"It’s ... been a while since I have been this excited about an audio product."
"I do have a good queue of products that deserve a review here, especially in the headphone department: Audeze LCD-2C, Quad Era-1, Brainwavz Alara. Hopefully I will get some time for them as well. However, in the meanwhile I am using them to test this wonderful wonderful headphone amplifier."
"I like the touchscreen and the implementation. It’s fast and easy to get used to."
"It’s the first time when I have heard the headphones mentioned above to their full potential. In the first minute my jaw dropped ..."
"This is the fastest and the most controlled bass I have ever heard. It goes deep, it’s organic when it needs to be, but it doesn’t linger at all. It’s controlled by an iron fist. The punch is really really fun and strong."
"The midrange is really pure and lively. The instruments and voices have vibrating, lively and pure textures."
"The treble is really extended, very detailed and sparkly. It doesn’t have any touch of brightness, but it does brighten up the place in a good way if you know what I mean."
"The level of detail is amazing on HPA4. I seem to discover other sounds in some songs that I did not notice before."
"The voices are incredibly pure and textured. Depending on the artist and the song, the voice can sound incredibly pure, stammeringly clean and extended, but also guttural/throaty in other cases."
"When you talk about natural sound, about emotion in this domain it usually means that the audio component adds some coloration that give a more natural tonality, more weight to the sound, more present voices, less harshness, etc. In this case the emotion comes from the purity of the sound from the fact that HPA4 completely removes itself from the system."
"From my perspective this is the best headphone amplifier I have ever heard. It’s no competition really."
"It’s not cheap, I can give you that. Is it worth it? That is up to each and every one of you, but if you really want the best amplifier out there, an end game amplifier…this is it."
"This little unit will change the way you look and listen to amplifiers."
"My first taste of this remarkable new amplifier came earlier this year in April at Chicago's AXPONA where I discovered it driving a newly redesigned Studio Electric Pasadena loudspeaker, also bearing the Benchmark trademark. Now called the SMS1, the Pasadena's crossover had been reworked by Benchmark, upgraded with very low tolerance components, and the new look, more in line with the look of the rest of the Benchmark product line up, had been adopted."
"The subsequent sound in this room was one of the most musically engaging I encountered at this year's event, a remarkable result considering its modest overall system price of just over $7000, sans source."
- Greg Weaver, EnjoythMusic.com
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
"Class A+" is Stereophile's highest award for Digital Processors
"Benchmark's LA4 is the widest-bandwidth, widest-dynamic-range, lowest-noise, lowest-distortion preamplifier I have encountered."
- John Atkinson, Stereophile
"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."
- Kalman Rubinson, Stereophile
"Class A" is Stereophile's highest award for preamplifiers.