Benchmark DAC2 HGC DSD DAC
Digital Music and Computer Audio Sound Live Through Benchmark DAC2 HGC DSD DAC: Quad 32-Bit Balanced D/A Conversion, Asynchronous USB, Native DSD Conversion Just the Beginning
Benchmark achieves lower noise, lower distortion, improved accuracy, supreme detail, pinpoint imaging, and ultra-refined smoothness in the critically acclaimed DAC2 HGC DSD DAC. Every input is fully isolated from interface jitter via Benchmark's UltraLock2 jitter attenuation system. A quad 32-bit balanced D/A conversion system, multi-mode asynchronous USB audio system, native DSD conversion, sky-high headroom DSP, diagnostic display tools, and unique Hybrid Gain Control are some reasons why your digital and computer audio will sound like live music when passed through the DAC2 HGC. This is a DAC you've got to hear. You'll love it or we will take it back.
"The DAC2 projects a sonic image that reaches from floor to ceiling."
– Jeff Dorgay, TONEAudio, Exceptional Value Award
Hybrid Gain Control
"HGC" is Benchmark's unique Hybrid Gain Control system. The DAC2 HGC combines active analog gain control, passive low-impedance attenuators, a 32-bit digital gain control, and a servo-driven volume control. All inputs are controlled by the rotary volume control. This volume control moves in response to commands from the remote control. Analog inputs are never converted to digital, and digital inputs never pass through an analog potentiometer. Digital inputs are precisely controlled in the 32-bit DSP system. The DSP system preserves precise L/R balance, and precise stereo imaging, while avoiding any source of noise and distortion. Benchmark's unique passive output attenuators provide distortion-free gain reduction without reducing the dynamic range of the converter. The attenuators optimize the gain staging between the DAC2 HGC and the power amplifier. This optimization is absolutely essential for maximizing the dynamic range of the entire playback system. Much of the success of the DAC1 converters can be attributed to the passive output attenuators. Musical details can be obscured by system noise whenever a preamplifier and power amplifier are improperly matched. The "HGC" system will make full use of your power amplifier's dynamic range. Experience new details in your favorite recordings.
"Summing up the Benchmark DAC2 HGC's measured performance is easy: It's simply superb."
– John Atkinson, Stereophile
Native DSD Conversion
All digital inputs on the DAC2 HGC support native DSD conversion. DoP 1.0 is automatically detected on all digital inputs, and the system seamlessly switches to native DSD conversion. DoP 1.0 is supported by many media players, and DSD downloads are now available from several sources.
"For me the bottom line on the Benchmark DAC2 HGC is that is it not only good enough to live with long-term, it's good enough to use for any mastering or recording projects that might come up. The DAC2 HGC is easy to listen through, highly revealing, and with well-recorded material astonishingly three-dimensional."
- Steven Stone, The Absolute Sound
UltraLock2 Jitter Attenuation System
UltraLock2 is an improved version of the UltraLock system used in the DAC1 and ADC1 product families. DSP processing is 32-bits, DSP headroom is 3.5 dB, sample rate is 211 kHz, and jitter-induced distortion and noise is at least 140 dB below the level of the music - well below the threshold of hearing. Benchmark's UltraLock2 system eliminates all audible jitter artifacts.
High Headroom DSP
All of the digital processing in the DAC2 HGC is designed to handle signals as high as +3.5 dBFS. Most digital systems clip signals that exceed 0 dBFS. The 0 dBFS limitation seems reasonable, as 0 dBFS is the highest sinusoidal signal level that can be represented in a digital system. However, a detailed investigation of the mathematics of PCM digital systems will reveal that inter-sample peaks may reach levels slightly higher than +3 dBFS while individual samples never exceed 0 dBFS. These inter-sample overs are common in commercial releases, and are of no consequence in a PCM system until they reach an interpolation process. But, for a variety of reasons, virtually all audio D/A converters use an interpolation process. The interpolation process is absolutely necessary to achieve 24-bit state-of-the art conversion performance. Unfortunately, inter-sample overs cause clipping in most interpolators. This clipping produces distortion products that are non-harmonic and non-musical . We believe these broadband distortion products often add a harshness or false high-frequency sparkle to digital reproduction. The DAC2 HGC avoids these problems by maintaining at least 3.5 dB of headroom in the entire conversion system. We believe this added headroom is a groundbreaking improvement.
Multi-Mode Asynchronous USB System
Benchmark's USB system supports USB Audio 2.0, DSD, and USB Audio 1.1. It is frequency agile, and will follow sample rate changes initiated by the computer and/or the media playback software. In all modes the USB communications are asynchronous in order to eliminate unnecessary sources of jitter. The DAC2 HGC has a low-jitter master clock which controls the transfer of audio data from the computer to the USB sub-system. The computer asynchronously transfers audio data to a buffer in the DAC2 HGC. The contents of the buffer are then asynchronously transferred to the D/A conversion sub-system. This second asynchronous transfer eliminates any traces of jitter that accumulate as the data is transferred between the USB and conversion subsystems. No traces of jitter-induced distortion are measurable to our measurement limits (better than -150 dBFS). This truly represents the state-of-the art. Enjoy the convenience of computer playback without compromise. The Asynchronous USB system supports USB Audio 2.0 for high-resolution 192kHz, and DSD playback. No drivers are required for MAC operating systems. An easy-to-install driver adds 192 kHz and DSD capabilities to Windows operating systems.
Quad 32-Bit Balanced Conversion System
Four balanced 32-bit D/A converters deliver audio to Benchmark's low-impedance current to voltage converters. The 4:1 redundancy reduces noise and distortion to levels that set new benchmarks. The conversion system at the core of the DAC2 HGC is as good as it gets. The analog circuits that follow the D/A converter are carefully designed. Benchmark has leveraged its long history of building high-end analog audio equipment, in order to create an outstanding output stage.
Diagnostic Tools: Sample-Rate and Word-Length Indicators
Ever wonder why that 192 kHz 24-bit download on your computer just doesn't sound right? Your media player may be down-sampling to 44.1 kHz and/or truncating to 16-bits. Many media players apply poor-quality sample rate conversion and truncation. Fortunately these problems can be eliminated with the selection a good frequency-agile media player. The sample-rate and word-length displays on the DAC2 HGC confirm the proper operation of your media player.
Home Theater Bypass
The DAC2 HGC can be integrated into a home theater system. Typically the DAC 2 HGC drives the left and right power amplifiers, and an analog feed from the home theater system is connected to either of the analog inputs on the DAC2 HGC. A programmable Home Theater Bypass function sets the pass-through gain to unity when the surround system is active. The DAC2 HGC includes an indicator light that is illuminated when bypass is active.
The second coaxial input can be reconfigured as a digital output. In output mode, any selected digital input (including USB) will pass through to the coaxial output. The digital pass through is bit-transparent and even supports DSD (DoP 1.0). Dolby digital and DTS formats can be passed through to a surround processor.
Bi-Directional 12-Volt Trigger
Benchmark re-invents the 12-volt trigger. The trigger connection on the DAC2 HGC can be used as an input or output or both, and is compatible with any common 12 volt trigger input or output. The trigger can be used to turn a power amplifier on or off automatically. The DAC2 will also respond to a 12 volt trigger and follow the actions of another audio component.
- Sample Rate Display
- Word Length Display
- Digital Pass Through
- Native DSD Conversion
- Polarity Switch
- Asynchronous USB 2.0
- Driverless Asynchronous USB 1.1
- Home Theater Bypass
- Bi-Directional 12 Volt Trigger
- Low Power Consumption
- Hybrid Gain Control
- High-Headroom DSP
- UltraLock2 Jitter Attenuation System
- Quad 32-bit balanced D/A Conversion System
- Multi-Mode Asynchronous USB Audio System
- Distributed Power Regulation