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HPA4 Review - Tom Martin, HI-FI+

June 12, 2019

HPA4 Review - Tom Martin, HI-FI+

"In the past decade, Benchmark consumer products, especially its digital-to-analogue converters, have achieved acclaim for ultra-low distortion and clean sound. While the company is very strongly engineering-oriented, it maintains that listening tests are critical to product development."

Benchmark HPA4 Headphone Amplifier

"The HPA4 is Benchmark’s latest headphone amplifier. This amp is unusual in that it features a THX-888 Achromatic Audio Amplifier, which is claimed to reduce distortion by 20–40 db through a patented feed-forward design resulting in the world’s most linear amplifier."

"In addition to the THX amp circuitry, Benchmark has gone slightly nuts (in a good way) with the volume control, offering 256 levels in 0.5 db steps via an array of relays."

"Benchmark doesn’t stop there. The HPA4 is a high voltage, high current design to allow low sensitivity headphones to work well."

"In addition, the damping factor is high (near zero ohms output impedance), with the aim of sounding the same with low, medium, and high impedance headphones."

"That’s all great, but many fancy-sounding circuits sound like dirt. Happily, that isn’t the case with this one."

"The HPA4 is exceptionally good at presenting a layered, dynamic yet relaxed sound."

"You can hear these rich results on, for example, Eliza Gilkyson’s Hard Times In Babylon [Red House], where the instruments not only are clearly differentiated but also sound fully rendered, as live instruments do."

"You also can hear the overtones of each instrument as they decay, which makes them sound more real."

"This adds up to a super-revealing amp that isn’t going to correct the mistakes of the rest of your system. I thought top-flight headphones sounded great as a result, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the amp for you. I, however, wish the review sample didn’t have to go back."

- Tom Martin, HI-FI+

Read the entire review at HiFiPlus.com →

After this review, Hi-Fi+ selected the HPA4 as one of the "Top 100 Products of the Past 20 years" (1999 to 2019).

"A real game-changer!"- HI-FI+

HI-FI+ Top 100 awards →

Hi-Fi+ "Top 100" Award 1999-2019

 



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