AHB2 - "It's phenomenal! Gobs of power, detail, finesse and control."
"Benchmark has been around for a long time. In fact, they are one of the early Audiophile pioneers of USB DACs ... I had always thought of them as more of a digital conversion company, and not an amplifier company—until the AHB2 came about."
"A PF colleague of mine (Steven Lefkowicz) said... Dude, you HAVE to try the Benchmark in your system (which at the time was going through a gamut of speaker changes as part of a myriad of reviews being done for PF) to which I replied, wow, they have an amp?"
"I was immediately taken aback with the level of detail given to this unit. Just one glance at the back plate will tell you that this is a well-engineered piece of equipment. Fully Balanced = Check. Speakon Outputs = Check. Bridging Support = Check. Input Sensitivity Adjustment = Check. 12v Trigger support = Check."
"The front panel is rather minimalist; a few LEDs to indicate the health of the amp and a power button. There is even a way to program the amp to turn on if it senses power so one can integrate it into a secondary power system if you wanted to (which then turns the power button into a mute circuit). Or, just leave it on all of the time. Even at LOUD levels, it does not get hot."
"I'm currently running it at a 4 Ohm stereo load, and the 190 Watts is going a long way! To be honest I haven't heard the amp clip yet, and I listen to music at cathartic levels sometimes (sorry, neighbors!). I believe these measurements to be on the conservative side."
"So, how does it sound, after all of that? Well, this thing is no slouch. It's phenomenal! Gobs of power, detail, finesse and control. I have thrown so much music at this tiny little amp, that I just can't seem to beat it to submission. It just takes it in and gives it right back. The damping factor is really at play here."
"For the price, you just can't beat it. If you have been looking for an all-in-one chassis stereo Class A/B amplifier that is reliable, energy efficient, and one of the best designs on the market, this is the ticket (it even comes in Black!). Most other offerings are at LEAST twice as expensive, and I can speak from experience that they don't sound half as good as this one. If I had the means, I'd keep this one as a perfect Swiss-army knife and never let it go. Hell, if you're feeling insecure about power, you can get two of them for cheaper than most Class A/B monoblocks out there, and have twice the power. Think no more, do it!"
"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."