SMS1 Review - Gary Galo, Audioxpress

High performance Components

"The drivers in Benchmark’s two-way system include a proprietary 6.7” (170 mm) woofer and a 1” (25 mm) soft-dome tweeter. The woofer is a long excursion design with a co-polymer cone, specifically designed for use in Benchmark’s acoustic suspension enclosure. The crossover boards for the SMS1 loudspeakers are hand assembled from premium quality components. Benchmark uses ClarityCap ESA-series polypropylene film capacitors and, to avoid paralleling capacitors to achieve desired values, Benchmark has exact values custom made for them."

"There are no iron core inductors in the SMS1. Air-core inductors are custom wound for Benchmark by Renco Electronics and are physically oriented to avoid magnetic interactions with each other and the driver voice coils. Power resistors are non-inductive, wire-wound types with low temperature coefficients. The crossover frequency is set at 3 kHz."

The Listening Room

"When Benchmark moved to its current facility seven years ago, it built a dedicated, properly dimensioned listening room with acoustical treatment. The concrete floor in this commercial building is certainly an asset. The listening room showcases the SMS1 loudspeaker, fed by a DAC2 HGC DAC/Preamp and the AHB2 power amplifier, with an OPPO Digital BDP-80 digital player and a computer server providing high-resolution digital sources. Benchmark has three other pairs of loudspeakers set up in the listening room for comparison to the SMS1. The room is arranged in such a way that left and right speakers are the same distance apart for each pair. All the listeners need to do is rotate their heads when moving from
one pair to another."

"The other speakers in the room included the Adam Audio A7X, the Focal Solo 6Be, and the Klein + Hummel O300D."

"During my afternoon in the listening room, I played excerpts from several classical CDs and high-resolution PCM discs that I brought from my own collection. Siau then played a variety of high-resolution popular music recordings, all from files on the digital server. Several of the selections Siau chose featured solo vocals that the recording engineers placed in the center of the stereo image."

"I easily preferred the Benchmark SMS1 to the other three loudspeaker systems, for both the classical and the popular recordings. It provided the largest and most spacious soundstage, the most precise imaging, with solo vocals accurately placed in the center of the stereo image."

"The SMS1 also had the most neutral tonal balance, with excellent inner detail and resolution. The Adam A7X came in second, acquitting itself extremely well. But, imaging and depth perspective were not as precise as on the Benchmark SMS1. The Focal Solo 6Be had a curious upper midrange depression in its tonal balance, which I found most noticeable on the classical orchestral recordings and the solo vocals on the more popular selections. The Klein + Hummel O300D produced the least precise stereo image, with the location of solo vocals rather vague."

"All four systems produced impressive bass for their sizes, but I preferred the smoother, more natural character of Benchmark’s acoustic suspension design to the Adam and Focal vented designs. The Benchmark also had the best detail in the bass region."

"If you’re in the market for a small, accurate monitoring system, the SMS1 deserves serious consideration."

- Gary Galo, Audioxpress


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Benchmark Media Systems
Benchmark Media Systems