DAC2 HGC - "Combines digital with analog gain controls for an optimal result"
"The HGC moniker stands for 'hybrid gain control' which is a 'dual domain' attenuation system that combines digital with analog gain controls for an optimal result."
- The Absolute Sound
AHB2 - "Runs like a high-performance sports car"
"This amplifier runs like a high-performance sports car. I was amazed at the AHB2’s ability to keep up with dense music mixes and never sound congested or lacking. In fact, this tidy beast produced some of the tightest low end I’ve ever heard in my 2 way speakers. The midrange was articulate and clear with an obvious clarity that bested my current class A/B amplifier. Extending to the high frequencies were equally clear and distortion free, no hype here- just honest clear reproduction."
"Acoustically, the AHB2 performs so cleanly and quietly that it resolves the hall and space between musicians distinctly- something professional engineers and audiophiles can equally appreciate."
"If you are looking for an amplifier that can reveal your source material and DAC without flinching, then the AHB2 is a top choice."
-HIFIQC, February 11, 2016
AHB2 - "An immediacy that makes for uncanny realism"
"Orchestral dynamics were also well served, as the amp has considerable speed and an ability to deliver serious power with alacrity, and there's no sense of overhang in the bass."
"Dr. Feelgood's 'Roxette' [Down By The Jetty, United Artists] raised the hairs on the back of my neck. The Benchmark has an immediacy that makes for uncanny realism, so a track like this is more intense and vital, more powerful in fact."
"The Benchmark SMS1 had been supplied with the amps with a view of doing a whole system eview, a state of affairs that came to pass with gusto when I discovered just how well the combination gelled."
"The Benchmark pairing proved analytical (in typical studio style) but not dry - just very revealing of recording style and balance."
AHB2 - "Conspicuous Only in Its Absence"
"Before she joined Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick was in a band called The Great Society. They made an LP, Conspicuous Only in Its Absence, the title of which has stuck in my mind ever since I first heard it as a teenager. (The album also contains some killer psychedelic rock riffing, but that’s another story for another time.) That album’s title is a perfect description of how the new Benchmark AHB2 power amplifier fits into a studio monitoring system."
- Tom Fine, Tape Op
DAC2 DX - "Home Recording/Audiophile D/A Converter Product of The Year"
"Take the ultra accurate PCM/DSD DAC2 converter add AES/EBU and dual buss output and you now have the ideal studio or hi-fi DAC for headphone or speaker listening — the $1,995 DAC2-DX. And no DAC measures any better."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
AHB2 - "2015 Product of the Year - Pioneering Design Achievement"
"Last year, in his November editorial, Hans wrote about our lack of consensus in naming the winner for this award."
"This year ... the Benchmark AHB2’s incredible sound quality makes it a no-brainer for the 2015 Pioneering Design Achievement award."
"Hans reviewed the AHB2 for SoundStage! Access in June, and had read every other product review we published in 2015, and felt that nothing else came close."
- Doug Schneider, SoundStage Hi-Fi
AHB2 - "These are the amplifiers that you are looking for."
"THX has patented a novel amplifier design, THX AAA Technology(TM) and Benchmark Media Systems has turned it into a new power amplifier – AHB2. The design is called Achromatic Audio Amplifier. Achromatic may mean colorless or neutral or without modulation."
"So is there a sound signature to the AHB2? Since THX calls it Achromatic we can assume that they were not aiming for a warm and sweet tubey sound – and this is not what it delivers. The sound is indeed neutral and exact without being sterile or clinical. Colorless? Not really. The amp will send through the sound palette of the source component and disc/file without stripping any color away."
"The AHB2 is so good it will immediately expose weaknesses in your system. It requires a very good pre-amp ... which should output a balanced signal."
"Medals to everyone and a rebel princess to the AAA Technology inventor!"
- Toby Tingskog, dagogo.com
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
DAC2 DX - "I cannot emphasize enough the DAC2's sound quality"
"Ever since Benchmark released the DAC2 Series a few years ago, the D/A’s measured performance, ultra-accurate smooth ESS-chip audio delivery has made, it, er, the Benchmark of D/A converters. Every DAC I get in for review, I always compare to the Benchmark."
"If you like a clean, transparent, yet smooth and detailed D/A converter for your home pro (or larger separate pro facility) or hobbyist studio, the DAC2-DX should be on your short list of DACs to consider."
"I cannot emphasize enough the DAC2's sound quality. If your only experience has been with the old DAC1 Series, you are in for a treat. The DAC2 blows it away in terms of listenability. Significantly smoother, especially with Pop music."
"Like the DAC2-HGC, the DAC2-DX receives our Stellar Sound Award and an 2015 EAN Product of The Year Award nod in the home recording studio category."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
DAC2 HGC - "A small but remarkable contender to add to the must hear list"
"Benchmark was the brand that introduced the first serious small scale digital to analogue converter. Before the original DAC1, most converters were either full width or not taken seriously. All that has changed with a plethora of high-spec, all-singing DACs that are primarily designed for the headphone market but which also have preamp outputs. The DAC2 HGC has a lot more competition than its forbear, so Benchmark has upped the ante in terms of conversion capability, but it remains very similar in facilities terms."
"The latest incarnation of the Benchmark DAC remains a comprehensively equipped and highly capable piece of kit. Those looking for flexibility of operation will find little that competes while listeners in search of the ultimate affordable DAC have a small but remarkable contender to add to the must hear list."
- Jason Kennedy, hi-fi+
AHB2 - "A real breakthrough in every way"
"... it was probably the AHB2's low noise level that revealed to me much more apparent low-level detail in already-familiar recordings."
"These surprising and delicious details were evident from the bass up through the midrange and extreme treble, which nonetheless remained silky and diaphanous."
"In addition to quantity of soundstage detail, the AHB2 ... had all the power needed to drive with aplomb my Bowers & Wilkins 800 Diamond speakers to any reasonable level."
"As time passed and I listened more, I grew to love the AHB2's sound, and undertook the rewarding effort of listening through it to as many different recordings as I could. It was a great pleasure, as old friends, some already mentioned, smiled anew."
- Kalman Rubinson, Stereophile
AHB2 - "An extraordinary amplifier ... its performance lies at the limits of what is possible for me to reliably test"
"Conventionally, it is assumed that the measurement system used to test a product is much better than the device under test."
"However, the Benchmark amplifier's specifications are close to those of my Audio Precision system ... correctly characterizing the AHB2's measured performance would therefore present a challenge. The second and third harmonics lie close to the residual distortion in the Audio Precision's signal generator."
"The Benchmark amplifier has a claimed S/N ratio "approaching 130dB," which, at 6.02dB per bit, is equivalent to more than 21-bit resolution. It is truly a high-resolution amplifier."
"Benchmark Media Systems' AHB2 is an extraordinary amplifier."
- John Atkinson, Stereophile
HRA System - "I was impressed with the sense of space"
"I was admittedly quite cruel with my initial choice of listening material ... Vladimir Homyakov playing Bach organ works on the Eule organ at St. Alexander Church in Cheylyabinsk. Yes, we're going to try playing organ music on a modestly-sized pair of bookshelf speakers! And my jaw dropped. Unexpected depth there is, and natural it sounds too. I was also impressed with the sense of space the system created; it felt uncannily as if I was in the church"
"Benchmark ... has managed an impressive feat. If you want a large-scale yet musical sound but don't have the space for big boxes, they're well worth checking out."
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."
DAC2 HGC - "Better performance than DACs ten times its price"
"I have analysed the test results of a half-a-dozen of the world's best DACs, most of which sell for more than ten times the price of the DAC2, and across almost all parameters tested the performance of the Benchmark DAC2 HGC equals or exceeds that of every single one of those DACs."
"This is digital audio engineering at its very best."
- Steve Holding, Newport Test Labs
AHB2 - "A cut above every integrated amplifier I’ve reviewed"
"The AHB2 is a power amplifier only, so you need to use a preamplifier with it. When I did, I found it a cut above every integrated amplifier I’ve reviewed, a list that includes: Hegel’s H160 and H300, Linn's Majik DSM, Musical Fidelity's M6 500i, and Luxman's L-550AX."
- Hans Wetzel, Sound Stage! Access
DAC2 HGC - "Pure perfection"
"The sound as converted by Benchmark's DAC - rather than the external DAC I usually use - was so much better that I pretty much on-the-spot decided that I was going to replace my own DAC with a Benchmark DAC2 HGC. Once I'd decided that, I realized that ... I could simplify my system ... by getting rid of my preamplifier as well. For me, this was an epiphany ... I finally understood what the concept of the Benchmark DAC2 HGC's existence was all about: it's about reducing the component count in your system, and about keeping analogue in the analogue domain and digital in the digital domain. Pure perfection."
"Investing in a Benchmark DAC2 HGC will involve getting rid of the pre-existing notions you have about what components should be in a high-end audio system ... you should now be thinking Source(s) - Benchmark DAC2 HGC - Amplification - Loudspeakers. That's it."
- Ernest Denman,
SMS1 - "I easily preferred the Benchmark"
"I easily preferred the Benchmark SMS1 to the other three loudspeaker systems, for both the classical and the popular recordings. It provided the largest and most spacious soundstage, the most precise imaging, with solo vocals accurately placed in the center of the stereo image."
"If you’re in the market for a small, accurate monitoring system, the SMS1 deserves serious consideration."
- Gary Galo, Audioxpress
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."