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System Review - DAC3, HPA4, AHB2 - Geoffrey Vanhouwaert, Alpha-Audio

April 08, 2020

System Review - DAC3, HPA4, AHB2 - Geoffrey Vanhouwaert, Alpha-Audio

"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."

HPA4 Touchscreen

"This is a great touchscreen that works very intuitively. You never have to think twice to run any function. This is where Benchmark's pro background comes into play."

Killer Feature

"The 'killer feature' on the HPA4 for me is the ability to make each input play equally loud. Adjusting the gain so that different sources and dacs are equalized is a fantastic tool."

"Balance control is also an important feature given the fact that listening spaces are never perfect."

Remote Control

"Remote controls are a pet peeve of mine, but this one is a 'beauty'. It is beautifully made and it fits perfectly in the hand. It has just the right selection of buttons, nothing extra, nothing missing. Adjusting the volume, choosing the inputs and being able to mute every now and then are the most important features.The other settings, which you usually only have to do once, are made via the touchscreen."

HPA4 - Line-Level Preamplifer with THX-888 Headphone Amplifier

LA4 - Line-Level Preamplifer

 

HPA4 vs. LA4

"Initially I thought to buy an LA4 (preamp only) because I am not really a headphone aficionado and because I thought that the LA4 would perform slightly better... but Benchmark assured us that the line amplifier is identical in both devices."

"The HPA4 is the best deal because for a limited additional charge you get one of the best headphone amps on the planet."

DAC3 B

"The DAC3 B also fits seamlessly into the system. So much so that we prefer it to the Metrum Acoustics Onyx in this setup. Once again proof that synergy is important."

HPA4 - Permanent Place in My Reference System

"The HPA4 has now taken a permanent place in my reference system."

Reference System

  • ATC SCM19 V2 monitors
  • Benchmark Media HPA4 preamp
  • Benchmark Media AHB2 power amplifier
  • Metrum Acoustics Ambre streamer
  • Hifiman Sundara headphones
  • Roon software

Summary

"The slogan of Benchmark Media Systems actually sums it all up nicely: “Benchmark ... the measure of excellence!”"

- Geoffrey Vanhouwaert, Alpha-Audio

Note: The quotes above were translated from Dutch. The full review (in Dutch) is available below.

Read the full review here →

Rear Panel - HPA4 and LA4

 



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