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.
DAC3 HGC - "More space, Increased Precision"
The Benchmark DAC3 is the first product to ship with the new ESS Technology ES9028PRO D/A converter chip.
"Via headphones I definitely could hear more space around the instruments and an increased precision in transients — like cymbals and upper-register piano notes."
"In terms of new functions, the DAC3 switches a lot faster between inputs, and gone is that audibly phasy transition when you initially switch between two digital sources."
- John Gatski, Publisher, Everything Audio Network
AHB2 - "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 HX Achromatic™ Audio Amplifier technology—uses some rather unusual patented designs to get to those remarkable spec numbers."
DAC2 - "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."
"Yep. Good stuff, those BM boys."
- Gary L Beard, Positive-Feedback
ADC1 USB - Stereophile "A-Rated Recommended Component", 2016
"Housed in the same small case as Benchmark's DACs, the ADC1 is a 24-bit USB A/D converter with a Texas Instruments TAS1020B USB chip and a 128x-oversampling, delta-sigma AKM 5394 A/D converter chip."
"The Benchmark produced a natural, coherent overall sound, with clean high frequencies and weighty, extended lows, said JA, who also noted superb measured performance."
DAC2 HGC - Stereophile "A+ Recommended Component", 2016
"Although similar in appearance to previous Benchmark models, with a front-panel volume control and two 1/4" headphone jacks, the new DAC2 HGC uses four 32-bit ESS Sabre DACs, run in balanced configuration, for a significantly lower noise floor; has a new Hybrid Gain Control (HGC) for volume attenuation, which combines active analog gain control and passive low-impedance attenuators in the analog realm with a 32-bit digital DSP gain control for digital signals; and provides front-panel displays for both sample rate and word length."
"It had a pleasantly forward sound, with smooth highs, a solid bottom end, and excellent image separation, said EL."
AHB2 - Receives The Absolute Sound's 2016 Golden Ear Award!
"Used within its 100Wpc rating, this is in any practical sense a perfect power source, with by far the lowest measured noise and distortion of any amplifier currently on the market."
"... if you need more power, buy two and strap them for dual mono at 380 watts a side."
"Either way, power just doesn't get any cleaner or purer than this."
"Neutrality and accuracy are the names of its game ... a sense of being plugged right into the source."
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
DAC2 HGC - "Combines digital with analog gain controls for an optimal result"
"The HGC moniker stands for 'hybrid gain control' which is a 'dual domain' attenuation system that combines digital with analog gain controls for an optimal result."
- The Absolute Sound
DAC2 DX - "Home Recording/Audiophile D/A Converter Product of The Year"
"Take the ultra accurate PCM/DSD DAC2 converter add AES/EBU and dual buss output and you now have the ideal studio or hi-fi DAC for headphone or speaker listening — the $1,995 DAC2-DX. And no DAC measures any better."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
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 - "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
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 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."
DAC1 HDR - "Top 20 Most Notable Digital Products from the Past 20 Years"
Enjoy the Music.com takes a look back at the 20 most significant digital audio products from the past 20 years.
"It is widely known within the high-end audio industry that Enjoy the Music.com gives out very few awards. With the nearly constant barrage with 'best of' and 'top picks' featuring hundreds of products elsewhere, there is little doubt Enjoy the Music.com is perhaps the most conservative of magazines when it comes to giving out special accolades. With our annual Blue Note awards possibly being the most sought-after within the audiophile industry, as only a very small handful of products get special recognition each year, we want to highlight our 20th anniversary by using our 20/20 vision as it were and look back to some of the best gear."
"As Editor and Creative Director for Enjoy the Music.com, it is my honor to look back at the many thousands of reviews and choose the top 20 per category. This month my choices are for the very best digital gear over the past 20 years."
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."
DAC2 DX - "Exceptional Value Award"
"The DAC2 also throws a huge soundstage and mines a lot of ambient detail from high-resolution recordings."
"The DAC2 projects a sonic image that reaches from floor to ceiling."
"Its versatility takes the value to another level, making me nominate this one for an Exceptional Value Award and give it an enthusiastic recommendation."
- Jeff Dorgay, Tone Audio
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