DAC2 HGC - "The Benchmark DAC2 HGC represents a new reference standard"
"What is required to design a super DAC/preamp in the second decade of the 21st century is no mystery. You start with the best DAC chip that money can buy, the world champion ESS Sabre³² Reference 32-bit 8-channel audio DAC, and use all 8 channels for stereo, 4 per side. In that deployment, the digital noise reduction spec is 133 dB and the total harmonic distortion (THD) is –120 dB (0.0001%). You can’t do any better; that’s what Benchmark has in the DAC2 HGC, and that’s what the megabuck high-enders have in their models, also. As for the analog section, you go with the Texas Instruments (formerly National Semiconductors) LME49860 operational amplifier, which has a specified voltage noise density of 2.7nV/√Hz and a THD of 0.00003% (–130.5 dB). Low enough for you?"
"Once you build your device around electronic components with numbers like that and keep the construction quality high, as Benchmark does, there isn’t much headroom for improvement, nor much reason for a higher price than $1,995.00."
- Peter Aczel, The Audio CriticRead the full review →
"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