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AHB2 Review - Paul Seydor, The Absolute Sound

The Absolute Sound Logo

Benchmark AHB2 Power Amplifier

AHB2 - "Essentially Perfect"

"Benchmark products ... are made for the professional market (where they are ubiquitous) and designed to the most exacting standards of performance and reliability."

"Within a remarkably short period of time ... my mental processes shifted from comparison mode to enjoying music, all the attention drawn to the source material and the rare sensation of feeling as if I were listening back to the source."

Resolution

"The Benchmark resolves and thus reproduces all the detail there is on every recording I played that I know well."

"Let me cite the toughest resolution test I know: for the a capella introduction of “Moon River” on her Johnny Mercer album, the soprano Jacintha was placed in an isolation booth while occasional chords from a piano were played through her headphones so that she could stay in tune. Despite heroic measures to ensure isolation, the chords nevertheless bled through her headphones and can be heard during the silences. Now these are extremely far down in level; in a couple of instances they are all but inaudible. If a component can reproduce them, that’s about as much resolution as you are ever likely to need. Suffice it to say the Benchmark did."

Neutral Sound

"The Benchmark will reproduce a bright, forward sound if it’s in the source, as it is with a vengeance in Bernstein’s New York recording of Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and it will produce a warm and intimate sound if that is in the source, as in Ofra Harnoy’s Arpeggione sonata by Schubert."

"The Big Stuff"

What about the big stuff? Well, I don’t know much bigger stuff than the lowest organ notes on Kei Kioto’s Bach recital, and they’re not transients, either but deep, long sustained notes. No problem on the Quads or the Super HL5plus."

"Benjamin Zander’s recording of the Mahler Sixth with its hammerblows was awesome enough in slam and weight to satisfy. If you need more power, you can always add a second AHB2 and bridge both for mono operation."

"As part of the evaluation, I auditioned a single AHB2 driving the Harbeths in a room considerably larger than my own: 18 feet wide by 32 feet long with a pitched ceiling that rises to 13 feet at its apex. This combination filled the room as loud as I and the owner could stand and at no point did the clipping indicators illuminate, even during loud organ music with sustained very low notes."

Accuracy and Reliability

"Because accuracy allied to absolutely reliable performance is the goal of all the Benchmarks."

"... a precision instrument designed to perform the precisely defined task of reproducing music and sound accurately, which it does essentially to perfection."

"Professionals buy Benchmark because they know the products work and are reliable and accurate—indeed, reference caliber. Music lovers buy them because they are neutral and accurate and thus reproduce the tonal character of voices and instruments correctly."

"... they are not products that tend to attract cults or other sorts of starry-eyed enthusiasts, wholly lacking any of the quirks, foibles, idiosyncrasies, sonic flavorings, euphonic distortions, and so on that characterize the objects of most audio cults. But to anyone else ..."

"... the AHB2 gets as high, enthusiastic, and confident a thumbs up as my arm is capable of reaching."

- Paul Seydor, The Absolute Sound, April 2016

Read the review →


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