Alpha-Audio.net tested 10 DACs side-by-side. Only one received the "Alpha-Audio Approved" award. That DAC was the Benchmark DAC3.
DAC3 B - "Alpha-Audio Approved"
"Are you looking for the best DAC (d/a converter) in the price range from 1500 euro to 2500 euro? That’s great! Because we’ve put ten beauties side by side. And we tested it live on camera for you."
"The Benchmark – which we tested as the last one – comes across as very clean, detailed, dynamic and quiet."
"The DAC puts down a particularly well-balanced pallet."
"If we take the notes, we see terms like: kick, punch, inaudible, ink-black background. Your editor finds the ‘silence’ particularly striking with this converter."
"The silence between the notes can be heard and felt with this dac. And that’s very impressive considering the price tag of about 2000 euros."
"We can conclude that the Benchmark is definitely a good choice in this price range. It brings everything the discerning audio and music lover desires. And that in a cabinet that exudes functionality and a no-nonsense approach. Top product."
"It was incredibly instructive to put so many converters side by side. We clearly hear differences - and the viewers could as well. Also dacs with the same chips show differences. And that's logical, because not only is the output stage different (which gives a different signature to the dac), the implementation of jitter reduction, power supply and clocking are also different."
"One of the models we all agreed on is the benchmark DAC3. This is a delicious musical product. Virtually no coloring, nice stereo image and plenty of inputs. Approved!"
LA4 - Receives Stereophile's Highest "Class A" Rating for Preamplifiers
"Benchmark's usual approach to design is to out-spec the competition, and so it is here. Like other Benchmark equipment he has tested, the affordable LA4 challenged the resolution of John Atkinson's test instruments, with'superb'channel separation,'extremely low noise, and virtually no power-supply-related spuriae.'"
"Benchmark's LA4 is the widest-bandwidth, widest-dynamic-range, lowest-noise, lowest-distortion preamplifier I have encountered."- John Atkinson
"In his listening room, Kalman Rubinson compared the LA4 to a cable—and couldn't hear any difference. He concludes,'the LA4 is probably the most transparent and revealing audio component I've ever used. It does not seem to leave any fingerprints on the sound.'"
"The DAC3 B is a stripped- down, lower-priced version of the DAC3 HGC, which omits the headphone amplifier, balanced and unbalanced analog inputs, volume, mute, and polarity controls."- Stereophile
"The DAC3 was all about depths, in several respects...I heard deeper into the music."
"All I can say is Wow!"
- John Atkinson
"In a Follow-Up, JCA wrote of using the Benchmark processor with the same company's AHB2 power amp—a combination of high source output voltage and modest amplifier gain that he describes as 'optimal for minimizing noise and distortion' —and reported hearing 'richer and more interesting' reproduction of very subtle details."