BTW - thanks for the offer of info. Actually, I am really torn between a handful of DAC's to try. I live in the far south of England rather than the USA so trying to find a local dealer to 'lend' me a DAC to try out is not that easy.
However, I do now have the opportunity to try out a PS Audio DLIII but think it would be really interesting to hear it head to head against a DAC1 pre. I'll try to find a company who offers a free trial and I might run a personal test and publish my ramblings here.
The feedback I feel I am getting one DAC to the other is PS audio have managed to find/create a more rounded and warmer sound against the more clear and accurate sound of Benchmark. Neither is wrong. . . I personally love my base and warmness that my valves give me and would not want to lose that - but equally I like accuracy. It is all down to balance - much like life eh? In terms of what each DAC box actually offers I do not need headphones (sod the noise, turn the speakers up!) or multiple inputs and am only interested in getting the best I can get out of digital files through to a fairly traditional front end and a limited budget.
I know you have great knowledge of your subject, and I know I will make mistakes along my digital path - but I love the fact that we are at the cusp of a major new era of high end audio via high quality/high res digital files rather than old school crackle full vinyl and tinny skippy cd's.