"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
"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
"Benchmark's LA4 is the widest-bandwidth, widest-dynamic-range, lowest-noise, lowest-distortion preamplifier I have encountered."
- John Atkinson, Stereophile
"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."
- Kalman Rubinson, Stereophile
"Class A" is Stereophile's highest award for preamplifiers.