Benchmark DAC3 DX - Digital to Analog Audio Converter

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DAC3 DX - Digital to Analog Audio Converter

Benchmark Performance

DAC3 vs. DAC2

The DAC3builds upon Benchmark’s highly successful DAC2 product family. The DAC3 maintains the familiar DAC2 form factor, but adds the higher performance available from the new ES9028PRO D/A converter. The DAC3 DX offers the following improvements over the DAC2 DX:

  • Active 2nd Harmonic Compensation

  • Active 3rd Harmonic Compensation

  • Lower THD+N

  • Lower passband ripple

  • Improved frequency response

  • Faster PLL lock times

  • Faster switching between inputs

  • Adjustable calibration

DAC3 vs. DAC1

The DAC3 and DAC2 add these features that are not found on the DAC1:

  • Asynchronous 192kHz 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 

  • Home Theater Bypass

  • Digital Pass-Through

  • High-Headroom DSP

  • Dual-Domain Hybrid Gain Control

  • Additional I/O

DAC3 Technologies

3:1 Parallel Conversion Structure

The conversion system in the DAC3 DX achieves a 4.77 dB signal to noise improvement through the use of 3:1 summing on the main output bus. The ES9028PRO D/A is an 8-channel 32-bit converter. In the DAC3 DX, three channels are summed in the analog domain to form each of the two output channels on the main bus. The remaining two channels provide the aux bus outputs

The 3:1 summing also improves the THD. The non-linearities in individual conversion channels are averaged across the four summed channels and incoherent non-linearities are attenuated by up to 4 dB.

Harmonic Compensation

The ES9028PRO has two distortion compensation systems that independently remove most of the 2nd and 3rd harmonic distortion in the D/A converter. Benchmark's ultra-clean analog output stages allow these systems to be fully leveraged in the DAC3 series. To the best of our knowledge, no other D/A converter has lower THD than the Benchmark DAC3 series.

The DAC3 DX is Benchmark's newest 2-channel D/A converter.  When compared to the legendary DAC1, the DAC3 series has lower noise, lower distortion, and improved accuracy. The DAC1 and DAC2 series converters have become the reference standard in many of the finest recording studios and mastering rooms. The DAC3 defines a new reference.

DAC3 converters deliver outstanding musical detail and precise stereo imaging.  They employ an advanced high-headroom digital filter design, and a high-sample-rate Asynchronous USB Audio interface. All inputs are fully isolated from interface jitter by Benchmark's new UltraLock3™ jitter attenuation system.

Internal digital processing and conversion is 32-bits, and includes 3.5 dB of headroom above 0 dBFS. Three balanced 32-bit D/A converters are summed together to form the main output bus. Two channels are reserved for the auxiliary RCA output bus.

The performance of the DAC3 DX exceeds the measurement limits of today's state-of-the art test equipment.

Native DSD Conversion

All digital inputs on the DAC3 support native 192 kHz PCM or DSD64 conversion. From any input, DSD is transported with bit accuracy over DoP 1.1. DSD and PCM are both natively converted to analog. There are no DSD to PCM or PCM to DSD conversions to compromise the quality of the music. The DAC3 conversion system seamlessly switches between native PCM and native DSD conversion. DSD over DoP 1.1 is supported by many media players, and DSD downloads are now available from several sources.

Enjoy seamless transitions between native DSD and native PCM playback.

Direct Connectivity to Power Amplifiers and Powered Monitors

Benchmark DAC1, DAC2, and DAC3 converters are designed to directly drive power amplifiers and powered speakers. Benchmark converters feature adjustable low-impedance passive attenuators at the XLR outputs that can be used to optimize the interface to the power amplifier (or powered monitor). The sonic importance of these attenuators cannot be overemphasized. Proper gain matching between the DAC/preamplifier and the power amplifier is essential for achieving peak system performance. The attenuators allow precise matching to all amplifiers and powered monitors.

Passive output attenuators are only found on Benchmark converters - don't settle for anything less.

Sonically Neutral

All Benchmark converters are designed for maximum transparency. This transparency is absolutely essential in the studio monitoring chain. DAC3 converters are ideal for critical reference-quality professional systems. In home applications, the DAC2 delivers the sonic signature that was created in the recording studio.

Hear the music exactly as it was heard in the studio.

Take the Studio Home

When Benchmark's professional converters are used in hi-fi applications, studio-quality sound can be enjoyed in a home environment.

Discover the natural, uncolored, analog sound of the DAC3.

The Digital-Only DAC3 for Audio Professionals

The DAC3 DX is the DAC3 of choice for users who do not need analog inputs.

The DX is well suited to the needs of professional users and includes an XLR AES digital input. The DAC3 DX is the only DAC3 model that includes dual stereo output buses. The analog output buses can be independently set to fixed or variable gain. The DAC3 DX is also the only DAC3 available in a rack-mount version.

A New Reference - Going Beyond the Legendary DAC1 and DAC2

Benchmark's DAC1 and DAC2 series converters have been the reference to which other converters have been compared. It is rare to find a converter review that does not draw comparisons to the DAC1 or DAC2. The DAC1 and DAC2 have been some of the best-selling 2-channel reference-quality converters and are in daily use at many of the finest recording studios and mastering rooms. Benchmark converters are also enjoyed by thousands of audiophiles. Benchmark has raised the bar ... the DAC3 defines a new reference.

Professional Applications

  • Reference-Quality Studio Monitoring

  • Sound-Card Elimination for Computer Audio

  • Stand-Alone Headphone Amplifier  for Digital Sources

  • USB to SPDIF Transfer Device

Hi-Fi Applications

The DAC2 DX uses digital connections (USB, Optical, Coaxial, or AES) to bypass the low-quality built-in converters that are included in many audio products. 

  • Audio Output Device for Music and Video Servers

  • Home Hi-Fi Playback from Digital Sources

  • Audio Output Device for TV and Home Theater Systems 

Add Benchmark Cables to Complete Your New System

Benchmark offers a no-nonsense selection of very high-quality cables.  Benchmark cables are designed for durability and transparency, and most are manufactured in the USA. Our optical cables are manufactured in Canada.

DAC3 DX Features

  • Sample-Rate Display

  • Word-Length Display

  • Six Digital Inputs

  • Three Stereo Analog Outputs

  • Two Independent Analog Output Buses

  • Digital Pass Through

  • Dual HPA2 Headphone Outputs

  • Headphone Mute Switch - left headphone jack mutes main output, function may be defeated

  • Native DSD Conversion

  • Native PCM Conversion

  • Asynchronous USB 2.0

  • Asynchronous USB 1.1 for Driverless Operation

  • Volume Control Bypass Function for Main Bus

  • Volume Control Bypass Function for Auxiliary Bus

  • 12V Trigger I/O - for sequenced system power switching

  • Mute Relays - on all analog outputs

  • Optional IR Remote Control - with heavy-duty metal housing

  • Power Switch

  • Low Power Consumption


This Benchmark product was designed, assembled, and tested in the USA using USA and imported components. Most major components are made in USA.


Audio Performance

Fs = 44.1 to 96 kHz, 20 to 20 kHz BW, 1 kHz test tone, 0 dBFS = +24 dBu (unless noted)

SNR – A-Weighted, 0 dBFS = +28 dBu

127 dB

SNR – Unweighted, 0 dBFS = +28 dBu

125 dB

THD+N, 1 kHz at 0 dBFS

-111 dBFS, -111 dB, 0.00028%

THD+N, 1 kHz at -1 dBFS

-112 dBFS, -111 dB, 0.00028%

THD+N, 1 kHz at –3 dBFS

-116 dBFS, -113 dB, 0.00022%

THD+N, 20 to 20 kHz test tone at –3 dBFS

-108 dBFS, -105 dB, <0.00056%

Frequency Response at Fs=192 kHz

+/- 0.005 dB (20 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

Frequency Response at Fs=48 kHz

+/- 0.006 dB (20 to 20 kHz)

-0.015 dB at 10 Hz

-0.001 dB at 20 kHz


-120 dB at 20 Hz

-120 dB at 1 kHz

-106 dB at 20 kHz

Maximum Amplitude of Jitter Induced Sidebands (10 kHz 0 dBFS test tone, 12.75 UI sinusoidal jitter at 1 kHz)

< -144 dB

Maximum Amplitude of Spurious Tones with 0 dBFS test signal

< -138 dB

Maximum Amplitude of Idle Tones

< -147 dB

Maximum Amplitude of AC line related Hum & Noise

< -135 dB

Inter-channel Differential Phase (Stereo Pair – any sample rate)

+/- 0.25 degrees at 20 kHz

Inter-channel Differential Phase (Between DAC3 DX Units Fs<110 kHz) Any sample rate.

+/- 0.25 degrees at 20 kHz

Maximum Lock Time after Fs change

400 ms

Soft Mute Ramp Up/Down Time

50 ms

Mute on Receive Error


Mute on Lock Error


Mute on Idle Channel


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


Group Delay (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


Digital Audio Inputs

Number of Digital Inputs (switch selected)

6 (1 USB, 2 Optical, 1 XLR, 2 Coaxial)

Number of Channels


Input Sample Frequency Range

28 to 210 kHz (Coaxial and XLR)

28 to 96 kHz (Optical)

44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz (USB)

Maximum Input Word Length

24 bits

Digital Input Impedance

75 Ohms Coaxial, 110 Ohms XLR

DC Blocking Capacitors on Digital Inputs

Yes (Coaxial and XLR Inputs)

Transient and Over-Voltage Protection on Digital Inputs

Yes (Coaxial and XLR Inputs)

Transformer Coupling on Digital Inputs

Yes (XLR Input)

Minimum Digital 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


Balanced Analog Outputs

Number of Balanced Analog Outputs


Output Connector

Gold-Pin Neutrik™ male XLR

Output Impedance

60 Ohms (Attenuator off)

425 Ohms (Attenuator = 10 dB)

135 Ohms (Attenuator = 20 dB)

Analog Output Clip Point

+29 dBu

Factory Set Bypass Level (at 0 dBFS)

+24 dBu (Attenuator = 0 dB)

Output Level Range (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)

Output Level Variation with Sample Rate (44.1 kHz vs. 96 kHz)

< +/- 0.006 dB


Unbalanced Analog Outputs

Number of Unbalanced Analog Outputs


Output Connector


Output Impedance

30 Ohms

Analog Output Clip Point

+13.5 dBu

Factory Set Home Theater Bypass Output Level (at 0 dBFS)

+8.2 dBu (2 Vrms)

Output Level Range (at 0 dBFS)

Off to +12.2 dBu (3.2 Vrms)

Output Level Variation with Sample Rate (44.1 kHz vs. 96 kHz)

< +/- 0.006 dB


HPA2TM Headphone Outputs

Number of Headphone Outputs


Output Connectors

¼” TRS with switch on left-hand jack

Output Impedance

< 0.11 Ohms

Output Level Control

Stereo Control on Front Panel

Output Level Range (at 0 dBFS) into 60-Ohm Load

Off to +22 dBu (9.7 Vrms)

Maximum Output Current

250 mA

Overload Protection (independent per channel)

Current limited at 300 mA, also thermally protected


> 500 kHz


-100 dB, 0.001% into 30 Ohms at 50 mW

1.26W maximum into 30 Ohms


Status Display

Indicators - Type and Location

16 LED’s on Front Panel

Selection/Status Indication

2 – Mute, Dim
6 – Input
2 – Bypass/Calibrated Output
2 – Word length
4 – Sample Rate


AC Power Requirements

Nominal Input Operating Voltage Range (VAC RMS)

100 – 240V


50-60 Hz


< 0.5 Watts Idle
12 Watts Typical Program
15 Watts Maximum


5 x 20 mm (2 required)
0.5 A 250 V Slo-Blo® Type

Min/Max Operating range (VAC RMS)

90 – 260
47 – 63Hz



Form Factor

½ Rack Wide, 1 RU High

Depth behind front panel

8.5” (216 mm)

Overall depth including connectors but without power cord

9.33” (237 mm)


9.5” (249 mm)


1.725” (44.5 mm)



DAC3 DX only

3 lb.

DAC3 DX with remote control, power cord, extra fuses, and manual

4 lb.

Shipping weight

7 lb.


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