DAC2 HGC - "Better performance than DACs ten times its price"
"Distortion was exceedingly low at all levels and frequencies ..."
"At a recorded level of - 20 dB, the only harmonic distortion component visible on the spectrogram is a single third harmonic at -125 dB (0.0000562%). This is exceptionally good performance, unequaled by any DAC I've ever seen."
"... but look at the noise floor ... it's more than 140 dB down, including at low frequencies. Superb performance."
"The Benchmark DAC2 HGC also revealed superb performance in the area of intermodulation distortion... the two test signals at 19 kHz and 20 kHz have only single side-bands at 18 kHz and 21 kHz, and these are down around -117 dB (0.0001413%). At 1 kHz, where every DAC I've ever seen has produced some unwanted output, the Benchmark DAC2 HGC has no output at all - the perfect result."
"Frequency response was extraordinarily flat - so much so that Newport Test Labs 'zoomed in' on it ... this makes it relatively easy to see that the Benchmark DAC2 HGC's frequency response extends from 20 Hz to 20 kHz +/- 0.01 dB ... almost unbelievably good."
"Channel separation is outstandingly good, being better than 130 dB across almost the entire audio band, diminishing only at 20 kHz where the lab recorded it at 110 dB ... again one of the best figures I've ever seen at this high frequency."
"Channel balance, too, was exceptionally good, with just a 0.014 dB difference between the left and right channels."
"Phase accuracy was within measurement error almost all the way across the audio band, with a slight 0.24 degree error at 20 kHz."
"It was good to see that the DAC2 HGC has a de-emphasis circuit which will activate for those CDs that require it, plus that the circuit is very accurate, being perfect at 1 kHz, and a stunningly good 0.078 dB at 16 kHz."
"Superb: I have used that word a number of times to describe the results returned by the Benchmark DAC2 HGC, and there is really no better word to describe its overall performance as well.
"I have analysed the test results of a half-a-dozen of the world's best DACs, most of which sell for more than ten times the price of the DAC2, and across almost all parameters tested the performance of the Benchmark DAC2 HGC equals or exceeds that of every single one of those DACs."
"This is digital audio engineering at its very best."
- Steve Holding, Newport Test Labs, Australian HiFi
"The headphone section, with its choice of 6.35 mm stereo or four-pin balanced XLR connectors ... really impresses with a smooth signal delivery."
"While on the one hand it can rock out when it needs to – its prodigious output means it can give as much power as your headphones can take – its sheer impact, openness and vivacity is jaw-dropping."
"An immaculate all-analogue design, the aptly named Benchmark is both technically and sonically as good as it gets."
- AV Tech Media Awards 2018/2019
Stereophile's editors chose 10 products to receive their top award, the "2018 Product of the Year - Editor's Choice Award". Two Benchmark products made this exclusive list - the AHB2 power amplifier and the DAC3 HGC D/A converter.
"I was impressed by this revolutionary stereo amplifier but it became an obsession when I mated three as monoblocks to a trio of Benchmark's DAC3s."
"The AHB2 is deadly silent, musically revealing, surprisingly compact, and quite powerful."
- Kalman Rubinson
"Benchmark has created a long line of DACs (several of which I've purchased) that present recordings with as little embellishment as is possible at their price points. The latest incarnation, the DAC3, is no exception, and excels at presenting the unvarnished truth, as the artist intended."
- Jon Iverson
The competition in the amplification category was very tight. There was a two-way tie for first place between two amplifiers that cost $30,000 a pair and $13,500 a pair.
The Benchmark AHB2 was just two points behind the leaders when the Stereophile reviewers cast their final votes. In all, there were 13 amplifiers that made Stereophile's select list of finalists. The Benchmark AHB2 was the least expensive amplifier on the list, yet it received top scores from the reviewers. The list included amplifiers with stratospheric prices. Six amplifiers were priced between $25,000 and $118,000 a pair!
At Benchmark we believe that a great audio system shouldn't set you back by the cost of a sports car.