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.
That's true the DirectStream does convert everything to DSD, so digitized LPs in PCM or DSD played through it might sound the same.  I put this question up on the PS Audio forum and someone said "The DA-3000 is superb. You probably know this, but Tascam offers free editing software that provides the ability to divide and concatenate DSD and PCM files, as well as conversion. It supports up to 11.2MHz DSD and 384kHz PCM."
From what I can tell, although I have not used it, the Tascam software is pretty limited.

It allows you to work on one file at a time and does not allow a full album file to be treated as an album. There is no tagging of album, artist, composer, track name, etc. To output tracks from an album, you need to select an area then write it out, typing in the track name if you want to use that as the file name. You repeat that for each track. That is a pretty laborious task compared to something like Vinyl Studio which looks up albums on the Internet and provides track timing and track names. The software does not appear to have a facility to find track breaks.

The software does not have any correction capability nor any normalization function.

It does not have support for file formats other than wav, dsf and dsdiff so, for example, flac is not available.

It does seem to convert PCM to DSD and vice versa. And, it appears to convert between different DSD sample rates. I cannot figure out from the documentation if it does so by converting to PCM or not. Perhaps someone of the PS Audio forum knows if DSD to DSD conversion goes through PCM. If not, that would be a nice addition to know about.

If it converts between dsd formats without using pcm as an intermediate, that would be very useful. Other than that, VS is much more versatile.

Can you check on whether dsd conversions go through pcm?
Vinyl Studio definitely appears to be the better product.

Do you mean check on whether dsd conversions go through pcm in the Directstream DAC or are you talking about the Tascam software?
I was referring to the Tascam software and thought you could check on the PS Audio forum. I do not participate there.

There is a need for some people to convert, e.g. 2xDSD to 1xDSD and a program that did that without converting to PCM as an intermediate would be nice to have.