The Benchmark DAC3L DAC is the latest D/A converter from Benchmark. Following on from the DAC1 and DAC2, the DAC3 adheres to Benchmark’s brand philosophy of no-compromise, class leading design, offering performance revered by professional recording studios and enjoyed by discerning audiophiles alike.
The new Benchmark DAC3L implements the ESS Technology ES9028PRO chip, achieving lower THD+N, 2nd and 3rd harmonic distortion compensation, improved power management, over sampling filters and, when combined with Benchmark’s UltraLock3™ technology, near instantaneous input switching and phase locked loop, with undetectable jitter. The improvements don’t stop there though, with greater dynamic range and a wider frequency response, the specifications eclipse those of the DAC2.
The Benchmark DAC3L model offers analogue pre amplifier inputs but removes the dual headphone amplifier found in the HGC. The DAC3 DX, removes the analogue pre amplifier section to accommodate an AES digital input but retains the dual headphone amplifier.
The Benchmark DAC3L delivers outstanding musical detail and precise stereo imaging. It employs an advanced high-headroom digital filter design, and a high-sample-rate Asynchronous USB Audio interface. All inputs are fully isolated from interface jitter by Benchmark’s new UltraLock3™ jitter attenuation system.
Internal digital processing and conversion is 32-bits, and this processing includes 3.5 dB of headroom above 0 dBFS. This headroom prevents the DSP overloads that commonly occur in other D/A converters.
Four balanced 32-bit D/A converters are summed together to create each balanced analogue output. This 4:1 summation provides a 6 dB noise reduction, and gives the DAC3 industry-leading performance.
Any practical audio system will need a volume control. These days, most audio devices use digital volume controls. These controls place significant demands on the quality of a D/A conversion. An internal D/A converter that starts with the equivalent of 14-bit performance, may only deliver 12-bit performance at typical volume-control settings.
In contrast, the Benchmark DAC3L D/A converter uses a motor-driven 32-bit digital volume control driving a 32-bit D/A conversion stage. This combination delivers true high-resolution audio performance over a wide range of volume settings.
Hybrid Gain Control
Benchmark’s unique hybrid volume-control system delivers maximum performance from analogue or digital inputs. A single motor-driven knob controls the volume of the analogue and digital inputs, but the two types of inputs are handled very differently:
Digital inputs pass through a 32-bit digital volume control.
Analog inputs pass through a traditional analogue volume control.
Both share the same knob.
This hybrid approach eliminates all unnecessary A/D and D/A conversion steps. Analog inputs see an entirely analogue path to the outputs. Likewise, digital inputs see an entirely digital path to the 32-bit D/A converter.
The DAC3L includes the input selection, volume control, and output buffering functions of a traditional hi-fi “preamplifier”. Like a traditional preamplifier, the DAC3L is specifically designed to drive power amplifiers, but the DAC3L carries this concept to perfection. The high-current output stage of the DAC3L can be programmed to match the input sensitivity of your power amplifier. This unique feature optimizes the interface between the DAC and your power amplifier, giving you the highest-possible system performance.
The Benchmark DAC3L provides the cleanest, most direct path to your power amplifier. No additional “preamplifier” is required or recommended unless your system includes a turntable. If so, your phono preamplifier should be connected to one pair of analogue line-level inputs.
In any system, the most transparent performance will always be achieved when the DAC3L is connected directly to a power amplifier.
Sit In The Performance Space
Transparent sound can go beyond replicating the studio experience. Recordings that have been produced with a natural and unprocessed sound can transport you to the performance space. However, this can only happen when the entire playback chain is selected for maximum transparency.
SNR: +27 dBu: 128 dB – A-Weighted, 0 dBFS
THD+N: -113 dBFS, -113 dB, 0.00022% @ 1 kHz at 0 dBFS
Frequency Response: +0 dB, -0.015 dB (20 to 20 kHz) @ Fs=192 kHz
Crosstalk: -137 dB at 20 Hz
Maximum Amplitude of Idle Tones: < -147 dB
Dimensions: 216 x 237 x 249mm