HRA SYSTEM - "The Whole System was Under $10,000 and Just Killed"
"I've enjoyed the Benchmark Media Systems rooms over the past few shows when they've shared their room with Studio Electric using their excellent sounding speakers. This time around, Benchmark were showing not just their excellent DAC2 L ($1695), but also their new AHB2 100 wpc amp ($2995) and SMS1 speakers ($2450). With the exception of real deep bass (though certainly more than you would expect from speakers this size) this system the sound was smooth, expressive, dynamic and rich. The whole system was under $10,000 and just killed."
"The amplifier was much smaller than you would expect for a 100 watt solid sate bipolar Class AB amp. Benchmark claims SNR close to 130dB and vanishing low distortion."
"The SMS1 speaker was designed in conjunction with Studio Electric, but uses Benchmark deigned crossover and driver modifications. I've often said I'm no fan of small stand mounted speakers, but this join the very short list of those that I want to hear again."
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."