DAC2 & AHB2- "The best preamplifier/power amplifier ... in this price range"
AHB2- "A convincing example of what the future of power amplifiers can be"
"For the listening test, DAC2 HGC and AHB2 replaced our regular reference preamplifier and power amplifier (Melos Plus Series Line and Parasound HCA3500) to drive the ATC SCM50PSL loudspeakers with the Teac P70/D70 CD transport/DAC as a source."
"Replacing the reference amplifiers with the Benchmark devices introduced some interesting and significant changes in the system."
The first impressions include a more clear, dimensionally stable and well-defined soundstage, a better performance on detail and a better feeling of macrodynamics of the listening material. The end result was effortless and uncompressed, with very good speed characteristics and a sense of balance."
"Low frequencies appeared comfortable, well extended and balanced while, in comparison, the reference amplifiers sounded somewhat exaggerated and larger-than-life in this part of the audio spectrum. In contrast, the Benchmark system seemed tighter and with a more strict character without depriving the listener of any details contained in the recording."
"Rhythm section parts reproduced effortlessly, with great speed, and a sense of fullness, without ever becoming excessive."
"Stereo imaging is clear, well defined in space, with very good resolution and a sense of transparency and good depth. Voices feature very good articulation and detail and the overall presence is very realistic, both in small orchestras and solo voices and in larger scale projects and choirs. It is obvious that the design of the amplifiers is done with some "good monitoring" values in mind, like tonal accuracy and a coherent soundstage."
"Towards the high-frequency part of the audio spectrum, the DAC2 HGC/AHB2 combination sounded quite pleasant -but without being intentionally soft or euphonic- and offered a very well balanced feeling of brightness and wide bandwidth. From the listener's point of view, the result is a restful character, without any trace of harshness."
"The overall impression is that the system is able to pass into the listening room both the harmonic richness and the tonal balance of the recording."
"The Benchmark pair offered near-flawless attack/release times and sounded full and impressively present even in small details, a behavior that reinforces the sense of precision and carries the listener a step closer to the live performance."
"Based on a very interesting set of ideas, with a long history but few examples of a practical application, the Benchmark AHB2 could serve as a convincing example of what the future of power amplifiers can be. Combine it with a renowned D/A Converter like the DAC2 HGC, and what you have is a top quality system from which only the loudspeakers are missing!"
"While the DAC2 HGC is a, pretty much, well-known device, the AHB2 proved to be a very pleasant surprise, indeed."
"Benchmark dared to engage their power amplifier project from a different angle, discarding the standard approach ... and certainly succeeded. The theoretical advantages of their choices are both evident in the laboratory and heard during the listening sessions, thus justifying the whole approach."
"Overall, the DAC2 HGC/AHB2 pair is the best preamplifier/power amplifier we had the opportunity to listen to in recent years in this price range."
"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."