"As soon as everything powered up, there was a big smile on my face. With the LA4 in control of the system, everything sounded right, and subtle differences among recordings, amplifiers, and speakers were clear."
"Compared to the other preamps on hand, the LA4 was consistently quieter, more open, and more revealing of detail."
"The action of the large knob is stepped, and an audible relay click accompanies each 0.5dB step change. I am accustomed, as perhaps many are, to smooth, silent operation, and I hastily concluded that the clicking would be intolerable. Nevertheless, I was wrong, especially as this construction contributes to some of the virtues I observed later."
"The LA4's 16-step gain stage feeds a 256-step attenuator with 12 gold-contact relays and 64 precision (0.1%) thin-film resistors, switched by an array of 40 sealed, gold-contact precision relays."
"The use of physically large, metal-film resistors ensures rapid heat dissipation, preventing heat-induced increases in resistance values."
"The relays are controlled by an FPGA to ensure precise timing of relay switching, which Benchmark says reduces transient currents that can cause pops, clicks, and 'zipper noise.'"
"The LA4's design, the company says, ensures long-term, low-distortion, low-noise operation with accurate interchannel balance and repeatability. It also means that one can use multiple LA4s and know that they are accurately matched."
"The LA4 is probably the most transparent and revealing audio component I've ever used."
"It does not seem to leave any fingerprints on the sound. It has a useful array of inputs, outputs, and functions, and the use of sealed relays for volume and input selection assures a long and noise-free life."
- Kal Rubinson, Stereophile
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
"The benchmark combination offers a full range of equipment that can hardly be topped, leaves nothing to be desired in terms of sound, and meets professional requirements without any ifs or buts."
"The HPA4 has the HIFIMan one hundred percent under control, eliciting neutral timbres, tons of spatial information and crisp dynamics."
"I connected everything the household had to offer in terms of speakers - Spendor S3 / 5, Ayon Seagull / c, Quad ESL57. It goes without saying that the American coped with the dynamic boxes with ease. But even the quads, which have some meanness on the part of their impedance, did not pose a challenge for the amp."
"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