"There are many things that come into play when putting together a hi-fi system, one of which is synergy."
"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."
"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."
"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 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."
"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."
"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."
"The HPA4 has now taken a permanent place in my reference system."
"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.
"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
"Benchmark's LA4 is the widest-bandwidth, widest-dynamic-range, lowest-noise, lowest-distortion preamplifier I have encountered."
- John Atkinson, Stereophile
"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."
- Kalman Rubinson, Stereophile
"Class A" is Stereophile's highest award for preamplifiers.