Benchmark products were in use in many booths and rooms this year at RMAF. Many vendors chose to use our equipment to drive their headphones and loudspeakers:
The Benchmark DAC3 B, LA4, AHB2 system was in use in RMAF rooms 1000 and 8007.
The Benchmark DAC3 B, HPA4 headphone system was in use at RMAF CANJAM tables 32, 33, 34, 66, 77, 78, 2001 and 2010.
Scroll down for a photo tour of the many Benchmark systems at RMAF 2018.
Announced at RMAF 2018 - The LA4 is our newest preamplifier. This new line amplifier is an HPA4 without the headphone outputs.
New to RMAF - The HPA4 headphone amplifier is new to RMAF. It was introduced after the 2017 show. But, due to its ground-breaking performance, you will find it being used by many headphone vendors at this year's show.
Benchmark Media Systems, Inc. and THX, Ltd. have partnered to introduce the Benchmark HPA4 headphone/line amplifier featuring THX Achromatic Audio Amplifier (AAA™) technology.
THX AAA™ reduces harmonic, intermodulation, and crossover distortion by 20 to 40 dB to guarantee a realistic and fatigue-free listening experience. It accomplishes this using a patented feed-forward topology to null conventional distortion and noise mechanisms, resulting in the world's most linear amplifier. THX AAA allows the amplifier to reach its maximum output power and sound pressure level (SPL) without producing the distortion that normally accompanies increased output levels in traditional amplifiers.
Featuring the flagship THX-888 amplifier design, the revolutionary HPA4 headphone amplifier incorporates the same THX AAAtechnology that Benchmark uses in the AHB2 power amplifier. The HPA4 delivers sonic perfection. Hear the music without any contamination from electronic noise or distortion. The HPA4 delivers power, audio fidelity, speed and accuracy over an utterly silent background.
The LA4 is an HPA4 without the headphone outputs.
The LA4 line amplifier incorporates the finest gold-contact relays available. The gain control has 256 steps in 0.5 dB increments. It also features a balance control. Relay closures are precisely timed to deliver silky-smooth volume changes. No other relay gain control offers this level of precision and performance. The LA4 includes two fully balanced 256-step attenuators for the L&R line outputs.
The stepped attenuator optimizes the interface between your analog sources and your power amplifier. This optimization will improve the system SNR by allowing each component to operate at its optimal signal level. This is especially important when the upstream device is a D/A converter. The LA4 allows the D/A converter to run at full output where it delivers the best SNR. The result is lower noise and lower distortion over a wide range of listening levels.
The DAC3 B is the bare-bones basic D/A converter in Benchmark's DAC3 converter series. The DAC3 B is the ideal converter to use in front of Benchmark's HPA4 headphone amplifier or LA4 line amplifier. It is also ideal for many professional studio applications. It delivers the full performance of the flagship DAC3 HGC, but eliminates the volume control, the analog inputs, the mute and polarity controls, and the headphone amplifier.
To make system integration easy, the DAC3 B retains IR remote control (handset optional), 12 V trigger, and the programmable auto-on feature. The DAC3 B adds a control-lock feature that turns off the remote control and locks the keypad to prevent tampering and accidental changes. The optional 1/2-width rack-mount faceplate allows the mounting of two units in a single 1-RU rack space.
The DAC3 B sounds exactly like the DAC3 HGC because it uses the exact same circuit board and the exact same audio path. Benchmark has simply eliminated the unnecessary parts to deliver a stripped down race car of a converter. If you want a basic D/A converter that delivers the finest conversion available, the DAC3 B is for you.
The DAC3 B is a 2-channel D/A converter featuring the new ESS Technologies ES9028PRO converter chip. The DAC3 converter has lower THD and THD+N noise than Benchmark's DAC2 converters.
Benchmark's DAC1 and DAC2 D/A converter families have been the reference to which other converters have been compared. It is rare to find a converter review that does not draw comparisons to the DAC1 or the DAC2. Benchmark converters are in daily use at many of the world's finest recording studios and mastering rooms. Benchmark converters are also enjoyed by thousands of audiophiles. Benchmark has raised the bar again ... the DAC3 defines a new reference.
From the first watt to the last watt, no audio power amplifier offers lower noise or lower distortion than the Benchmark AHB2. Benchmark has raised the bar by introducing a new and revolutionary amplifier!
“I measured less distortion and noise in the AHB2 than in any other of the many power amps I've measured over the years.”
- Bascom King, BHK Labs
“If ever there were a giant-killer of an amp, this is it.”
"It is one of the -- if not the -- quietest, most resolving amps I've heard. Time and again, without ever having intended to, I wound up hours deep in listening to the fringes of my music collection, thanks to the AHB2’s reference-level transparency and obscene athleticism."
- Hans Wetzel, SoundStage!
"Benchmark Media Systems' AHB2 is an extraordinary amplifier. Not only does its performance lie at the limits of what is possible for me to reliably test, it packs high power into a very small package, especially when used in bridged-mono mode. It is truly a high-resolution amplifier."
- John Atkinson, Stereophile
In room 1000, Benchmark debuted two new products; the LA4 Line Amplifier and DAC3 B D/A converter. This pairing of preamp and DAC along with a pair of AHB2 power amps in monoblock configuration offer the utmost in system transparency. Dennis Chern of Martin Logan demoed the Impression ESL11A electrostatic speakers. Music files was played via an Aurender Music Server.
Speaker manufacturer, Amphion, used the new Benchmark LA4 Line Amp, DAC3 B D/A converter and a pair of AHB2 monoblocs to drive their Krypton3 and Argon 7LS floorstanding speakers. Trevor Fedele of Amphion played some of his favorite music via USB from a laptop. Like Benchmark, Ampion is a pro-audio company offering products for home audio.
At the Benchmark CANJAM headphone table we had two DAC3 B - HPA4 combos driving several different brands and models of headphones! The "tree" in the back had a number of top headphones for our guests to audition.
AUDEZE selected a DAC3 B - HPA4 combo to drive their outstanding selection of headphones!
CLEER also selected a DAC3 B - HPA4 combo to drive their headphones at table 66!
HIFIMAN selected a DAC3 B - HPA4 combo to driving their headphones at their CANJAM tables!
"If you’re on the lookout for a new power amp, headphone amp, DAC or line converter, then you’ll definitely want to check out the Benchmark Media stand at this year’s CanJam."
"The HPA4 Headphone / Line Amplifier is an absolute must see… or listen!"
AXPONA (Audio Expo North America) is the largest high-end audio show in North America. The three-day experience features multiple hotel floors packed with listening rooms, The Expo Hall featuring The Record Fair, a dedicated Ear Gear Expo, seminars and live musical performances. Whether you’re a serious audiophile, a newcomer to high-end audio or simply a music lover, you’ll find everything you need to immerse yourself in your favorite sounds.
The event features over 185 high fidelity listening rooms, providing guests the enviable opportunity to experience the newest technology in high-end consumer audio products. Attendees are encouraged to go from room to room and sit, listen and compare the various systems. The Marketplace and Ear Gear Expo play host to thousands of products and accessories from cables to headphones to LPs and SACDs.
At CanJam NYC for the first time the new DAC3 B is the latest addition to the award-wining DAC3 family. It is specifically designed to compliment the HPA4 and the new LA4, but has many other applications.
At CanJam NYC for the first time the HPA4 headphone amplifier was introduced summer of 2018. But, due to its ground-breaking performance, you will find it being used by many headphone vendors at this year's show.