DAC2 & AHB2 Review - Gary L Beard, Positive Feedback

AHB2 - "It could well be the last amp you'll ever own. Yes, it is that good."

"Benchmark Media Systems Pro-centric products tout exceptional specifications, and their AHB2 amplifier--developed in tandem with engineers from THX and using their patented HX Achromatic™ Audio Amplifier technology—uses some rather unusual patented designs to get to those remarkable spec numbers. Personally, I do not subscribe to the "specs are everything" idiom, nor do I believe that just because a uniquely designed piece of gear uses a phalanx of "new" circuit methodologies that cross against the grain of normal, they are somehow better or worse than everything else available." 

DAC2 - "The Benchmark AHB2 is a very good amp, and the DAC2 is a very good DAC—it's no wonder that they have been slathered in near-universal praise."

"Between the two, there is a dizzying array of protective circuits, connections, and set-up choices; and both have been engineered to replay the truth and nutin' but the truth. And when discussing the two as a system, the Law of Diminishing Returns quickly comes into play, as these two partners in musical misbehavior sound great together and cost less--with Benchmark cables included—than my Pass XA 30.8 amp alone. To be sure, my reference Pass is a fantastic amplifier, but the  AHB2 has its own charms that I found played to my own listening biases."

The Sound of Two Benchmarks

"Listening to the BM system gave me many goosebump moments with its rhythmic drive and transparency to the source. The pair display excellent treble extension, wonderful midrange, and deep, well controlled bass. The presentation is spot-lit, precise, even delicate at times. I've often heard the term "lit-up" used to describe the sound of audio components—the BM system has this wonderful quality. I suppose this is a result of a very resolving upper-midrange, because I do not detect any unnatural boost of this "presence" range. The system, and especially the AHB2, is very dynamic—and there is a lithe airy quality to the amp too—until hammer comes down. Boom boom, baby… take that, says Stanley Jordan!  There is incredible separation of instruments and voices, and the system is so quiet, at times, on older stereo material, it seemed as if only one speaker was hooked up! The DAC2 HGC is not quite as dimensional as some DACs I've heard, but depth is quite good, and staging is wall to wall. Here is the best part; the AHB2 and DAC2 HGC convey naturalness that is unexpected, with subtle harmonic overtones that make music and voices come alive. They both have a musical presence that never failed to pull me in to the musical story, causing abrupt outbursts of enthusiastic, yet ill-advised, singing."

"Yep. Good stuff, those BM boys."

- Gary L Beard, Positive-Feedback

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