DAC2 - "Taking the DAC1 ... and improving upon it"
"I remember writing up a large group test, for a national UK Hi-Fi magazine, several years back, on DACs. I’d never heard of Benchmark before but the DAC1 trounced all of the other DACs on test to win the crown for that test. I was more than impressed and vowed to keep an eye on the brand from that day forward."
"Benchmark says that this, the latest iteration in the range, is superior in terms of sound quality to the DAC1 and that it features an advanced digital filter design plus a new high-sample-rate Asynchronous USB Audio interface."
"Immediately, right from the off, I was seriously impressed with the DAC2."
"It’s been an education, reviewing this group of Benchmark products because the one element that threads its way through all of them is low noise and I love a company who targets noise as the enemy of the hifi-loving public. The DAC2 shows this attention to low noise detail in abundance because the clarity on offer is excellent. By doing this alone, there is so much more detail on offer and buzzing around the soundstage."
"The ear suddenly picks up a host of new information, not just because the noise has gone but because the noise removal separates the instruments and allows them to perform as individual instruments in a group scenario, if you see what I mean. "
"Highlights? There’s plenty. The bass is powerful, meaty and dryly solid with fine edges and character. Vocal delivery is sensitive in its approach while the guitar playing hits a tremendous groove. The enhanced tonal accuracy gives the song a natural air and a sense of confidence."
- Paul Rigby, The Audiophile Man - audiophileman.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