note: this review is contributed by my audiophile buddy, kc

Sometimes, in fact, most of the time, reviewing/raving about a particular product is a risky business. The product is reviewed in the context of your setup and unless the components are of known characteristics, the review is very much as useful as rubbish.And a lot of time, it's always easier to criticise a product than to praise it.

This Benchmark DAC1, which made me swallow my own words after 4 hours of playing. The first call to Leslie sounded like this, "this DAC is dead cold, whatever you feed to the recording console/mics, it spits them all out! It's good as an operation tool where you will get all the info on the CDs, but dead cold!"The first track I listened was Cheer Chen's track 4 with rainy drops, it's as if the drizzles were of smaller size and pouring at denser drops, they are crystaline clear! But the edges were rough and coarse on the vocal, as if it's wrap under sand paper. On track 11, speed is fast and snappy, but lacks the delicacy. Dead cold!

So the first sms sounded like this, "for another 1k on top of the DAC1's 4k, I would rather get the Stage III Magnus, which reaps more improvements!" I kept on playing the DAC1. There more CDs I played, the more detached I was from the music. So the second sms sounded like this, "Sometimes I doubt do we really need more details to enjoy the music more when more details does not actually bring you any deeper into the music!"And the third sms sounded like this, "I don't feel the urge of upgrading sometimes as it was not like last time when I go up to AQ and Stealth, DAC1 brings more hifi than music!" Then Leslie called and we chatted about the DAC1, which was nothing encouraging from me. So another sms later sounded like this, "DAC1 lacks Meridian's delicacy and refinement!"

Before I know it, I was slapped hard in the face and everything I said now was working against me, I have to swallow them all! I sms-ed Leslie again, "f***, I guess I have to swallow my words, the Benchmark is opening up, more fluid and liquid! After almost 4 hours of playing!"So I played Le Mon's Tin Man Mong Yau track 3, 6 and 10, omigod, another sms sounded like this, "s***, the highs is like angels sprinkling flowers, I was smitten! I have to say this, very similar to Meridian!" The highs is so delicate and articulate! Les called and asked about the bass, since I was not aware of that yet, I said not sure yet.So I spinned White Snow track 1 and was awed again! Another sms sounded like this, "Omigod! Talk about dynamism, impact, liquidity, speed, delicacy, fluidity and wutever hifi crap, this DAC has abundant, it's its uncanny ability to recreate life like performance and honest realism! From highs to lows, I could not find fault!" The thunderous drums towards the end was rolling in distinctive presence! Never heard of in my setup!

Yesterday nite, I spinned Damien Rice and the DAC1 did nothing but digging deepest to the CD, delivering top notch resolution and definition. What it does not do is add any harmonics to sweeten the music and impose itself unto the music. With stone cold setup, the sound might be thin, but never thin in truncating the decay and harmonic palates; on transparent tube setup, it's a godsend!

To me, it's really good!

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