The Benchmark Room – AXPONA 2014

Benchmark is typically known for their superb DAC selection, but as of late the company is really branching out to incorporate a legitimate high-end desktop system. It all recently started with the introduction of a new compact amplifier called the AHB2 ($3k) that fits neatly underneath the footprint of the company’s popular DAC 2 line. Now at AXOPONA, Benchmark introduced their new bookshelf-style loudspeaker SMS1 ($2,450).

While the new loudspeaker bears a resemblance to the [Studio Electric loudspeakers] that Benchmark usually appears at shows with, engineer Dave MacPherson let me know the new design was original from the ground up.

The AHB2 is kind of new beast altogether. I prefer to the let Benchmark’s well-informed sales manager Rory speak to all the technical details, but basically the amplifier is designed to provide the best of both worlds from a class A and A/B amp, all while avoiding the drawbacks associated with each. This compact amplifier does 100W into 8 ohms and can also be utilized in a dual mono formation for even more power.

The DAC pictured above is another iteration of the DAC 2 line “L”. This DAC features all of the same bits as the company’s “HGC” and “D” lines, but without the headphone amplifier section. Although, I wouldn’t necessarily overlook the headamp option if you are considering something from Benchmark, the [DAC 2 D we reviewed here] sounded amazing with a multitude of headphone pairings and sports a >0 impedance. Both the amplifier and new speakers should be shipping soon.

Benchmark does sell direct to consumer via their website here: http://benchmarkmedia.com