"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."
"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+
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+
"There are many things that come into play when putting together a hi-fi system, one of which is synergy."
"After the arrival of the Benchmark Media Systems AHB2, I immediately thought of the matching HPA4 that colleagues Jaap and Yung were very pleased with."
"The key question, of course, was whether the HPA4 would really provide an audible improvement."
"Well you bet! The synergy between preamp and power amplifier is nothing short of magical, not to mention the DAC3 B that I got from importer Helios for the occasion."
"Not only a few curtains disappear, the whole window is gone."
- Geoffrey Vanhouwaert, Alpha-Audio
"The Benchmark AHB2 is a very fine sounding, easy to live with, zero-maintenance power amplifier that has enough power for most systems. If more power is needed, two amplifiers configured for mono can provide it. The decision to purchase the review sample and make the Benchmark AHB2 a new, long term reference took over a month of listening and comparisons."
"The outstanding musicality of the Benchmark AHB2 takes some time to convince the listener of its wholly musical presentation. This subtle excellence assures long term satisfaction."
-10 Audio, Perfect 10 Award
Alpha-Audio.net tested 10 DACs side-by-side. Only one received the "Alpha-Audio Approved" award. That DAC was the Benchmark DAC3.
"Are you looking for the best DAC (d/a converter) in the price range from 1500 euro to 2500 euro? That’s great! Because we’ve put ten beauties side by side. And we tested it live on camera for you."
"It was incredibly instructive to put so many converters side by side. We clearly hear differences - and the viewers could as well."
"One of the models we all agreed on is the benchmark DAC3. This is a delicious musical product. Virtually no coloring, nice stereo image and plenty of inputs."
DAC3 - Alpha-Audio Approved!