• Incredible DAC performance and ease of use make anyone capable of having a top-tier hard drive-based music system.
• The additional inputs and integrated preamp make for a simple system with great sound; just add an amp and speakers.
• The super-small size of this unit makes it easy to hide, but I doubt you'd want to, given its incredible build quality.
• The Benchmark DAC 1 PRE doesn't have a remote or home theater bypass.
• The inclusion of only one stereo analog input is limiting for some system configurations.
The Benchmark DAC 1 PRE is an amazing piece of audio gear and one you must try if you are looking for a simple computer-based music system and more. The smooth nature of the DAC is world-class, both from the standpoint of computer systems and transports spinning CDs, while the analog input provides enhanced flexibility and allows you to add an AM/FM tuner or even a turntable to the rig. The small size and exceptional build quality, as well as the great sound, of this piece make it a bargain at its $1,575 price. Though I can see the purists eating this piece up, many will be hindered by the lack of remote control, and a home theater bypass would have been nice to see as well.
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Read a review of the Benchmark DAC1 HDR here.