SMS1 - "Airy mids, confident and powerful bass, spacious soundstage"
"I was impressed by the broad nature of the SMS1 soundstage. Clarinets and strings had a beautifully resonant aspect, letting the ear know that all of these instruments had a specific character. Another feature of the soundstage was the piano’s ability to make itself heard. Normally, this element of the song has the piano running along the base of the soundstage, largely unheard except for a few scattered notes. The Benchmarks were able to separate the piano from its surrounding orchestral instruments which provided a delightful keyboard rendition while delicate percussion effects via treble-infused cymbals, again normally masked in the mix, were also able to be picked out."
"Guitars were suitably aggressive while the bass never bled into the midrange area. Hence, any risk of muddying the bass was never an issue. While the higher pitched and louder edges of the synths did add a touch of the midrange bloom, this was relatively minor and largely offset by the magnificent bass response which was deep, punchy, confident, driving and weighty."
"The airy nature of the midrange from the Benchmarks really came into their own here with the twangy guitar, adding tension and portent, retaining a welcome suite of reverb tails while the secondary percussion from the bongos and wood blocks also added to this spacious feeling. The bass-ridden piano keys emanated from a dark and mysterious place and retained the power from the Benchmark’s massy lower frequencies while the screaming string effects were drenched in emotion."
"At the sharp end is a 170mm custom-made polymer woofer and a 25mm soft dome tweeter while, at the rear, is an unusual rear-mounted toggle switch to choose between single and bi-amp modes. Related to that, instead of two pairs of binding posts, the company offers a SpeakON 4-pole connector for bi-amping (which is a lot neater than the usual system)."
"The space and air around the midrange helps these speakers to tackle even the most complex of arrangements while the allied meaty bass means that they will be a good performer within any genre of music."
- Paul Rigby, The Audiophile Man - audiophileman.com
"I'm asking because clearly Benchmark is a highly regarded company here, and plenty of ASR members own Benchmark amplification/DACs. We know they are top of the heap in terms of measured performance, outdoing plenty of the competition in terms of typical distortion measurements."
- @MattHooper, AudioScienceReview.com
AHB2, LA4, DAC3
Subtle aesthetics? Check.
Unobtrusive size? Check.
Solid build? Check.
Made in America? Check.
Best in class? Check.
Superior performance proven by Amir? Check.
Superior customer service? Check (and not just in audio world; best customer service I have experienced from any company, anywhere, ever).
Expensive? For me, yes. Limit of my budget, but buy once cry once.
"The afternoon before the start of the show I ran into John Siau of Benchmark Media Systems. He says to me quietly, “make sure you stop in our room, we have a surprise!” With curiosity suitably piqued, Co-Editor Jim Clements and I paid a visit ..."
"The results were pretty astonishing. A stable, enveloping stereo image that was devoid of any distortion whatsoever."
- Carlo Lo Raso, Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
"Sound was extremely well-integrated and controlled, and the bass memorable."
"The Note received signal through the introductory version of the company's Liquid Cables. Each cable contains 27,000 wires. The company's introductory Elephant memory player joined Benchmark Media's AHB2 power amps, DAC3 B D/A processor, and interconnects."
"With the aid of a forthcoming DEQX HDP4 processor that's due in the fall, the system sounded super on a 16/44.1 file of the famed rendition of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, recorded by Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra for Reference Recordings."