Reviews

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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AHB2 Review - Aleksander Radisavljevic, RAAL Advanced Loudspeakers

AHB2 Review - Aleksander Radisavljevic, RAAL Advanced Loudspeakers

by Benchmark Media Systems December 16, 2016

AHB2 - "I Took a Leap of Faith"

It's not the first time I've heard Error-Correction amplifiers, but those were prototypes that weren't working all too well. Classic feedback, TIM-free design was better, so I was afraid that AHB2 might be “wrong” somehow. It took a little bit of “leap-of-faith” to buy one, but I could not ignore the advice I was given about it, as it was given by people that are insiders in this Audio industry of ours. I'm happy to say that my thoughts of Error Correction approach being maybe wrong, could not be farthest from the truth.

"End of the Journey"

What can I say ... maybe the shortest way to summarize it would be this: the AHB2 is the end of the journey for me. I have no desire for ever going back to typical multi-thousand Dollar High-End amplifiers.

- Aleksandar Radisavljević, Founder and Director of RAAL

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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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AHB2 - Driving PMC IB2S Studio Monitors

AHB2 - Driving PMC IB2S Studio Monitors

by John Siau October 24, 2016

AHB2 - Driving PMC IB2S Passive Studio Monitors at AES 141

At the 141st AES conference we demonstrated two Benchmark AHB2 monoblock power amplifiers driving a pair of 4-Ohm PMC IB2S passive studio monitors (these monitor are also available in the PMC IB2SE hi-fi version).

In bridged mono, the AHB2 can deliver over 518 watts into each of these 4-Ohm speakers. This is a perfect match to PMC's 500 watt recommendation. The AHB2 easily provides the power, the output current, and the damping required by these low-impedance speakers.

"I am very impressed with the clarity and accuracy of these outstanding professional monitors. The Benchmark AHB2 and PMC IB2S are an absolutely killer combination!" - John Siau, VP, Benchmark Media Systems, Inc.

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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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Benchmark at CAF2016 - Art Dudley, Stereophile

Benchmark at CAF2016 - Art Dudley, Stereophile

by Benchmark Media Systems July 14, 2016

HRA System - "I loved the open, colorful, well-balanced, and immediate sound of this system."

"I was happy to have finally heard the Benchmark AHB2 power amp that Kal Rubinson and so many others have raved about."




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AHB2 Lab Evaluation - AVMENTOR.net

AHB2 Lab Evaluation - AVMENTOR.net

by Benchmark Media Systems June 15, 2016

AHB2 - "This stable and load-independent behavior ... is something not often encountered"

"AHB2's output power ... easily confirmed the specs given by the company itself."

"Based on this performance, the amplifier seems more than capable of driving difficult loads."

"Damping factor was estimated above 200, therefore, no system frequency response discrepancies, due to loudspeaker's impedance variability, should be expected."

"In distortion measurements, AHB2's behavior was impressive ..."

"The amplifier's spectral behavior does not seem to change significantly with a 4-Ohm load at its outputs."

"This stable and load-independent behavior of the output stage is something not often encountered."

"This performance clearly shows that the Benchmark/THX design approach works ... the result is a power stage with very low distortion, indeed."

"The noise performance of the amplifier was, also, top-class ... there is an apparent absence of noise components from the power supply ... this is a remarkable behavior, especially with the output stage under load conditions ..."

- Dimitris Stamatakos, AVMENTOR.net

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DAC2 Review - Paul Rigby, The Audiophile Man

DAC2 Review - Paul Rigby, The Audiophile Man

by Benchmark Media Systems June 08, 2016

DAC2 - "Taking the DAC1 ... and improving upon it"

Benchmark DAC2 HGC"I remember writing up a large group test, for a national UK Hi-Fi magazine, several years back, on DACs. I’d never heard of Benchmark before but the DAC1 trounced all of the other DACs on test to win the crown for that test. I was more than impressed and vowed to keep an eye on the brand from that day forward."

"Benchmark says that this, the latest iteration in the range, is superior in terms of sound quality to the DAC1."

"Immediately, right from the off, I was seriously impressed with the DAC2."

- Paul Rigby, The Audiophile Man - audiophileman.com

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DAC2 & AHB2 Review - Dimitris Stamatakos, AVMENTOR.net

DAC2 & AHB2 Review - Dimitris Stamatakos, AVMENTOR.net

by Benchmark Media Systems June 02, 2016

AHB2 - "A convincing example of what the future of power amplifiers can be"

"Benchmark dared to engage their power amplifier project from a different angle, discarding the standard approach ... and certainly succeeded. The theoretical advantages of their choices are both evident in the laboratory and heard during the listening sessions, thus justifying the whole approach."

"Based on a very interesting set of ideas, with a long history but few examples of a practical application, the Benchmark AHB2 could serve as a convincing example of what the future of power amplifiers can be. Combine it with a renowned D/A Converter like the DAC2 HGC, and what you have is a top quality system from which only the loudspeakers are missing!"

DAC2AHB2 - "The best preamplifier/power amplifier ... in this price range"

"Overall, the DAC HGC/AHB2 pair is the best preamplifier/power amplifier we had the opportunity to listen to in recent years in this price range."

- Dimitris Stamatakos, AVMENTOR.net

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AHB2 Review - Paul Rigby, The Audiophile Man

AHB2 Review - Paul Rigby, The Audiophile Man

by Benchmark Media Systems June 01, 2016

AHB2 - "The perfect heart to any hifi"

"Neat in construction, busy in terms of features and small in stature, the AHB2 is quite remarkable in how it goes about its business of delivering music. I’ve seldom heard such a balanced, easy on the ear power amplifier as this that also provides tonal accuracy plus an attractive space in the midrange. The AHB2 would be an ideal fulcrum to any hi-fi system, acting as the heart around which you can build up your hi-fi chain. It’s dependable and rock solid. The perfect heart to any hifi."

- Paul Rigby, The Audiophile Man - audiophileman.com

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SMS1 Review - Paul Rigby, The Audiophile Man

SMS1 Review - Paul Rigby, The Audiophile Man

by Benchmark Media Systems June 01, 2016

SMS1 - "Airy mids, confident and powerful bass, spacious soundstage"

"I was impressed by the broad nature of the SMS1 soundstage. Clarinets and strings had a beautifully resonant aspect, letting the ear know that all of these instruments had a specific character. Another feature of the soundstage was the piano’s ability to make itself heard." 

"The space and air around the midrange helps these speakers to tackle even the most complex of arrangements while the allied meaty bass means that they will be a good performer within any genre of music."

 

- Paul Rigby, The Audiophile Man - audiophileman.com

 

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AHB2 Review - Paul Seydor, The Absolute Sound

AHB2 Review - Paul Seydor, The Absolute Sound

by Benchmark Media Systems May 13, 2016

AHB2 - "Essentially Perfect"

"Benchmark products ... are made for the professional market (where they are ubiquitous) and designed to the most exacting standards of performance and reliability."

"Within a remarkably short period of time ... my mental processes shifted from comparison mode to enjoying music, all the attention drawn to the source material and the rare sensation of feeling as if I were listening back to the source."

"... the AHB2 gets as high, enthusiastic, and confident a thumbs up as my arm is capable of reaching."

- Paul Seydor, The Absolute Sound, April 2016

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DAC2 Lab Evaluation - AVMENTOR.net

DAC2 Lab Evaluation - AVMENTOR.net

by Benchmark Media Systems April 05, 2016

DAC2 HGC - "Offered a very high level of performance, with very low distortion"

"The noise spectrum shows that the DAC2 HGC is indeed a very quiet device without problems of interference or hum."

"Frequency response is flat across the entire range of measurement without a visible cut-off towards the lower frequencies, and with a rather mild roll-off at very high frequencies close to 80kHz. The differences between the two channels are small, in the range of 0.2dB."

"The THD+N Vs Frequency graph does not hide any unpleasant surprises. The curves (for an output level of 1Vrms) are below 0.003% with an apparent increasing trend from the 10kHz upwards but with minimal level-depended variation, an indication for a good analog stage design."

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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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AHB2 Technical Analysis - Robert E. Green, The Absolute Sound

AHB2 Technical Analysis - Robert E. Green, The Absolute Sound

by Benchmark Media Systems March 11, 2016

AHB2 - "A Technical Tour de Force Without any Question"

"The Benchmark amplifier is quieter than any other amplifier I am aware of."

"It has noise of around 110 dB down relative to 1 watt, and since it has 100 watts of power, the signal-to-noise ratio that is relevant to resolution is around 130 dB."

"The Benchmark also has extremely low distortion—among the lowest around and surely far below known thresholds."

"The Benchmark can be used in bridged mode, to give 400 watts into 8 ohms (actually 380W is specified). That ought to be enough for most applications except in extremely large rooms."

"The Benchmark AHB2 amplifier is a technical tour de force without any question."

- Robert E. Green, The Absolute Sound, April 2016

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