• New Patreon Tier and Early Access Content available. If you would like to support AVForums, we now have a new Patreon Tier which gives you access to selected news, reviews and articles before they are available to the public. Read more.

HD650 with Benchmark DAC 1 via XLR advice


Active Member
I own some Sennhesier HD650s and I am considering an XLR balanced cable upgrade. In order to use this correctly, I'll need to set my Benchmark DAC1 to variable output mode so I can adjust the volume gain.

I've currently got the DAC1 set up in calibrated mode connected to an integrated amplifier via RCA, so at least the XLR sockets are free. However, if I were to use the headphones, I'll have to switch the DAC1 rear output switch to variable and then back to calibrated when I am using the amp/speakers.

1) Is switching the Benchmarks DAC1 to calibrated and variable frequently going to be an issue? If the switch is as robust at the source select switch then things should be fine, I think.

2) Is it best to power off the DAC1 before switching variable/calibrated output mode? There is a mute centre position, so maybe this is designed to prevent any pop on changing, although experience tells me to always turn the volume nob down first. I like to be kit kind when possible!

If constantly switching from variable to calibrated is not the best idea and leaving the DAC1 set to variable is likely to reduce sound quality (longer signal path through the gain circuitry), I'd rather not do this and opt for a jack headphone upgrade cable. Benchmark seems to suggest the headphone output will be better, but many forum posts I've seen suggest you can't beat balanced with the HD650s.

So do I get a jack cable with no switching needed or a balanced cable and switch away without worry?


Active Member
I would not worry to much about the switching it seems pretty robust to me, but on the other hand i've tried this xlr option and personally wouldn't bother thats just my personal opinion though.

I asked benchmark them selfs what they though of this idea and they were very much against it saying you'll get much more distortion that way, regardless of that i still tried it and i wasn't impressed.

I'd recommend you use a new cable if needed, i use a pure silver one which i make. great for getting more detail although sometimes a curse.

Could i ask how long you have been using your 650s? reason being as i wasn't completely taken by them till after 6-7 months, it seems to take them that long to brake in, but have't to say i'm very impressed now.

The latest video from AVForums

Guardians of the Galaxy Xmas Special, Strange World, Bones and All, and Cabinet of Dr Caligari in 4K
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom