"Today, is a very special day for me, since I believe I am hearing the best overall performance out of my headphones."
"Headphone listening at the Hi-Fi level is a big part of my life. I purchased my first headphone amplifier back in 2006 when just mentioning “a headphone amplifier” in the audiophile circles would rise both eyebrows and suspicion of sanity, today having one is a must have if you care about headphones in general."
"The distance performance-wise between HPA4 and my second-best headphone amp is Night and Day!"
"What I am testing today is the only headphone amplifier on the marked that is based on the top of the line dual-mono THX AAA-888."
"Like other audio components designed and made by Benchmark, HPA4 has an impeccable build quality top to bottom."
"The CNC milled front panel houses a very big and feature packed touch-screen LCD, a ¼” (6.35 mm) single ended headphone out, a 4-pin XLR balanced headphone out, a standby/mute button and a very special 256 step fully-balanced relay-controlled volume pot... using four 256-step relay-controlled attenuators and another four 16-step relay-controlled boost amplifiers."
"Together these are forming two fully-independent and fully-balanced stereo volume controls. One dedicated for the line-out (pre-amplifier) and one for the headphone amp. Each has a +15dB to -122 dB range in 0.5 steps."
"I didn’t know I would love the touch-screen so much, it is incredible how many features and settings can be controlled from there."
"I never seen such an advanced feature-set on a 100% analog headphone amp. From there you instantly mute any of the output, you can instantly lower the output by 20 db, select the desired input or output, you can even rename the analog inputs so you know what are you listening to. If your audio source has a lower power output, you can boost its signal by up to 10 db, or in case your source has super-hot power output, you can lower it down by 10 db. There are other, many other settings..."
"The THX-888 chips will deliver up to 6W of power into 16 Ohms, up to 11.9 Vrms into 300 Ohms and up to 1.5 Amperes! Since you can easily damage your headphone with those numbers, Benchmark incorporated several protection systems to avoid that from happening."
"The bandwidth of HPA4 extends from 0.01 Hz to over 500 kHz! This means HPA4 will deliver a very precise amplitude and phase accuracy over the entire audio bandwidth. It seems it’s time to upgrade my hearing apparatus with bat ears…"
"It never crossed my mind that I will hear new nuance, more hidden information out of my favorite tunes that I am listening to more than 15 years."
"It is like my favorite bands suddenly improved their recording and mastering equipment, there is more of Everything."
"HPA4 possesses an incredible fluidity and acoustic tonality."
"To this day there were many designs that had a very low noise floor but none of them were completely noise-free with IEMs, not a single one...With all that transparency, airiness and zero background noise to me HPA4 is having the most life like depth I encountered with headphones."
"It is quite unusual hearing depth information on all X, Y and Z axes."
"I personally loved every single headphone with it, from sensitive IEMs, portable ones to desktop and hard to drive ones, everyone shined and shown what they can do and what they can’t."
"This headphone amplifier and line pre-amplifier receives my highest recommendation and scores the highest rank in my book."
"It spoiled me so much, that for the past 3 days I’m waking up at 5 A.M. so I can listen, tap my feet and head-bang just a little bit more. I for one, started saving for one, I’m sorry but I can’t go back to regular amps."
"Without a doubt Benchmark HPA4 is an end-game, top of the line headphone amp – it’s The One to rule them All."
-Sandu Vitalie, SoundNews.net
"Before I dig into the sound of the LA4 it is important to know that it employs a wide bandwidth design. The LA4’s bandwidth is specified at 0.2 Hz to 500 kHz."
"Most of the wide bandwidth designs I have heard exhibit ... a purity in tone with superb timing and speed ... the LA4 proved to be no exception."
"The Benchmark LA4 yielded a change that was quickly apparent in several areas. Notably were; bass, upper midrange, treble, low-level listening, and the ability to distinguish the colorations of other components that were contributing to my overall sound."
"Acoustic guitar, piano, and harmonica among many other instruments are presented with speed, clarity, and coherency that made them sound more “present” in the room and less like a recording."
"The Benchmark LA4 is simply the most transparent, least colored, and most revealing component I have had in my system to date. I look forward to it joining my stable of reference components."
- Ken Redmond, The Audio Beatnik
"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