DAC1 HDR - "Top 20 Most Notable Digital Products from the Past 20 Years"
Enjoy the Music.com takes a look back at the 20 most significant digital audio products from the past 20 years.
"It is widely known within the high-end audio industry that Enjoy the Music.com gives out very few awards. With the nearly constant barrage with 'best of' and 'top picks' featuring hundreds of products elsewhere, there is little doubt Enjoy the Music.com is perhaps the most conservative of magazines when it comes to giving out special accolades. With our annual Blue Note awards possibly being the most sought-after within the audiophile industry, as only a very small handful of products get special recognition each year, we want to highlight our 20th anniversary by using our 20/20 vision as it were and look back to some of the best gear."
"As Editor and Creative Director for Enjoy the Music.com, it is my honor to look back at the many thousands of reviews and choose the top 20 per category. This month my choices are for the very best digital gear over the past 20 years."
"The Benchmark DAC1 HDR ($1895, available in silver or black) first became available in 2010 and the positive reviews from virtually every magazine rolled in."
"Our reviewer Jeff Rabin said, 'Detail was neither absent nor did it draw undue attention to itself. Highs were not rolled off, nor were they shrill. Bass was as it should be. While it would be wrong to say it was almost analog in presentation, it was not at all solid state in presentation. The Benchmark really just got out of the way and on with the job. Timbre was natural, dynamics, particularly when employing a heavier duty solid state amp were uncompressed. Indeed, sometimes, on SACD particularly, one might even ask for less dynamic range. As I already declared, I bought the DAC at the reviewer's price.... The future, guys, sorry to have to tell you this, is digital. And I was also loathe to 'invest' in anything with moving parts like a CD player.' You can read our review of the Benchmark DAC1 HDR at this link."
Steven R. Rochlin, Editor, Enjoy the Music.com
"Before I dig into the sound of the LA4 it is important to know that it employs a wide bandwidth design. The LA4’s bandwidth is specified at 0.2 Hz to 500 kHz."
"Most of the wide bandwidth designs I have heard exhibit ... a purity in tone with superb timing and speed ... the LA4 proved to be no exception."
"The Benchmark LA4 yielded a change that was quickly apparent in several areas. Notably were; bass, upper midrange, treble, low-level listening, and the ability to distinguish the colorations of other components that were contributing to my overall sound."
"Acoustic guitar, piano, and harmonica among many other instruments are presented with speed, clarity, and coherency that made them sound more “present” in the room and less like a recording."
"The Benchmark LA4 is simply the most transparent, least colored, and most revealing component I have had in my system to date. I look forward to it joining my stable of reference components."
- Ken Redmond, The Audio Beatnik
"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