The DAC3 B is the bare-bones basic D/A converter in Benchmark’s DAC3 converter series. The DAC3 B is the ideal converter to use in front of Benchmark’s HPA4 headphone amplifier or LA4 line amplifier. It is also ideal for many professional studio applications. It delivers the full performance of the flagship DAC3 HGC, but eliminates the volume control, the analog inputs, the mute and polarity controls, and the headphone amplifier.
To make system integration easy, the DAC3 B retains IR remote control (handset optional), a 12 V trigger, and the programmable auto-on feature. The DAC3 B adds a control-lock feature that turns off the remote control and locks the keypad to prevent tampering and accidental changes. The optional 1/2-width rack-mount faceplate allows the mounting of two units in a single 1-RU rack space.
The DAC3 B sounds exactly like the DAC3 HGC because it uses the exact same circuit board and the exact same audio path. Benchmark has simply eliminated the unnecessary parts to deliver a stripped-down race car of a converter. If you want a basic D/A converter that delivers the finest conversion available, the DAC3 B is for you.
The DAC3 B is a 2-channel D/A converter featuring the new ESS Technologies ES9028PRO converter chip. The DAC3 converter has lower THD and THD+N noise than Benchmark’s DAC2 converters.
Benchmark’s DAC1 and DAC2 D/A converter families have been the reference to which other converters have been compared. It is rare to find a converter review that does not draw comparisons to the DAC1 or the DAC2. Benchmark converters are in daily use at many of the world’s finest recording studios and mastering rooms. Benchmark converters are also enjoyed by thousands of audiophiles. Benchmark has raised the bar again … the DAC3 defines a new reference.
The DAC3 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 the 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 analog output. This 4:1 summation provides a 6 dB noise reduction and gives the DAC3 industry-leading performance.
DAC3 vs. DAC2
The DAC3 builds upon Benchmarks highly successful DAC2 product family. The DAC3 maintains the familiar DAC2 form factor and feature set but adds the higher performance available from the new ES9028PRO D/A converter. The DAC3 offers the following improvements over the DAC2:
Active 2nd Harmonic Compensation
Active 3rd Harmonic Compensation
Lower passband ripple
Improved frequency response
Faster PLL lock times
Faster switching between input signals
DAC3 vs. DAC1
The DAC3 and DAC2 added these features that were not found on the DAC1:
Asynchronous 192kHz USB Audio 2.0
32-bit D/A conversion system
Word Length Display
Sample Rate Display
Direct DSD D/A Conversion
Bi-Directional 12V Trigger
Power Switch with Auto-On Function
Native DSD Conversion
All digital inputs on the DAC3 support native PCM or DSD conversion. From any input, DSD is transported with bit accuracy over DoP 1.1. DSD and PCM are both natively converted to analog. There are no DSD to PCM or PCM to DSD conversions to compromise the quality of the music. The DAC3 conversion system seamlessly switches between native PCM and native DSD conversion. DSD over DoP 1.1 is supported by many media players, and DSD downloads are now available from several sources.
Direct Connectivity to Power Amplifiers
Benchmark DAC1, DAC2, and DAC3 converters are designed to directly drive power amplifiers and speakers. Benchmark converters feature adjustable low-impedance passive attenuators at the XLR outputs that can be used to optimize the interface to the power amplifier (or powered monitor). This unique Benchmark feature optimizes the gain staging between the DAC and the power amplifier. Proper gain staging cannot be overemphasized. When audio stages are properly matched, each component in the audio chain is able to operate at its optimum signal level, and the system performance is significantly improved.
Sonically-Neutral Studio Monitoring
All Benchmark converters are designed for maximum transparency. This transparency is absolutely essential in the studio monitoring chain. For this reason, DAC3 converters are ideal for critical reference-quality professional systems. Unlike many competing products, the DAC3 is not designed to add “euphonic” coloration to the audio. Instead, it is designed to be as uncolored and natural as possible.
Step Into the Studio
When Benchmark’s professional converters are used in hi-fi applications, studio-quality sound can be enjoyed in a home environment. Enjoy pure music without any coloration from the electronics. Hear the music exactly the way it was heard in the studio, and exactly the way the artists intended.
Discover the natural, uncolored, analog sound of the DAC3.
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. But, this can only happen when the entire playback chain is selected for maximum transparency.
This experience of “being there” cannot be created by systems that are designed to add “warmth” or “euphonic color” to the music.