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Benchmark DAC2 HGC XLR vs single ended question


DomT
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I have just bought another Benchmark DAC; this time a DAC2 HGC. I also have ordered another pair of Neumann active monitors to use with it.  But I also have a wonderful pair of Harbeth P3ERs that I will use.  I am currently using a Quad 909 which sounds fine although to as good as the power amp section of my Marantz PM11S2 and am thinking about whether to get a different power amp.  

Given that Benchmark favour using the XLR outputs I am wondering if there is a big difference between using the XLR outputs vs single ended and does it make more of a difference if the receiving amp is 'just xlr input' or a proper 'balanced xlr' input.

Thanks

Edited by DomT
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Just out of curiosity.. what are these pucks supposed to do underneath an amp or a dac? I can imagine they bring stability to a turntable or a cd player. But a Dac?

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10 minutes ago, Ceko said:

Just out of curiosity.. what are these pucks supposed to do underneath an amp or a dac? I can imagine they bring stability to a turntable or a cd player. But a Dac?

Que? Have no idea what you are talking about. 

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  • DomT changed the title to Benchmark DAC XLR vs single ended question

I don’t notice any difference using the SE or balanced from my DAC2 HGC other than the volume difference. I updated the firmware on the DAC2 and am convinced it made a difference but I’m not faffing around taking it apart again to find out if it was just my imagination. The remote responds better with the new firmware.

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10 minutes ago, killie99 said:

I don’t notice any difference using the SE or balanced from my DAC2 HGC other than the volume difference. I updated the firmware on the DAC2 and am convinced it made a difference but I’m not faffing around taking it apart again to find out if it was just my imagination. The remote responds better with the new firmware.

What amp did you use it with please? Was it fully balanced topology or just XLR input? Thanks

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  • DomT changed the title to Benchmark DAC2 HGC XLR vs single ended question

Ive had it plugged straight in to my Neurochrome 686 fully balanced and  straight in with pseudo SE cables and I can’t tell the difference between 

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Just now, killie99 said:

Ive had it plugged straight in to my Neurochrome 686 fully balanced and  straight in with pseudo SE cables and I can’t tell the difference between 

Thanks for clarifying. 

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if your DAC 2 doesn't have the latest firmware, here's a link to what the firmware update does, https://benchmarkmedia.com/products/benchmark-firmware-upgrade-kit-dac2

I ordered it from https://www.scvdistribution.co.uk/products

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Benchmark’s own web site has some interesting application notes on various subjects. Balanced/xlr is one of them. Have a look.

https://benchmarkmedia.com/blogs/application_notes/balanced-vs-unbalanced-analog-interfaces

Edited by AlmaAtaKZ
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1 hour ago, AlmaAtaKZ said:

Benchmark’s own web site has some interesting application notes on various subjects. Balanced/xlr is one of them. Have a look.

https://benchmarkmedia.com/blogs/application_notes/balanced-vs-unbalanced-analog-interfaces

Thanks had already read that. Am seeking some real world practitioners views as it could mean a change in amp and I don’t want to spend unnecessarily. 

Anyone else have an opinion?

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10 hours ago, DomT said:

Thanks had already read that. Am seeking some real world practitioners views as it could mean a change in amp and I don’t want to spend unnecessarily. 

Anyone else have an opinion?

Only that I've used the benchmark dac 3 straight into active speakers using XLR and had very good results 

Atc, JBL and Rowland 

Personally just knowing that the XLR is meant to be better makes me secure using it but I bet it would be impossible in most circumstances to tell the difference.

Edited by Bokke
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12 hours ago, DomT said:

Thanks had already read that. Am seeking some real world practitioners views as it could mean a change in amp and I don’t want to spend unnecessarily. 

Anyone else have an opinion?

So you would rely on someone's opinion for an amp change because your DAC has XLR outs and your amps, which you like the sound of, don't?

What if you get an AHB2 - I can't think of a better pairing for getting the most out of your DAC's balanced ouputs - and then you don't like how it sounds?

I think that you're doing a Phobic here, you're overthinking it...

Edited by tuga
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26 minutes ago, tuga said:

So you would rely on someone's opinion for an amp change because your DAC has XLR outs and your amps, which you like the sound of, don't?

What if you get an AHB2 - I can't think of a better pairing for getting the most out of your DAC's balanced ouputs - and then you don't like how it sounds?

I think that you're doing a Phobic here, you're overthinking it...

No I don’t like the sound of it or I wouldn’t be thinking about changing it. It compares badly to my Marantz. It’s only just acceptable. 

I am interested in user opinions as part of the research that I am doing. It’s typically how the world works these days. I am not overthinking anything. If Benchmark say that XLR is best should I ignore that advice and just buy an amp that doesn’t have balanced inputs? That seems crazy when both options exist. I would have thought that as a technically orientated guy that you would value research.

The Benchmark amp is out of budget. Rafael Todes review also made me question whether I might like how it sounds.  

I don’t know who Phonic is. 

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2 hours ago, DomT said:

No I don’t like the sound of it or I wouldn’t be thinking about changing it. It compares badly to my Marantz. It’s only just acceptable. 

I am interested in user opinions as part of the research that I am doing. It’s typically how the world works these days. I am not overthinking anything. If Benchmark say that XLR is best should I ignore that advice and just buy an amp that doesn’t have balanced inputs? That seems crazy when both options exist. I would have thought that as a technically orientated guy that you would value research.

The Benchmark amp is out of budget. Rafael Todes review also made me question whether I might like how it sounds.  

I don’t know who Phonic is. 

That is not clear from your original message. It reads as though the trigger for getting a new amp is Benchmark's stance in regard to XLR vs RCA and not that you are not happy with your current amplifier which in my view is the wrong way to go at it from what I know of your objectives and taste in presentation. But maybe that's because I'm a foreigner and misunderstood.

Benchmark's measurements indicate that balanced has better performance but I expect that it will require a very high fidelity amplifier in a very quiet environment to hear a difference.

My point is that there are other more relevant aspects to amplifier performance than balanced vs. single-ended.

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