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.
dhl93449
Thanks. We will see if he knows. Otherwise I might call Tascam and ask them.
He did not know, and says Tascam is pretty responsive so perhaps emailing them will provide an answer.
Question sent to Tascam. There wording in their description is a little vague. Hopefully, they will be able to answer. A free utility that converted between different dsd sample rates without going through PCM would be a welcome addition.

I did download the software to an Windows 8.1 i3 system and it took a several minutes to display the waveform on a 6 minute track.

I was looking at the PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter as an alternative to the Tascam DA-3000.  There are a couple for sale on this site ($1100 and $1400).  It is a completely analog phono stage + an AD converter in one box.  My current phono preamp is a Heed Quasar which in my system sounds great.  Since I don't know anything about the NuWave phono, not sure if I really want to go there.  But anyway, reason for bringing it up, Paul McGowan of PS Audio, despite his product having the capability of recording in DSD, belives 24bit/96kHz PCM is plenty sufficient to digitally capture all the musical information found on a vinyl LP.  Since I think the DA-3000 is the way I'm going to go, this makes me think no need to be concerned with whether to record in DSD or PCM.  Just use PCM 24/96 for all LPs and then those that need correction with VS, do that and be done.

Quote from the Manual: We recommend for most users 96kHz and nothing higher. As previously explained, 96kHz provides full bandwidth for any LP or, for that matter, anything most people are likely to want to play. Using 96kHz and below engages the best sounding decimation filters in the NPC and provides a near-perfect zero group delay for PCM users. 96kHz gives full bandwidth to 48kHz, exceeding the threshiold of human hearing by twice (and vinyl LP’s don’t exceed 30kHz even under the best circumstances), and maintaining perfect phase relations within the audible band.