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The A.H.B. Story

Allen H. Burdick

A.H.B.

Benchmark AHB2 Power Amplifier

The Benchmark AHB2 power amplifier is named in honor of Benchmark's founder, Allen H. Burdick. Allen had a life-long passion for audio, and became one of the leading innovators in the pro-audio industry.

Allen's business ventures began in 1983 as "Benchmark Sound Company" where he operated from his garage in Dallas, Texas. He surrounded himself with a staff that shared his passion for achieving new audio performance "benchmarks". Benchmark's first product was a large mixing console for television and radio broadcast applications. In 1985, Allen changed the business name to Benchmark Media Systems, Inc., and relocated to a facility in his hometown of Syracuse, New York. By this time Benchmark was manufacturing the DA101 audio distribution amplifier for television studios. Allen's DA101 was a 40 W power amplifier card with astonishing specifications. It had a 160 kHz bandwidth, and a dynamic range of 130 dB. The DA101 was designed to distribute line-level audio through extensive distribution networks. Television networks often require many cascaded distribution amplifiers, and this places extraordinary demands on the performance of each individual amplifier. Allen's DA101 revolutionized audio distribution in the era of analog TV. Allen was a perfectionist and a prolific engineer.

Allen retired in 2006 due to health issues, but Benchmark continued to develop new products under the direction of John Siau. Allen's DA101 was never marketed as a power amplifier, but it became Benchmark's amplifier of choice for critical listening tests during the development of Benchmark's digital products. The recent development of the DAC2 converter family highlighted the need for a power amplifier that could match the performance of the converter, and Benchmark began an amplifier project that we code-named "PA2".

In many ways, Allen's DA101 helped define the performance goals of the PA2 project. Early prototypes were evaluated against the DA101. Benchmark's performance goals were achieved through the use of two new patented topologies from THX, the application of good engineering, and a high level of cooperation between the engineering groups at both companies. The result is an amplifier that Allen would have been proud to call a "Benchmark".

On September 27, 2013, the "PA2" was ready to go into production, but we still didn't have a final name for the new amplifier. The faceplates were machined and finished but needed to be printed with the product name. I began thinking about the technology in the amplifier and how this could be incorporated into the name. The amplifier delivered class-A performance, had class-H tracking rails, and a class-AB output stage. It then struck me that the letters A, H, and B were Allen H. Burdick's initials. The initials A.H.B. can be found on most early Benchmark schematics. Instantly it was clear to me that the new amplifier should be named after the man who inspired it! I announced the name to my staff, and we placed the order for the printing. Less than an hour later we got a phone call with the sad news that Allen had passed away.

Allen H. Burdick

In loving memory of Allen H. Burdick (June 29, 1942 - September 27, 2013).

 

- John Siau


Also in Audio Application Notes

Closeup of Plasma Tweeter

Making Sound with Plasma - Hill Plasmatronics Tweeter

by John Siau June 06, 2023

At the 2023 AXPONA show in Chicago, I had the opportunity to see and hear the Hill Plasmatronics tweeter. I also had the great pleasure of meeting Dr. Alan Hill, the physicist who invented this unique device.

The plasma driver has no moving parts and no diaphragm. Sound is emitted directly from the thermal expansion and contraction of an electrically sustained plasma. The plasma is generated within a stream of helium gas. In the demonstration, there was a large helium tank on the floor with a sufficient supply for several hours of listening.

Hill Plasmatronics Tweeter Demonstration - AXPONA 2023

While a tank of helium, tubing, high voltage power supplies, and the smell of smoke may not be appropriate for every living room, this was absolutely the best thing I experienced at the show!

- John Siau

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Benchmark AHB2 Power Amplifier

Audio Calculators

by John Siau June 04, 2023

We have added an "Audio Calculators" section to our webpage. Click "Calculators" on the top menu to see more like these:

THD % to dB Converter

Results update on input change.

Results

THD dB to % Converter

Results update on input change.

Results

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Benchmark AHB2 Power Amplifier

System Performance Calculations

by John Siau June 03, 2023

If an audio system is composed of multiple components, we may have detailed specifications for each component, but we will not know the performance of the combined system without doing some calculations. You may have questions such as these:

  • Will my audio system produce audible noise?
  • Will my audio system produce audible distortion?
  • How will my audio components work together as a system?
  • How loud will my audio system play?

Use Benchmark's online audio calculators to find answers!

For example, if we know the output power of an amplifier, as well as the sensitivity and impedance of our loudspeakers, we can calculate the maximum sound pressure level that our system can produce.

Peak SPL Calculator

Results update on input change.

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This application note provides interactive examples that help to answer the questions listed above.

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