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
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!
SMS1 - "Voices sounded genuinely lifelike, with a blessed absence of sibilance"
"There was no compromising of the vocals’ clarity, no clouding of the space."
"The SMS1 has a high crossover point, so the larger driver is acting as a true mid/bass unit. Suffice it to say, voices sounded genuinely lifelike, with a blessed absence of sibilance."
"What made it so involving was the way the harmonies meshed, the resolving power of the tweeter ensuring that each singer could not only be heard clearly, but defined in their own space."
"This classy monitor has a distinct character, leaning toward the rich at the bottom and the analytical at the top, rather than the totally neutral ‘studio’ sound I might have anticipated. If the balance suits your taste, you'll find it sounds bigger than a small two-way, it’s easy to drive and the perceived value suggests a price of at least a grand more."
- Ken Kessler, Hi-Fi News
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
SMS1 - "An excellent pro-caliber passive monitor"
"The SMS1 is an excellent pro-caliber passive monitor. It’s what I expect from a Benchmark product."
"The compact Benchmark SMS1 is an impressive, two-way crossover speaker with Benchmark’s typical attention to quality. Its compact size makes it easy to place, and it is suitable for many kinds of listening environments. Standout characteristics include vocal clarity and imaging."
"The Benchmark SMS1 is a first rate speaker. It goes on my list of recommended small speakers and recipient of the Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Award."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
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 - "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
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
DAC2 HGC - "The Best of the Best!"
"2013 Positive Feedback Writers' Choice Award"
"What an achievement! ... its incredible versatility and over-achieving sonic performance make it more than extraordinary!"
"This DAC just about has it all, ultra versatility and smooth, seductive sonics approaching state-of-the-art. It was such an over-achiever, I put my money where my mouth is; I bought it!"
- Greg Weaver, Positive Feedback
DAC2 HGC - "Sonically as neutral a DAC as I have ever heard"
"The Benchmark DAC2 HGC is sonically as neutral a DAC as I have ever heard. It borders on a somewhat light sonic texture with absolutely no digital hardness or extreme brightness. The sound is quite detailed and well defined with no warmth or added richness. One attribute of the DAC2 HGC I enjoyed was its very well defined and articulated bass."
"What I enjoyed most about the Benchmark DAC2 HGC was the way it handled native DSD files. DSD playback added richness to the sound with additional midrange weight that added realism to the reproduced music."
"The DAC2 HGC was a pleasure to listen to with PCM and especially with native DSD files. Its acoustic honesty and functional precision was easily observed and appreciated."
- Steven Plaskin, Audio Stream
DAC2 HGC - "Far more refined than its price would suggest"
"The DAC2 HGC uses one of the best digital chipsets on the market today to produce a quality of sound that, until a few years ago, wasn't available for less than $10,000."
"It sounds far more refined than its price would suggest, and when you consider that it can serve as the keystone of a digital and analog system, on a desktop or in a listening room, it becomes all the more remarkable."
- Hans Wetzel, SoundStage! Access
ADC16 - "I am so impressed how real sounding these Benchmark converters are."
"Benchmark Media has designed reference quality professional and audiophile products for nearly 20 years. The reference quality ADC1 and DAC1 series of converters are some of the best digital converters on the market."
"I played a Gibson Custom Shop ’59 Les Paul, which has a fantastic warm humbucker tone. I have recorded this rig with other converters, but the Benchmark ADC16-recorded tunes played back through the DAC1 USB (or even my Apogee DAC) blew them all away. I have never heard my guitar rig sound this good..."
"If ever an audio product deserved the Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Award, it is indeed the Benchmark ADC16."
- Jackson Macinnis, Everything Audio Network
DAC1 HDR - "The studio heritage of this Benchmark preamp is quite obvious"
"The studio heritage of this Benchmark preamp is quite obvious. I'd like to say the sound was lean but not thin. I expect this however is an artifact of my sonic memory, having listened to far too many tubby tubed pre-amps in my past. In fact, I believe it is merely neutral. And unlike all but the best solid state preamps or integrateds I have listened to, there was none of that solid state hash or haze heard through lesser designs. Detail was neither absent nor did it draw undue attention to itself. Highs were not rolled off, nor were they shrill. Bass was as it should be."
- Jeff Rabin, Enjoy the Music.com