Pontus, Brooklyn+ or Benchmark 3? Pros and Cons

I’m interested in upgrading my current DAC, a Benchmark 1, to one of: a) Denafrips Pontus;  b) Brooklyn DAC Plus;  c) Benchmark 3   I am currently using my Benchmark 1 without a preamp, streaming TIDAL from a Bluesound Vault, and would like to continue that setup. I realize this will mean I’d need to add volume control to the Pontus, but that shouldn’t be a big problem. Other than that, have any of you heard these three DACs (or 2 of the 3), so you could give me your impressions on how they compare? Amp is a newly refurbished McCormack DNA-1 Gold (with Gravity Base Jr and other add-ons; love this amp) and speakers are Usher Mini-Dancer Two’s.
I have an all Benchmark stack, DAC3B | HPA4 | AHB2 x 2. I have yet to find anything that will replace it for my 2 channel Thiel CS3.7. Though I have had more expensive gear in recently, CODA CSiB and KRELL K-300i, I have always said I like the same music a little better on the BM stack.

The only time I had an issue with the BM stack is with my RAAL SR1a headphones. I am listening to them as I type this using HPA4 | AHB2 x 2 | Audio Mirror Tubadour III SE DAC to tame the RAAL’s ribbon.

The DAC3B was replaced by the tube DAC with the RAAL and that made things rather good. Though I will be improving things even further with the RAAL by using a CODA 07x preamp and a D-Sonic amp. So all my Benchmark gear is replaced with the RAAL. On my 2 channel the Benchmark gear cannot be beat. The BM stack does not work with all gear. For, example Paradigm Persona would be awful with my BM stack as is the RAAL.

I owned the Benchmark DAC1 and after a while I realized I hated the fatiguing nature of that DAC. I had to use a BAT VK-42 SE preamp to make the DAC1 listenable. The DAC3 is much more pleasant to listen to. It is also much better sounding when paired with the LA4 or HPA4 preamp. I have owned the DAC3 HGC and used it direct to a AHB2. The HPA4 I now have with the DAC3B is much better overall sound. Especially at low volume listening sessions.

I have used my Tubadour DAC with the HPA4 and AHB2s on my 2 channel and it is good but I like the DAC3B more in signal path for 2 channel. The Tubadour should be similar to the Pontus.

BTW - if you are in the USA get the DAC3 on a 30 day home trial from Benchmark and return it if you do not like it.
@yyzsantabarbara that sounds like a great system — I’ve always wanted to hear a pair of 3.7’s, and I’d bet the Benchmark gear compliments them nicely. Thanks for all your thoughts on the Benchmark 1 to 3B upgrade, though I’m sorry to hear it doesn’t play so well without a pre. How did the addition of the HPA4 change the sound?
@cheeg The biggest difference is in the volume control. There are something like 256 steps on the HPA4 volume and the quality of those steps is very noticeable at low volume. With DAC direct to amp using the DAC3 HGC I was never able to dial in the volume correctly for late night low volume listening. I remember this being a big problem because I just had a kid and I worked late night while the family slept. I should have just got some headphones back then. 

With the HPA4/LA4 the low volume sounds full range but just quieter as one would want. 

The HPA4 as a headphone amp is one of the best. As a preamp I think it is the best if you do not want to hear it. That is because it is quieter than ALL other gear. Adding this preamp is not going to add any noise to the signal. It is in the same level of noise as the quietest DACs. When I bought it last year I think it was quieter than all DACs. Not sure now with new DAC releases.

My only complaint about the HPA4 is that it became a gateway drug to the world of headphones. I have spent way too much money on headphones since the HPA4.

The CS3.7 sounds great with the Benchmark stack. The COAX on the CS3.7 is neither bright or dark and matches nicely with the neutral electronics. 
My DAC3 HGC and AHB2 are great at very low levels (90dB speakers).  Both have XLR level adjustment and Benchmark recommends to set the highest DAC3 HGC output and the highest AHB2 input levels.   That way gain is moved from power amp to DAC - quieter environment.  It also reduces relative noise pickup by interconnects.  You can set XLR output to 0dB, -10dB or -20dB.  I did not try unbalanced outputs (AHB2 only has XLR inputs).