When Benchmark decided to add a speaker to our line, the goal was simple in concept, but would require careful implementation. We would build on the attributes of our favorite speakers. Then take the art and engineering a step further. We needed to combine enjoyable voicing, great imaging, powerful dynamics, and solid bass response in ONE new speaker, a speaker we would want to own and use in our own homes. A speaker YOU would want to own.
"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 ($1695), but also their new AHB2 100 wpc amp ($2995) and SMS1 speakers ($2450) .... the sound was smooth, expressive, dynamic and rich. The whole system was under $10,000 and just killed."
- Steve Lefkowicz, Positive-Feedback.com
"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
"The SMS1 is an excellent pro-caliber passive monitor. The workstation audio was clean and smooth. Specifically, my 24-bit acoustic guitar recordings were uncannily real in their dynamics and spaciousness through these speakers. 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 speaker exudes an even bass above 40 Hz and a present midrange and treble — with excellent execution of transients. The soft dome tweeter has commendable clarity, yet is not hard sounding. Drum cymbals have just the right amount of metallic sheen — without a hint of brittleness."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
Listen first. We asked: What characteristics do great sounding speakers share? We spent hundreds of hours listening to dozens of models from top-tier manufacturers. There are some very good speakers out there. The best reproduce music in an engaging and organic way. We picked our favorites.
Using state of the art measurement equipment, we analyzed the response curves and electrical characteristics of the best sounding speakers in our large test group.
Our engineers identified important design elements of the best speakers. We purchased exclusive rights to essential technologies, identified and sourced critical components. We drew on the many lessons learned from three decades of collaboration with major recording and broadcast studios.
Finally, we applied our considerable expertise in tight tolerance component matching, PCB design, precision assembly, and stringent quality control.
The new SMS1 represents both the art and science of sound. Great design, strong engineering, quality components, in a speaker that conveys the magic of the music.
We are proud to use superior quality components in this design.
Our exceptional woofer and soft-dome tweeter were chosen from many possible types. These transducers were selected for both great sound, and low unit-to-unit variance.
Our crossover uses custom film capacitors from Clarity Cap - some of the finest available. All inductors are custom wound air core, to minimize distortion. Component values are held to tight tolerances in order to maintain close matching between units.
Our stainless mesh grills are fabricated from the same material used for fine microphones, nearly transparent acoustically, and more durable than grill cloth.
Together, these components contribute to a speaker with outstanding clarity and imaging - a clear window into the music you love.
We know that small ported loudspeakers have become fashionable. We don’t do fashion. Ported speakers create the illusion of bass extension by emphasizing certain frequencies (hence the name "tuned port"). In smaller speaker enclosures, ports often produce a non-linear bass response - sometimes described as “one note bass”. Ports can make a small speaker seem large, but accuracy can suffer in the name of big bass.
The SMS1 is an acoustic suspension loudspeaker. By nature, it is more linear than a ported design. It can also produce impressively deep bass. The trade-off is efficiency.
The slightly lower efficiency of the acoustic-suspension design places higher demands on the power amplifier.
The SMS1 speakers are not recommended for low-power single-ended tube amplifiers. They work great with larger tube amplifiers (30 watts or more), and with quality hybrid and solid-state amps.
If you have a small listening room you may have good results with a small amplifier but we emphasize that deep solid bass usually requires a robust amp - which brings us to the Benchmark AHB2.
Though the SMS1 will sound great with any high quality amplifier, it mates wonderfully well with the Benchmark AHB2 amplifier. If you are looking for system synergy, try a complete Benchmark system!
SMS1 loudspeakers are available with your choice of Black, or solid Mahogany side panels. Add $200 for the Mahogany panels.
The side panels allow customization to match your decor, and are easily removable for repair or replacement.
The side panels are not just cosmetic, they perform an important acoustical function: The panels help to stiffen and dampen the sides of the loudspeaker enclosure, contributing to a tight and well-defined bass response.
The SMS1 is 2-way passive monitor/loudspeaker with bi-amp capabilities.
Performance plots and additional details are available in the downloadable manual.
This Benchmark product was designed, assembled, and tested in the USA using USA and imported components.