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Author Topic: 2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?  (Read 6521 times)

zakco

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2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« on: September 22, 2005, 03:02:49 pm »

Greetings,

I am interested in getting a dedicated 2 channel D/A converter for mixing/mastering monitor duties. I would like to spend around $1000 USD so Prism and the like are out of my league. Because, this will be the first step in my monitor chain, I would like something as clean an uncolored as possible.

The 2 units that have caught my attention (and are in my price range) are the Benchmark DAC-1 and the Mytek Stereo 96 DAC. Unfortunately due to my location, I won't be able to audition multiple units here in my studio, so I am interested in some professional opinions about these two units.

I know this forum has some great ears....has anyone here had a chance to A/B these 2 units?

Thanks,

-Z-

Arf! Mastering

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Re: 2 channel D/A convesion - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2005, 03:43:15 pm »

Both good and very close, but I found the Mytek to have more detail than the DAC-1.  I could hear into the sound more, pick up more nuances of tone, character and space.
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jackthebear

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Re: 2 channel D/A convesion - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2005, 08:19:28 pm »

If it has to be between the Mytek and the Benchmark I'd give the Mytek the nod as well.

Now not to want to muddy the waters here or anything but you may want to consider a Lavry Blue. Maybe a little more than you want to spend but worth it.

E-mail Priscilla at Lavry. Great lady and she is always willing to wheel and deal. Service is top notch as well.

After that, if it's still the same 2 horse race get the Mytek and if you wear lipstick it'll be all over your earlobes in no time.

Very Happy
Cheers,
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TotalSonic

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Re: 2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2005, 08:38:04 pm »

I definitely agree with Tony here.  The Lavry Blue DAC is definitely fantastic sounding and not that much more than the Benchmark or the Mytek - the 4496 with 2 channels MDA824 is $1325 from http://www.mercenary.com in fact.

Thing is the Lavry doesn't have spdif in's (it's AES only), metering, or a variable attenuator on the front panel - which both the Benchmark & Mytek have - so you need to decide whether those features are a deal killer or not.

back to the original question:
I've never compared Mytek with Benchmark - but I have compared the Mytek with the Apogee PSX-100 - and I greatly preferred the Mytek.  I am also happily using a Mytek Stereo 96 AD right now also - I think their products offer a lot of bang for buck.  But I ended up getting 4 channels of Lavry Blue DAC for less money (because of its modular design) than I could have gotten 4 channels of Mytek or Benchmark.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

zakco

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Re: 2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2005, 09:28:31 pm »

Somehow I knew the Lavry would find its way into this discussion....and the price isn't really a problem if was the right unit for me.

One feature that I really like about the mytek/benchmark units is the headphone output on the front panel. Currently my headphone amp is a Rane HC6 being fed by my Soundcraft Ghost's mix B outs - Not exactly ideal....a D/A unit with a high quality HP out would be really useful to me, as would the volume knob for the same reasons.

Regarding the meters, mercenary's picture of the Lavry shows meters on the font panel: http://mercenary.com/laen44wi2chd.html

One thing I'm wondering though, is why both the mytek and the benchmark don't build them as a full rackspace? Is there some advantage to a 1/2 rack that I'm not aware of?

-Z-


Arf! Mastering

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Re: 2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2005, 09:37:08 pm »

The meters are for the adc.  If Lavry Blue enters the race, then I'd agree with the other posters here - it's the one to beat.

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TotalSonic

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Re: 2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2005, 10:20:43 pm »

zakco wrote on Fri, 23 September 2005 02:28

Somehow I knew the Lavry would find its way into this discussion....and the price isn't really a problem if was the right unit for me.

One feature that I really like about the mytek/benchmark units is the headphone output on the front panel. Currently my headphone amp is a Rane HC6 being fed by my Soundcraft Ghost's mix B outs - Not exactly ideal....a D/A unit with a high quality HP out would be really useful to me, as would the volume knob for the same reasons.


That's the reason I held onto my old Lucid DA9624.  It has a nice sounding headphone amp (with volume control on the front panel) and doesn't take up much extra space in the rack - and can be used as a decent sounding extra 2 channels of DA when I need it (although it certainly doesn't make the transients pop out of the speaker in "3d" the way the Lavry does).  You could probably find one pretty cheap these days.

Quote:


One thing I'm wondering though, is why both the mytek and the benchmark don't build them as a full rackspace? Is there some advantage to a 1/2 rack that I'm not aware of?


To me this is a big advantage as the less mass your console or process rack takes up the better off you are in terms of keeping the potential reflections down in between you and your monitors - and with 1/2 rack (Benchmark) or 1/3 rack (Mytek) sizes you can fit more channels of DA or AD into the same amount of space.  Of course with the Lavry modular design you can fit up to 8 channels of DA or AD or any combo of such within 1 rack space.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

Ronny

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Re: 2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2005, 11:04:18 pm »



Why would you place your converter rack where it would influence your sweet spot relative to the monitors? That's what cables are made for.  

I doubt very seriously that designers half rack units to curb ER in mix and mastering rooms. It's because the guts don't need the large rack space unit size, no mystery, just logic and economics. We've become a miniaturized society. Things will get ever smaller.  
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jackthebear

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Re: 2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2005, 11:10:53 pm »

TotalSonic wrote on Fri, 23 September 2005 12:20



To me this is a big advantage as the less mass your console or process rack takes up the better off you are in terms of keeping the potential reflections down in between you and your monitors - and with 1/2 rack (Benchmark) or 1/3 rack (Mytek) sizes you can fit more channels of DA or AD into the same amount of space.  



In princple you are absolutely correct, but when you're talking that amount of real estate (1/2 or 2/3) being saved, then I doubt it's going to be that noticable a difference.

Cheers,
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TotalSonic

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Re: 2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2005, 11:26:41 pm »

jackthebear wrote on Fri, 23 September 2005 04:10

TotalSonic wrote on Fri, 23 September 2005 12:20



To me this is a big advantage as the less mass your console or process rack takes up the better off you are in terms of keeping the potential reflections down in between you and your monitors - and with 1/2 rack (Benchmark) or 1/3 rack (Mytek) sizes you can fit more channels of DA or AD into the same amount of space.  



In princple you are absolutely correct, but when you're talking that amount of real estate (1/2 or 2/3) being saved, then I doubt it's going to be that noticable a difference.

Cheers,



Well - right now I am trying to get it so that the only things I'll have in front of the monitors (which I'm still shopping for - looks like I can increase my budget on these considering the money I was thinking I could snag Europadisk's SP79 or DMM lathe with didn't get spent) is a Quiklok wheelable angled 14 space rack off to my left side and a small wheelable workstation desk for my 2 15" LCD's and pc keyboard (and maybe my CM Motormix so that I can control the DAW with some real knobs & faders) to my right side.  But right now I've got 9 spaces on the processor rack filled - and that doesn't include things like the VU meters, or the XLR patchbay, and maybe a Quantum and another dynamics processors I want to get.  So sometimes economy of space can help a little.  But you're right - I'm probably making too much out of what a 1/2 rack type of design actually gives you.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

TotalSonic

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Re: 2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2005, 11:41:18 pm »

Ronny wrote on Fri, 23 September 2005 04:04



Why would you place your converter rack where it would influence your sweet spot relative to the monitors? That's what cables are made for.  


This way by having my converters in my process rack I can just run a single long AES cable instead of 2 analog cables for every stereo pair - and I can keep the analog cables going from the DAC and to the ADC incredibly short.  This way I can also adjust my ADC's input attenuator without having to move from my sweet spot.  

Quote:


I doubt very seriously that designers half rack units to curb ER in mix and mastering rooms. It's because the guts don't need the large rack space unit size, no mystery, just logic and economics. We've become a miniaturized society. Things will get ever smaller.  


On second thought I agree - you're right about that.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

zakco

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Re: 2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2005, 11:56:53 pm »

Yeah, I do get the reasoning for the 1/2 space units, I guess I'm just a creature of convenience. It would be my only 1/2 space unit and I would need a rackmount kit and blank panels in order to integrate it into my current workstation....whine, whine, whine...but seriously, I don't want to make too much of that, I realize it's not a big deal at all.

I'm kind of torn on this one....go for the Lavry and take a different approach to HP monitoring and a stepped volume knob (both of which I desperately need), or settle for the mytek (which will hopefully be a definite step up from my MOTU HD192) and get the features I need at a price point I can afford...oh the agony.... Sad Rolling Eyes

-Z-

TotalSonic

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Re: 2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2005, 12:03:39 am »

zakco wrote on Fri, 23 September 2005 04:56

Yeah, I do get the reasoning for the 1/2 space units, I guess I'm just a creature of convenience. It would be my only 1/2 space unit and I would need a rackmount kit and blank panels in order to integrate it into my current workstation....whine, whine, whine...but seriously, I don't want to make too much of that, I realize it's not a big deal at all.

I'm kind of torn on this one....go for the Lavry and take a different approach to HP monitoring and a stepped volume knob (both of which I desperately need), or settle for the mytek (which will hopefully be a definite step up from my MOTU HD192) and get the features I need at a price point I can afford...oh the agony.... Sad Rolling Eyes

-Z-


Zak -
I don't know whether your ultimate goal is mastering - but if it is one thing to think about is that you'll end up needing one DAC to send to your analog process chain, and a second DAC to monitor your digital source so that you can do quick a/b's between them.

The Mytek is definitely a really fine unit and will definitely be a big step up from a MOTU HD192 to me.  If just monitoring your workstation is the goal I think this might be your best bet in terms of price point and features.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

zakco

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Re: 2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2005, 01:23:37 am »

TotalSonic wrote on Thu, 22 September 2005 21:03


Zak -
I don't know whether your ultimate goal is mastering - but if it is one thing to think about is that you'll end up needing one DAC to send to your analog process chain, and a second DAC to monitor your digital source so that you can do quick a/b's between them.

The Mytek is definitely a really fine unit and will definitely be a big step up from a MOTU HD192 to me.  If just monitoring your workstation is the goal I think this might be your best bet in terms of price point and features.

Best regards,
Steve Berson


Steve,

At this point, monitoring my workstation is my immediate need. I don't run a "real" mastering house, just a small, but busy commercial studio. Most of my more serious projects get sent to dedicated mastering facilities but at least half of my work (demos, vanity records etc) get mastered in-house using wavelab and a decent selection of plugins. I also do a fair amount of mastering for other local producers/studios and this type of work seems to be coming more and more lately.

I really enjoy mastering and I want to be properly equipped to take on the work that I do get. Having said that, I don't have any illusions about my gear or experience, but I'm constantly learning and my clients seem to like my work.

I have just completed a major acoustic renovation to my CR and now I'm trying to get my monitor chain up to snuff. It's amazing how an accurate room brings out the shortcomings in the rest of your gear....

Good point about the second set of D/A for the analog chain. I don't doubt that at some point that will become necessary too, but as long as I'm all "in the box", two decent channels will take care of my needs.

thanks for the input, I really appreciate it...

-Z-

twelfthandvine

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Re: 2 channel D/A - Benchmark or Mytek or....?
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2005, 02:01:14 am »

Just by chance, I happen to be about to buy one of these Mytek things as well.  

Down here in the far off land of Aus, there's a non-specific rumour going around that Lavry may very shortly announce a new 2 channel box to compete directly against the Mytek and Benchmark products (the local distributor can't comment) ... kind of like a 'Lavry DAC-1'.  The tyranny of distance means that sometimes gossip like this is completely baseless but, on the other hand you never know.  

Anyway, the story made me pause for a moment, so ... any views from those geographically closer to the action?

Kind regards,
Paul Blakey
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