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LA4 - "Class A Recommended Preamplifier" - Stereophile 2020

by Benchmark Media Systems September 30, 2020 1 min read

"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.

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LA4 and AHB2 Review - Drew Gagliano, The Audio Beatnik

by Benchmark Media Systems January 31, 2020 2 min read

"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."

"The LA4 and AHB2 tear down so many of the usual walls that come between the listener and the music."

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

- Drew Gagliano, The Audio Beatnik

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LA4 Review - Kalman Rubinson, Stereophile

by Benchmark Media Systems December 24, 2019 2 min read

"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 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

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LA4 - Bench Test - John Atkinson, Stereophile

by Benchmark Media Systems December 23, 2019 1 min read

"Benchmark's LA4 is the widest-bandwidth, widest-dynamic-range, lowest-noise, lowest-distortion preamplifier I have encountered."

- John Atkinson, Stereophile

"I measured the Benchmark LA4's performance with my Audio Precision SYS2722 system."

"The preamplifier's frequency response in both balanced and unbalanced modes was flat from 10Hz to 200kHz."

"Channel separation was simply superb ... a testament to excellent circuit-board layout."

"I looked at the spectrum of the distortion ... each harmonic is at or below –120dB (0.0001%)."

"Tested for intermodulation distortion in balanced mode with an equal mix of 19 and 20kHz tones at peak level of 5V, the second-order difference product at 1kHz was effectively absent, and the higher-order products all lay at or below –114dB (0.0002%)."

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LA4 Award - "2019 Product of the Year" - Everything Audio Network

by Benchmark Media Systems November 21, 2019 1 min read



"Thanks to the special, discrete analog circuit/relay attenuator, this may be the most transparent line-stage preamplifier in the audiophile world."

"If you got a great-sounding source, the LA4 presents the audio in its original state — with gain or attenuation to the amplifier. I have never heard such low-level detail from a pre."

"The better the DAC, the better you hear it through a quality amp and speakers. It is quiet as a top-notch DAC, with S/N exceeding -135 dB and, feature-wise, it comes with unbalanced/balanced I/O and a really slick user interface."

"I use the four-input LA4 for audiophile A/B testing of DACs, monitoring my Hi-Res home recording/editing/mastering projects, as well as just listening how good my vast collection of 24 bit and DSD music sounds through an accurate amp and speakers."

"A steal at $2,500!"

- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network

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HPA4 Review - Peter Pialis, Headphone.guru

by Benchmark Media Systems November 06, 2019 2 min read

"Since the HPA4 arrived, I have rediscovered so many of my favorite works all over again with improved detail retrieval dynamics and transparency that it’s hard to pull myself away!"

"It drove my power hungry Abyss Phi TC headphones with complete authority, but it was still dead silent and nimble enough to amplify my easy to drive Focal Utopia headphones."

"Rarely have I come across such a wonderfully revealing amplifier that can drive many different types of headphones so darn well! The solid build construction and various controls make the $2,995 price tag seem a bit low based on the other headphone amplifiers in this market space."

- Peter Pialis, Headphone.guru
November 6, 2019
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LA4 Review - Erich Wetzel, SoundStage! Hi-Fi

by Benchmark Media Systems October 31, 2019 2 min read

"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."

"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."

- Erich Wetzel, SoundStage! Hi-Fi

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HPA4 Review - Gary Galo, Audioexpress.com

by Benchmark Media Systems October 31, 2019 3 min read

"You’ll have a tough time finding a cleaner, quieter, more transparent line amplifier and headphone amplifier anywhere, at any price. I found it to be a new reference. Once I heard it, I could not live without it, so I purchased the review sample. The HPA4 deserves my highest recommendation."

"The HPA4 is the latest product from Benchmark Media Systems, an upstate New York audio manufacturer."

"We think very highly of the products that Benchmark and John Siau, the company's director of engineering, have been launching in the market - and I'm certain our readers share that opinion."

"Benchmark calls it a headphone amplifier, but it’s really two products in one, combining the LA4 Line Amplifier introduced in 2018, with a headphone amplifier. It is also based on the same THX Achromatic Audio Amplifier technology used in Benchmark’s acclaimed AHB2 power amplifier."

- Gary Galo, Audioxpress.com

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DAC3, HPA4, AHB2 System Review - HiFiTest.de

by Benchmark Media Systems October 30, 2019 2 min read

"With DAC, preamplifier and power amplifier, Benchmark knows how to build a bridge between the professional sector and home hi-fi. Very beautiful."

"If you value transparent, precise sound, but at the same time want a certain level of comfort and at least a little elegance, you are in good hands with the Americans."

"The DAC3, HPA4 and AHB2 are all characterized by their wonderfully transparent sound and their high degree of precision. At the same time, sufficient amenities are offered to offer adequate comfort. A successful mix."

- HiFiTest.de

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HPA4, LA4 - Lab Report - Amirm, Audio Science Review

by Benchmark Media Systems August 05, 2019 2 min read

Benchmark HPA4 Preamplifier and Headphone Amp Audio Review.jpg

"Going into this test, based on measuring previous Benchmark products, I expected excellent performance. The benchmark HPA4 shattered even that high bar."

"It brings such a high performance to the table that leaves no doubt whatsoever about its transparency. No stone has been left unturned to optimize audio performance of this device. Even obscure measurements like ultrasonic interchannel phase shift is nailed."

"And then we have tons of power without messing with balanced cables and such. Plug in any headphone and you are in heaven."

"The preamp performance is even higher still, breaking and shattering any expectation one would have in a lab instrument let alone a consumer hi-fi."

"It goes without saying that the Benchmark HPA4 garners my strongest recommendation for a headphone amplifier and preamplifier. It doesn't get better than this folks."

- Amir Majidimehr, Audio Science Review

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HPA4 Review - Steven Stone, Home Theater Review

by Benchmark Media Systems June 26, 2019 2 min read

"The HPA4 combined with the Benchmark AHB2 power amplifier ranks as the quietest rig I've heard (or not heard). Even with the gain up to full with no signal, there is no hiss, hum, or buzz, even when I placed my ears within a in inch of the drivers on 89 dB sensitive loudspeakers."

"As a headphone amplifier, the HPA4 was first rate. Whether it was my most power-hungry headphones, which currently are the new Abyss Diana Phi, or my most sensitive IERs, such as the Empire Ears Phantoms, there was no added noise or lack of adequate gain."

"The Benchmark HPA4 exhibits virtually no noise, whether employed as a stereo preamp or headphone amplifier, and his highly transparent, with no audible colorations."

"If you are looking for a preamplifier/headphone amplifier that you can live with happily for a long time, you should consider the Benchmark HPA4 at the top of your must-audition list."

- Steven Stone, HomeTheaterReview.com

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AHB2 & Marting Logan ESL 11A - Axpona 2019 - The Audio Beatnik

by Benchmark Media Systems May 29, 2019 2 min read

197 Rooms - Benchmark Room Makes a "Top 3" List

"The effortless and free-flowing nature of the Martin Logans paired up nicely with the transparent AHB2 amplifiers."

"The tonality and realism of the instruments were spectacular. An alto saxophone sounded as if it was in the room with me, and the pitch and timbre of both male and female vocals were absolutely spot-on. It was clear that nothing in this system was getting in the way of the music."

"Their room had a remarkable degree of transparency that made every listener feel closer to the music."

- Drew Gagliano, TheAudioBeatnik.com

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LA4 Review - Gary L Beard, Positive Feedback

by Benchmark Media Systems April 09, 2019 3 min read

"My initial impression was simple: The LA4 preamp plays everything that is, and nothing that isn't...Neutrality in Audio... and that's really all this review needs to convey."

"The LA4 preamp may occupy neutral audio country, but it is a sweet piece of audio kit. I love its form-factor. I love its simple operation. And I love that it allows the sound of the signal to flow through to the downstream components."

"The LA4's specifications are unquestionably excellent. When using pro-level balanced interconnects, the LA4 manages a Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) greater than 135 dB, and Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) of -125 dB."

"The LA4 has a noise floor that is not just low, it's bats-strain-to-hear-it low."

"The Benchmark LA4 is an excellent preamp, an operationally solid spec-monster that also happens to sound great."

- Gary L Beard, Positive Feedback

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LA4 - "Best of RMAF 2018" - SoundStage! Hi-Fi

by Benchmark Media Systems November 01, 2018 1 min read

"RMAF 2018 was really good, with significant numbers of attendees, and more new-product introductions than I remembered ever seeing there."

"Led by engineer John Siau and based in Syracuse, New York, Benchmark Media Systems has built a sterling reputation for making compact, well-engineered, moderately priced electronics that challenge the state of the art, both on the test bench and in the listening room."

"What I took notice of were the specifications: total harmonic distortion of less than 0.00006%, and a signal/noise ratio exceeding 135dB from 20Hz to 20kHz."

"If those claims are true, and there’s no reason to believe they aren’t -- Benchmark gear has always performed as specified on the test bench -- the LA4 should be about as transparent-sounding a line-stage as you can find at any price." 

- Doug Schneider, SoundStage! Hi-Fi

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DAC3 B & LA4 - RMAF 2018 Show Report, SoundStage!

by Benchmark Media Systems October 06, 2018 1 min read

"Benchmark Media Systems used RMAF 2018 to launch two new products that it was able to lump together into one neat little stack."

"On the top is the DAC3 B, which has the same basic circuitry as the company’s more expensive DACs, but deletes the volume control, polarity and mute buttons, and headphone amp found on those models."

"On the bottom is the LA4 linestage preamplifier..." 

"The LA4 has two pairs each of single-ended (RCA) and balanced (XLR) inputs, and boasts some impressive specs: THD of less than 0.00006% and a signal-to-noise ratio exceeding 135 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz."

"Volume is controlled by dual 256-step attenuators that operate in 0.5 dB increments."

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