DAC1 - "A clean, lean digitizing machine"
John Watkinson, author of "The Art of Digital Audio" wrote:
"If the use of an exotic cable makes a DAC sound better, then the DAC is not performing adequately and should be repaired or redesigned. If the goal is actually to achieve high quality, rather than just claim it, then this is one of the fundamental tests a designer should use."
"As can be seen (from the graph above) the DAC1 easily operates with total freedom from jitter at the end of a 1000′ length of CAT5e data cable."
"Whoever heard of a DAC operating without jitter induced sidebands over 1000′ feet of garden variety data cable? Now that’s a properly engineered device!"
"Benchmark. That’s a loaded name for a component manufacturer. It brings to mind thoughts not only of quality build and performance but, for those philosophically inclined, also epistemological questions pertaining to the nature of high-end audio."
"Certainly one means of establishing a benchmark is through testing. Speaking of specifications, never have I seen such a cascade of specifications attached to a DAC as with the DAC1."
"Benchmark is willing to trot out every iota of information to assuage the objectively minded audiophile."
"The DAC1 was created with three target users in mind: the professional studio, home use by audio professionals, and audiophiles. Indeed, the DAC1 has been well received by studios and has made inroads into the audiophile community. It is feature-laden and smartly laid out."
- Doug Schroeder, dagogo
"I conducted an informal online interview with John Siau, Director of Engineering at Benchmark Media."
According to John Siau:
“UltraLock is a clock isolation system. The incoming digital audio contains an embedded data clock that often contains high levels of jitter. UltraLock creates an impenetrable wall of separation between the high-jitter embedded data clock and a pristine fixed–frequency D/A conversion clock…Jitter from the transport cannot reach the D/A converter.”
"I’ve not heard any dac in a player or outboard that has coughed up as much miniscule movements in the music as the DAC1."
"It does what it claims; even a “low life” CDP’ can sound great with it! You can take a $100 (at least in my experience with the NAD player) cdp, hook it up to the DAC1 and get horribly good performance!"
"It’s more than a DAC, it’s a pretty doggone good preamp too!"
"It presents hyper-nuanced, super clean sound."
"The Benchmark is a clean, lean digitizing machine. It does set the standard at its price point for pure, unadulterated digital signals coming to your nearest amp(s)."
"If you’re after the most measurably perfect CD sound and endless detail, put it on your own test bench – your audio rack."
- Doug Schroeder, dagogo
"Since the HPA4 arrived, I have rediscovered so many of my favorite works all over again with improved detail retrieval dynamics and transparency that it’s hard to pull myself away!"
"It drove my power hungry Abyss Phi TC headphones with complete authority, but it was still dead silent and nimble enough to amplify my easy to drive Focal Utopia headphones."
"Rarely have I come across such a wonderfully revealing amplifier that can drive many different types of headphones so darn well! The solid build construction and various controls make the $2,995 price tag seem a bit low based on the other headphone amplifiers in this market space."- Peter Pialis, Headphone.guru
"Benchmark Media Systems’ LA4 preamplifier presented an utterly realistic reproduction of what was contained on each recording I played through it -- and weak recordings stood out more than usual. The LA4’s clean, analytical abilities are unmatched by any similarly priced preamplifier I know of. The LA4’s touchscreen brings it up to date with current user interfaces, and permits functions, such as balance control and muting at the device."
"If you want a preamp that editorializes, look elsewhere."
"If, like me, you value a high-resolution, totally neutral musical performance, add a Benchmark LA4 to your system, particularly if you already own a Benchmark DAC."
- Erich Wetzel, SoundStage! Hi-Fi
"You’ll have a tough time finding a cleaner, quieter, more transparent line amplifier and headphone amplifier anywhere, at any price. I found it to be a new reference. Once I heard it, I could not live without it, so I purchased the review sample. The HPA4 deserves my highest recommendation."
"The HPA4 is the latest product from Benchmark Media Systems, an upstate New York audio manufacturer. Benchmark calls it a headphone amplifier, but it’s really two products in one, combining the LA4 Line Amplifier introduced in 2018, with a headphone amplifier. It is also based on the same THX Achromatic Audio Amplifier technology used in Benchmark’s acclaimed AHB2 power amplifier."
- Gary Galo, Audioxpress.com