"My first taste of this remarkable new amplifier came earlier this year in April at Chicago's AXPONA where I discovered it driving a newly redesigned Studio Electric Pasadena loudspeaker, also bearing the Benchmark trademark. Now called the SMS1, the Pasadena's crossover had been reworked by Benchmark, upgraded with very low tolerance components, and the new look, more in line with the look of the rest of the Benchmark product line up, had been adopted."
"The subsequent sound in this room was one of the most musically engaging I encountered at this year's event, a remarkable result considering its modest overall system price of just over $7000, sans source."
"Speaking of reference gear, few names in high-end audio are so closely attached to the reference sound as Benchmark."
HPA4 - "Found at Booths Throughout the Show"
"Their fantastic HPA4 reference amplifier could be found at booths throughout the show."
DAC3 B - Introduced at RMAF 2018
"This year, Benchmark was introducing its new DAC3 B."
"I spent some time playing around with the Benchmark pieces, and they really have a high quality pro-audio-like build to them. They're the polar opposite of some of these more DIY-feeling boutique amps and DACs out there – Benchmark has a very professional level of finish on it."
DAC3 HGC - "I was Immediately Impressed by the Sound"
"The separation of sounds, that see-through quality, and the air around individual instruments and voices is what distinguishes the difference between simply good high-end digital components and excellent sounding high-end digital components."
"It is this sense of space that I more often than not notice first. And I noticed this trait immediately with the Benchmark Media DAC3 HGC."
"The Benchmark Media DAC3 HGC is a fantastic digital-to-analog converter that comes with a fantastic headphone amplifier with two outputs, and can also double as a fantastic preamplifier. Its asking price is more than reasonable for such a versatile component, with a sound quality that can be compared to units costing much more."
"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."
"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."
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."
ADC1 USB - "I've never used or heard a better analog-to-digital converter"
"The resulting sound of the files that ended up on my computer when using the Benchmark ADC1 USB had everything that Benchmark promises in their literature and more."
"The most noticeable quality of the Benchmark, even in my first casual listen off-axis to one of the first files that I recorded from LP was the separation of instruments in a huge soundstage. The inner detail of the music, that enabled me to hear instruments, sounds, and voices I thought once impossible to recover, and were made evident when making recordings of LPs of even the most complex orchestral and choral music."
"The take-away is that I've never used or heard a better analog-to-digital converter."
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."