DAC3 HGC - "Expansive soundstage populated with nicely layered instrumentation."
"Tonally things are well balanced, with no part of the frequency range gaining undue prominence. This is coupled to a good dose of refinement, so any aggressive tendencies in recordings, while revealed, are never overemphasised."
"Like all the best products, the Benchmark manages the difficult feat of stepping out of the limelight and letting the music take centre stage."
"These results remain unchanged whether we use the Benchmark as a conventional line-level DAC or as a headphone amp. It is consistent regardless of set-up used, which is a testament to the precise way the company has developed this product."
"The initials HGC in the product name stand for Hybrid Gain Control. The volume control uses a clever design that works in both analogue and digital domains separately."
"Digital signals are governed by a 32-bit dithered volume control, while analogue streams aren’t touched by the processing but remain in their native state throughout the product."
"Benchmark’s work with the Hybrid Gain Control seems to have resulted in a lovely, transparent performance that, if anything, sounds even more impressive than the number-crunching section."
"There’s a high degree of transparency here, and a fluidity of dynamics few rivals can match."
"The Benchmark ... lacks any hint of luxury. It reminds us more of lab equipment than premium hi-fi ... but give it a little time to prove itself and you’ll find it’s an impressively capable unit – we can’t think of an alternative that does so much so well."
- What Hi*Fi?
"RMAF 2018 was really good, with significant numbers of attendees, and more new-product introductions than I remembered ever seeing there."
"Led by engineer John Siau and based in Syracuse, New York, Benchmark Media Systems has built a sterling reputation for making compact, well-engineered, moderately priced electronics that challenge the state of the art, both on the test bench and in the listening room."
"What I took notice of were the specifications: total harmonic distortion of less than 0.00006%, and a signal/noise ratio exceeding 135dB from 20Hz to 20kHz."
"If those claims are true, and there’s no reason to believe they aren’t -- Benchmark gear has always performed as specified on the test bench -- the LA4 should be about as transparent-sounding a line-stage as you can find at any price."
- Doug Schneider, SoundStage! Hi-Fi
"Benchmark describes its product as a 'reference Stereo Headphone Amplifier and Reference Line Amplifier with Relay Gain and Input Control', which should give you some idea of what's going on here, but only hints at the fact that this is actually two completely separate products packed into one relatively compact unit."
"The headphone section is powered by a power amp from THX, employing the same AAA (Achromatic Audio Amplifier) technology first used by the company in its AHB2."
"Benchmark's line amplifier uses relays for input selection, gain control and muting while four independent 256-step attenuators ... feed the the headphone ... and preamp outputs."
"As PM notes in his Lab Report, this design gives the HPA4 not only outstanding performance, but also rather impressive - to say the least - signal delivery."
"All of a track or two should do the trick, as whether with revealing headphones ... or used as a preamp, the HPA4 simply drops jaws with the sheer impact, openness and vivacity of the way it plays music."
"It was one of those real 'performer in the room' experiences and I was instantly transported back to the time I spent monitoring the recording as it was being made ..."
- Andrew Everard, Hi-Fi News, November 2018