AHB2 - "The perfect heart to any hifi"
"Neat in construction, busy in terms of features and small in stature, the AHB2 is quite remarkable in how it goes about its business of delivering music. I’ve seldom heard such a balanced, easy on the ear power amplifier as this that also provides tonal accuracy plus an attractive space in the midrange. The AHB2 would be an ideal fulcrum to any hi-fi system, acting as the heart around which you can build up your hi-fi chain. It’s dependable and rock solid. The perfect heart to any hifi."
- Paul Rigby, The Audiophile Man - audiophileman.com
AHB2 - "Essentially Perfect"
"Benchmark products ... are made for the professional market (where they are ubiquitous) and designed to the most exacting standards of performance and reliability."
"Within a remarkably short period of time ... my mental processes shifted from comparison mode to enjoying music, all the attention drawn to the source material and the rare sensation of feeling as if I were listening back to the source."
"... the AHB2 gets as high, enthusiastic, and confident a thumbs up as my arm is capable of reaching."
- Paul Seydor, The Absolute Sound, April 2016
AHB2 - Receives Stereophile's Highest Rating!
"Class A Recommended Component, 2016"
"More apparent low-level detail" - KR
"In his listening tests, Kalman Rubinson discovered 'much more apparent low-level detail in already-familiar recordings' - a characteristic he credited to the Benchmark's evident noiselessness - and a tonal balance that 'sounded more right' than any of the other amps on hand."
"An extraordinary amplifier" - JA
"In measuring the AHB2 and attempting to confirm its specified very high signal/noise ratio, John Atkinson observed nonlinearities in his testing equipment that 'Haven't affected the measured performance of other amplifiers I've tested, but they were detectable with the AHB2's very low intrinsic distortion and noise.' His conclusion: 'an extraordinary amplifier.'"
The AHB2 shares the elite "Class A Recommended" category with amplifiers costing 10 to 20 times more.
AHB2 - "A Bargain for Poor Audiophiles"
"... the only amplifier under $3,000 to be given Stereophile Class A status."
"In our review of the Benchmark AHB2, we absolutely loved what we heard. So much so, in fact, that we gave the Benchmark AHB2 our Amplifier of the Year award."
"It seems that the April 2016 edition ofStereophile Magazine shares our view. Stereophile has just named the Benchmark AHB2 in its prestigious Class A category, meaning it's the best of the best from the products they have reviewed."
"We weren't at all surprised about the AHB2 receiving that prestigious classification. Rather, what surprised us was that it was the only amplifier under $3,000 to be given Class A status."
"When you're competing against products costing 10x, 20x or more and you're mentioned in the same breath, that's a big compliment."
- Poor Audiophile
AHB2 - "Virtually flawless"
"A precision instrument designed to perform the precisely defined task of reproducing music and sound accurately, which it does to perfection."
- Paul Seydor, The Absolute Sound
AHB2 - "A Technical Tour de Force Without any Question"
"The Benchmark amplifier is quieter than any other amplifier I am aware of."
"It has noise of around 110 dB down relative to 1 watt, and since it has 100 watts of power, the signal-to-noise ratio that is relevant to resolution is around 130 dB."
"The Benchmark also has extremely low distortion—among the lowest around and surely far below known thresholds."
"The Benchmark can be used in bridged mode, to give 400 watts into 8 ohms (actually 380W is specified). That ought to be enough for most applications except in extremely large rooms."
"The Benchmark AHB2 amplifier is a technical tour de force without any question."
- Robert E. Green, The Absolute Sound, April 2016
AHB2 - "Runs like a high-performance sports car"
"This amplifier runs like a high-performance sports car. I was amazed at the AHB2’s ability to keep up with dense music mixes and never sound congested or lacking. In fact, this tidy beast produced some of the tightest low end I’ve ever heard in my 2 way speakers. The midrange was articulate and clear with an obvious clarity that bested my current class A/B amplifier. Extending to the high frequencies were equally clear and distortion free, no hype here- just honest clear reproduction."
"Acoustically, the AHB2 performs so cleanly and quietly that it resolves the hall and space between musicians distinctly- something professional engineers and audiophiles can equally appreciate."
"If you are looking for an amplifier that can reveal your source material and DAC without flinching, then the AHB2 is a top choice."
-HIFIQC, February 11, 2016
AHB2 - "An immediacy that makes for uncanny realism"
"Orchestral dynamics were also well served, as the amp has considerable speed and an ability to deliver serious power with alacrity, and there's no sense of overhang in the bass."
"Dr. Feelgood's 'Roxette' [Down By The Jetty, United Artists] raised the hairs on the back of my neck. The Benchmark has an immediacy that makes for uncanny realism, so a track like this is more intense and vital, more powerful in fact."
"The Benchmark SMS1 had been supplied with the amps with a view of doing a whole system eview, a state of affairs that came to pass with gusto when I discovered just how well the combination gelled."
"The Benchmark pairing proved analytical (in typical studio style) but not dry - just very revealing of recording style and balance."
AHB2 - "Conspicuous Only in Its Absence"
"Before she joined Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick was in a band called The Great Society. They made an LP, Conspicuous Only in Its Absence, the title of which has stuck in my mind ever since I first heard it as a teenager. (The album also contains some killer psychedelic rock riffing, but that’s another story for another time.) That album’s title is a perfect description of how the new Benchmark AHB2 power amplifier fits into a studio monitoring system."
- Tom Fine, Tape Op
AHB2 - "2015 Product of the Year - Pioneering Design Achievement"
"Last year, in his November editorial, Hans wrote about our lack of consensus in naming the winner for this award."
"This year ... the Benchmark AHB2’s incredible sound quality makes it a no-brainer for the 2015 Pioneering Design Achievement award."
"Hans reviewed the AHB2 for SoundStage! Access in June, and had read every other product review we published in 2015, and felt that nothing else came close."
- Doug Schneider, SoundStage Hi-Fi
AHB2 - "These are the amplifiers that you are looking for."
"THX has patented a novel amplifier design, THX AAA Technology(TM) and Benchmark Media Systems has turned it into a new power amplifier – AHB2. The design is called Achromatic Audio Amplifier. Achromatic may mean colorless or neutral or without modulation."
"So is there a sound signature to the AHB2? Since THX calls it Achromatic we can assume that they were not aiming for a warm and sweet tubey sound – and this is not what it delivers. The sound is indeed neutral and exact without being sterile or clinical. Colorless? Not really. The amp will send through the sound palette of the source component and disc/file without stripping any color away."
"The AHB2 is so good it will immediately expose weaknesses in your system. It requires a very good pre-amp ... which should output a balanced signal."
"Medals to everyone and a rebel princess to the AAA Technology inventor!"
- Toby Tingskog, dagogo.com
AHB2 - "Strikes fear in the transformers of more expensive amps"
"If you value the information revealed by measurements, you’ll appreciate the fact that the AHB2 is one of the quietest amplifiers ever made, with a signal/noise ratio of 132 dB."
"As someone who reviews his fair share of extremely high-priced gear, I know that components like the AHB2 strike fear in the transformers of more expensive amps. The question is, how many audiophiles will dismiss the AHB2 because of its low price?"
- Jeff Fritz, SoundStage!Ultra
AHB2 - "A real breakthrough in every way"
"... it was probably the AHB2's low noise level that revealed to me much more apparent low-level detail in already-familiar recordings."
"These surprising and delicious details were evident from the bass up through the midrange and extreme treble, which nonetheless remained silky and diaphanous."
"In addition to quantity of soundstage detail, the AHB2 ... had all the power needed to drive with aplomb my Bowers & Wilkins 800 Diamond speakers to any reasonable level."
"As time passed and I listened more, I grew to love the AHB2's sound, and undertook the rewarding effort of listening through it to as many different recordings as I could. It was a great pleasure, as old friends, some already mentioned, smiled anew."
- Kalman Rubinson, Stereophile
AHB2 - "An extraordinary amplifier ... its performance lies at the limits of what is possible for me to reliably test"
"Conventionally, it is assumed that the measurement system used to test a product is much better than the device under test."
"However, the Benchmark amplifier's specifications are close to those of my Audio Precision system ... correctly characterizing the AHB2's measured performance would therefore present a challenge. The second and third harmonics lie close to the residual distortion in the Audio Precision's signal generator."
"The Benchmark amplifier has a claimed S/N ratio "approaching 130dB," which, at 6.02dB per bit, is equivalent to more than 21-bit resolution. It is truly a high-resolution amplifier."
"Benchmark Media Systems' AHB2 is an extraordinary amplifier."
- John Atkinson, Stereophile
HRA System - "I was impressed with the sense of space"
"I was admittedly quite cruel with my initial choice of listening material ... Vladimir Homyakov playing Bach organ works on the Eule organ at St. Alexander Church in Cheylyabinsk. Yes, we're going to try playing organ music on a modestly-sized pair of bookshelf speakers! And my jaw dropped. Unexpected depth there is, and natural it sounds too. I was also impressed with the sense of space the system created; it felt uncannily as if I was in the church"
"Benchmark ... has managed an impressive feat. If you want a large-scale yet musical sound but don't have the space for big boxes, they're well worth checking out."
HRA System - "My favorite true sub $10,000 system"
"The best 'budget' system at the show ... my favorite true sub $10,000 system was a great offering from Benchmark Media Systems, at just $7,500 dollars for a very capable system cables and all, this system takes the cake."
- Rick LaFaver, Enjoy the Music.com
AHB2 - "Racking up award after award"
"Special 20/20 Award, High-End Amplification"
"Racking up award after award is the Benchmark Media AHB2 solid-state stereo power amplifier."
"Using some super tweak circuitry and other modern bits, this tiny 11.04" wide by 3.88" tall and 9.34" deep amp weighs in at only 12.5 pounds!"
"While I don't really need another amplifier, I'm going to find a way to both placate my wife and work with the fine folks at Benchmark to give this little giant slayer a new home here in the Midwest."
AHB2 - "A cut above every integrated amplifier I’ve reviewed"
"The AHB2 is a power amplifier only, so you need to use a preamplifier with it. When I did, I found it a cut above every integrated amplifier I’ve reviewed, a list that includes: Hegel’s H160 and H300, Linn's Majik DSM, Musical Fidelity's M6 500i, and Luxman's L-550AX."
- Hans Wetzel, Sound Stage! Access
SMS1 - "I easily preferred the Benchmark"
"I easily preferred the Benchmark SMS1 to the other three loudspeaker systems, for both the classical and the popular recordings. It provided the largest and most spacious soundstage, the most precise imaging, with solo vocals accurately placed in the center of the stereo image."
"If you’re in the market for a small, accurate monitoring system, the SMS1 deserves serious consideration."
- Gary Galo, Audioxpress
AHB2 - "A Non-Traditional Design"
"The Benchmark Media AHB2, while assuredly a non-traditional design, is a true linear (not a Class-D) amplifier, built on technology developed and patented by THX Limited."
"Measuring just 11.04" wide by 3.88" tall and 9.34" deep and weighing in at only 12.5 pounds, this amp is slightly less than one quarter of one cubic foot!"
"Instruments and vocalists occupy an uncannily realistic sense of size and locale, and are presented in an incredibly lifelike soundstage."