AHB2 - "I have never come across a more emotionally involving amplifier"
"In my 25 years of of experience with mostly tube amplifiers of all sorts, I have never come across a more emotionally involving amplifier than the AHB2.""In my current setup with Benchmark DAC2 HGC/AHB2, I am driving a pair of Klipschorns with a 105 dB sensitivity..."
"This amplifier keeps me on the edge of my seat in excitement and anticipation ..."
"I almost exclusively listen to classical music and much of it in hi-rez, but I have to say that well-recorded CDs are also much more enjoyable and listenable now than before."
- Karsten, audioasylum.com
AHB2 - "An enthusiastic nod as our 2015 Audiophile Amplifier of the Year."
"If you are determined to get the most out of high-resolution audio then you need a system whose optimal performance can bring out deliver the full potential of high-res audio. There is no more compelling case than to anchor a high-res setup with the Benchmark DAC2 and AHB2 combo."
"The Benchmark AHB2 amplifier and DAC2 control of the universally acclaimed Revel Ultima2 Salon speakers and never let go. In fact, the AHB2 allowed the Salon2s to achieve pinnacle performance. At $2,995 the AHB2 isn’t cheap; but its build quality, materials, and astonishing sonic performance are a marvel."
"The AHB2 is an audiophile’s dream and a competitor’s nightmare. For my part, I don’t want my dream with the AHB2 to end. Not only does the AHB2 get my highest and strongest recommendation, but it also gets an enthusiastic nod as our 2015 Audiophile Amplifier of the Year."
"It is so incredibly hard to put into words the experience that the DAC2 → AHB2 → Revel Ultima2 Salon setup produced. There was simply no distortion, no noise, just a blank stage. Regardless of genre, vocals and instruments popped to life and they did so with a almost true-to-life 'you are there' feel to them."
"The Salons are some of the most capable full-range speakers on the planet. When paired with the AHB2s in bridged mono, bass notes were the cleanest, most detailed, and most controlled I’ve ever heard out of the Salon2s."
"The delicate notes of violins resonated precisely, perfectly laid out and you were able to discern the tonal character of the strings and the warmth of the violin’s body. The resonant timbre of brass notes was spot on. The entire orchestra came together in a coherent, dynamic whole. If this is high-res music, then I will take it with joy every time. There wasn’t a single note where the DAC2/AHB2 combination didn’t bring out the immaculate character of the Salon2s. Crescendo!"
- The Poor Audiophile
AHB2 - John Siau Explains what's Inside Benchmark's Unique Amplifier
"John is a long-time audiophile. In fact, it was his love of music and audio that originally inspired his interest in electronics and prompted him to pursue a degree in electrical engineering at Syracuse University."
"“It became clear that we would not reach our goals if we designed a conventional power amplifier,” John said. “We realized that we needed to look at some unique solutions. We were very focused on eliminating crossover distortion in the output stage because we felt that this was one of the most important factors in the sonic performance of the amplifier. We began experimenting with ...”"
AHB2 - "Recommended Reference Component"
"The AHB2 is being recognized as a Recommended Reference Component -- it’s an incredibly good amplifier that can take full advantage of the high-resolution music sources that audiophiles have access to today."
- SoundStage! Hi-Fi Editors
"It may be hi-fi’s biggest bargain"
- Hans Wetzel, SoundStage! Access
“I measured less distortion and noise in the AHB2 than in any other of the many power amps I’ve measured over the years.”
- Bascom King, BHK Labs
AHB2 - "A Giant-Killer"
"Benchmark Media Systems’ modest-looking little AHB2 power amp may be hi-fi’s biggest bargain. It is one of the -- if not the -- quietest, most resolving amps I've heard. Time and again, without ever having intended to, I wound up hours deep in listening to the fringes of my music collection, thanks to the AHB2’s reference-level transparency and obscene athleticism."
"The AHB2 was incredibly transparent. It just tore down the cloud of ambiguity that burdens the sounds of, well, just about everything else I've heard."
"If ever there were a giant-killer of an amp, this is it."
- Hans Wetzel, SoundStage!
AHB2 - "Less distortion and noise than any other power amp I’ve measured over the years"
"All amplifier measurements are performed independently by BHK Labs."
"The AHB2 is Benchmark’s attempt to produce a very-low-distortion, low-noise power amplifier using THX’s AAA Technology, which linearizes the amp’s class-AB output stage without using large amounts of overall negative feedback. I must say that they’ve succeeded; I measured less distortion and noise in the AHB2 than in any other of the many power amps I’ve measured over the years."
"High-frequency THD+N is admirably low, and in stereo and mono modes, the AHB2’s level of distortion throughout most of the power range is amazingly low."
"... the signal harmonics -- consisting of the third and fifth harmonics in stereo mode -- are extremely low in amplitude."
- BHK Labs, SoundStage!
HRA System - "One of the most rewardingly clean, natural, and engaging sounds at the show"
"At under $10,000 total, this system offered one of the most rewardingly clean, natural, and engaging sounds at the show."
"From the soup of the DAC2 HGC, AHB2 amplifier, and SMS1 monitors to the nuts of the speakers stands and system cabling, everything in the room was produced and sold by Benchmark. This was my first experience of listening to how the company actually intends their gear to sound."
"AXPONA presented me with my first chance to sit down and listen to something familiar. A neat Bruce Brown reworking of Neil Young’s “Old Man” hit the hard drive, and we took the system for a tear-jerking spin."
"Hearing it all put together makes clear just how massively Benchmark has refined their skills."
- Mal Kenney, Part-Time Audiophile
"The first thing you need to know about Laurie is that he’s an audiophile’s audiophile. He’s an engineer, music lover, and also a musician..."
"Instead of building upon existing technologies, Laurie and his team decided to design a better amplifier technology from the ground up."
"We didn’t invent or reinvent the amplifier. Instead, we looked at the shortcomings, the physics, and developed a technology to deal with that. We were motivated to do better. We didn’t stop."
“We’ve been working on the amplifier since 2006 ...
AHB2 - "Redefines the Word 'Transparency'"
"Benchmark and THX have clearly set out to produce the most accurate amplifier possible, free of the colorations - euphonic or otherwise - that we've come to expect from most amplifiers."
"The difficulty in creating an "accurate" amplifier, as opposed to a "euphonic" one, is that an accurate amplifier's designer must make absolutely certain the amplifier doesn't add any unpleasant character of its own. In this regard, the AHB2 is a resounding success."
"The most immediately striking characteristic of the amplifier is the jaw-dropping level of detail and resolution. The AHB2 redefines the word "transparency" and will make many competing amplifiers sound veiled and foggy by comparison."
"The speed of this amplifier gives percussion instruments a crisp, well-defined quality."
"This amplifier's performance in the bass is nothing short of phenomenal - easily the best I've ever heard"
"The AHB2 delivers the entire envelope of sound with incredible precision and realism."
- Gary Galo, audioXpress
AHB2 - "I was struck by just how much focus and clarity was on offer"
"This is an amplifier with very serious slam, and – even better for those with less sensitive speakers, big rooms or just a hankering for ‘just in front of the PA stack’ listening levels – it keeps it all together however loud you decide to play things."
"If that doesn't make you smile every time you listen, I don't know what will."
- Andrew Everard, Hi-Fi News
"... the widest A-wtd S/N ratio of any amplifier I've measured in some 30 years."
- Paul Miller, Hi-Fi News
AHB2 - "The perfect amplifier?"
"I believe it is the purest sounding and lowest noise amplifier in my experience."
"Is the AHB2 the “perfect amplifier?” The truth is that it could be when paired synergistically with certain components and speakers."
"What is perhaps most impressive about the AHB2 is its very natural presentation of brass horns, piano and percussion in general."
"The Benchmark AHB2 is a powerful and efficient amplifier with prodigious low levels of noise and distortion. The fact that it is also very musical and non-fatiguing, courtesy of THX’s patented AAA™ technology, is the icing on the cake. Benchmark Media and THX have a lot to be proud of for the development and implementation of the new technology the AHB2 represents."
"The AHB2 provides deep, impactful, and articulate bass, a very musical and transparent midrange, and ultra-clean high frequency reproduction."
- Frank Alles, Stereo Times
AHB2 - "A solid and convincing image"
"From the get-go, the amp lives up to its design specs by providing a very clean presentation. The Benchmark does a good job of layering vocals and instruments in all dimensions, with each element supported by a solid and convincing image."
"As desired in a studio setting, the sonics from the AHB2 are neutral, and in my home setup, there is no observable emphasis in any particular frequency range."
"Regardless of music type, bass through the Benchmark offers a taught presentation with the snap and punch one expects from percussion. Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” is engaging through the AHB2, with all the subtle synthesized sounds popping into position in the soundstage."
-Rob Johnson, Tone Audio, December 2014, pages 122 - 129
"In the end, the Benchmark AHB2 can become a great anchor to your system, offering high performance in a compact box. With an extremely neutral tonal balance, you can use it straight, or warm it up with a tube preamplifier, should that be your preference."
"The AHB2 is a stellar performer from a company known for excellence."
- Jeff Dorgay, Tone Audio, December 2014, pages 130 - 131
AHB2 - "EAN 2014 Product of the Year"
"The Benchmark AHB2 gets the award because its design pushes the spec envelope of power amplifiers."
"It is no longer enough to have 100 dB S/N ratio (or worse) spec’d amplifiers when you have the Benchmark measuring in excess of 130 dB! That is better than the majority of DACs can perform. It is digital performance from an analog amp."
"And the amp sounds great as well — a very neutral analog sound with tight bass and gracious stereo image."
"Throw in the reasonable price tag, and its award status is a no-brainer."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
AHB2 - "Unfaltering and Thrilling Performance"
"The AHB2 and the ML10Bs came through with unfaltering and thrilling performance every time."
"Immediately I heard that the AHB2 reproduced the recordings ambient space captured (or added artificially) as open and wide with reverb tails hearable down to the recording's noise floor."
"There was a pristine and smooth quality to the high and middle frequencies ..."
"With the AHB2 there was an overall vibrancy and transparency not a hyped, bright sound."
"As compared to my powered monitors, working on mixes in Pro Tools HD 11 through this system sounds more real, detailed and clear. In addition, this is a dead quiet--noiseless system. With no music playing, I could crank the DAC2 Ls volume control wide-open and hear nothing--even with my ear right on the speaker cone!"
"There is only one word for the new Benchmark Media Systems AHB2 power amplifier: impressive. I highly recommend it!"
- Barry Rudolph, Mix, December 2014
AHB2 - "The sonic results are nothing short of extraordinary!"
"The sonic results of all the time and effort spent refining this circuit and developing this design are nothing short of extraordinary!"
"Instruments and vocalists occupy an uncannily realistic sense of size and locale. I was left speechless more often than I cared to count by this engaging and enchanting ability."
"Benchmark's AHB2 amplifier is a truly breakthrough, innovative design."
- Greg Weaver, Enjoy the Music.com
HRA System - "A beautiful midrange and well-defined extremes"
"The big news in the familiar-looking Benchmark room was ..."
"The AHB2 high-resolution power amp has been further refined, with a high S/N ratio even at minimal output and topology that claims to achieve full 24-bit resolution from digital signals."
"The crossover of the SMS-1 The Benchmark loudspeaker has been changed."
"The DAC2 DX adds pro connectors and dual output busses to familiar and well-regarded electronics."
"The sound was especially impressive from such a small loudspeaker. Keb Mo sounded great, with a beautiful midrange and well-defined extremes."
- Jason Victor Serinus, Stereophile
AHB2 - "Dynamic, open, with quick, taut bass - yet with the silky ease of the best tube amp"
"Like the Benchmark D/As and A/D, the company believes that great measurements correlate to great sound. In the case of the AHB2 I totally agree."
"The AHB2’s sonic character is dynamic, open, with quick, taut bass - yet with the silky ease of the best tube amp. But tube amps don’t have the energy and speed in the transients, nor bass, that the Benchmark possesses."
"I can’t wait to get two more for a full-high-end home cinema amp test in my big A/V room. For now, based on mostly stereo listening, it receives, with certainty, an Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Award."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
AHB2 - "Lowest noise and distortion power amp I have measured"
"The new Benchmark AHB2 is the result of considerable research and patents on its resultant circuitry. The intent was to make it an ultra low distortion design. I would have to say they succeeded as it is the lowest noise and distortion power amp I have measured and I have measured a LOT of power amps in my career."
"The S/N ratio was about 131.6 dB. Pretty impressive, and this is the lowest output noise level I have seen in any power amplifier I have measured! (Editor's note: Benchmark measured 3 dB better when input was terminated with 60 Ohm impedance input.)"
"When connected in bridge mode, power was close to 400W into an 8 ohm load."
- Bascom H. King, BHK Labs
HRA SYSTEM - "The whole system was under $10,000 and just killed."
"I've enjoyed the Benchmark Media Systems rooms over the past few shows when they've shared their room with Studio Electric using their excellent sounding speakers."
"This time around, Benchmark were showing not just their excellent DAC2 L, but also their new AHB2 100 wpc amp and SMS1 speakers. With the exception of real deep bass (though certainly more than you would expect from speakers this size) this system the sound was smooth, expressive, dynamic and rich."
"The whole system was under $10,000 and just killed."
- Steve Lefkowicz, Positive-Feedback.com