SMS1 - "An excellent pro-caliber passive monitor"
"The SMS1 is an excellent pro-caliber passive monitor. It’s what I expect from a Benchmark product."
"The compact Benchmark SMS1 is an impressive, two-way crossover speaker with Benchmark’s typical attention to quality. Its compact size makes it easy to place, and it is suitable for many kinds of listening environments. Standout characteristics include vocal clarity and imaging."
"The Benchmark SMS1 is a first rate speaker. It goes on my list of recommended small speakers and recipient of the Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Award."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
AHB2 - "EAN 2014 Product of the Year"
"The Benchmark AHB2 gets the award because its design pushes the spec envelope of power amplifiers."
"It is no longer enough to have 100 dB S/N ratio (or worse) spec’d amplifiers when you have the Benchmark measuring in excess of 130 dB! That is better than the majority of DACs can perform. It is digital performance from an analog amp."
"And the amp sounds great as well — a very neutral analog sound with tight bass and gracious stereo image."
"Throw in the reasonable price tag, and its award status is a no-brainer."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
AHB2 - "Unfaltering and Thrilling Performance"
"The AHB2 and the ML10Bs came through with unfaltering and thrilling performance every time."
"Immediately I heard that the AHB2 reproduced the recordings ambient space captured (or added artificially) as open and wide with reverb tails hearable down to the recording's noise floor."
"There was a pristine and smooth quality to the high and middle frequencies ..."
"With the AHB2 there was an overall vibrancy and transparency not a hyped, bright sound."
"As compared to my powered monitors, working on mixes in Pro Tools HD 11 through this system sounds more real, detailed and clear. In addition, this is a dead quiet--noiseless system. With no music playing, I could crank the DAC2 Ls volume control wide-open and hear nothing--even with my ear right on the speaker cone!"
"There is only one word for the new Benchmark Media Systems AHB2 power amplifier: impressive. I highly recommend it!"
- Barry Rudolph, Mix, December 2014
SMS1 - "Just really good sound"
"After just a couple of minutes of Thrasher Dream Trio, a jazz album featuring drummer Gerry Gibbs, pianist Kenny Barron and bassist Ron Carter, I realized, "I'm really enjoying this!" I didn't hear any of the kinds of flaws that would normally distract or discourage me when first "meeting" a speaker. No obvious "cupped hands" coloration from the woofer. No boom in the bass. No major frequency response anomalies. No edge, grit, glare or grain. Just really good sound."
"If you're looking for a high-end bookshelf speaker -- or even just for a good speaker, period -- you should give this one a listen. I think you'll realize, as I did, that after the first couple of tunes, you're blown away not by how spectacular the sound is, but how good it is."
- Brent Butterworth, Stereos.About.com
AHB2 - "The sonic results are nothing short of extraordinary!"
"The sonic results of all the time and effort spent refining this circuit and developing this design are nothing short of extraordinary!"
"Instruments and vocalists occupy an uncannily realistic sense of size and locale. I was left speechless more often than I cared to count by this engaging and enchanting ability."
"Benchmark's AHB2 amplifier is a truly breakthrough, innovative design."
- Greg Weaver, Enjoy the Music.com
DAC2 HGC - "A clean, precise presentation"
"This Benchmark is a fine performer. The first quality that grabs our attention is its tonal balance. It’s as even as we’ve heard from a DAC at this price, giving each part of the frequency spectrum just the right amount of emphasis."
"Rarely do we hear a recording laid bare this way; subtle instrumental strands are easy to follow and aren't lost when the music gets complicated."
"It’s a clean, precise presentation but avoids the clinical edge that often goes along with such an outlook."
HRA System - "A beautiful midrange and well-defined extremes"
"The big news in the familiar-looking Benchmark room was ..."
"The AHB2 high-resolution power amp has been further refined, with a high S/N ratio even at minimal output and topology that claims to achieve full 24-bit resolution from digital signals."
"The crossover of the SMS-1 The Benchmark loudspeaker has been changed."
"The DAC2 DX adds pro connectors and dual output busses to familiar and well-regarded electronics."
"The sound was especially impressive from such a small loudspeaker. Keb Mo sounded great, with a beautiful midrange and well-defined extremes."
- Jason Victor Serinus, Stereophile
SMS1 - "Pulled off the tough trick of sounding neutral yet very detailed and spacious"
"Benchmark is known for digital-to-analog converters (DACs), but it's recently been expanding into other products, including the first amplifier to use THX's new high-efficiency, all-analog technology, and the new SMS1 minispeaker."
"The SMS1 is a rebranded and somewhat improved version of the Studio Electric SE Monitor. As designer David Macpherson, owner of Studio Electric, told me, Benchmark's engineers were able to refine the circuit-board layout and acquire parts with tighter tolerances."
"I thought the SMS1 pulled off the tough trick of sounding neutral yet very detailed and spacious."
- Brent Butterworth, Sound Stage
AHB2 - "Dynamic, open, with quick, taut bass - yet with the silky ease of the best tube amp"
"Like the Benchmark D/As and A/D, the company believes that great measurements correlate to great sound. In the case of the AHB2 I totally agree."
"The AHB2’s sonic character is dynamic, open, with quick, taut bass - yet with the silky ease of the best tube amp. But tube amps don’t have the energy and speed in the transients, nor bass, that the Benchmark possesses."
"I can’t wait to get two more for a full-high-end home cinema amp test in my big A/V room. For now, based on mostly stereo listening, it receives, with certainty, an Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Award."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
AHB2 - "Lowest noise and distortion power amp I have measured"
"The new Benchmark AHB2 is the result of considerable research and patents on its resultant circuitry. The intent was to make it an ultra low distortion design. I would have to say they succeeded as it is the lowest noise and distortion power amp I have measured and I have measured a LOT of power amps in my career."
"The S/N ratio was about 131.6 dB. Pretty impressive, and this is the lowest output noise level I have seen in any power amplifier I have measured! (Editor's note: Benchmark measured 3 dB better when input was terminated with 60 Ohm impedance input.)"
"When connected in bridge mode, power was close to 400W into an 8 ohm load."
- Bascom H. King, BHK Labs
DAC2 HGC - "Competes and wins against anything at any price"
"Several readers have asked me how the OPPO HA-1 stacks up against my Benchmark DAC2 HGC. I can say that I love both but…"
"The Benchmark DAC2 HGC is a reference quality converter and functions as well as a preamplifier. It competes...and wins...against anything at any price ..."
HRA SYSTEM - "The whole system was under $10,000 and just killed."
"I've enjoyed the Benchmark Media Systems rooms over the past few shows when they've shared their room with Studio Electric using their excellent sounding speakers."
"This time around, Benchmark were showing not just their excellent DAC2 L, but also their new AHB2 100 wpc amp and SMS1 speakers. With the exception of real deep bass (though certainly more than you would expect from speakers this size) this system the sound was smooth, expressive, dynamic and rich."
"The whole system was under $10,000 and just killed."
- Steve Lefkowicz, Positive-Feedback.com
AHB2 - "Revealed a whole new layer of chorused vocals, reverb trails and swirling ambient space"
"Playing the new Beck LP, the AHB2 revealed a whole new layer of chorused vocals, reverb trails and swirling ambient space. Pretty impressive."
"One of the highlights for me was hearing the Benchmark amp in my own system ... paired with my DAC2 HGC. I was pretty stunned by what I heard. I expected quiet, resolution & transparency. What I didn't expect was the way the system relaxed and allowed the music to just flow."
- Russtafarian, audiocircle.com
DAC2 HGC - "The one to beat"
"The Benchmark Media DAC2 HGC is one of those components that not only raises the bar, it forces the entire industry to step up their game and move forward."
"While one can expect a fantastic digital to analog converter from the same creators of the classic Benchmark DAC 1, it’s hard to believe this company would also turn out one of the better sounding analog preamps I’ve heard. Combine the fact that you also have a reference class headphone section, and you now have a piece of equipment that is the one to beat."
"Easy recommendation from New Record Day!"
ADC1 - "Provides a sure fire way to get a jitter-free recording"
"In my experience, the ADC1 provided a solid and clear image of my stereo ORTF mics and Omni Flank mics. When paired with a clean mic preamp (Grace, Crane Song Flamingo) you can rest assured that what you hear is what you get."
"From Orchestral Recording to Sound Effects, the Benchmark Media ADC1 provides a sure fire way to get a jitter-free recording, not to mention a great dynamic range."- HIFIQC
DAC2 HGC - "Turn the PC into a Hi-Fi Platform"
"Few devices are consistently praised in the audiophile community. The Benchmark DAC1 is one of the chosen few."
"The DAC2 is an entirely new device. It leverages what is one of the world's highest-end DACs, the ESS ES9018, adding to it, among other things, custom jitter-reduction logic."
"It lives up to its Hybrid Gain Control name by implementing separate volume controls: digital for digital inputs; analog for analog inputs."
- Filippo L. Scognamiglio Pasini, Tom's Hardware
ADC1 - "I highly recommend the ADC1 for transferring your LPs to digital"
"Benchmark's versatile and full-featured ADC1 USB both measures superbly well and produces digital files that sound equally superb. It offers performance for which, a decade ago, you would have had to pay five times its price. It also offers better resolution than you get from inexpensive converters like E-MU's popular e404, whose nominally 24-bit A/D converter section actually has about 17-bit resolution."
"I highly recommend the ADC1 for transferring your LPs to digital."
- John Atkinson, Stereophile
DAC2 HGC - "Offered one of the highest resolutions I have measured"
"Note that I've had to extend the vertical scale to –160 dBFS to reveal the noise floor. The drop in the level of the noise floor with 24-bit data indicates that the DAC2 offers 21-bit resolution, which is state-of-the-art performance."
"With the very low level of noise and superb linearity, the DAC2's reproduction of an undithered 16-bit tone at exactly –90.31 dBFS was essentially perfect."
"Even driving a very demanding 600 ohm load, the DAC2 offered very low levels of analog distortion, with the third harmonic the highest in level, at –116 dB (0.00015%). Other than the second and fifth, all the other harmonics lie at close to –130 dB. Intermodulation distortion was also superbly low, again even into 600 ohms."
"Summing up the Benchmark DAC2 HGC's measured performance is easy: It's simply superb."
- John Atkinson, Stereophile
DAC2 HGC - "Fantastic resolution, an even tonal balance, and an engaging, up-front perspective"
"What would normally be merely a pop song's background rhythm guitar was brought to the fore by the DAC2, allowing me to appreciate the subtle voicings and strumming patterns."
"The DAC2 HGC is a step forward in every way from Benchmark Media's DAC1 models."
"It offers easy computer interfacing, a myriad of input options, remote control, and solid build quality, all from a company that has been around a while, and that stands behind its products."
"The DAC2 HGC is a fantastic value in terms of its sheer musical ability. It offers fantastic resolution, an even tonal balance, and an engaging, up-front perspective on the music. I can safely predict Benchmark's DAC2 HGC will be a hit."
- Erick Lichte, Stereophile
DAC2 HGC - "The Best of the Best!"
"2013 Positive Feedback Writers' Choice Award"
"What an achievement! ... its incredible versatility and over-achieving sonic performance make it more than extraordinary!"
"This DAC just about has it all, ultra versatility and smooth, seductive sonics approaching state-of-the-art. It was such an over-achiever, I put my money where my mouth is; I bought it!"
- Greg Weaver, Positive Feedback