Benchmark DAC3-HGC Reference DAC and Stereo Preamp with HPA2 Headphone Amplifier (Silver)

BH #BEDAC3HGCS • MFR #500-14800-131
Benchmark
Benchmark DAC3-HGC Reference DAC and Stereo Preamp with HPA2 Headphone Amplifier (Silver)
Key Features
  • ES9028PRO Converter Chip
  • Quad 32-Bit Balanced D/A Conversion
  • Hybrid Gain Control Technology
  • Native PCM or DSD Conversion
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The silver DAC3-HGC from Benchmark is a two-channel reference preamplifier with built-in headphone amplifier and digital to analog converter system. It is capable of converting Direct Stream Digital (DSD) signals as well as Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) files up to 24-bit / 192 kHz. Designed as an output device for computer-based media, the DAC3-HGC can be used with home media servers, digital audio workstations, desktop audio editing applications, and computer-based radio broadcast systems. The DAC3-HGC maintains the familiar DAC2 form factor and feature set, but delivers the higher performance available from the ES9028PRO D/A converter chip.
Special Order
Expected availability: 7-14 business days
$2,199.00
$184/mo. suggested payments.*
with 12 Mos. Promo Financing

Important Notice

  • This item is noncancelable and nonreturnable.
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Benchmark DAC3-HGC Overview

The silver DAC3-HGC from Benchmark is a two-channel reference preamplifier with built-in headphone amplifier and digital to analog converter system. It is capable of converting Direct Stream Digital (DSD) signals as well as Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) files up to 24-bit / 192 kHz. Designed as an output device for computer-based media, the DAC3-HGC can be used with home media servers, digital audio workstations, desktop audio editing applications, and computer-based radio broadcast systems. The DAC3-HGC maintains the familiar DAC2 form factor and feature set, but delivers the higher performance available from the ES9028PRO D/A converter chip.

The 8-channel/32-bit ESS Technologies ES9028PRO chip features two distortion compensation systems, which independently remove most of the 2nd harmonic and 3rd harmonic distortion from the D/A converter. It also uses 4:1 summing to form each of the two output channels. This results in an enhanced frequency response and a 6 dB signal-to-noise improvement with low THD and THD+N noise.

The DAC3-HGC follows sample-rate changes initiated by your computer or software and uses a multimode asynchronous USB system for data transfer. This allows the unit to act as the clock master, reducing jitter by first transferring the audio data from your computer to an internal buffer, and then to the digital to analog subsystem. The dual data transfer uses Benchmark's proprietary UltraLock3 jitter attenuation system, reducing jitter noise and distortion to at least 140 dB below the level of the audio.

The Hybrid Gain Control (HGC) combines the unit's active analog gain control, passive low-impedance attenuators, 32-bit digital gain control, and servo-driven volume control. The HGC provides the dynamic range of an analog system and the accuracy of digital control. All analog inputs are controlled in the analog system and digital inputs in the digital system. The 32-bit Digital Signal Processing (DSP) also provides up to 3.5 dBFS excess digital headroom, throughout the entire conversion process.

The DAC3-HGC features a variety of input and output options. It includes two stereo unbalanced analog RCA inputs, two optical TOSLINK digital inputs, two coaxial digital inputs, one USB digital input, two stereo analog unbalanced RCA outputs, and one stereo analog balanced XLR output. A remote control is also included.

2-channel D/A converter designed for maximum transparency—converters are ideal for critical reference-quality professional systems
8-channel/32-bit ESS Technologies ES9028PRO converter chip uses 4:1 summing to form each of the two output channels—achieves a 6 dB signal to noise improvement with low THD and THD+N noise
ES9028PRO features two distortion compensation systems that independently remove most of the 2nd and 3rd harmonic distortion in the D/A converter
High-headroom DSP is designed to handle signals as high as +3.5 dBFS in the entire conversion system and prevents common DSP overloads
All digital inputs support native PCM or DSD conversion
All inputs are fully isolated from interface jitter by Benchmark's UltraLock3 jitter attenuation system
Hybrid Gain Control system combines active analog gain control, passive low-impedance attenuators, 32-bit digital gain control, and a servo-driven volume control—all inputs are controlled by the rotary volume control, which also moves in response to commands from the remote control (included)
Analog inputs are never converted to digital, and digital inputs never pass through an analog potentiometer
Digital inputs are controlled in the 32-bit DSP system to preserve precise L/R balance and precise stereo imaging, while avoiding any source of noise and distortion
USB system supports USB Audio 1.1 for sample rates up to 192 kHz (USB Audio 2.0) for high-resolution DSD playback. The system is frequency agile and will follow sample rate changes initiated by the computer and/or the media playback software
Sample-rate and word-length displays confirm the proper operation of your media player
High-fidelity preamplifier includes input selection, volume control, and output buffering functions—high-current output stage can be programmed to match the input sensitivity of your power amplifier or powered speakers
HPA2 reference headphone power amplifier with two 1/4" outputs—performance remains consistent even when two headphones are being driven simultaneously
Programmable Home Theater Bypass function sets the pass-through gain to unity for integration of a home theater audio system via the RCA inputs
Second coaxial input can be reconfigured as a digital output—in output mode, any selected digital input, including USB, passes through to the coaxial output
12-volt trigger connection can be used as an input, 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 or respond to a 12-volt trigger and follow the actions of another audio component
Distributed power supply regulation to achieve the lowest possible noise—each critical subsystem has at least one dedicated low-noise voltage regulator
Compatible with Benchmark IR remote control (included)—all functions can be controlled from the front panel or from the remote
Designed, assembled, and tested in the USA using USA and imported components—most major components are made in the USA
DAC3 vs DAC2

The DAC3 maintains the familiar DAC2 form factor and feature set, but adds the higher performance available from the ES9028PRO D/A converter

  • Active 2nd Harmonic Compensation
  • Active 3rd Harmonic Compensation
  • Lower THD+N
  • Lower passband ripple
  • Improved frequency response
  • Faster PLL lock times
  • Faster switching between input signals
DAC3 vs DAC1

The DAC3 and DAC2 added these features not found on the DAC1:

  • Asynchronous 192 kHz USB Audio 2.0
  • 32-bit D/A conversion system
  • Word Length Display
  • Sample Rate Display
  • Polarity Control
  • Direct DSD D/A Conversion
  • -20 dB DIM
  • Bi-Directional 12V Trigger
  • Power Switch with Auto-On Function
  • Home Theater Bypass
  • Digital Pass-Through
  • High-Headroom DSP
  • Dual-Domain Hybrid Gain Control
  • Additional I/O
UPC: 602573174005

Benchmark DAC3-HGC Specs

Audio Performance Specifications
Sampling FrequencyFs = 44.1 to 96 kHz, 20 Hz to 20 kHz BW, 1 kHz test tone, 0 dBFS = +24 dBu (unless noted)
Signal to Noise RatioA-Weighted, 0 dBFS = +27 dBu: 128 dB
Unweighted, 0 dBFS = +27 dBu: 126 dB
Dynamic RangeA-Weighted at Maximum Volume: 128 dB
Unweighted at Maximum Volume: 126 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion/Noise1 kHz at 0 dBFS: -113 dBFS, -113 dB, 0.00022%
1 kHz at -1 dBFS: -114 dBFS, -113 dB, 0.00022%
1 kHz at -3 dBFS: -119 dBFS, -116 dB, 0.00016%
20 Hz to 20 kHz Sweep at -3 dBFS: -113 dBFS, -110 dB, 0.00032%
Frequency ResponseFs= 192 kHz:
+0 dB, -0.015 dB (20 Hz to 20 kHz)
-0.015 dB at 10 Hz
-0.005 dB at 20 kHz
-0.031 dB at 40 kHz
-0.15 dB at 80 kHz

Fs= 48 kHz:
+0 dB, -0.015 dB (20 Hz to 20 kHz)
-0.015 dB at 10 Hz
-0.005 dB at 20 kHz

Crosstalk-116 dB at 20 kHz
-130 dB at 1 kHz
-137 dB at 20 Hz
Max AmplitudeJitter Induced Sidebands (10 kHz 0 dBFS test tone, 12.75 UI sinusoidal jitter at 1 kHz): < -144 dB
Spurious Tones with 0 dBFS Test Signal: < -138 dB
Idle Tones: < -147 dB
AC Line Related Hum & Noise: < -133 dB
Inter-Channel Differential PhaseStereo pair – Any Sample Rate: ±0.25° at 20 kHz
Between DAC3 Units Fs < 110 kHz – Any Sample Rate: ±0.25° at 20 kHz
Maximum Lock TimeAfter Fs change: 6 ms
Soft MuteRamp Up/Down Time: 9.6 ms
MuteOn Receive Error: Yes
On Lock Error: Yes
On Idle Channel: No
De-Emphasis50/15 us De-Emphasis Enable: Automatic in Consumer Mode
De-Emphasis Method: Digital IIR
De-Emphasis Supported at: Fs = 32, 44.1, 48 kHz
LatencyDigital Input to Analog Output (Function of Sample Rate):
1.36 ms at 44.1 kHz
1.27 ms at 48 kHz
0.90 ms at 88.2 kHz
0.82 ms at 96 kHz
0.51 ms at 176.4 kHz
0.47 ms at 192 kHz
Unbalanced Analog I/O
Inputs2 x RCA stereo pairs
Input Impedance20 KOhms
Analog Input Clip Point+18.5 dBu (6.5 Vrms)
Input Sensitivity+8.2 dBu (2 Vrms)
Input Bandwidth> 500 kHz, -0.6 dB at 200 kHz
Input THD+NAnalog to Analog, 2 Vrms In, +24 dBu Out:
-110 dB (0.00032%)
Outputs2 x RCA stereo pairs
Output Impedance30 Ohms
Output Clipping Level+13.5 dBu (3.7 Vrms)
Output LevelFactory-Set Home Theater Bypass Output Level (with 0 dBFS digital input):
+8.2 dBu (2 Vrms)
Output Level Range (with 0 dBFS digital input):
Off to +11.7 dBu (3 Vrms)
Output Level Variation with Sample Rate:
< ±0.006 dB
Balanced Analog Outputs
Balanced Output2 x gold-pin Neutrik male XLR
Output Impedance60 Ohms (attenuator off)
425 Ohms (attenuator = 10 dB)
135 Ohms (attenuator = 20 dB)
Output Clipping Level+29 dBu
Bypass LevelFactory-Set (with 0 dBFS digital input):
+24 dBu (attenuator = 0 dB)
Volume ControlWith 0 dBFS digital input:
Off to +27.5 dBu (attenuator off)
Off to +17.5 dBu (attenuator = 10 dB)
Off to +7.5 dBu (attenuator = 20 dB)
Output Level VariationOutput Level Variation with Sample Rate:
< ±0.006 dB
Digital Audio I/O
Channels2
Digital InputsSwitchable between:
1 x USB 1.1 or USB 2.0
2 x TOSLINK optical
2 x coaxial
Formatssupports PCM stereo, AES/EBU, S/PDIF digital formats
Input Sample Frequency RangeCoaxial Inputs: 28 to 210 kHz
Optical Inputs: 28 to 96 kHz
USB Input: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz (USB input)
Word LengthMaximum: 24 bits
Input ImpedanceCoaxial Inputs: 75 Ohms
CapacitorsDC Blocking: Yes (coaxial inputs)
Transient/Over-Voltage ProtectionYes (coaxial inputs)
Minimum Input LevelCoaxial: 250 mV p-p
JitterTolerance (With No Measurable Change in Performance):
>12.75 UI sine, 100 Hz to 3 kHz
>1.5 UI sine at 20 kHz
>1.5 UI sine at 40 kHz
>1.5 UI sine at 80 kHz
>1.5 UI sine at 90 kHz
>0.25 UI sine above 160 kHz

Jitter Attenuation Method:
Benchmark UltraLock3 (all inputs)

Headphones
TypeHPA2
Outputs2 x 1/4" TRS, with switch on left-hand jack
Output Impedance<0.11 Ohms
Output Level ControlStereo control on front panel
Output Level RangeOff to +21.5 dBu (9.2 Vrms), with 0 dBFS digital input
Output Power1.25 W into 30 Ohms
Maximum Output Current250 mA
Overload ProtectionCurrent Limited: 300 mA, thermal (independent per channel)
Bandwidth>500 kHz, -0.35 dB at 200 kHz
THD + NAt 20 mW:
-108 dB (0.0004%) into 300 Ohms
-100 dB (0.0010%) into 30 Ohms
Status Display
Indicators16 x LEDs on front panel
Selection Indication1 x Dim/Mute
1 x Polarity
7 x Input
1 x Bypass/Calibrated Output
2 x Word length
4 x Sample Rate
General
System RequirementUSB Audio 1.1 Mode (no driver installation required):
Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10
Mac OS X, iPads with 30-pin to USB camera kit

USB Audio 2.0 Mode
Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 (driver installation required for all Windows versions)
Mac OS X 10.6 and later (no driver installation required for all OS X versions)

RemoteCompatible with Benchmark IR remote control (included)
Operating VoltageNominal Operating Range: 100-240 VAC, 50/60 Hz
Min/Max Operating Range: 90-260 VAC, 47/63 Hz
Power<0.5 W, standby 12 W, typical program 15 W, maximum
Fuses5 x 20 mm (2 required)
0.5 A 250 V, Slo-Blo type
ComplianceFCC, RoHS
Rack Size1/2-rack wide, 1 RU high
Dimensions (DxWxH)8.500 x 9.500 x 1.725" / 215.900 x 241.300 x 43.815 mm
Overall depth including connectors: 9.33" / 236.982 mm
Weight3 lb (1.36 kg)
Packaging Info
Package Weight5.3 lb
Box Dimensions (LxWxH)14.5 x 11.1 x 3.6"
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