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
"It’s ... been a while since I have been this excited about an audio product."
"Audeze LCD-2C, Quad Era-1, Brainwavz Alara, Sennheiser HD650 ..."
"It’s the first time when I have heard the headphones mentioned above to their full potential. In the first minute my jaw dropped ..."
"From my perspective this is the best headphone amplifier I have ever heard. It’s no competition really."
"It’s not cheap, I can give you that. Is it worth it? That is up to each and every one of you, but if you really want the best amplifier out there, an end game amplifier…this is it."
- Dan-Alexandru Gheorghe, HeadMania.org
"The HPA4 combined with the Benchmark AHB2 power amplifier ranks as the quietest rig I've heard (or not heard). Even with the gain up to full with no signal, there is no hiss, hum, or buzz, even when I placed my ears within a in inch of the drivers on 89 dB sensitive loudspeakers."
"As a headphone amplifier, the HPA4 was first rate. Whether it was my most power-hungry headphones, which currently are the new Abyss Diana Phi, or my most sensitive IERs, such as the Empire Ears Phantoms, there was no added noise or lack of adequate gain."
"The Benchmark HPA4 exhibits virtually no noise, whether employed as a stereo preamp or headphone amplifier, and his highly transparent, with no audible colorations."
"If you are looking for a preamplifier/headphone amplifier that you can live with happily for a long time, you should consider the Benchmark HPA4 at the top of your must-audition list."
- Steven Stone, HomeTheaterReview.com
"Today, is a very special day for me, since I believe I am hearing the best overall performance out of my headphones."
"The distance performance-wise between HPA4 and my second-best headphone amp is Night and Day!"
"This headphone amplifier and line pre-amplifier receives my highest recommendation and scores the highest rank in my book."
"It spoiled me so much, that for the past 3 days I’m waking up at 5 A.M. so I can listen, tap my feet and head-bang just a little bit more. I for one, started saving for one, I’m sorry but I can’t go back to regular amps."
"Without a doubt Benchmark HPA4 is an end-game, top of the line headphone amp – it’s The One to rule them All."
- Sandu Vitalie, SoundNews.net