DAC2 HGC - "FarMoreRefinedThan itsPrice Would Suggest"
"The DAC2 HGC uses one of the best digital chipsets on the market today to produce a quality of sound that, until a few years ago, wasn't available for less than $10,000. It sounds far more refined than its $1995 price would suggest, and when you consider that it can serve as the keystone of a digital and analog system, on a desktop or in a listening room, it becomes all the more remarkable."
"The DAC2 HGC has a remarkable feature set that’s not available from any of the industry’s big names for anywhere near $2000."
"On the rear panel the inputs are plentiful, with a multimode asynchronous USB port that permits USB 1.1 or 2.0 connections, and input signals up to 24-bit/192kHz. Two optical inputs accept signals up to 96kHz, while a pair of coaxial inputs can support all sample rates from 28 to 210kHz, even nonstandard ones. All of these digital inputs support native DSD conversion. Outputs include two pairs of RCA ports and a pair of balanced XLR ports. There’s also a bidirectional 12V trigger."
"All of this is impressive. But the DAC2 also has two pairs of analog inputs, making it a traditional analog preamplifier as well as a digital preamp, and even has a built-in headphone amplifier with two 1/4” headphone jacks."
"As expected, the DAC2 was every bit as transparent and resolving as the DAC1 -- more so, actually -- but gone was the bite, the crispness that marked the DAC1’s treble, and gone too was its stridency. To say that the DAC2 sounded relaxed would be unfair, but it was more laid-back than the DAC1."
LA4 - Receives Stereophile's Highest "Class A" Rating for Preamplifiers
"Benchmark's usual approach to design is to out-spec the competition, and so it is here. Like other Benchmark equipment he has tested, the affordable LA4 challenged the resolution of John Atkinson's test instruments, with'superb'channel separation,'extremely low noise, and virtually no power-supply-related spuriae.'"
"Benchmark's LA4 is the widest-bandwidth, widest-dynamic-range, lowest-noise, lowest-distortion preamplifier I have encountered."- John Atkinson
"In his listening room, Kalman Rubinson compared the LA4 to a cable—and couldn't hear any difference. He concludes,'the LA4 is probably the most transparent and revealing audio component I've ever used. It does not seem to leave any fingerprints on the sound.'"
"The DAC3 B is a stripped- down, lower-priced version of the DAC3 HGC, which omits the headphone amplifier, balanced and unbalanced analog inputs, volume, mute, and polarity controls."- Stereophile
"The DAC3 was all about depths, in several respects...I heard deeper into the music."
"All I can say is Wow!"
- John Atkinson
"In a Follow-Up, JCA wrote of using the Benchmark processor with the same company's AHB2 power amp—a combination of high source output voltage and modest amplifier gain that he describes as 'optimal for minimizing noise and distortion' —and reported hearing 'richer and more interesting' reproduction of very subtle details."