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
"My initial impression was simple: The LA4 preamp plays everything that is, and nothing that isn't...Neutrality in Audio... and that's really all this review needs to convey."
"The LA4 preamp may occupy neutral audio country, but it is a sweet piece of audio kit. I love its form-factor. I love its simple operation. And I love that it allows the sound of the signal to flow through to the downstream components."
"The LA4's specifications are unquestionably excellent. When using pro-level balanced interconnects, the LA4 manages a Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) greater than 135 dB, and Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) of -125 dB."
"The LA4 has a noise floor that is not just low, it's bats-strain-to-hear-it low."
"The Benchmark LA4 is an excellent preamp, an operationally solid spec-monster that also happens to sound great."
- Gary L Beard, Positive Feedback
"The headphone section, with its choice of 6.35 mm stereo or four-pin balanced XLR connectors ... really impresses with a smooth signal delivery."
"While on the one hand it can rock out when it needs to – its prodigious output means it can give as much power as your headphones can take – its sheer impact, openness and vivacity is jaw-dropping."
"An immaculate all-analogue design, the aptly named Benchmark is both technically and sonically as good as it gets."
- AV Tech Media Awards 2018/2019
Stereophile's editors chose 10 products to receive their top award, the "2018 Product of the Year - Editor's Choice Award". Two Benchmark products made this exclusive list - the AHB2 power amplifier and the DAC3 HGC D/A converter.
"I was impressed by this revolutionary stereo amplifier but it became an obsession when I mated three as monoblocks to a trio of Benchmark's DAC3s."
"The AHB2 is deadly silent, musically revealing, surprisingly compact, and quite powerful."
- Kalman Rubinson
"Benchmark has created a long line of DACs (several of which I've purchased) that present recordings with as little embellishment as is possible at their price points. The latest incarnation, the DAC3, is no exception, and excels at presenting the unvarnished truth, as the artist intended."
- Jon Iverson