"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
"The headphone section, with its choice of 6.35 mm stereo or four-pin balanced XLR connectors ... really impresses with a smooth signal delivery."
"While on the one hand it can rock out when it needs to – its prodigious output means it can give as much power as your headphones can take – its sheer impact, openness and vivacity is jaw-dropping."
"An immaculate all-analogue design, the aptly named Benchmark is both technically and sonically as good as it gets."
- AV Tech Media Awards 2018/2019
Stereophile's editors chose 10 products to receive their top award, the "2018 Product of the Year - Editor's Choice Award". Two Benchmark products made this exclusive list - the AHB2 power amplifier and the DAC3 HGC D/A converter.
"I was impressed by this revolutionary stereo amplifier but it became an obsession when I mated three as monoblocks to a trio of Benchmark's DAC3s."
"The AHB2 is deadly silent, musically revealing, surprisingly compact, and quite powerful."
- Kalman Rubinson
"Benchmark has created a long line of DACs (several of which I've purchased) that present recordings with as little embellishment as is possible at their price points. The latest incarnation, the DAC3, is no exception, and excels at presenting the unvarnished truth, as the artist intended."
- Jon Iverson
The competition in the amplification category was very tight. There was a two-way tie for first place between two amplifiers that cost $30,000 a pair and $13,500 a pair.
The Benchmark AHB2 was just two points behind the leaders when the Stereophile reviewers cast their final votes. In all, there were 13 amplifiers that made Stereophile's select list of finalists. The Benchmark AHB2 was the least expensive amplifier on the list, yet it received top scores from the reviewers. The list included amplifiers with stratospheric prices. Six amplifiers were priced between $25,000 and $118,000 a pair!
At Benchmark we believe that a great audio system shouldn't set you back by the cost of a sports car.