"The Benchmark HPA4 is the best sounding line amplifier I've yet heard."
"It's innovative approach to controlling system volume/SPL results in what for me is a uniquely transparent-to-source experience."
"For the first time in my audio life I can pin my ear to each speaker driver and hear absolutely no sound coming from the speakers in a quiet room with the system volume control at any position from minimum to maximum with no source material playing."
"I find that lowering the background noise paints the music on as black a canvas as possible and thus seems to bring out realistic low-level detail in recordings."
HPA4 - "The Best Sounding Headphone Amp I've Heard"
"It is also the best sounding headphone amp I've heard, both for very-insensitive, hard-to-drive phones and those sensitive enough to easily be used directly from a smart phone."
"The HPA4 truly stands apart in terms of measured and subjectively low background noise and distortion when driving either loudspeakers or headphones."
- tmallin (Tom), Moderator of Tom's Corner, WhatsBestForum.com
DAC3, AHB2, ESL 11A - "A Well-Curated Sound System"
"That’s what Benchmark Media had put together in Chicago for AXPONA this year in room 670 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel: a smooth, curated system... to showcase their AHB2 power amplifier, running here in bridged-mono mode and being directly driven by their DAC3 HGC DAC/headamp/preamp."
"The ESL 11A presents a unique challenge for amplifiers... making sure those big curved ‘stat panels are being given not only the watts they need to perform best, but the current as well. Here the AHB2’s linear amplification design excels, as a pair running in bridged-mono delivers 480 watts into six Ohms, and 29 A (peak) of current/channel."
"Whether there was rock, jazz, classical, or even electronic playing while I was in the room, the Benchmark DAC/Pre/Power combo had a way with digital files that seemed to never put a foot wrong, and maintained a balance between resolution, dynamics, and believable acoustic warmth in instruments, and vocals."
DAC3 DX and AHB2 - "ShineBrightestWhenUsedTogether"
"In this age of ultra-refinement in the production and playback of music, Benchmark Media shows that it is to be recognized as a paragon of musical integrity at an affordable price point."
"I suspect that especially younger ears, and the ears of those who spend much time with headphones, will appreciate the Benchmark sound. I appreciate them as I have experienced many less accurate systems, and I revel in high purity playback."
"The only listener who will need to consider carefully prior to commitment to Benchmark is the lover of warm, perceptually “softer” or “laid back” sound."
"Those who are seeking a highly revealing sound, perhaps considered “honest” or “truthful”, and invigorating, would find great satisfaction with these components."
"Masterfully detailed and transparent with spot-on tonality and some serious punch."
"The AHB2, which is rated at 100 watts per channel into eight ohms, uses THX's patented AAA feed-forward error correction technology designed to virtually eliminate the distortion that's normally produced by the output stage."
"The AHB2 makes use of THX Corporation's Achromatic Audio Amplifier (AAA) technology, in which a low-power feed-forward amplifier drives a low-bias class-AB output section, the latter energized by a system of class-H power-supply rails that deliver power in response to demand—resulting in an extremely efficient amplifier capable of robust power output."
"In his listening tests, KR 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].""
"In measuring the AHB2 and attempting to confirm its specified very high signal/noise ratio, JA 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.""
AHB2 - "It's phenomenal! Gobs of power, detail, finesse and control."
"Benchmark has been around for a long time. In fact, they are one of the early Audiophile pioneers of USB DACs ... I had always thought of them as more of a digital conversion company, and not an amplifier company—until the AHB2 came about."
"A PF colleague of mine (Steven Lefkowicz) said... Dude, you HAVE to try the Benchmark in your system (which at the time was going through a gamut of speaker changes as part of a myriad of reviews being done for PF) to which I replied, wow, they have an amp?"
"I was immediately taken aback with the level of detail given to this unit. Just one glance at the back plate will tell you that this is a well-engineered piece of equipment. Fully Balanced = Check. Speakon Outputs = Check. Bridging Support = Check. Input Sensitivity Adjustment = Check. 12v Trigger support = Check."
"So, how does it sound, after all of that? Well, this thing is no slouch. It's phenomenal! Gobs of power, detail, finesse and control."
AHB2 - "Stereophile Amplification Component of the Year" - 2016 Finalist
The AHB2 was one of only 11 finalists in Stereophile's "Amplification Component of the Year" category. The finalists included 6 power amplifiers, 2 preamplifiers, 2 integrated amplifiers, and 1 headphone amplifier. This elite selection of amplification products included power amplifiers ranging in price from $2,995* (Benchmark AHB2) to $52,000* a pair (Vandersteen M7-HPA).
At $52,000* the Vandersteen includes a chassis milled from a solid billet of aluminum, liquid cooling and a vibration dampening suspension. It is an impressive example of mechanical engineering and industrial design.
At $2,995*, the Benchmark AHB2 delivers the quietest, cleanest power available at any price.
The AHB2 proves that top-quality audio can be affordable.
It's not the first time I've heard Error-Correction amplifiers, but those were prototypes that weren't working all too well. Classic feedback, TIM-free design was better, so I was afraid that AHB2 might be “wrong” somehow. It took a little bit of “leap-of-faith” to buy one, but I could not ignore the advice I was given about it, as it was given by people that are insiders in this Audio industry of ours. I'm happy to say that my thoughts of Error Correction approach being maybe wrong, could not be farthest from the truth.
"End of the Journey"
"What can I say ... maybe the shortest way to summarize it would be this: the AHB2 is the end of the journey for me."
"I Have No Desire to Go Back"
"I have no desire for ever going back to typical multi-thousand Dollar High-End amplifiers."
- Aleksandar Radisavljević, Founder and Director of RAAL
"It could well be the last amp you'll ever own. Yes, it is that good."
"Benchmark Media Systems Pro-centric products tout exceptional specifications, and their AHB2 amplifier--developed in tandem with engineers from THX and using their patented THX Achromatic™Audio Amplifier technology—uses some rather unusual patented designs to get to those remarkable spec numbers."
DAC2- "Slathered in Near-Universal Praise"
"The Benchmark AHB2 is a very good amp, and the DAC2 is a very good DAC—it's no wonder that they have been slathered in near-universal praise."
"These two partners in musical misbehavior sound great together and cost less--with Benchmark cables included—than my Pass XA 30.8 amp alone. To be sure, my reference Pass is a fantastic amplifier, but the AHB2 has its own charms that I found played to my own listening biases."
AHB2 - Driving PMC IB2S Passive Studio Monitors at AES 141
At the 141st AES conference we demonstrated two Benchmark AHB2 monoblock power amplifiers driving a pair of 4-Ohm PMC IB2S passive studio monitors (these monitor are also available in the PMC IB2SE hi-fi version).
In bridged mono, the AHB2 can deliver over 518 watts into each of these 4-Ohm speakers. This is a perfect match to PMC's 500 watt recommendation. The AHB2 easily provides the power, the output current, and the damping required by these low-impedance speakers.
"I am very impressed with the clarity and accuracy of these outstanding professional monitors. The Benchmark AHB2 and PMC IB2S are an absolutely killer combination!"
AHB2 - "Stable and Load-Independent, Capable of Driving Difficult Loads"
"AHB2's output power ... easily confirmed the specs given by the company itself."
"Based on this performance, the amplifier seems more than capable of driving difficult loads."
"Damping factor was estimated above 200, therefore, no system frequency response discrepancies, due to loudspeaker's impedance variability, should be expected."
"In distortion measurements, AHB2's behavior was impressive ..."
"The amplifier's spectral behavior does not seem to change significantly with a 4-Ohm load at its outputs."
"This stable and load-independent behavior of the output stage is something not often encountered."
"This performance clearly shows that the Benchmark/THX design approach works ... the result is a power stage with very low distortion, indeed."
"The noise performance of the amplifier was, also, top-class ... there is an apparent absence of noise components from the power supply ... this is a remarkable behavior, especially with the output stage under load conditions ..."
AHB2 - "What the Future of Power Amplifiers Can Be"
"Benchmark dared to engage their power amplifier project from a different angle, discarding the standard approach ... and certainly succeeded. The theoretical advantages of their choices are both evident in the laboratory and heard during the listening sessions, thus justifying the whole approach."
"Based on a very interesting set of ideas, with a long history but few examples of a practical application, the Benchmark AHB2 could serve as a convincing example of what the future of power amplifiers can be.
"Combine it with a renowned D/A Converter like the DAC2 HGC, and what you have is a top quality system from which only the loudspeakers are missing!"
DAC2 and AHB2 -"The Best in this Price Range"
"Overall, the DAC2 HGC/AHB2 pair is the best preamplifier/power amplifier we had the opportunity to listen to in recent years in this price range."