Benchmark DAC3-DX Reference DAC and Stereo Preamplifier with HPA2 Headphone Amp (Silver)

Benchmark DAC3-DX Reference DAC and Stereo Preamplifier with HPA2 Headphone Amp (Silver)

Benchmark DAC3-DX Reference DAC and Stereo Preamplifier with HPA2 Headphone Amp (Silver)

B&H # BEDAC3DXS MFR # 500-14800-530
Benchmark DAC3-DX Reference DAC and Stereo Preamplifier with HPA2 Headphone Amp (Silver)

Benchmark DAC3-DX Reference DAC and Stereo Preamplifier with HPA2 Headphone Amp (Silver)

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Product Highlights

  • Digital-Only DAC
  • Reference-Grade HPA2 Headphone Amplifier
  • ES9028PRO Converter Chip
  • Quad 32-Bit/3:1 Parallel D/A Conversion
  • Native PCM or DSD Playback
  • Passive Output Attenuators
  • Hybrid Gain Control Technology
  • UltraLock3 Jitter-Attenuation System
  • Asynchronous USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 System
  • Distributed Power Supply Regulation
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Finish: Silver


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This item is noncancelable and nonreturnable.

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Benchmark 500-14800-530 overview

  • 1Description

Designed for users who do not need analog inputs, the silver DAC3-DX from Benchmark is a "digital-only," high-resolution DAC and stereo preamplifier, which comes equipped with a zero-Ohm, reference-grade HPA2 headphone amplifier. It maintains the familiar DAC2 form factor and feature set, but delivers the higher performance available from the ES9028PRO D/A converter chip, when playing back Direct Stream Digital (DSD) and Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) files. Offered as an output device for computer-based media, the DAC3-DX can be used with digital audio workstations, audiophile systems, high-fidelity homes, theaters, or as a standalone headphone amplifier for digital sources.

The 8-channel/32-bit ESS Technologies ES9028PRO chip features two distortion compensation systems, which independently remove most of the 2nd and 3rd harmonic distortion in the D/A converter. It also uses 3:1 summing to form each of the two output channels. This results in an enhanced frequency response and a 4.77 dB signal-to-noise improvement with low THD noise.

The DAC3-DX follows sample-rate changes initiated by your computer or software and uses a multi-mode 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 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. The 32-bit Digital Signal Processing (DSP) also provides up to 3.5 dBFS excess digital headroom, throughout the entire conversion process.

The DAC3-DX features a variety of digital input and output options. It accepts professional AES/EBU (XLR & coaxial) and consumer S/PDIF (Toslink & coaxial) signals. Analog outputs include a stereo balanced output on two XLRs and two pairs of unbalanced outputs on RCA connectors. All the unit's functions can be controlled from the front panel or from the Benchmark IR remote control (available separately).

Key Features
  • Digital-only DAC for users who do not need analog inputs
  • Stereo D/A converter designed for maximum transparency, musical accuracy, and precise stereo imaging – converters are ideal for critical reference-quality professional systems
  • Zero-Ohm HPA2 reference headphone power amplifier with two 1/4" outputs – performance remains consistent even when two headphones are being driven simultaneously
  • Accepts professional AES/EBU (XLR & coaxial) data formats and consumer S/PDIF data formats (Toslink & coaxial)
  • 8-channel/32-bit ESS Technologies ES9028PRO converter chip uses 3:1 summing to form each of the two output channels – achieves a 4.77 dB signal-to-noise improvement with low THD
  • Digital inputs are controlled via the 32-bit DSP system to preserve precise L/R balance, while avoiding any source of noise and distortion
  • High-headroom DSP is designed to handle signals as high as +3.5 dBFS in the entire conversion system and prevent common DSP overloads
  • All inputs are fully isolated from interface jitter by Benchmark's UltraLock3 jitter attenuation system – jitter-induced distortion and noise is at least 140 dB below the level of the music
  • DSD (in DoP 1.1 format) is automatically detected on USB, coaxial, and XLR digital inputs – the system seamlessly switches between native DSD and native PCM conversion
  • Low-impedance passive output attenuators provide distortion-free gain reduction without reducing the dynamic range (or SNR) of the converter – optimize the gain staging between the DAC3-DX and the power amplifier to enable full use of your power amplifier's dynamic range
  • Hybrid Gain Control system combines passive low-impedance attenuators, a 32-bit digital gain control, and a servo-driven volume control
  • All analog outputs are controlled by the rotary volume control unless the calibrated output function is selected
  • Audio does not pass through the volume control
  • Motorized volume control moves in response to commands from the remote control (available separately)
  • USB system supports USB Audio 2.0, DSD, and USB Audio 1.1
  • Frequency-agile USB – follows 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
  • Driverless USB Audio 1.1 mode supports sample rates up to 96 kHz
  • USB 2.0 for high-resolution 192 kHz, and DSD playback – no driver required for Mac operating systems / easy-to-install driver adds 192 kHz and DSD capabilities to Windows operating systems
  • Sample-rate and word-length displays confirm the proper operation of your media player
  • Digital pass-through function allows for the second coaxial input to be reconfigured as a digital output – in output mode, any selected digital input, including USB, will pass through to the coaxial output
  • Programmable Home Theater Bypass function sets the pass-through gain to unity for integration of a home theater audio system via the RCA outputs
  • Distributed power supply regulation to achieve the lowest possible noise – each critical subsystem has at least one dedicated low-noise voltage regulator
  • 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
  • Compatible with Benchmark IR remote control (available separately) – all functions can be controlled from the front panel or from the remote
  • Designed, assembled, and tested in the USA using domestic and imported components – most major components are made in the USA


  • Reference-grade studio monitoring
  • Sound card elimination for computer audio
  • Standalone headphone amplifier for digital sources
  • USB to S/PDIF transfer device
  • Audio output device for music and video servers
  • Home high-fidelity playback from digital sources
  • Audio output device for TV and home theater systems

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
  • Programmable Auto-On mode
  • Adjustable calibration

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
  • Bidirectional 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: 602573174098
In the Box
Benchmark DAC3-DX Reference DAC and Stereo Preamplifier with HPA2 Headphone Amp (Silver)
  • Limited 5-Year Warranty with Benchmark Online Registration
  • Table of Contents
    • 1Description

    Benchmark 500-14800-530 specs

    Audio Performance Specifications
    Sampling Frequency Fs = 44.1 to 96 kHz, 20 Hz to 20 kHz BW, 1 kHz test tone, 0 dBFS = +24 dBu (unless noted)
    Signal to Noise Ratio A-Weighted, 0 dBFS = +28 dBu: 127 dB
    Unweighted, 0 dBFS = +28 dBu: 125 dB
    Total Harmonic Distortion/Noise 1 kHz at 0 dBFS: -111 dBFS, -111 dB, 0.00028%
    1 kHz at -1 dBFS: -112 dBFS, -111 dB, 0.00028%
    1 kHz at -3 dBFS: -116 dBFS, -113 dB, 0.00022%
    20 Hz to 20 kHz Sweep at -3 dBFS: -108 dBFS, -105 dB, 0.00056%
    Frequency Response Fs = 192 kHz:
    ± 0.005 dB (20 Hz to 20 kHz)
    -0.013 dB at 10 Hz
    -0.005 dB at 20 kHz
    -0.006 dB at 40 kHz
    -0.002 dB at 80 kHz

    Fs= 48 kHz:
    ± 0.006 dB (20 Hz to 20 kHz)
    -0.015 dB at 10 Hz
    -0.001 dB at 20 kHz

    Crosstalk -120 dB at 20 Hz
    -120 dB at 1 kHz
    -106 dB at 20 kHz
    Max Amplitude Jitter-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:
    < -135 dB
    Inter-Channel Differential Phase Stereo Pair – Any Sample Rate: +/- 0.25° at 20 kHz
    Between DAC3-DX Units, Fs < 110 kHz (Any Sample Rate): ± 0.25° at 20 kHz
    Maximum Lock Time After Fs Change: 400 ms
    Soft Mute Ramp Up/Down Time: 50 ms
    Mute On Receive Error: Yes
    On Lock Error: Yes
    On Idle Channel: No
    De-Emphasis 50/15 us De-Emphasis Enable: Automatic in Consumer Mode
    De-Emphasis Method: Digital IIR
    De-Emphasis Supported at: Fs = 32, 44.1, 48 kHz
    Latency Delay - Digital 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
    Balanced Analog Outputs
    Outputs 2 x Gold-Pin Neutrik male XLR
    Output Impedance 60 Ohms (Attenuator off)
    425 Ohms (Attenuator = 10 dB)
    135 Ohms (Attenuator = 20 dB)
    Output Clipping Level +29 dBu
    Bypass Level Factory-Set (at 0 dBFS): +24 dBu (Attenuator = 0 dB)
    Output Level At 0 dBFS, in "Variable" Mode:
    Off to +28 dBu (Attenuator off)
    Off to +18 dBu (Attenuator = 10 dB)
    Off to +8 dBu (Attenuator = 20 dB)

    Variation with Sample Rate / 44.1 kHz vs. 96 kHz:
    < ± 0.006 dB
    Unbalanced Analog Outputs
    Unbalanced Outputs 4 x RCA
    Output Impedance 30 Ohms
    Output Clipping Level +13.5 dBu
    Output Level Factory-Set Home Theater Bypass Output Level (at 0 dBFS): +8.2 dBu (2 Vrms)
    Output Level Range (at0 dBFS): Off to +12.2 dBu (3.2 Vrms)
    Output Level Variation with Sample Rate (44.1 kHz vs. 96 kHz): < +/- 0.006 dB
    Digital Audio Inputs
    Digital Inputs 6
    Switchable Between: 1 x USB, 2 x optical, 1 x XLR, 2 x coaxial
    Channels 2
    Input Sample Frequency Range Coaxial Inputs and XLR: 28 to 210 kHz
    Optical Inputs: 28 to 96 kHz
    USB Input: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz
    Word Length Maximum: 24-bit
    Input Impedance Coaxial: 75 Ohms
    XLR: 110 Ohms
    Capacitors DC Blocking: Yes, coaxial and XLR inputs
    Transient/Over-Voltage Protection Yes, coaxial and XLR inputs
    Minimum Input Level 250 mVpp, coaxial and XLR inputs
    Jitter Tolerance (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)

    Type HPA2
    Outputs 2 x 1/4" TRS, with switch on left-hand jack
    Output Impedance < 0.11 Ohms
    Output Level Control Stereo control on front panel
    Output Level Range Off to +22 dBu (9.7 Vrms), at 0 dBFS into 60-Ohm Load
    Maximum Output Current 250 mA
    Overload Protection Current limited at 300 mA, (thermally protected)
    Bandwidth > 500 kHz
    THD + N -100 dB, 0.001% into 30 Ohms at 50 mW
    1.26 W maximum into 30 Ohms
    Status Display
    Indicators 16 x LEDs on front panel
    Selection Indication 2 -  Dim/mute
    6 -  Input
    2 -  Bypass/calibrated output
    2 - Word length
    4 -  Sample Rate
    Operating Voltage Nominal Input Operating Voltage Range: 100-240 VAC, 50/60 Hz
    Min/Max Operating Range: 90-260 VAC, 47/63 Hz
    Power < 0.5 W, idle
    12 W, typical program 
    15 W, maximum
    Fuses 5 x 20 mm (2 required)
    0.5 A 250 V, Slo-Blo type
    Rack Size 1/2-rack wide, 1 RU high
    Dimensions (DxWxH) 8.50 x 9.50 x 1.72" / 216.0 x 249.0 x 44.5 mm
    Overall Depth Including Connectors: 9.33" / 237.00 mm
    Weight 3 lb (1.36 kg)

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