HPA4 Review - Andrew Everard, Hi-Fi News

October 09, 2018

HPA4 Review - Andrew Everard, Hi-Fi News

 

"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."

"Unlike most headphone amps able to do double duty as a preamp, this one doesn't split its output ... but actually has discrete amplifier sections for the two functions."

"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."

Sound

"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."

"I played a new Channel Classics recording, pianist Anna Fedorova's Four Fantasies [CCS 41318; DSD 256], and was instantly struck by the way it sprang to life, with every element of the playing, and the size of the Steinway in a credible concert-hall acoustic, readily on display."

"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 in the Eindhoven Muziekgebouw back in July."

"The HPA4 can certainly rock out, it prodigious capability when it comes to output levels meaning it can five as much as your phones can take."

"Its beauty is that it sets no limits on your system: any failings audible will need to be looked for elsewhere."

- Andrew Everard, Hi-Fi News

Read the entire article in the November 2018 issue (pages 70 - 73), subscription required →



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