Old DAC vs new latest greatest

Connected a Schiit EITR to feed an old Benchmark DAC1 via 75 ohm SPDIF. The DAC is putting out 3.4Vrms calibrated unbalanced signal into a Lyr 3 burning a 1578… Sounds Amazing on the Argon 50 planars.

Question is… what more can a new dac do than a 8 year old dac can’t? The DAC1 was top notch in 2003 with a retail of $995 USD. Factoring inflation that equals $1,413.43 in 2020.

Spec wise the DAC is near neutral on paper processing 24/192 clear and jitter free. In terms of features, the DAC1 adds no musical coloration, provides a HP2 HeadAmp with duel jacks on the front next to the volume control. Rear out offers internally Calibrated attenuators for the balanced XLR outs AND externally adjustable Calibrated/Variatable RCA unbalanced outputs. Made in USA to boot :us:

Picked the Benchmark up for $427. Not sure what else would have spec’d that well under 500. Something tells me all the latest greatest chipsets and flashy displays are nothing more than means to push new product and keep prices up.

Pure musicality of the old Benchmark and saving a grand makes me grin :wink:

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A lot of technology advancement in the subsequent 18 years. The output implementation is a big factor is in old DACs that were quality for their time, that’s not changed. However, a new focus on power supply and improved clocking means that an old DAC is going to show its age, when compared to a well executed modern DAC.

What price point were you shooting for? And if you enjoy how things sound, stop right there. I’ve had four or five aha moment in the hobby with desktop setup that I swore couldn’t get better, but when you throw more money and pair components that synergize well together, things do improve.

The question is, how much money do you want to throw at something if you’re already happy now?

Point well taken. my budget was $500 but caught this little gem. Next level up seems to put me at double the budget…

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I’d roll with the old DAC but if you must upgrade I would stick to a $200 or under DAC…
People spend stupid money on expensive un needed components. If you have old speakers I would go that route first.
More than anything else speakers have improved greatly in the last 15-20 years, especially budget speakers.

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There is a bit of a performance gap between about $200 and $700 where you can start getting things like Bifrost 2 and Ares II, or some of the Soekris stuff. However, those jumps are quite significant and a $200 current technology DAC is unlikely to compete with a $1000 10 year old DAC in anything except USB implementation.

Obviously there may be exceptions…

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The more I listen to the old beast the more i’m impressed. I purchased the Benchmark as it was a solid unit from a US company catering to studio pros. Did not realize how good the DAC1 act is, nor realize the HPA2 head amp is a great unit in itself and built into the box.

The maximum output of the HPA2 is 9.2 Vrms (from page 66 of the manual). the Lyr 3 also matched around the same output. The ability to A/B between the tube and SS is just a fun factor I did not expect to experience outta this DAC. :grin:

Auditioning a set of HE6se double planars. Feel this DAC has amazing detail, want to hear more. The DAC1 had balanced output and attenuators with variable out and should make the Hifimans sing.

.[quote=“FiCurious, post:5, topic:20863”]
except USB implementation.

Had to pick up a Schiit Eiitr to pull usb into spdif… seems to be preforming well together

$700 for a DAC, thats where I’d get off that crazy train… $100-$200 is good enough for me…
If I were him I would stick with the older DAC.