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?
"Thanks to the special, discrete analog circuit/relay attenuator, this may be the most transparent line-stage preamplifier in the audiophile world."
"If you got a great-sounding source, the LA4 presents the audio in its original state — with gain or attenuation to the amplifier. I have never heard such low-level detail from a pre."
"The better the DAC, the better you hear it through a quality amp and speakers. It is quiet as a top-notch DAC, with S/N exceeding -135 dB and, feature-wise, it comes with unbalanced/balanced I/O and a really slick user interface."
"I use the four-input LA4 for audiophile A/B testing of DACs, monitoring my Hi-Res home recording/editing/mastering projects, as well as just listening how good my vast collection of 24 bit and DSD music sounds through an accurate amp and speakers."
"A steal at $2,500!"
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
"Since the HPA4 arrived, I have rediscovered so many of my favorite works all over again with improved detail retrieval dynamics and transparency that it’s hard to pull myself away!"
"It drove my power hungry Abyss Phi TC headphones with complete authority, but it was still dead silent and nimble enough to amplify my easy to drive Focal Utopia headphones."
"Rarely have I come across such a wonderfully revealing amplifier that can drive many different types of headphones so darn well! The solid build construction and various controls make the $2,995 price tag seem a bit low based on the other headphone amplifiers in this market space."- Peter Pialis, Headphone.guru
"Benchmark Media Systems’ LA4 preamplifier presented an utterly realistic reproduction of what was contained on each recording I played through it -- and weak recordings stood out more than usual. The LA4’s clean, analytical abilities are unmatched by any similarly priced preamplifier I know of. The LA4’s touchscreen brings it up to date with current user interfaces, and permits functions, such as balance control and muting at the device."
"If you want a preamp that editorializes, look elsewhere."
"If, like me, you value a high-resolution, totally neutral musical performance, add a Benchmark LA4 to your system, particularly if you already own a Benchmark DAC."
- Erich Wetzel, SoundStage! Hi-Fi