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DAC3 DX Review - John Gatski, Everything Audio Network

DAC3 DX Review - John Gatski, Everything Audio Network

by Benchmark Media Systems January 23, 2018

DAC3 DX - "Open, smooth detailed sound with that recording studio accuracy that I am used to from Benchmark." 

"I cannot say enough about the DAC3-DX’s sonic character of transparency and accuracy."

"My DSD DSF rip (of the often played) Warren Bernhardt - So Real SACD sounded incredible through the MartinLogans using this DAC. The audible cymbal splash sheen detail is like hearing the cymbal in the front of your listening room."

"Same with the Steinway piano tone. Upper register notes are so live sounding. The “air” and “space” around and between the instruments is simply stunning when played on the best gear."

"On numerous hi-res tracks, the opinion was the same: sonic excellence!"

Awards

"The DAC3-DX most certainly gets an EAN Stellar Sound Award, and should be closely looked at by pros and audiophiles alike."

2017 EAN Product of the Year

- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network

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AHB2 Award - Home Theater Review - Best of 2017

AHB2 Award - Home Theater Review - Best of 2017

by Benchmark Media Systems December 18, 2017

AHB2 - "Best Stereo Amplifier of 2017"

 

"Masterfully detailed and transparent with spot-on tonality and some serious punch." 

- Ben Shyman, Home Theater Review

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DAC3 Review - Mark Marcantonio, Tone Audio

DAC3 Review - Mark Marcantonio, Tone Audio

by Benchmark Media Systems September 16, 2017

DAC3 HGC - "At the top of its class ... highly recommended."

"I’m immediately struck by the way the depth presented by the current model immerses you in the recording."

"Having put the DAC3 through its paces with a wide range of tube and solid state amplifiers for The Audiophile Apartment, as the core of a high performance, yet highly compact system, the DAC3 is a charmer, indeed."

"The three-dimensionality is the best I’ve achieved on my reference system."

"This is a special digital product indeed."

"Since the introduction of the original DAC1, Benchmark has set the industry on its ear..."

"We gave the original DAC1 our first Exceptional Value award in issue 3, and the current DAC3 HGC is an equally good value, earning this award again in 2017."

- Marck Marcantonio, Tone Audio

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AHB2 Award - Stereophile

AHB2 Award - Stereophile "2017 Class-A Recommended Component - Power Amplifier"

by Benchmark Media Systems September 15, 2017

AHB2 - Stereophile Class-A Recommended Component

"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.""

"KR's last word: "bargain.""

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DAC2 Award - Stereophile

DAC2 Award - Stereophile "2017 A+ Recommended Component - Digital Processor"

by Benchmark Media Systems September 15, 2017

DAC2 HGC - Stereophile A+ Recommended Component

"Although similar in appearance to previous Benchmark models ... , 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."

"JI noted the DAC2's good scale and sense of ambient space."

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DAC2 Award - Stereophile

DAC2 Award - Stereophile "Class-A Recommended - Headphone Accessories"

by Benchmark Media Systems September 15, 2017

DAC2 - Stereophile Class-A Recommended - Headphone Amplifier

"Although similar in appearance to previous Benchmark models, with a front-panel volume control and two ¼" 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."

"It had a pleasantly forward sound, with smooth highs, a solid bottom end, and excellent image separation, said EL."

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AHB2 Review - Peter Davey, Positive Feedback

AHB2 Review - Peter Davey, Positive Feedback

by Benchmark Media Systems June 06, 2017

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."

- Peter Davey, Positive Feedback

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DAC3 Review - Dan Worth, Hifi Pig

DAC3 Review - Dan Worth, Hifi Pig

by Benchmark Media Systems February 09, 2017

DAC3 - "Produced definitions of clarity that pushed away inner walls"

"My system felt like a dominant force when I introduced the Benchmark DAC3 HGC to the middle shelf of my rack. With the implementation of the latest ESS9028PRO chip from Sabre, Benchmark’s own team of experts, tweaking the accompanied circuitry and the feature rich design offered in this petite package, a genetically modified version of the already popular DAC2 is born."

- Dan Worth, Hifi Pig

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AHB2 Award -

AHB2 Award - "Amplification Component of the Year 2016 - Finalist", Stereophile

by Benchmark Media Systems January 04, 2017

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.

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DAC3 Review - John Gatski, Everything Audio Network

DAC3 Review - John Gatski, Everything Audio Network

by Benchmark Media Systems January 04, 2017

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.

"It may look like the DAC2 HGC, but the new DAC3 HGC offers a slew of better measurements and more notably, an incremental boost in sound quality."

"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

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DAC2 & AHB2 Review - Gary L Beard, Positive Feedback

DAC2 & AHB2 Review - Gary L Beard, Positive Feedback

by Benchmark Media Systems November 18, 2016

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

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ADC1 USB Award - Stereophile A Rating

ADC1 USB Award - Stereophile A Rating

by Benchmark Media Systems September 15, 2016

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."

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DAC2 HGC Award - Stereophile A+ Rating

DAC2 HGC Award - Stereophile A+ Rating

by Benchmark Media Systems September 15, 2016

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."

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AHB2 Award -

AHB2 Award - "2016 Golden Ear Award", The Absolute Sound

by Benchmark Media Systems August 30, 2016

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."

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AHB2 Award -

AHB2 Award - "Class A Recommended Component", Stereophile

by Benchmark Media Systems March 22, 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.

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AHB2 Award - The Poor Audiophile

AHB2 Award - The Poor Audiophile

by Benchmark Media Systems March 21, 2016

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

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AHB2 Award - The Absolute Sound 2016 Editors' Choice Award

AHB2 Award - The Absolute Sound 2016 Editors' Choice Award

by Benchmark Media Systems March 11, 2016

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

 

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DAC2 Award - The Absolute Sound 2016 Editors' Choice Award

DAC2 Award - The Absolute Sound 2016 Editors' Choice Award

by Benchmark Media Systems March 01, 2016

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

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DAC2 DX - 2015 Product of the Year - Everything Audio Network

DAC2 DX - 2015 Product of the Year - Everything Audio Network

by Benchmark Media Systems January 12, 2016

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

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AHB2 -

AHB2 - "Pioneering Design Achievement Award" - SoundStage! 2015

by Benchmark Media Systems January 12, 2016

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

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