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Benchmark at RMAF 2014 by Stereophile

Benchmark at RMAF 2014 by Stereophile

 Benchmark room sound system setup

"The big news in the familiar-looking Benchmark room was that the AHB2 high-resolution power amp ($2995) has been further refined, with a high S/N ratio even at minimal output and topology that claims to achieve full 24-bit resolution from digital signals; the crossover of the SMS-1 The Benchmark loudspeaker ($2450-2650/pair, depending upon finish) has been changed; and the DAC2 DX ($1995) adds pro connectors and dual output busses to familiar and well-regarded electronics. The sound was especially impressive from such a small loudspeaker. Keb Mo sounded great, with a beautiful midrange and well-defined extremes. One of these days, I hope to hear the amp in another pairing, if only to further judge its strengths."

Read the full Stereophile RMAF 2014 show report by By Jason Victor Serinus →

Products Discussed

Benchmark DAC2 - DX

DAC2 - DX

Benchmark SMS1 Loudspeakers

SMS1 - Loudspeakers

Benchmark AHB2 Power Amplifier

AHB2 - Power Amplifer

 


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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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"Benchmark is a stalwart brand in pro audio, but has carved out a very respectable niche in the audiophile world with their diminutive but powerful components."

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"The audiophile world sometimes looks to the professional audio world for enlightenment, especially on the digital side of things, and Benchmark Media is one of the companies that we put high on a pedestal."

"They are hardcore digital engineers freezing their asses off in upstate New York as they come up with some pretty innovative ways to get your varied digital sources sounding as much like the master tape as possible. Thank you for your service, gentlemen."

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DAC3 & AHB2 - System Review, Trevor Butler, The-Ear.net

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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."

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