Alpha-Audio.net tested 10 DACs side-by-side. Only one received the "Alpha-Audio Approved" award. That DAC was the Benchmark DAC3.
"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!"
DAC3 - "Alpha-Audio Approved"
Jim Austin wrote, "The DAC3 was all about depths, in several respects . . . I heard deeper into the music."
The concise conclusion to John Atkinson's Measurements sidebar: "All I can say is 'Wow!'"
In a Follow-Up, Jim Austin 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.
- Stereophile Magazine
"The benchmark combination offers a full range of equipment that can hardly be topped, leaves nothing to be desired in terms of sound, and meets professional requirements without any ifs or buts."
"The HPA4 has the HIFIMan one hundred percent under control, eliciting neutral timbres, tons of spatial information and crisp dynamics."
"I connected everything the household had to offer in terms of speakers - Spendor S3 / 5, Ayon Seagull / c, Quad ESL57. It goes without saying that the American coped with the dynamic boxes with ease. But even the quads, which have some meanness on the part of their impedance, did not pose a challenge for the amp."
"There are many things that come into play when putting together a hi-fi system, one of which is synergy."
"After the arrival of the Benchmark Media Systems AHB2, I immediately thought of the matching HPA4 that colleagues Jaap and Yung were very pleased with."
"The key question, of course, was whether the HPA4 would really provide an audible improvement."
"Well you bet! The synergy between preamp and power amplifier is nothing short of magical, not to mention the DAC3 B that I got from importer Helios for the occasion."
"Not only a few curtains disappear, the whole window is gone."
- Geoffrey Vanhouwaert, Alpha-Audio