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HPA4 and AHB2 Review - Fidelity Online

HPA4 and AHB2 Review - Fidelity Online

Benchmark HPA4 and AHB2 in bookshelf

HPA4, AHB2 - "No Ifs or Buts"

"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."

Benchmark HPA4 Black

HPA4 - "Has the HiFiMan 100% Under Control"

"Two very different headphones were used to check the capabilities of the corresponding output on the benchmark pre: my ultra-light, electrically undemanding Grado SR80, which regularly has a sound that is far too good for the price range, and a HIFIMan Sundara, an officially high-end magnetostat."

"The benchmark shows what it's capable of..."

"The HPA4 has the HIFIMan one hundred percent under control, eliciting neutral timbres, tons of spatial information and crisp dynamics."

"My current favorite record, Origami Harvest by the American jazz trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, whose mix of hard rap, classic string quartet and eruptive jazz combo is not for beginners, flows so neatly into the ear that it is a pleasure."

"If the design goal was to construct a reinforcing piece of wire, then it has been achieved."

"Operation via the touchscreen and the level control that switches a record-breaking resistor network is fun and at the same time gives you a pleasant studio feeling - at least if you mean the same thing as I do by “studio”, namely precision, control, perfect reproducibility and absolute reliability."

 

Benchmark AHB2 Black

AHB2 - "First Choice for Driving Difficult Boxes"

"When the decision was made one day to bring the first regular power amplifier onto the market, the requirements were clear: What was needed was maximum energy efficiency, low distortion at the limit of the measurable, and no sound of its own."

"It is indeed an achromatic enhancer, pure as a spring wind. A spring wind with power."

"The AHB2 is a class H amplifier in which a switched-mode power supply supplies a class AB circuit and, thanks to the variable voltage supply, reduces power consumption enormously."

"The basis of the circuit is a combination of negative feedback with the extremely efficient, but far seldom used principle of interference suppression by means of feedforward error correction. In German this is called “Mitkopplung” and means - to put it very briefly - the supply of the phase-inverted distortion component to the output signal."

"It amplifies the signal supplied and otherwise stays out of everything."

"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."

"In short, it is the best tool and therefore the first choice for everyone who wants to drive difficult boxes to maximum performance without going into personal bankruptcy."

- Michael Vrzal, Fidelity Online

Read the full review here →


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"The AHB2 bridgeable stereo amplifier ... was the topic of a recent discussion between American electrostatic panel speaker manufacturer Sound Lab’s president, Dr. Roger West, and me."

"In our discussion, he related his highly positive experience in driving even his largest, $55k Majestic 945 panels with the $7,000 pair of Benchmark Media AHB2 monoblocks, along with the $3,050 LA4 Preamplifier and factory XLR cables."

"Dr. West described the AHB2 as a class AB design using “feed-forward distortion reduction [thus removing] any possibility of pushing the margin of safety of a standard feedback loop, used in most amplifiers, into an unstable oscillatory mode.”"

"He further shared with me that “this is of most concern on powerful musical transients. The distortion of the amplifier in the balanced mode is astonishingly low even at just below the clipping level of 380 watts.”"

"The prospect of the AHB2’s specified distortion level of 0.00015% or lower when at full volume is comical at first glance, but upon actual audition the impact of the achievement is very audible from medium-high listening levels and upward."

"It was unlike any other sub-$20,000 amplifier I have auditioned."

"My audition of the Benchmark Media AHB2 amplifiers underscores the reason Dr. West is so taken by it, and confirms the design is best described as a watershed moment in the high-end audio industry."

- Constantine Soo, Dagogo

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"The audiophile world sometimes looks to the professional audio world for enlightenment, especially on the digital side of things, and Benchmark Media is one of the companies that we put high on a pedestal."

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HPA4 Review - Chris, DC Hi-Fi Group

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by Benchmark Media Systems September 15, 2023

"The Sound of Silence"

"Benchmark Audio is an engineering focused company with a deep heritage in the recording studio world."

Benchmark  HPA4 - Black

"The HPA4 is a Headphone Amplifier and Preamp that incorporates the THX-888(AAA) achromatic audio amplifier circuit that was first introduced to the world in the Benchmark AHB2 amplifier."

Benchmark AHB2 - Black

"To this day the AHB2 remains the lowest distortion and highest SNR amplifier on the market."

"The Direct Opposite of Typical Tube-Based Technology"

"From a listening stance it is the cleanest and most accurate delivery of sound you are likely to get with any Hi-Fi component."

"This is the direct opposite of the typical sound of tube-based technology that is awash in second harmonic distortion and noise."

Power

"The HPA4 …offers 6 watts into 16 ohm and a whopping 11.5 Vrms into 300 Ohm headphones."

"You will not be running out of power with this device."

Listening

I used the track "Slink" from the brand-new Artemis album on Blue Note."

"It is a very dynamic driving track and the Artemis ensemble makes the most of it. The HPA4 and revealed all the sonic details of this track."

"I give the HPA4 my highest recommendation."

- Chris, Forum Administrator - DC Hi-Fi Group

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