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AHB2 Technical Analysis - Robert E. Green, The Absolute Sound

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Benchmark AHB2 Power Amplifier

AHB2 - "A Technical Tour de Force Without any Question"

"The Benchmark amplifier is quieter than any other amplifier I am aware of."

"It has noise of around 110 dB down relative to 1 watt, and since it has 100 watts of power, the signal-to-noise ratio that is relevant to resolution is around 130 dB. Not quite enough for 24 bits in theory—130 dB corresponds to 21.5 bits—but in practice enough for anything."

"Each bit gives one 6.02dB of dynamic range. So 130dB of dynamic range corresponds to between 21 and 22 bits. This means that the amplifier is very unlikely to be a limiting factor in terms of signal-to-noise ratio—or equivalently, resolution."

"Do you hear noise from your speakers when there is no signal present? If not, making your amplifier quieter will not make any difference."

"But if you have for instance very high sensitivity speakers so that one watt is going to correspond to a lot of sound (e.g., over 100 dB for Klipschorns), and you are not going to go beyond that one watt very often, then the quietness of the Benchmark, of noise being 110 dB down from one watt, may come into play more emphatically."

"Most amplifier manufacturers give noise down from full output level, typically something like 110 dB down. If an amp has 100 watts, that is 20 dB above one watt, then the amount by which noise is down from one watt is maybe only 90 dB. So with a speaker with 100 dB sensitivity will put out 10 dB of noise. K-horns usually hiss a little at you when they are not playing if they are fastened up to a turned-on amplifier."

"In any case, no matter what kind of speakers you have, you are going to find the Benchmark dead quiet."

"The Benchmark also has extremely low distortion—among the lowest around and surely far below known thresholds."

"The Benchmark can be used in bridged mode, to give 400 watts into 8 ohms (actually 380W is specified). That ought to be enough for most applications except in extremely large rooms."

"The Benchmark AHB2 amplifier is a technical tour de force without any question."

- Robert E. Green, The Absolute Sound, April 2016


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AHB2 Review - Constantine Soo, Dagogo

AHB2 Review - Constantine Soo, Dagogo

by Benchmark Media Systems April 02, 2024

 

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"The AHB2 bridgeable stereo amplifier ... was the topic of a recent discussion between American electrostatic panel speaker manufacturer Sound Lab’s president, Dr. Roger West, and me."

"In our discussion, he related his highly positive experience in driving even his largest, $55k Majestic 945 panels with the $7,000 pair of Benchmark Media AHB2 monoblocks, along with the $3,050 LA4 Preamplifier and factory XLR cables."

"Dr. West described the AHB2 as a class AB design using “feed-forward distortion reduction [thus removing] any possibility of pushing the margin of safety of a standard feedback loop, used in most amplifiers, into an unstable oscillatory mode.”"

"He further shared with me that “this is of most concern on powerful musical transients. The distortion of the amplifier in the balanced mode is astonishingly low even at just below the clipping level of 380 watts.”"

"The prospect of the AHB2’s specified distortion level of 0.00015% or lower when at full volume is comical at first glance, but upon actual audition the impact of the achievement is very audible from medium-high listening levels and upward."

"It was unlike any other sub-$20,000 amplifier I have auditioned."

"My audition of the Benchmark Media AHB2 amplifiers underscores the reason Dr. West is so taken by it, and confirms the design is best described as a watershed moment in the high-end audio industry."

- Constantine Soo, Dagogo

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"I began with the DAC3 HGC and AHB2 powering the glorious Morel Avyra 633 three-way floorstanders."

"This pairing created a full-bodied sound which brought the recording to life."

"Notable from the off was the bass from the DAC3 HGC and AHB2."

"Wow! It was deep, tight and conveyed a real feeling that the electronics were in charge of the transducers."

"Involuntary foot-tapping confirmed the timing ability and the overall presentation was spot-on, the Benchmark electronics created a fluent sound across a vivid soundstage; performers evident both tonally and spatially in an easy-to-believe presentation that brought the performance close."

"The Benchmark’s ability to retrieve deep-down detail and display it so well across the soundstage, with accurate positioning and convincing layering, made for a glorious re-creation of the recordings."

"To my mind the AHB2 is an amplifier with no obvious characteristics of its own: the level of transparency is sublime."

"Above all, the improved transient response performance stood out in a presentation that was not only lively but incredibly fast and revealing. The attack and decay displayed was awesome and not something I expect at this price point."

"The Benchmark DAC3 HGC and AHB2 are cracking products, sonically superior to a lot that’s available and well priced."

"They are superbly designed and built to an extremely high standard."

- Trevor Butler, the-ear.net

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