Benchmark DAC and Jitter

Jitter is a huge problem unless you own a Benchmark DAC. My testing and countless anecdotal reports suggest that most DACs will improve with a bridge or reclocker but not Benchmark.

Interesting claim since Benchmark, like many other manufacturers, use a silicon DAC chip with in-built analogue stage (ESS in the case of Benchmark.) What makes them so different? These all use distributed clocks and introduce noise into the analogue parts.

If you’d mentioned Chord Electronics, PS Audio or Aqua HiFi I may have believed you.

I suggest you read up on how Benchmark have solved the jitter problem. My tests have confirmed that their claims work. The only incoming jitter immune system I am aware of. Weiss and Cranesong may have solved it too. I can feed a Benchmark any digital input and there is no difference. An audio bridge makes a huge difference with other DACs I have tested but no difference with a Benchmark as it rejects all incoming jitter anyway.

Whether or not you like the sound is a personal matter. You may prefer the sound of other DACs in which case I highly recommend a bridge or reclocker to realize their optimal performance.

If you don’t have a Benchmark DAC then it is best to have headroom management at -3dB so as to eliminate inter-sample overs. Even good tracks like Gaslighting Abbie have thousands of inter-sample overs (digital clipping).

Only Benchmark DACs have a solution for this. The clipping creates brightness or glare to a variable extent depending on how the DAC copes with out of bound signal levels.

No digital system is immune to jitter, but your claim that one manufacturer who uses off-the-shelf integrated DAC chips has solved this problem is somewhat misinformed.

Maybe Benchmark has done something clever, but the article (neither reliable nor independent) is making comparisons with manufacturers using the same design approach and not those that build discrete DACs.

If you can handle the harsh treble on the Benchmark dacs. The later versions are much better than Dac 1

You are entitled to your opinion. Frankly it has nothing do with discrete components or not. There is nothing inherently wrong with a good implementation of a good quality chip like the ESS 9028. Incoming jitter is a fact of life due to the interface. I am not talking about inherent jitter within the DAC chip and circuitry itself which all DACs have to greater or lesser extent. Just the immunity to incoming jitter.

There is more information on Benchmark site if you care to look.

I would also point you towards the AES J test and the recent review and test measurements of the DAC 3 by Stereophile.

The fact is Benchmark have eliminated one source of jitter below audibility - the interface!

You may also want to check out Benchmark latest power amplifier - it measures better than any commercial product in the history of the audio power amplifier market period!

There is some serious audio engineering behind their products despite the low cost chassis and cheap faceplate.

Yet it doesn’t sound like the best power amplifier ever made. Measurements on their own mean very little when it comes to sound quality. You got to stop buying into all the hype in Benchmark’s marketing…


So we understand you own Benchmark products. Have you tried in your system MSB, Mytek, Bricasti, DCS, etc? If not, your loyalty to Benchmark is commendable, but not proof it’s a defacto DAC to own.

I haven’t stated opinion, I challenged yours! That’s very different. Also, I never said that a packaged DAC is a bad thing. I said they are different to discrete DACs: those were excluded in the marketing bumf you quoted. Unsubstantiated marketing claims should be challenged or taken with a pinch of salt.

The Benchmark DAC3 HGC is quite disappointing. I had it on loan for a while, there’s no way I’d buy one at all after hearing it in mine and another higher end system. There’s better sounding Dacs at that price point …anyway, needs a separate thread as it’s nothing much to do with Roon 1.5 sound quality issues.

(Their AHB2 did not stand up particularly well either, same performance available for less and for just a touch more it can be well and truly beaten)

I never made any claim at all about the sound being better or worse than any other DAC. I just stated that in my experience is that it is unaffected by interface jitter. I find this remarkable given my experience with other DACs. As for the AHB2, again I made a statement about the measured response NOT the sound. Therefore your opinions on the sound are perfectly acceptable to me.

Ok. If what you stated isn’t your opinion on this matter then I really don’t know how to respond further. If you tell me what you really think then I will try to respond as best I can.

I made no claim about defacto DAC to own. Only my experience with interface jitter. Just because something performs well in one aspect (incoming jitter immunity) does not make it defacto. Besides audio bridges and reclockers are widely available - so just about any DAC can be made to perform well. I make no claim about the sound.

I quite agree about measurements not being the only standard by which to rate a product. I make no claim about sound and never made such a statement. I dont own an AHB2 and will never buy one. I only refer to stated performance as exceptional. I say nothing at all about the sound. I appreciate your advice. Perhaps it is indeed all entirely hype and none of these products work or perform as specified. Time will tell.

Looking at that article linked to, not a great deal has changed since their DAC 1 days technically. They have pushed their speed up so 192k is processed properly, not effectively downsampled like the DAC 1. Other than that this is very much the same quasi marketing output Benchmark have always used, blurring the lines between technical debate and self promotion. What I will concede is that if a USB bridge is of no benefit to their current products then they have sorted their USB input out to a greater degree than some. But the knowhow is out there, it isn’t information only Benchmark are privy to. I always liked my DAC 1, it represented good performance for sensible money.