably "no", but when it comes to the high level system made with state of the art devices, then a reference DAC is a "must have", a definitely mandatory device to push the musical emotion to your ears.

This BENCHMARK DAC-1 USB nevertheless wins the 5 stars logo, because its performance is excellent for its price !

-one of the best n the €1.000 price range
-offers a lot of homogeneity across the entire frequency range
-light and size
-a lot of inputs/outputs
-includes a preamplifier section
-does not need to be permanently turned on: only 15mn are required to bring it to its optimum.
-price is still reasonnable

-does not offer the magic of the reference DACs, but it is 10 times less expensive...
A dedicated topic is available on our Forum: just follow this link.

This article has been written by Florent (
provence13 on our Forum).

Creation date : 24/01/2011 @ 11:06
Last update : 02/11/2014 @ 20:57
Category : DAC
Page read 1131 times

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Reactions to this article

Reaction #2 

by provence134 01/04/2011 @ 10:54

La section préampli est correcte pour ce type d'appareil, ce qui signifie qu'elle peut être utilisée, elle n'a pas de gros défauts mais ses qualités sont standard.
Elle est silencieuse du moins sur mon systeme.
Il est évident qu'un bon préampli bat à plate couture une section de ce type mais dans votre cas vous avez un très bon DAC avec un préampli intégré pour un prix alléchant.

Reaction #1 

by md92 30/03/2011 @ 18:03

Bonjour et merci pour votre article
Ce produit m'intéresse surtout comme préampli , ayant des enceintes PSI préamplifiées
Pouvez vous me dire si la section préampli est bonne, quelle est votre sensation en matière de qualité des timbres. N'a-t-il pas d'effet loudness ce que je n'aime pas du tout
Merci de votre avis
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