Benchmark's philosophy is very clear: digital converters should preserve all of the glorious nuances of the source so that the listener can simply engage with the music. Benchmark's converters are world-renowned for fulfilling this mandate.
Benchmark's ADC16 is, yet again, another successful actualisation of this philosophy. With the ADC16, Benchmark's storied sonic purity can span across an entire multi-track recording session. This 16-channel A/D converter conquers the digital demons that plague so many converters on the market.
The ADC16 delivers the industry's 'Benchmark' for performance in a package that is simultaneously full-featured, functionally flexible, intuitive, aesthetically alluring, and surprisingly affordable.
The ADC16 has a slot for an optional Firewire card. With a Firewire connection to the computer, the ADC16 can operate as the sole interface to native DAWs, including Pro Tools 9, without the need for any other hardware. Moreover, The ADC16 is completely compatible with the digital I/O interfaces of the Avid/Digidesign interfaces and other interfaces with AES, coaxial, and/or optical inputs.
The ADAT mode of the optical outputs makes the ADC16 a perfect companion for older Pro Tools LE interfaces, as well as other digital interfaces with ADAT and coaxial inputs, as it can fulfill the entire digital-input capability of the interface with state-of-the-art A/D performance.
This type of flexibility means the ADC16 can work perfectly with DAW setups from the past and the future.
The ADC16 features 16-channels of transformerless balanced analog inputs. The analog front-end continues Benchmark's tradition of exceptionally pristine, award-winning analog circuitry - a 27 year legacy.
Each channel of analog input has a gain control (via a trim-pot) that has a 20 dB range. At 0 dB of gain, it can accept 28 dBu at the input without clipping. At max-gain, an 8 dB input-signal will drive the converters to full-scale.
The ADC16 features very flexible I/O routing solutions. The control panel allows the user to dictate the source (A/D or DAW) for each of the AES, coaxial, and optical digital outputs. This is very useful when the ADC16 is used in a studio with an analog console. The digital audio from the A/D chips can be sent directly to the digital outputs to a multichannel D/A to feed the console - completely bypassing the DAW. This reduces latency and DAW artifacts in real-time monitoring.
The eight optical outputs on the ADC16 can be operated in SPDIF or ADAT mode at sample-rates up to 192 kHz (ADAT has SMUX2 and SMUX4 functionality).
The performance of the ADC16 never varies - another core philosophy of Benchmark products.
Benchmark's new UltraLockDDS clock system utilises the latest low-jitter clock technology developed for high-frequency RF communications systems. The master oscillator is a low phase-noise, temperature-compensated, fixed-frequency crystal oscillator with a +/- 2 PPM frequency accuracy. This oscillator drives a 500 MHz Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) system that generates a 3072 x WC system clock. This high-frequency clock is divided by 6 and distributed directly to the A/D converters using a high-speed PECL clock distribution chip. Each of the 8 converters are driven directly from a dedicated, matched-impedance transmission line.
Jitter attenuation is achieved with digital filters in a custom FPGA that controls the DDS system. All jitter-induced distortion artifacts are well below audibility under all operating conditions. Jitter-induced distortion is always at least 135 dB below the level of the music. The jitter-performance of UltralLockDDS meets or exceeds the performance of Benchmark's UltraLock system, but does not use asynchronous sample rate conversion (ASRC). The elimination of the ASRC processing significantly reduces system latency and provides the most direct path from the A/D to the digital interface.
Benchmark's UltraLockDDS system is frequency agile. It can lock to any sample rate between 28 kHz and 200 kHz, and it can do so in a few milliseconds. Special pull-up and pull-down sample rates for film to video transfers are no problem. Best of all, jitter is always attenuated to levels that are well below audibility. Jitter performance is identical in all modes of operation.
The ADC16 features 9-segment meters for each channel. These meters are single-sample accurate, so that even the shortest peaks are registered. The meters can be set to display in 6 dB increments (48 dB range) or 1 dB increments (20 dB range). In both cases, the meters can be put in 'peak-hold' mode, which will hold the highest-valued sample until the 'peak-hold' mode is reset.