"This year’s California Audio Show was one of the more intimate audio shows on the calendar, but it was packed with audiophile ear candy. Among the impressive audio innovations on display were a variety of speakers, tube amplifiers, preamps, and audio accessories."
"Come along with me as I show you my favorite audio products and my picks for the best sound from the 2019 California Audio Show..." - Drew Gagliano
"Kevin Welsh of Musica Pristina and Rick Craig of Selah Audio put together a room to celebrate the debut of Selah’s new Cali4 speakers."
"Driving the speakers was the Benchmark Media Systems AHB2 power amplifier."
"When I walked into this room, I knew right away that I would be coming back several times throughout the show. Almost immediately, I had a strong emotional connection to the music I was hearing. There was nothing digital or artificial sounding in the presentation; the gear was getting out of the way of the music and it was wonderful. This was the best I’ve heard digital playback sound."
"I ended up visiting this room more than any other room at the show. I couldn’t help myself; I had to keep coming back for more!"
- Drew Gagliano, TheAudioBeatnik.com
"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
"Benchmark's LA4 is the widest-bandwidth, widest-dynamic-range, lowest-noise, lowest-distortion preamplifier I have encountered."
- John Atkinson, Stereophile
"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."
- Kalman Rubinson, Stereophile
"Class A" is Stereophile's highest award for preamplifiers.