Benchmark DAC3 vs Yggdrasil Analog 2

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Doug Walton, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    I've got a Schiit Yggdrasil Analog 2 on order, and given the repeated delays in delivery they're experiencing, I've started to (finally) research other competitive DAC options in the under-$2500 range. I currently have a Gungnir, which I like a lot, and it could end up being what I ultimately stay with.

    I've been reading up on the Benchmark DAC3, and thought I'd ask for some opinions from folks here who might have used one. I'm intrigued with the fact that it's a preamp with vol control, the headphone connectivity, as well as the general differences that might be heard between it and the Yggy. I'd be streaming via laptop/USB, optical, and coax, into a Yamaha A-S801 set to a direct output option.

    Thanks for any thoughts you might like to offer.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  2. Dr Tone

    Dr Tone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    The Benchmark is going to be quite a different sounding beast. I'm going to hazard a guess, not in a good way if you like what the Gungnir gives you right now.
     
    rednedtugent likes this.
  3. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I’ve used both and I still own a Benchmark DAC3 HGC. I had an Yggdrasil in my main system for a month.

    There’s not much to choose between the two DACs. Audio quality is stellar and competes with the very, very best available anywhere today. My personal preference is the Benchmark DAC3 HGC, because of its equally stellar headphone amp. Both Schiit Audio and Benchmark benefit from designs based on great engineering and attention to music, and more music, and more music after that. Whatever digital source you use, both of these DACs simply get out of the way. Whatever music is stored in files, streams or CD will be extracted at the highest possible quality and then sent to your preamp or integrated amp.

    If you want the Yggdrasil, be patient. The Gungnir you’ve already got is nothing to be sneered at either as you obvioiusly know. If you were entirely absent a good DAC, then I’d say order the DAC3 if the Yggdrasil is not going to be available for a while. But that’s not the case - you’ve already got a fine DAC that you’re using.

    My own time with the Yggdrasil was great. I can’t say enough about it, but it was borrowed from someone who really wanted it back. IMO, choosing between the two DACs is a matter of flipping a coin.
     
  4. SquishySounds

    SquishySounds Yo mama so fat Thanos had to snap twice.

    Location:
    New York
    You’re comparing $2500 DACs for a $600 Int-Amp?
     
  5. Dougr33

    Dougr33 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Twin Cities, MN
    He might be happy with his amp. He might want to nail down his sources before reevaluating it. Etc., etc.
     
  6. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I think that the superior DAC removes any system quality bottleneck for a very long time. The OP already owns a Schiit Gugnir, a DAC that is more than good enough to meet or exceed the capabilites of a lot of downstream components including his rather good A-S801 integrated amp.
     
    valvehead likes this.
  7. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    Right - Gungnir MB now. It's really good. The DAC in the integrated amp is of course out of the picture.
     
  8. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    You meant to add 'at this price point'. I think, anyhow. Some amazing digital players and DACs in the market today.
     
  9. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    Thanks! That's great info.
     
  10. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Nope, didn’t mean to add ‘at this price point’ to my post. To my ears when swapping DACs and only DACs in any given system, I’ve found that the Yggdrasil, DAC3, Naim DAC V1, Mytek Brooklyn+, North Star Design Supremo and quite a few others come so close to the capabilites of much more expensive and purportedly exotic DACs - the ones about which the reviewers devote 3500 words of effusively syrupy praise, including “... the penultimate held G near the end of bar 22 of the Dvorak (2nd) allegro rang sonorously more true and deeply engaging and with a certain ‘thereness’ than with any other DAC in recent memory when listening to that Decca release of the Von Karajan/Wiener Symphony (No.8 in G Major, Op.88, B.163, re-release on DG, Feb 2008)“ - that the differences or occasionally noticeable improvements are achievements best left to either those questing for state-of-the-art technology for its own sake or the most expensive DAC they can (or are willing to) afford no matter what reality tries to step forward in actual auditions.
     
  11. vrøvl

    vrøvl Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
  12. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I have to say you've nailed the tone and phrasing of so-called pro reviews and pretty much illustrated why I ignore them all. Pretty funny, actually.
     
    SandAndGlass and johnnypaddock like this.
  13. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    "Come so close"

    Who is it that purports that certain DACs are exotic? What does that even mean? I sure hope my CD player isn't exotic! Presumably, your DACs will "come so close" in sound quality whether exotic or not. You've found the sweet spot where spending less doesn't quite deliver and where spending more is wasteful.
     
  14. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
  15. vrøvl

    vrøvl Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    I think the most important thing is good sound, but I also think there should be a certain humility in designing a $2500 DAC - at the very least it should measure well.
     
    Mrtn77 likes this.
  16. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    I'll be a dissenter and suggest you keep the Gungnir and upgrade your amp. I'm one of the biggest Yamaha fans on this site and think the 801 is an excellent amp, but you'll get much greater bang for the buck with a used A-S2100 or amp of similar pedigree, or $2500 speakers. DACs give the worst ROI in this hobby IMO, possibly even less than cables, and I have a hot rodded version of a DAC that some have preferred to the Yggdrasil. Maybe you plan to have a $10K^ system someday, in that case, it makes sense to remove all front end bottlenecks, but the Gungnir is certainly not your weakest link.
     
    rednedtugent, trd, ubiknik and 2 others like this.
  17. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    That’s not at all what I was implying. The DACs I personally favor represent wonderful engineering, and produce (“deliver” as you put it) a wonderful music listening experience. Given the current digital formats popularly available today, the DACs I mentioned can be end games for most audiophiles.

    I liked my Weiss 501 quite a lot. Expensive it was. On most material though, I could not tell it apart from the original Brooklyn and the Chord Hugo TT. That’s because those two DACs (among others I’ve mentioned) are so good that - side by side in a system with the Weiss - they turn the professional reviewers’ gap into what such gaps really are most of the time: an emotional presentation that can’t overcome the reality of a side by side comparison in my home. Frankly too - just to add a little more fuel to this fire - the DAC implementation in the late, lamented OPPO 205 is yet another example of superb implementation (for not much money) of a top-class chipset. There’s no comparative ‘veil’ or restriction of detail or ignorance of subtlety or inaccuracy of timbre - just performances unleashed.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that in certain circumstances and with certain material - a purpose built and acoustically well-designed room, a vanishingly low background noise level (below 25 dB) in the room, absolutely mechanically silent components, components offering top-class resolution, precise placement of highly resolving speakers, and well-produced material - that a Chord Hugo may best my current favorite Benchmark DAC3 (and the Yggdrasil, amd many others), but I’ll need to spend over $150,000 to get there. And it’ll only work for some recordings.

    That’s the reality of these $2,000-$3,000 DACs today in side by side listening sessions with their vastly more expensive ‘superiors’: little or no compromise by the less expensive designs. Are there differences in sound? You bet! But too often, to my ears, they’re differences that aren’t improvements. The much higher retail pricing of the uber-DACs sometimes primarily reflects the cost of the desgner’s wet dream.

    In a few cases as well, some extremely high-priced DACs are based on the notion that extreme retail pricing and elegant marketing can overcome expensive engineering and production that didn’t actually produce a good sounding DAC. I’ve heard and compared a couple of those too. Deeply disappointing.
     
  18. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    Depends on what's being measured, under what conditions, and whether or not it there's any correlation to what we hear.

    Few have such high moral ground to start tossing around "humility". For what it's worth.
     
    rodentdog and Doug Walton like this.
  19. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    There are nearly certainly as many "disappointments" at one given price range as any other. Further is it really necessary to disparage those who design electronics which cost more than you've decided is "extremely high-priced"? In fact, it could be reasoned that these designs are more challenging because prospective buyers have experience with other high priced (less compromised; closer to world class) gear and aren't likely to accept a disappointment.

    You won't need to spend $150,000 on a system where the weak point is a $2,500 digital front end. Not even close. Anyhow, hopefully Andreas Koch has escaped your ire.
     
  20. vrøvl

    vrøvl Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    Sorry for the choice of words, English is not my first language.
    If I'm buying a $2500 DAC, I'd like it to sound good AND be competently designed.
     
  21. Dougr33

    Dougr33 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Twin Cities, MN
    Gotta agree with this. I'm a big PSB fan, but you'll be more likely to hear the nuanced differences in DACs with an upgrade in speakers (pitch here for the amazing $2k Monitor Audio Silver 300). You have a fine DAC.. I'd upgrade the amp next. In the meanwhile, DACS in the $2k range will keep improving over the next few years, probably reaching a level where'd you'd be happy to settle for many years to come. And by then you'd have the system to decide between them.. you currently have a good enough DAC to evaluate speakers and amps. IMHO. Good luck!
     
  22. Kyhl

    Kyhl formerly known

    Location:
    Savage
    Feel free to give credence to Amir's measurements. It's your choice but he is the outlier. He has also been "removed" from a few audio forums for his lack of ethics.

    I'll choose to ignore him and his graphs that are sometimes manipulated to exaggerate measurements that may not even matter.
     
  23. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    I'll give this some thought. I do the majority of what I'd say is focused, critical listening via my Senn HD800S phones, and not my PSB speakers. I'm not inclined to upgrade the speakers, but the amp upgrade is kind of intriguing. But it also opens up an entirely new can of worms relative to amp design, tubes vs. SS vs hybrid, integrated vs separate components, etc.. And I'm not qure I really want to head down that path now.
     
  24. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    You could seek out a great integrated in your price range which also includes a nice headphone amp, unless you have a separate already. Additionally, and I realized this is unpopular, but power line conditioning will nearly certainly improve both your headphone and loudspeaker experience. Start with Shunyata PS8, Venom HC, and Defender.
     
  25. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    You are making this personal. I am not doing so, not am I directing “ire” at any individuals. You’re also measuring price tags, and that’s not a good way nor a generally accurate way to judge products in any given listening room at someone’s home. What I prefer to do (because I’m lucky enough to have the means and the relationships to do so) is compare a wide variety of products at all price points, installed in my systems at home in my own familiar listening environment. That’s where real differences - audible comparative differences - are easily heard within the limits of my listening room. That’s the basis for my comments in this thread.

    Of course there are extremely expensive products that are superb - lots of them. The industry would not have survived otherwise. The problem is, the technology is mature and that means that knowledge of how to get the very best out of a given chipset is much more widely understood by far more DAC makers than ever before. That’s why so many great DACs are available today at moderate prices.
     

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