DAC3 and LA4 Review - Paul Seydor, The Absolute Sound

by Benchmark Media Systems December 21, 2020 2 min read

DAC3 and LA4 Review - Paul Seydor, The Absolute Sound

 

DAC3 B

"In the areas of tonal neutrality and transparency, the DAC3 B sounds like every other Benchmark I’ve heard, which is to say neutral and transparent. But the DAC3 also has new conversion processing, which is said to make for a 3.5dB increase in headroom above 0dBFS, in turn preventing the DSP intersampling overloads."
"This increase in headroom ... is said to result in subtly improved sound."

LA4 Line Amplifier

"Benchmark prefers to call the LA4 a line amplifier (which may be the more correct term because that is what preamplifiers in fact do: amplify the signal) and offers it in two versions: linestage only, and the identical linestage with an onboard headphone amplifier, called the HPA4."

AHB2 Power Amplifier

"Before properly introducing the preamp, however, it is worth the while to recall that the AHB2 amplifier is a genuinely innovative design, even, if you will, revelatory, and it set new standards in having by a wide margin the lowest noise and distortion and the widest bandwidth of any amplifier on the market then or now."

Conclusions

"The LA4 has been widely tested with results that tell the same story as those from the AHB2 power amplifier, i.e., the measurements merely confirm the manufacturer’s claims except in those instances where the limits of the test gear are reached before this or that specification can be precisely verified, almost every tester reporting that the unit beats, often handily, any other ever tested in its product category, regardless of price."

"The bandwidth of the LA4 goes out to beyond 500kHz at the top end, while its low-end -3dB point is 0.01Hz."

"Bass through the LA4 driving the ABH2 is outstandingly clean and clear, with superlative definition, articulation, and registration of timbre."

"I find myself in the same conundrum as when I reviewed the ABH2. Once more I have literally nothing to write about. There’s a complete absence of any sort of artifacts or noise; on very clean recordings, the presentation is uncanny in its purity."

"You will notice I haven’t said a word about detail. This is deliberate. It is a non-issue. With noise and distortion at the sub-subterranean levels of the LA4, the AHB2, and the DAC3 B, what could possibly remain that would eat, mask, or fail to retrieve even the lowest-levels of recorded information?"

- Paul Seydor, The Absolute Sound

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