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LA4 and AHB2 Review - Drew Gagliano, The Audio Beatnik

LA4 and AHB2 Review - Drew Gagliano, The Audio Beatnik

Benchmark - Professional Roots

"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."

Benchmark LA4 Silver

LA4 - "Sonic Integrity"

"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 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."

Benchmark AHB2 Power Amplifier

AHB2 - "Unrestricted Dynamics"

"Two words immediately came to mind — unrestricted dynamics."

"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."

LA4 and HPA4 - "Immediate Emotional Connection to the Music"

"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."

"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."

"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."

"The LA4 and AHB2 tear down so many of the usual walls that come between the listener and the music. Without those walls, I was drawn fully and completely into what I was hearing."

"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!"

"If you value transparency and accuracy, the LA4 and AHB2 will perform beyond your highest expectations."

- Drew Gagliano, The Audio Beatnik

Read the entire review at TheAudioBeatnik.com →


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by Benchmark Media Systems April 02, 2024

 

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"The AHB2 bridgeable stereo amplifier ... was the topic of a recent discussion between American electrostatic panel speaker manufacturer Sound Lab’s president, Dr. Roger West, and me."

"In our discussion, he related his highly positive experience in driving even his largest, $55k Majestic 945 panels with the $7,000 pair of Benchmark Media AHB2 monoblocks, along with the $3,050 LA4 Preamplifier and factory XLR cables."

"Dr. West described the AHB2 as a class AB design using “feed-forward distortion reduction [thus removing] any possibility of pushing the margin of safety of a standard feedback loop, used in most amplifiers, into an unstable oscillatory mode.”"

"He further shared with me that “this is of most concern on powerful musical transients. The distortion of the amplifier in the balanced mode is astonishingly low even at just below the clipping level of 380 watts.”"

"The prospect of the AHB2’s specified distortion level of 0.00015% or lower when at full volume is comical at first glance, but upon actual audition the impact of the achievement is very audible from medium-high listening levels and upward."

"It was unlike any other sub-$20,000 amplifier I have auditioned."

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"Benchmark Audio is an engineering focused company with a deep heritage in the recording studio world."

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"The HPA4 is a Headphone Amplifier and Preamp that incorporates the THX-888(AAA) achromatic audio amplifier circuit that was first introduced to the world in the Benchmark AHB2 amplifier."

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"From a listening stance it is the cleanest and most accurate delivery of sound you are likely to get with any Hi-Fi component."

"This is the direct opposite of the typical sound of tube-based technology that is awash in second harmonic distortion and noise."

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"The HPA4 …offers 6 watts into 16 ohm and a whopping 11.5 Vrms into 300 Ohm headphones."

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Listening

I used the track "Slink" from the brand-new Artemis album on Blue Note."

"It is a very dynamic driving track and the Artemis ensemble makes the most of it. The HPA4 and revealed all the sonic details of this track."

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