Tascam DA-3000 vs Benchmark ADC1 USB

In a previous thread the subject about using a Tascam DA-3000 to archive vinyl was discussed. I had posted that my initial tests with the Tascam were far from satisfying. I speculated that I thought the issue was the analog circuitry in the front end of the Tascam.

Well I just received a Benchmark ADC1 USB and have run a few test recordings to compare with the Tascam.

I set the ADC1 up to feed digital AES/EBU 24bit/96KHz into the AES/EBU digital input on the Tascam. Clock on the Tascam was set to DI (digital input from the ADC1). Clock rate and bit depth were set to match the ADC1.

So I was effectively using the Benchmark for the basic analog to digital conversion, and the Tascam to convert the digital data stream into a WAV file saved to a 4 G SD card in the Tascam. This way I avoided any USB and computer related variables in building the WAV file of the recording.

The analog inputs to the Benchmark ADC1 were straight out (DC out) of the Spectral DMC-10 phono preamp. I used custom built single ended RCA to XLR cables. Surprisingly, I found hum levels were about 6 dB better that the same inputs into the Tascam directly.

I recorded some quick cuts from LPs I am pretty familiar with (Steely Dan Gaucho Babylon Sisters, John Klemmer's Touch, and Blind Faith's Had to Cry Today that I used initially). The recording levels were very easy to set as the Benchmark ADC1 has really nice analog front panel controls for gain. Setting up the Tascam to "Monitor" confirmed the digital levels and both units agreed with each other to within a dB or so.

What about the results?

I was very happy with the recordings made with the Benchmark. When A/B'd directly with the LP, the recorded 24/96K WAV was not identical, but pretty damn close. Much better than recordings made with the Tascam alone. The original LP was a tad bit smoother and very slightly more detailed, but if you were not A/B ing you might not notice the difference. What was important to me was that the recording maintained the space and 3d sound field of the LP, and not crush it into a plane like many CD recordings.

All in all not the cheapest solution, but still cheaper than the Ayre 9A product. Plus using the Tascam gives you a stand alone solution with no need to connect USB to a computer, but it's there if you want it.

I would say Benchmark was pretty true to what they said their product would do.

Could you clarify that point about the corrections?

Are you saying that at the end of the process you have two files, the original and a corrected version?

Or is VS needed to apply the corrections during playback?
The original files (e.g., wav files from the Tascam) are left unchanged and the output files (usually the individual tracks - I use flac) contain the corrected audio. The changes are maintained in separate files and are only applied to the output files when their are created. The VS website has documentation and screen shots of the process if you want to see the details.
I'm probably getting a Tascam DA-3000 to digitize my LPs.  What attracted me to it was this write up on the Decware site, where they sell the DA-3000 with an upgraded analog output stage:

“Although it can be hooked to a computer or your favorite transport or anything with a digital output... our favorite thing about it is the SD cards! This makes it possible to hear your sound files on a 100% hardware solution without being hooked up to a computer or the internet. Below is a list of the following variables this can eliminate:

    1) What type of computer you have and its effect on the sound?
    2) What operating system does it run on?
    3) How fast is the hard drive in it?
    4) How much memory is available for buffering?
    5) Which of the dozens of playback software solutions you have?
    6) Are they configured correctly?
    7) What plug-ins are installed?
    8) Do you have the proper and up to date software drivers?
    9) Are the sound adjustments on the computer configured right?
    10) What USB formats does your computer support?
    11) What kind of audiophile USB cable should you run?
    12) Is the computer running an aftermarket updated power supply?

“BONUS: YOU CAN RECORD DSD AUDIO WITH IT - If you're not into wasting money on special software and inferior hardware to record your albums or tapes, stay tuned because this machine is simply a fantastic digital recorder. It records directly to SD cards making it possible to get perfect hi-res bit perfect DSD and double DSD recordings of your analog treasures with results so true to the source you'll have trouble telling the two apart.”

The discussion in this thread re: Vinyl Studio confused me at first since as Decware states no special software is required for recording with the DA-3000.  But here we are talking about using VS to enhance the files created by the DA-3000, and the VS is not used during the recording process, correct?

But here we are talking about using VS to enhance the files created by the DA-3000, and the VS is not used during the recording process, correct?

Correct. You do not need VS to do the recording. VS will allow you to break the file into tracks and name them and also to eliminate the gaps between tracks. For DSD files you cannot do any correction (click removal, hum or hiss removal) without changing to PCM.

 I started with DSD but soon found that I wanted to do corrections on most of my albums and went to PCM to do that. At least with my DAC, I do not heard much difference between DSD and PCM. You should try both and see if you can hear the difference.

As a playback device I think the DA-3000 is somewhat limited. From the specs I believe it only takes 64 GB cards or flash drives. That can be limiting when each 5.8 MHz DSD album is over 4 GBs. If you can put a large external drive on it, then you might be OK, although the "user interface" is certainly limited. The usb interface is usb 1.1 according to the specs.
I won't be using the DA-3000 as a playback device since recently acquired a PS Audio DirectStream DAC with Bridge II that I stream to.  It sounds very good and is the reason I've decided to try digitizing my LPs.  I'm hoping they sound better as DSD files than PCM via the Directstream.  I'm sure many of my LPs will need some correction with VS, so based on what you've said, those will need to be PCM files.  I rip CDs with dBpoweramp which can convert file types.  Too bad it can't convert PCM to DSD.