"After just a couple of minutes of Thrasher Dream Trio, a jazz album featuring drummer Gerry Gibbs, pianist Kenny Barron and bassist Ron Carter, I realized, "I'm really enjoying this!" I didn't hear any of the kinds of flaws that would normally distract or discourage me when first "meeting" a speaker. No obvious "cupped hands" coloration from the woofer. No boom in the bass. No major frequency response anomalies. No edge, grit, glare or grain. Just really good sound."
"Anyone who needs to be sold on why high-end audio is worth the expense would probably be persuaded if they hear saxophonist Gene Ammons' recording of "But Beautiful" through the SMS1. You get a gorgeous, almost glowing rendition of Ammons' big, romantic sound; portrayals of drums and piano that sound accurate and realistic without sounding over-realistic, and a natural sense of space that captivates you without trying to wow you."
"If you're looking for a high-end bookshelf speaker -- or even just for a good speaker, period -- you should give this one a listen. I think you'll realize, as I did, that after the first couple of tunes, you're blown away not by how spectacular the sound is, but how good it is."
- Brent Butterworth, Stereos.About.com
"Thanks to the special, discrete analog circuit/relay attenuator, this may be the most transparent line-stage preamplifier in the audiophile world."
"If you got a great-sounding source, the LA4 presents the audio in its original state — with gain or attenuation to the amplifier. I have never heard such low-level detail from a pre."
"The better the DAC, the better you hear it through a quality amp and speakers. It is quiet as a top-notch DAC, with S/N exceeding -135 dB and, feature-wise, it comes with unbalanced/balanced I/O and a really slick user interface."
"I use the four-input LA4 for audiophile A/B testing of DACs, monitoring my Hi-Res home recording/editing/mastering projects, as well as just listening how good my vast collection of 24 bit and DSD music sounds through an accurate amp and speakers."
"A steal at $2,500!"
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
"Since the HPA4 arrived, I have rediscovered so many of my favorite works all over again with improved detail retrieval dynamics and transparency that it’s hard to pull myself away!"
"It drove my power hungry Abyss Phi TC headphones with complete authority, but it was still dead silent and nimble enough to amplify my easy to drive Focal Utopia headphones."
"Rarely have I come across such a wonderfully revealing amplifier that can drive many different types of headphones so darn well! The solid build construction and various controls make the $2,995 price tag seem a bit low based on the other headphone amplifiers in this market space."- Peter Pialis, Headphone.guru
"Benchmark Media Systems’ LA4 preamplifier presented an utterly realistic reproduction of what was contained on each recording I played through it -- and weak recordings stood out more than usual. The LA4’s clean, analytical abilities are unmatched by any similarly priced preamplifier I know of. The LA4’s touchscreen brings it up to date with current user interfaces, and permits functions, such as balance control and muting at the device."
"If you want a preamp that editorializes, look elsewhere."
"If, like me, you value a high-resolution, totally neutral musical performance, add a Benchmark LA4 to your system, particularly if you already own a Benchmark DAC."
- Erich Wetzel, SoundStage! Hi-Fi