"Benchmark Media Systems Inc from Syracuse, New-York is an American company and has been one of the top pro-audio manufacturers for thirty years. In recent years they have also ventured into the consumer market with considerable success. Their first commercial product, the Dac1, was very well received worldwide."
"Of course it didn't stop with d/a converters. In collaboration with THX came the AHB2 power amplifier and not much later they developed a suitable headphone amplifier and preamplifier, the HPA4 and LA4respectively."
"The HPA4 and AHB2 have been a fixture in our reference set for several years now."
"These devices are indestructible, wonderfully compact and not very heavy."
"Their greatest quality, however, is their versatility. With the HPA4 you can adjust the balance, name each input, set each input separately (useful when testing DACs) and control the volume very precisely."
"The AHB2 is also particularly versatile for a power amplifier. For example, you can adjust the gain (useful when testing DACs with volume control), a SpeakOn connection is possible and you can convert them into a monoblock."
Speaker Cable with SpeakOn Connector
AHB2 Rear Panel
The AHB2 rear panel features XLR inputs, SpeakOn outputs, a 3-position gain switch and a Stereo/Mono switch.
Testing an AHB2 pair in Monoblock Mode
"In stereo mode we get a nice 100 watts (8 ohms class A/B) but in mono that goes to an impressive 380 watts!"
"We set the small switch on the back of the AHB2s to mono and connect each speaker to an AHB2."
"Is it worth buying a second AHB2?"
"We say a resounding yes."
"The extra power (380 watts!) not only gives you more control over your speakers, but so much more."
"The AHB2 is not cheap, but it does deliver great quality. It is particularly versatile, compact and indestructible. And even more than in stereo, the playback in mono is 'off the charts'."
"There's no going back really. You have been warned!"
"I'm asking because clearly Benchmark is a highly regarded company here, and plenty of ASR members own Benchmark amplification/DACs. We know they are top of the heap in terms of measured performance, outdoing plenty of the competition in terms of typical distortion measurements."
- @MattHooper, AudioScienceReview.com
AHB2, LA4, DAC3
Subtle aesthetics? Check.
Unobtrusive size? Check.
Solid build? Check.
Made in America? Check.
Best in class? Check.
Superior performance proven by Amir? Check.
Superior customer service? Check (and not just in audio world; best customer service I have experienced from any company, anywhere, ever).
Expensive? For me, yes. Limit of my budget, but buy once cry once.
"The afternoon before the start of the show I ran into John Siau of Benchmark Media Systems. He says to me quietly, “make sure you stop in our room, we have a surprise!” With curiosity suitably piqued, Co-Editor Jim Clements and I paid a visit ..."
"The results were pretty astonishing. A stable, enveloping stereo image that was devoid of any distortion whatsoever."
- Carlo Lo Raso, Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
"Sound was extremely well-integrated and controlled, and the bass memorable."
"The Note received signal through the introductory version of the company's Liquid Cables. Each cable contains 27,000 wires. The company's introductory Elephant memory player joined Benchmark Media's AHB2 power amps, DAC3 B D/A processor, and interconnects."
"With the aid of a forthcoming DEQX HDP4 processor that's due in the fall, the system sounded super on a 16/44.1 file of the famed rendition of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, recorded by Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra for Reference Recordings."