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Reviews

AHB2 Award - "Legendary Performance Award 2020" - EnjoytheMusic.com

by Benchmark Media Systems October 15, 2020 1 min read

"This little unit will change the way you look and listen to amplifiers."

"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."

Greg Weaver, EnjoythMusic.com

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DAC3 - "A+ Recommended Component" - Stereophile 2020

by Benchmark Media Systems September 30, 2020 2 min read

Jim Austin wrote, "The DAC3 was all about depths, in several respects . . . I heard deeper into the music."

The concise conclusion to John Atkinson's Measurements sidebar: "All I can say is 'Wow!'"

In a Follow-Up, Jim Austin wrote of using the Benchmark processor with the same company's AHB2 power amp—a combination of high source output voltage and modest amplifier gain that he describes as "optimal for minimizing noise and distortion"—and reported hearing "richer and more interesting" reproduction of very subtle details.

- Stereophile Magazine

"Class A+" is Stereophile's highest award for Digital Processors

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LA4 - "Class A Recommended Preamplifier" - Stereophile 2020

by Benchmark Media Systems September 30, 2020 1 min read

"Benchmark's LA4 is the widest-bandwidth, widest-dynamic-range, lowest-noise, lowest-distortion preamplifier I have encountered."

- John Atkinson, Stereophile

"The LA4 is probably the most transparent and revealing audio component I've ever used. It does not seem to leave any fingerprints on the sound."

- Kalman Rubinson, Stereophile

"Class A" is Stereophile's highest award for preamplifiers.

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AHB2 - "Class A Recommended Power Amplifier" - Stereophile 2020

by Benchmark Media Systems September 30, 2020 1 min read

"Much more apparent low-level detail in already-familiar recordings"

"Sounded more 'right' than any of [the other amps on hand]."

- Kalman Rubinson, Stereophile

"An extraordinary amplifier"

- John Atkinson, Stereophile

"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.""

"Class A" is Stereophile's highest award for power amplifiers.

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HPA4 and AHB2 Review - Fidelity Online

by Benchmark Media Systems August 21, 2020 2 min read

"The benchmark combination offers a full range of equipment that can hardly be topped, leaves nothing to be desired in terms of sound, and meets professional requirements without any ifs or buts."

HPA4

"The HPA4 has the HIFIMan one hundred percent under control, eliciting neutral timbres, tons of spatial information and crisp dynamics."

AHB2

"I connected everything the household had to offer in terms of speakers - Spendor S3 / 5, Ayon Seagull / c, Quad ESL57. It goes without saying that the American coped with the dynamic boxes with ease. But even the quads, which have some meanness on the part of their impedance, did not pose a challenge for the amp."

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System Review - DAC3, HPA4, AHB2 - Geoffrey Vanhouwaert, Alpha-Audio

by Benchmark Media Systems April 08, 2020 2 min read

"There are many things that come into play when putting together a hi-fi system, one of which is synergy."

"After the arrival of the Benchmark Media Systems AHB2, I immediately thought of the matching HPA4 that colleagues Jaap and Yung were very pleased with."

"The key question, of course, was whether the HPA4 would really provide an audible improvement."

"Well you bet! The synergy between preamp and power amplifier is nothing short of magical, not to mention the DAC3 B that I got from importer Helios for the occasion."

"Not only a few curtains disappear, the whole window is gone."

- Geoffrey Vanhouwaert, Alpha-Audio

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AHB2 Review - 10 Audio "Perfect 10 Award"

by Benchmark Media Systems March 15, 2020 2 min read

"The Benchmark AHB2 is a very fine sounding, easy to live with, zero-maintenance power amplifier that has enough power for most systems. If more power is needed, two amplifiers configured for mono can provide it. The decision to purchase the review sample and make the Benchmark AHB2 a new, long term reference took over a month of listening and comparisons."

"The outstanding musicality of the Benchmark AHB2 takes some time to convince the listener of its wholly musical presentation. This subtle excellence assures long term satisfaction."

-10 Audio, Perfect 10 Award

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DAC3 wins DAC Shootout - Alpha-Audio.net

by Benchmark Media Systems February 15, 2020 2 min read

Alpha-Audio.net tested 10 DACs side-by-side. Only one received the "Alpha-Audio Approved" award. That DAC was the Benchmark DAC3.

"Are you looking for the best DAC (d/a converter) in the price range from 1500 euro to 2500 euro? That’s great! Because we’ve put ten beauties side by side. And we tested it live on camera for you."

"It was incredibly instructive to put so many converters side by side. We clearly hear differences - and the viewers could as well."

"One of the models we all agreed on is the benchmark DAC3. This is a delicious musical product. Virtually no coloring, nice stereo image and plenty of inputs."

DAC3 - Alpha-Audio Approved!

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LA4 and AHB2 Review - Drew Gagliano, The Audio Beatnik

by Benchmark Media Systems January 31, 2020 2 min read

"Prior to reviewing these Benchmark components, I had heard the company’s products powering some of my favorite-sounding rooms at several audio shows. Based on what I’d heard at these shows, I was eager to hear how this equipment could perform in my own listening room."

"Listening to the Benchmark gear in my own room, I felt an immediate and gratifying emotional connection to the music I was hearing."

"The LA4 and AHB2 tear down so many of the usual walls that come between the listener and the music."

"If you value transparency and accuracy, the LA4 and AHB2 will perform beyond your highest expectations."

- Drew Gagliano, The Audio Beatnik

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LA4 Review - Kalman Rubinson, Stereophile

by Benchmark Media Systems December 24, 2019 2 min read

"As soon as everything powered up, there was a big smile on my face."

"With the LA4 in control of the system, everything sounded right, and subtle differences among recordings, amplifiers, and speakers were clear."

"Compared to the other preamps on hand, the LA4 was consistently quieter, more open, and more revealing of detail."

"The LA4 is probably the most transparent and revealing audio component I've ever used."

"It does not seem to leave any fingerprints on the sound. It has a useful array of inputs, outputs, and functions, and the use of sealed relays for volume and input selection assures a long and noise-free life."

- Kal Rubinson, Stereophile

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LA4 - Lab Report - John Atkinson, Stereophile

by Benchmark Media Systems December 24, 2019 2 min read

 

"I measured the Benchmark LA4's performance with my Audio Precision SYS2722 system."

Audio Precision AP2722

"Benchmark's LA4 is the widest-bandwidth, widest-dynamic-range, lowest-noise, lowest-distortion preamplifier I have encountered."

- John Atkinson, Stereophile Magazine

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LA4 - Bench Test - John Atkinson, Stereophile

by Benchmark Media Systems December 23, 2019 1 min read

"Benchmark's LA4 is the widest-bandwidth, widest-dynamic-range, lowest-noise, lowest-distortion preamplifier I have encountered."

- John Atkinson, Stereophile

"I measured the Benchmark LA4's performance with my Audio Precision SYS2722 system."

"The preamplifier's frequency response in both balanced and unbalanced modes was flat from 10Hz to 200kHz."

"Channel separation was simply superb ... a testament to excellent circuit-board layout."

"I looked at the spectrum of the distortion ... each harmonic is at or below –120dB (0.0001%)."

"Tested for intermodulation distortion in balanced mode with an equal mix of 19 and 20kHz tones at peak level of 5V, the second-order difference product at 1kHz was effectively absent, and the higher-order products all lay at or below –114dB (0.0002%)."

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HPA4 - HI-FI+ - "Top 100 Products of the Past 20 Years"

by Benchmark Media Systems December 18, 2019 1 min read

"Our final round of the best products from the finest brands of the last 20 years, covering products made from early 1999 to 2019."

"Benchmark is perhaps best known for its range of DACs, but the new HPA4 shows just what the brand can do with a take-no-prisoners headphone amplifier design."

"A real game-changer!"

Reviewed by Tom Martin

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LA4 Award - "2019 Product of the Year" - Everything Audio Network

by Benchmark Media Systems November 21, 2019 1 min read



"Thanks to the special, discrete analog circuit/relay attenuator, this may be the most transparent line-stage preamplifier in the audiophile world."

"If you got a great-sounding source, the LA4 presents the audio in its original state — with gain or attenuation to the amplifier. I have never heard such low-level detail from a pre."

"The better the DAC, the better you hear it through a quality amp and speakers. It is quiet as a top-notch DAC, with S/N exceeding -135 dB and, feature-wise, it comes with unbalanced/balanced I/O and a really slick user interface."

"I use the four-input LA4 for audiophile A/B testing of DACs, monitoring my Hi-Res home recording/editing/mastering projects, as well as just listening how good my vast collection of 24 bit and DSD music sounds through an accurate amp and speakers."

"A steal at $2,500!"

- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network

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HPA4 Review - Peter Pialis, Headphone.guru

by Benchmark Media Systems November 06, 2019 2 min read

"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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LA4 Review - Erich Wetzel, SoundStage! Hi-Fi

by Benchmark Media Systems October 31, 2019 2 min read

"Benchmark Media Systems’ LA4 preamplifier presented an utterly realistic reproduction of what was contained on each recording I played through it -- and weak recordings stood out more than usual. The LA4’s clean, analytical abilities are unmatched by any similarly priced preamplifier I know of. The LA4’s touchscreen brings it up to date with current user interfaces, and permits functions, such as balance control and muting at the device."

"If you want a preamp that editorializes, look elsewhere."

"If, like me, you value a high-resolution, totally neutral musical performance, add a Benchmark LA4 to your system, particularly if you already own a Benchmark DAC."

- Erich Wetzel, SoundStage! Hi-Fi

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HPA4 Review - Gary Galo, Audioexpress.com

by Benchmark Media Systems October 31, 2019 3 min read

"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."

"We think very highly of the products that Benchmark and John Siau, the company's director of engineering, have been launching in the market - and I'm certain our readers share that opinion."

"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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DAC3, HPA4, AHB2 System Review - HiFiTest.de

by Benchmark Media Systems October 30, 2019 2 min read

"With DAC, preamplifier and power amplifier, Benchmark knows how to build a bridge between the professional sector and home hi-fi. Very beautiful."

"If you value transparent, precise sound, but at the same time want a certain level of comfort and at least a little elegance, you are in good hands with the Americans."

"The DAC3, HPA4 and AHB2 are all characterized by their wonderfully transparent sound and their high degree of precision. At the same time, sufficient amenities are offered to offer adequate comfort. A successful mix."

- HiFiTest.de

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

by Benchmark Media Systems August 05, 2019 2 min read

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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AHB2 - California Audio Show 2019 - "Room of Distinction" - The Audio Beatnik

by Benchmark Media Systems August 04, 2019 1 min read

"I ended up visiting this room more than any other room at the show. I couldn’t help myself; I had to keep coming back for more!"

- Drew Gagliano, TheAudioBeatnik.com

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