HPA4 Review - Peter Pialis, Headphone.guru

HPA4 Review - Peter Pialis, Headphone.guru

by Benchmark Media Systems November 06, 2019

"Since the HPA4 arrived, I have rediscovered so many of my favorite works all over again with improved detail retrieval dynamics and transparency that it’s hard to pull myself away!"

"It drove my power hungry Abyss Phi TC headphones with complete authority, but it was still dead silent and nimble enough to amplify my easy to drive Focal Utopia headphones."

"Rarely have I come across such a wonderfully revealing amplifier that can drive many different types of headphones so darn well! The solid build construction and various controls make the $2,995 price tag seem a bit low based on the other headphone amplifiers in this market space."

- Peter Pialis, Headphone.guru
November 6, 2019
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HPA4 Review - Gary Galo, Audioexpress.com

HPA4 Review - Gary Galo, Audioexpress.com

by Benchmark Media Systems October 31, 2019

"You’ll have a tough time finding a cleaner, quieter, more transparent line amplifier and headphone amplifier anywhere, at any price. I found it to be a new reference. Once I heard it, I could not live without it, so I purchased the review sample. The HPA4 deserves my highest recommendation."

"The HPA4 is the latest product from Benchmark Media Systems, an upstate New York audio manufacturer. Benchmark calls it a headphone amplifier, but it’s really two products in one, combining the LA4 Line Amplifier introduced in 2018, with a headphone amplifier. It is also based on the same THX Achromatic Audio Amplifier technology used in Benchmark’s acclaimed AHB2 power amplifier."

- Gary Galo, Audioxpress.com

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HPA4, LA4 - Lab Report - Amirm, Audio Science Review

HPA4, LA4 - Lab Report - Amirm, Audio Science Review

by Benchmark Media Systems August 05, 2019

Benchmark HPA4 Preamplifier and Headphone Amp Audio Review.jpg

"Going into this test, based on measuring previous Benchmark products, I expected excellent performance. The benchmark HPA4 shattered even that high bar."

"It brings such a high performance to the table that leaves no doubt whatsoever about its transparency. No stone has been left unturned to optimize audio performance of this device. Even obscure measurements like ultrasonic interchannel phase shift is nailed."

"And then we have tons of power without messing with balanced cables and such. Plug in any headphone and you are in heaven."

"The preamp performance is even higher still, breaking and shattering any expectation one would have in a lab instrument let alone a consumer hi-fi."

"It goes without saying that the Benchmark HPA4 garners my strongest recommendation for a headphone amplifier and preamplifier. It doesn't get better than this folks."

- Amir Majidimehr, Audio Science Review

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HPA4 Review - Dan-Alexandru Gheorghe, HeadMania

HPA4 Review - Dan-Alexandru Gheorghe, HeadMania

by Benchmark Media Systems July 07, 2019

"It’s ... been a while since I have been this excited about an audio product."

"Audeze LCD-2C, Quad Era-1, Brainwavz Alara, Sennheiser HD650 ..."

"It’s the first time when I have heard the headphones mentioned above to their full potential. In the first minute my jaw dropped ..."

"From my perspective this is the best headphone amplifier I have ever heard. It’s no competition really."

"It’s not cheap, I can give you that. Is it worth it? That is up to each and every one of you, but if you really want the best amplifier out there, an end game amplifier…this is it."

- Dan-Alexandru Gheorghe, HeadMania.org

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HPA4 Review - Steven Stone, Home Theater Review

HPA4 Review - Steven Stone, Home Theater Review

by Benchmark Media Systems June 26, 2019

"The HPA4 combined with the Benchmark AHB2 power amplifier ranks as the quietest rig I've heard (or not heard). Even with the gain up to full with no signal, there is no hiss, hum, or buzz, even when I placed my ears within a in inch of the drivers on 89 dB sensitive loudspeakers."

"As a headphone amplifier, the HPA4 was first rate. Whether it was my most power-hungry headphones, which currently are the new Abyss Diana Phi, or my most sensitive IERs, such as the Empire Ears Phantoms, there was no added noise or lack of adequate gain."

"The Benchmark HPA4 exhibits virtually no noise, whether employed as a stereo preamp or headphone amplifier, and his highly transparent, with no audible colorations."

"If you are looking for a preamplifier/headphone amplifier that you can live with happily for a long time, you should consider the Benchmark HPA4 at the top of your must-audition list."

- Steven Stone, HomeTheaterReview.com

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HPA4 Review - Sandu Vitalie, Sound News

HPA4 Review - Sandu Vitalie, Sound News

by Benchmark Media Systems June 23, 2019

"Today, is a very special day for me, since I believe I am hearing the best overall performance out of my headphones."

"The distance performance-wise between HPA4 and my second-best headphone amp is Night and Day!"

"This headphone amplifier and line pre-amplifier receives my highest recommendation and scores the highest rank in my book."

"It spoiled me so much, that for the past 3 days I’m waking up at 5 A.M. so I can listen, tap my feet and head-bang just a little bit more. I for one, started saving for one, I’m sorry but I can’t go back to regular amps."

"Without a doubt Benchmark HPA4 is an end-game, top of the line headphone amp – it’s The One to rule them All."

 - Sandu Vitalie, SoundNews.net

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AHB2 and HPA4 Review - Ulrike Schwarz, Anderson Audio NY

AHB2 and HPA4 Review - Ulrike Schwarz, Anderson Audio NY

by Benchmark Media Systems May 29, 2019

"The AHB2 power amps ... are fantastic."

"I use them as mono blocks due to my power hungry speakers."

"I hear clarity, precision and an openness in the treble that I haven't heard in my speakers before."

"The HPA4 line and headphone preamp and the power amps are made for each other..."

- Ulrike Schwarz, Anderson Audio NY

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HPA4 - Review - Tom Martin, The Absolute Sound

HPA4 - Review - Tom Martin, The Absolute Sound

by Benchmark Media Systems May 20, 2019

"I thought the HPA4 sounded as good as any headphone amp I’ve heard for dynamic headphones, and it might be the best of the lot ..."

"The HPA4 is exceptionally good at presenting a layered, dynamic, yet relaxed sound. You can hear these rich results on, for example, Eliza Gilkyson’s Hard Times in Babylon (Red House), where the instruments not only are clearly differentiated but also sound fully rendered, as live instruments do. You also can hear the overtones of each instrument as they decay, which makes them sound more real."

"... wish the review sample didn’t have to go back."

- Tom Martin, The Absolute Sound

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HPA4 -

HPA4 - "Best Headphone Amplifier" - AV Tech Media Awards 2018/2019

by Benchmark Media Systems January 22, 2019

"The headphone section, with its choice of 6.35 mm stereo or four-pin balanced XLR connectors ... really impresses with a smooth signal delivery."

"While on the one hand it can rock out when it needs to – its prodigious output means it can give as much power as your headphones can take – its sheer impact, openness and vivacity is jaw-dropping."

"An immaculate all-analogue design, the aptly named Benchmark is both technically and sonically as good as it gets."

- AV Tech Media Awards 2018/2019

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HPA4 -

HPA4 - "2018 Product of the Year" - Everything Audio Network

by Benchmark Media Systems January 03, 2019

HPA4 - Top Product of 2018, All Categories

For 2018, Everything Audio Network has selected just one product for the honor of "Product of the Year". That product is the Benchmark HPA4 headphone/line amplifier.

"One of the most transparent audio products I have ever heard at any price"

"Marvelously open and clean"

- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network

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DAC3 B & HPA4 - RMAF 2018 Show Report - EnjoytheMusic.com

DAC3 B & HPA4 - RMAF 2018 Show Report - EnjoytheMusic.com

by Benchmark Media Systems October 15, 2018

"Speaking of reference gear, few names in high-end audio are so closely attached to the reference sound as Benchmark. Their fantastic HPA4 reference amplifier could be found at booths throughout the show. 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."

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HPA4 Review - Andrew Everard, Hi-Fi News

HPA4 Review - Andrew Everard, Hi-Fi News

by Benchmark Media Systems October 09, 2018

Hi-Fi News "Outstanding Product" Award

"Benchmark describes its product as a 'reference Stereo Headphone Amplifier and Reference Line Amplifier with Relay Gain and Input Control', which should give you some idea of what's going on here, but only hints at the fact that this is actually two completely separate products packed into one relatively compact unit."

"The headphone section is powered by a power amp from THX, employing the same AAA (Achromatic Audio Amplifier) technology first used by the company in its AHB2."

"Benchmark's line amplifier uses relays for input selection, gain control and muting while four independent 256-step attenuators ... feed the the headphone ... and preamp outputs."

"As PM notes in his Lab Report, this design gives the HPA4 not only outstanding performance, but also rather impressive - to say the least - signal delivery."

"All of a track or two should do the trick, as whether with revealing headphones ... or used as a preamp, the HPA4 simply drops jaws with the sheer impact, openness and vivacity of the way it plays music."

"It was one of those real 'performer in the room' experiences and I was instantly transported back to the time I spent monitoring the recording as it was being made ..."

 - Andrew Everard, Hi-Fi News, November 2018

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HPA4 - Lab Report - Paul Miller, Hi-Fi News

HPA4 - Lab Report - Paul Miller, Hi-Fi News

by Benchmark Media Systems October 09, 2018

"Here's a brand that's aptly named - its products providing a 'benchmark' technical performance. The HPA4 is no exception with its relay-switched stepwise volume attenuator calibrated in 0.5 dB steps over a 'useable' 105 dB range."

"Distortion and noise are vanishingly low."

"The frequency response is ruler flat (+/- 0.01 dB) from 1 Hz - 100 kHz."

"The [line output] source impedance is a sensible 30 Ohms and the maximum output a huge 22 V."

"Via the headphone amp, the maximum voltage is 11.2 V and ... the maximum power output is a substantial 4.4W/25ohm and 7.7W/8ohm."

"So, not only will the HPA4 drive the toughest headphone loads but its ... insignificant -102 dBV (8uV) residual noise also ensures exceptionally quiet backgrounds when listening with the most sensitive headphones/earbuds."

"Distortion is broadly unaffected by loading."

"The source impedance is a low <0.6 Ohms up to 10 kHz, increasing to 0.78 Ohms at 20 kHz."

- Paul Miller, Hi-Fi News
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HPA4 - Review - John Gatski, Everything Audio Network

HPA4 - Review - John Gatski, Everything Audio Network

by Benchmark Media Systems July 31, 2018

HPA4"One of the most transparent audio products I have ever heard at any price"

"Marvelously open and clean" 

"The HPA4 is a co-design by Benchmark and THX, Ltd. using the THX Achromatic Audio Amplifier (AAA™) technology that was implemented in the Benchmark AHB2 amplifier a couple of years ago."

"The HPA4 is sonically neutral, distortion free and deeply dynamic."

"The rotary relay gain control features 256 steps in 0.5 dB increments."

"The key to a superior volume control is how it sounds when you turn it down ..."

"... you should be able to hear the gentle room reverb of drum cymbal or ringing piano note decay as you turn the volume down."

"The Benchmark HPA4 with its precision relay and ultra quiet amp section, sounds the same at reduced levels as it does when it is turned up."

"The Benchmark HPA4 is one of the most transparent headphone amps I have ever heard — at any price. Just as impressive is the line stage, which delivers volume control that many an esoteric analog or digital preamp could only dream of."

"To say I am impressed with Benchmark HPA4 would be an understatement."

"Based on my impressions, the Benchmark HPA4 receives two Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Awards. One for its headphone amp and one for its line stage. Folks, it is that good."

- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network

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HPA4 Review - Tom's Corner, What's Best Forum

HPA4 Review - Tom's Corner, What's Best Forum

by Benchmark Media Systems July 27, 2018

HPA4 - "The best sounding headphone amp I've heard"

"For the first time in my audio life I can pin my ear to each speaker driver and hear absolutely no sound coming from the speakers in a quiet room with the system volume control at any position from minimum to maximum with no source material playing."


"I find that lowering the background noise paints the music on as black a canvas as possible and thus seems to bring out realistic low-level detail in recordings."

"The Benchmark HPA4 is the best sounding line amplifier I've yet heard. It's innovative approach to controlling system volume/SPL results in what for me is a uniquely transparent-to-source experience."

"It is also the best sounding headphone amp I've heard, both for very-insensitive, hard-to-drive phones and those sensitive enough to easily be used directly from a smart phone."

"The HPA4 truly stands apart in terms of measured and subjectively low background noise and distortion when driving either loudspeakers or headphones."

- tmallin, moderator of Tom's Corner, whatsbestforum.com

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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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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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DAC3 Review - Alan Sircom, Hi-Fi+

DAC3 Review - Alan Sircom, Hi-Fi+

by Benchmark Media Systems July 18, 2017

DAC3 HGC - "I am confident in saying the DAC3 has hit the Goldilocks spot in tonal balance."

"Benchmark was and is a pro audio brand at the forefront of the democratisation of the recording industry and audiophiles became interested in the product line toward the end of the last decade."

"Despite looking very similar to the DAC1 and DAC1 HDR, and virtually identical to the DAC2 HGC, the DAC3 HGC brings a lot of ‘new’ to the table."

"There’s an intrinsic sense of honesty to the sound ... it always sounded, just right… in the Goldilocks sense." 

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DAC2 HGC Review - Steven Stone, The Absolute Sound

DAC2 HGC Review - Steven Stone, The Absolute Sound

by Benchmark Media Systems September 26, 2013

DAC2 HGC - "The bottom line ... good for any mastering or recording project"

"With all the headphones I had available the DAC2 headphone amp rivaled the sonics of the stand-alone iFi iCan headphone amplifier ..."

"For me the bottom line on the Benchmark DAC2 HGC is that is it not only good enough to live with long-term, it’s good enough to use for any mastering or recording projects that might come up."

"The DAC2 HGC is easy to listen through, highly revealing, and with well-recorded material astonishingly three-dimensional."

- Steven Stone, The Absolute Sound

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DAC2 HGC Review - Noble Hi-Fi

DAC2 HGC Review - Noble Hi-Fi

by Benchmark Media Systems July 14, 2013

DAC2 HGC - "The audio quality is pretty stunning"

"The audio quality of the DAC2 is pretty stunning and like a lot of high quality amplifiers the first thing to jump out here was the soundstage."

"This and instrument separation gave a presentation which is hugely revealing and very enjoyable with good recordings although that comes with it an obvious double edged sword (depending on your preferences)."

"After these wow factors came the detail, now I'm not saying the detail is the 3rd best aspect, it's just that it hit me in that order. I think the best way to describe the detail is precise and edgy."

"Combine this machine with a pair of headphones that already display those traits and you have yourself a pretty impressive experience."

- Noble Hi-Fi

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