"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."
LA4 - Receives Stereophile's Highest "Class A" Rating for Preamplifiers
"Benchmark's usual approach to design is to out-spec the competition, and so it is here. Like other Benchmark equipment he has tested, the affordable LA4 challenged the resolution of John Atkinson's test instruments, with'superb'channel separation,'extremely low noise, and virtually no power-supply-related spuriae.'"
"Benchmark's LA4 is the widest-bandwidth, widest-dynamic-range, lowest-noise, lowest-distortion preamplifier I have encountered."- John Atkinson
"In his listening room, Kalman Rubinson compared the LA4 to a cable—and couldn't hear any difference. He concludes,'the LA4 is probably the most transparent and revealing audio component I've ever used. It does not seem to leave any fingerprints on the sound.'"
"The DAC3 B is a stripped- down, lower-priced version of the DAC3 HGC, which omits the headphone amplifier, balanced and unbalanced analog inputs, volume, mute, and polarity controls."- Stereophile
"The DAC3 was all about depths, in several respects...I heard deeper into the music."
"All I can say is Wow!"
- John Atkinson
"In a Follow-Up, JCA 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."