"The LA4’s relay-managed volume control has 256 steps of adjustment of 0.5dB each, and is fully balanced -- each channel has its own dedicated attenuator. Each increment of volume adjustment produces a satisfying click from the 40 relays inside. Other circuit features include precision-timed relay closures, gold contact points in the relays, and metal-film resistors."
"The LA4 has an expansive specified frequency response of 0.1Hz-500kHz, -3dB. Other impressive specs include a signal/noise ratio of >137dB (A-weighted) and total harmonic distortion (THD) of <-125dB (<0.00006%). Benchmark has also tested the LA4 for “immunity to radiated and conducted radio frequency interference.”"
"Benchmark Media Systems’ LA4 preamplifier presented an utterly realistic reproduction of what was contained on each recording I played through it -- and weak recordings stood out more than usual. The LA4’s clean, analytical abilities are unmatched by any similarly priced preamplifier I know of. The LA4’s touchscreen brings it up to date with current user interfaces, and permits functions, such as balance control and muting at the device."
"Operation of the user interface is intuitive -- I found the LA4’s many features easy to find and adjust."
"The LA4 was designed from the ground up as an ultra-low-noise, ultra-low-distortion mate for the AHB2 power amplifier, which my brother Hans reviewed on SoundStage! Access in June 2015. Our measurements of the AHB2 confirmed that it had the lowest noise and distortion of any power amp we’ve ever measured. Benchmark claims that the LA4 (and HPA4) “may be the only preamplifiers or line amplifiers that [exceed] the signal-to-noise ratio of the ultra-quiet AHB2.” If so, the LA4 may be closer to the elusive ideal of a “straight wire with gain” than almost any other preamplifier on the market at any price."
"If you want a preamp that editorializes, look elsewhere."
"If, like me, you value a high-resolution, totally neutral musical performance, add a Benchmark LA4 to your system, particularly if you already own a Benchmark DAC."
"I'm asking because clearly Benchmark is a highly regarded company here, and plenty of ASR members own Benchmark amplification/DACs. We know they are top of the heap in terms of measured performance, outdoing plenty of the competition in terms of typical distortion measurements."
- @MattHooper, AudioScienceReview.com
AHB2, LA4, DAC3
Subtle aesthetics? Check.
Unobtrusive size? Check.
Solid build? Check.
Made in America? Check.
Best in class? Check.
Superior performance proven by Amir? Check.
Superior customer service? Check (and not just in audio world; best customer service I have experienced from any company, anywhere, ever).
Expensive? For me, yes. Limit of my budget, but buy once cry once.
"The afternoon before the start of the show I ran into John Siau of Benchmark Media Systems. He says to me quietly, “make sure you stop in our room, we have a surprise!” With curiosity suitably piqued, Co-Editor Jim Clements and I paid a visit ..."
"The results were pretty astonishing. A stable, enveloping stereo image that was devoid of any distortion whatsoever."
- Carlo Lo Raso, Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
"Sound was extremely well-integrated and controlled, and the bass memorable."
"The Note received signal through the introductory version of the company's Liquid Cables. Each cable contains 27,000 wires. The company's introductory Elephant memory player joined Benchmark Media's AHB2 power amps, DAC3 B D/A processor, and interconnects."
"With the aid of a forthcoming DEQX HDP4 processor that's due in the fall, the system sounded super on a 16/44.1 file of the famed rendition of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, recorded by Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra for Reference Recordings."