"Better performance than DACs ten times its price"
"I started reviewing the DAC2 HGC with ordinary CD-standard files, because I'm most familiar with them and have to say that the Benchmark DAC2 HGC impressed me from the get-go with the sparkling, effervescent character of its delivery: lively and entertaining with a lovely freedom to the sound. 'Effortless' is the word I'd say best described it."
"I was able to my use my nocturnal awakenings to extend my reviewing into the wee hours without disturbing the family by evaluating the headphone stage of the DAC2 HGC. Using the HD800s, the high treble performance was beautifully clean and etched, and the midrange warm to slightly-full-bodied, but never so much that clarity was lost at the expense of warmth."
"I could hear no circuit hiss at all when listening through the DAC2 HGC. I took the opportunity to listen carefully for mains hum ... but I came up empty on this one as well, I couldn't hear any mains hum ... or harmonically-related overtones."
"I was so entranced by the DAC2 HGC's performance as a DAC and as a headphone amplifier that I spent almost all my allocated review time using it in those applications, completely forgetting that is was also an analogue preamplifier ... and a true analogue preamplifier, because signals input to A1 and A2 remain completely in the analogue domain: there is no conversion to digital as there is in most other DACs that have analogue inputs."
"The sound as converted by Benchmark's DAC - rather than the external DAC I usually use - was so much better that I pretty much on-the-spot decided that I was going to replace my own DAC with a Benchmark DAC2 HGC. Once I'd decided that, I realized that ... I could simplify my system ... by getting rid of my preamplifier as well. For me, this was an epiphany ... I finally understood what the concept of the Benchmark DAC2 HGC's existence was all about: it's about reducing the component count in your system, and about keeping analogue in the analogue domain and digital in the digital domain. Pure perfection."
"Investing in a Benchmark DAC2 HGC will involve getting rid of the pre-existing notions you have about what components should be in a high-end audio system ... you should now be thinking Source(s) - Benchmark DAC2 HGC - Amplification - Loudspeakers. That's it."
- Ernest Denman, Australian HiFi
"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