"The sonic results of all the time and effort spent refining this circuit and developing this design are nothing short of extraordinary! Bass is rendered with exceptional detail and speed, and brother can it go deep! In fact, I can't think of another amplifier (or pair of monos) I've experienced for under about $6000 that can do what the AHB2 can do with the bandwidth below 100 Hz. It has jaw dropping, chest-thumping impact while still being able to render remarkably accurate and refined pitch definition. In many ways, its bass performance reminded me of my time with the $65,000 WAVAC MD-805 Mk II monos, which rendered some of the most engaging bass I've yet heard."
"Midrange is simply captivating, rich in both musical resolve and harmonic texture. It affords an exceptionally well-balanced mixture of both tonal truth and emotional expression. Instrumental voices are provided the body and bloom needed to complete the "live" illusion, recording permitting, and are related with the proper texture and tonal color, if ever so slightly to the dryer side of natural."
"Treble is extended, airy, and resolute. Once again, I'm hard pressed to think of an amplifier for less than twice as much as the AHB2 that can even begin to compare, let alone match, this amps performance with the spectrum above 2.5 kHz. This extended and replete high frequency performance bestows a sense of ease and relaxed enchantment to well-recorded materials previously unheard of in this price point."
"One of the areas where the AHB2 really shines is in its ability to render the space between and the sense of both the space occupied by, and the interrelationships of instrumental positions and locations. Instruments and vocalists occupy an uncannily realistic sense of size and locale. I was left speechless more often than I cared to count by this engaging and enchanting ability."
"Benchmark's AHB2 amplifier is a truly breakthrough, innovative design."
- Greg Weaver, Enjoy the Music.com
"Before I dig into the sound of the LA4 it is important to know that it employs a wide bandwidth design. The LA4’s bandwidth is specified at 0.2 Hz to 500 kHz."
"Most of the wide bandwidth designs I have heard exhibit ... a purity in tone with superb timing and speed ... the LA4 proved to be no exception."
"The Benchmark LA4 yielded a change that was quickly apparent in several areas. Notably were; bass, upper midrange, treble, low-level listening, and the ability to distinguish the colorations of other components that were contributing to my overall sound."
"Acoustic guitar, piano, and harmonica among many other instruments are presented with speed, clarity, and coherency that made them sound more “present” in the room and less like a recording."
"The Benchmark LA4 is simply the most transparent, least colored, and most revealing component I have had in my system to date. I look forward to it joining my stable of reference components."
- Ken Redmond, The Audio Beatnik
"This little unit will change the way you look and listen to amplifiers."
"My first taste of this remarkable new amplifier came earlier this year in April at Chicago's AXPONA where I discovered it driving a newly redesigned Studio Electric Pasadena loudspeaker, also bearing the Benchmark trademark. Now called the SMS1, the Pasadena's crossover had been reworked by Benchmark, upgraded with very low tolerance components, and the new look, more in line with the look of the rest of the Benchmark product line up, had been adopted."
"The subsequent sound in this room was one of the most musically engaging I encountered at this year's event, a remarkable result considering its modest overall system price of just over $7000, sans source."
- Greg Weaver, EnjoythMusic.com
Jim Austin wrote, "The DAC3 was all about depths, in several respects . . . I heard deeper into the music."
The concise conclusion to John Atkinson's Measurements sidebar: "All I can say is 'Wow!'"
In a Follow-Up, Jim Austin 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.
- Stereophile Magazine
"Class A+" is Stereophile's highest award for Digital Processors