"With roots in the broadcast and professional recording industries, Benchmark designs and engineers their equipment with a “measurements first” mentality. In mission-critical environments where a flat frequency response is not just expected but required, it’s imperative that the equipment doesn’t impart any of its own sonic character on the source material."
"This accurate reproduction enables recording engineers and producers to showcase their creative talents. Benchmark aims to give you the same experience musicians and engineers have in their studios when they play a recording they have just mastered; pure sonic perfection."
"The LA4 is a straightforward line-level preamp with four analog inputs, two analog outputs, and a summed mono output for a powered subwoofer. A relay stepped attenuator that uses gold precision-matched relays controls the volume level. From top to bottom, the design of the LA4 was meant to do one thing; preserve the sonic integrity of the material that passes through it."
"The Benchmark AHB2 is more than a quiet amplifier – it’s a silent one. When powered on, it exudes no noise whatsoever from its chassis, nor is there any hiss from the connected speakers. You can literally put your ear an inch away from the tweeter, and all you will hear is complete silence."
"Prior to reviewing these Benchmark components, I had heard the company’s products powering some of my favorite-sounding rooms at several audio shows. Based on what I’d heard at these shows, I was eager to hear how this equipment could perform in my own listening room."
"Two words immediately came to mind — unrestricted dynamics."
"I was shocked at the effortless dynamic swings that I heard from some of my favorite classical and jazz performances. I was also stunned by how certain sounds seemed to leap instantaneously out of the speakers and truly startle me."
"I had previously used the Comete EZ speakers with three other amplifiers, and I didn’t notice this explosive sensation. It was a genuine “you don’t know what you’re missing until you hear it” moment for me."
"Listening to the Benchmark gear in my own room, I felt an immediate and gratifying emotional connection to the music I was hearing. This unmistakable feeling was unique for me, and it was repeatable."
"As an audiophile, I strive to hear the soul, energy, and emotion contained within the music. My goal with this hobby is to enjoy that multi-faceted experience every time I listen. Pure transparency and unrestricted insight into my music is now affordable!"
- Drew Gagliano, The Audio Beatnik
"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