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
"RMAF 2018 was really good, with significant numbers of attendees, and more new-product introductions than I remembered ever seeing there."
"Led by engineer John Siau and based in Syracuse, New York, Benchmark Media Systems has built a sterling reputation for making compact, well-engineered, moderately priced electronics that challenge the state of the art, both on the test bench and in the listening room."
"What I took notice of were the specifications: total harmonic distortion of less than 0.00006%, and a signal/noise ratio exceeding 135dB from 20Hz to 20kHz."
"If those claims are true, and there’s no reason to believe they aren’t -- Benchmark gear has always performed as specified on the test bench -- the LA4 should be about as transparent-sounding a line-stage as you can find at any price."
- Doug Schneider, SoundStage! Hi-Fi
"Benchmark describes its product as a 'reference Stereo Headphone Amplifier and Reference Line Amplifier with Relay Gain and Input Control', which should give you some idea of what's going on here, but only hints at the fact that this is actually two completely separate products packed into one relatively compact unit."
"The headphone section is powered by a power amp from THX, employing the same AAA (Achromatic Audio Amplifier) technology first used by the company in its AHB2."
"Benchmark's line amplifier uses relays for input selection, gain control and muting while four independent 256-step attenuators ... feed the the headphone ... and preamp outputs."
"As PM notes in his Lab Report, this design gives the HPA4 not only outstanding performance, but also rather impressive - to say the least - signal delivery."
"All of a track or two should do the trick, as whether with revealing headphones ... or used as a preamp, the HPA4 simply drops jaws with the sheer impact, openness and vivacity of the way it plays music."
"It was one of those real 'performer in the room' experiences and I was instantly transported back to the time I spent monitoring the recording as it was being made ..."
- Andrew Everard, Hi-Fi News, November 2018