Stereophile’s subjective reviews reached a new low in my opinion with the recent review of the Benchmark DAC3 HGC. The reviewer attempted to compare the Benchmark to the PS Audio DirectStream. He claimed that he, his nineteen-year-old musician son and an unidentified third person (“a friend and fellow audio reviewer”) could not hear any discernible differences between the two DACs.
The methodology used for the comparison included sending “the [analog] output of the DirectStream DAC into one of the DAC3’s analog inputs, [and] switching between this input and the [Benchmark’s] USB input coming directly from my server.”
The reviewer admits in parentheses that “[t]his approach gives a slight edge to the DAC3, because the DAC3’s analog inputs are unbalanced, and because the DirectStream’s output is passing through the DAC3’s preamp.”
Only a “slight” edge? Is he joking?
I imagine the Benchmark is a fine-sounding product and a good value. But Stereophile does a disservice to Benchmark, PS Audio and its readers by allowing reviewers to evaluate gear in such a shoddy manner. You can read the review here. (The reader comments are far more enlightening and entertaining than the review.)