BENCHMARK MEDIA: Some observations about the Benchmark DAC1

IMO the DAC1's true potential can only be realised when the extra bells and whistles (XLR output attenuators, physical volume pot) are switched off, and it is fed a digital signal that is attenuated, with dither at 24 bits, and upsampled well (e.g. SoX with -v) to 110.6kHz. If used via XLR, also the XLR calibration trimmers (NOT to be confused with output attenuators) must be used.

(1) to (7) took me to "now the sound is not annoying".
Finally (8) took me to "now it sounds good".

1. If you're using XLR. Disable XLR output attenuators by setting to 0db (factory is -20db).

Note: After step 1 the XLR levels will be high (>17V) and should be *physically* adjusted down again by some means. Obviously you might have a separate preamp, this might work out fine. Otherwise there is the physical volume pot in the DAC1 - though you'll see in the next step that I recommend this is bypassed. Also there is a third and recommended way which is the calibration trimmers in step 3.

2. I recommend 'calibrated' mode which bypasses the volume pot.

3. If you're using XLR AND have chosen to do step 2 and bypass the volume pot with calibration mode (recommended because it's more transparent) AND you're going direct to power amp/actives then you MUST also use the internal 'calibration trimmers' to reduce the XLR output levels. It should be possible to reduce output by at least 15dB, I got more like 20dB. See notes *. This step might still be needed even if using a separate preamp, depending on the preamp.


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