Benchmark LA4 preamp and AHB2 power amplifier review

ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,973
edited February 2 in Electronics
My review of the Benchmark LA4 line-level preamp and AHB2 power amp has been published: https://theaudiobeatnik.com/unrestricted-dynamics-reviewing-the-benchmark-la4-preamp-and-ahb2-power-amp/

To say I was thoroughly impressed by this pairing would be an understatement. The Benchmark gear gave me a unique aural experience that I hadn't yet experienced with any other equipment in my listening room. It was a tangible feeling of being emotionally connected to the music I was hearing.

It is a somewhat difficult sensation to describe in writing, but easily understood after listening. I haven't stopped thinking about this pre and amp since I had to ship it back to Benchmark last Monday!

Please enjoy the article, and I welcome any and all feedback.

cwwpdb40dwk0.jpg

Comments

  • jdjohnjdjohn Posts: 1,388
    Nice work, Drew B) Definitely worth considering, although for my purposes, I think one of their DAC2/3 HGC models is probably where I would land for a preamp.

    "Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to." - Cicero, in Gladiator
    Regarding collectibles: "It's not who gets it. It's who gets stuck with it." - Jimmy Fallon
  • WLDockWLDock Posts: 2,744
    Nice review! I agree with your sentiments. I listened to their room at AXPONA in 2015 and found the sound really clean and musical. After the show, I read up on the amp and realized it could be an end game SS amp for some. Talk about getting out of the way of the signal and not altering things!
    FAMILY ROOM
    HDTV - Sharp AQUOS LC-70LE600U 70" | AVR/Streamer - Onkyo TX-NR3008 | Amp - Parasound HCA-1203A
    Blu-Ray/Media/Gaming - Sony PS3-320GB / Microsoft Xbox One | Broadcast - Xfinity X1 Platform
    Front Spkrs - Coming...DIY Statement II | Center Spkrs - Coming...DIY Statement II | Rear Spkrs - Artison Portrait LRS
    Sub - DIY Stereo Integrity HT 15 | Sub Amp - Dayton Audio SA1000
    Wire - Audioquest Type 4, BJC Belden 5000 | HDMI - BJC Belden | Power Cables - Pangea | Surge - Monster
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,973
    WLDock wrote: »
    Talk about getting out of the way of the signal and not altering things!

    This is the epitome of what these two pieces are all about. I hope that my article encourages more people to experience the sensation of listening to music through the LA4 and AHB2 combination, it is simply incredible.
  • gyosagyosa Posts: 395
    edited February 6
    I’m intrigued by this amp .....
    My question is , is 100 watts enough power .....

    Apparently from what I’ve read , which is quite a bit , it doesn’t really have ANY headroom at all ..... 100 watts is the MAX it’ll put out .....
    So , a typical 100 watt AB amp will output substantially more power for short term peaks and transients ....

    Same with my PS Audio s300 .... class d - not much headroom .... 140 watts is all you get .....

    I dunno ... is it really enough power ?
    I know , I know ...... most of the time you are only using a few watts steady state ....
    But those peaks can really use up some power ....

    If only they made one 200 watts ......👍👍👍
    I know it can be bridged .... but now we’re talking $6k ...
    No such thing as too much power...
    Bk
    Post edited by gyosa on
    Parasound A21 , Yamaha wxc-50 , Polk SDA 1c’s ( my first love .. ) , Kimber Kable 4TC, Sony 42” - BEDROOM

    B&K EX-442 ( it will go in my casket when I die ... ) , PS Audio 4.6 preamp ( old school , but it still jams on ... ) , Yamaha wxc-50 , Boston Acoustic voyager 7’s - POOL

    PS Audio Stellar S300 , Cambridge Audio 851n , Yamaha wxc-50 , Kimber Kable 4vs , Salk Supercharged Song towers ( difficult choice between these and my family if I had to choose ... 😩 ) , Sony XBR-A8F 65” OLED , Onkyo TX-RZ610 - DEN , MAIN RIG

    Onkyo TX-nr609 , Polk atrium 7 , Boston acoustic sound ware (4) , Boston acoustic sub , B&W center , Sharp 65” TV - PATIO

    DAYENS AMPINO ( thanks Verb ! ) , KEiiD streamer ( this was only 60 bucks ?? ) , Polk atrium 8SDi’s - KID’s BEDROOM


  • Mike ReeterMike Reeter Posts: 3,874
    Once again Drew, I like your Style of Review. It's obvious that you are an Audiophile with a very good ear, but equally important, you put so much emphasis on the Music.

    It seems the Benchmark Brand has earned its High Marks by being all about the Music as well. I can certainly see why your are drawn to their product line.

    Thanks for another great review!
    SDA SRS 2.3TL's/SDA SRS 3.1TL's/SDA CRS+4.1TL's and some other stuff
  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 4,263
    I wanted to wait to add to the high praise, but agree completely that this (and every previous) review is concise and appealing. Thank You Drew and if I didn’t already have a great combo, would be very interested to try.
    Auralic Vega G1/Rega TT/Denon SACD - Parasound P6 - PS Audio M700x2 - Elac Adante AF-61 - AQ Niagara 5000 - SVS SB16u
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,973
    gyosa wrote: »
    100 watts is the MAX it’ll put out .....

    Here's some more information about it's power output capabilities from another review:

    "The AHB2 is a 100 wpc stereo power amplifier, but boy is that ever deceiving. Benchmark says that the AHB2 can deliver up to 18A to each channel simultaneously. It will nearly double down its power to 190 wpc into 4 Ohms and 240 wpc into 3 Ohms with both channels driven simultaneously."

    https://www.pooraudiophile.com/2015/07/benchmark-ahb2-power-amplifier-review-the-first-commercial-power-amp-with-thx-aaa-technology.html
  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 4,263
    That is stout!
    Auralic Vega G1/Rega TT/Denon SACD - Parasound P6 - PS Audio M700x2 - Elac Adante AF-61 - AQ Niagara 5000 - SVS SB16u
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,973
    30 day no questions asked trial period when you order for Benchmarkmedia.com.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again...
  • gyosagyosa Posts: 395
    No question it’s probably one of the best amps you can buy .....
    I’ve never read a review that sez otherwise .....

    Bk
    Parasound A21 , Yamaha wxc-50 , Polk SDA 1c’s ( my first love .. ) , Kimber Kable 4TC, Sony 42” - BEDROOM

    B&K EX-442 ( it will go in my casket when I die ... ) , PS Audio 4.6 preamp ( old school , but it still jams on ... ) , Yamaha wxc-50 , Boston Acoustic voyager 7’s - POOL

    PS Audio Stellar S300 , Cambridge Audio 851n , Yamaha wxc-50 , Kimber Kable 4vs , Salk Supercharged Song towers ( difficult choice between these and my family if I had to choose ... 😩 ) , Sony XBR-A8F 65” OLED , Onkyo TX-RZ610 - DEN , MAIN RIG

    Onkyo TX-nr609 , Polk atrium 7 , Boston acoustic sound ware (4) , Boston acoustic sub , B&W center , Sharp 65” TV - PATIO

    DAYENS AMPINO ( thanks Verb ! ) , KEiiD streamer ( this was only 60 bucks ?? ) , Polk atrium 8SDi’s - KID’s BEDROOM


  • audioluvraudioluvr Posts: 2,156
    Awesome Review! Sounds like Benchmark literally is the "Benchmark"
    One foot on audio nirvana and the other in the poor house.
  • lordcloudlordcloud Posts: 28
    I have a pair of AHB2'S, but not the LA4. I'm currently using a Tortuga preamp, which I love..... but it tends to have issues with the ldr modules.

    I'm considering the LA4.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,973
    If your goal is the ultimate in transparency and the LA4 meets your input/output requirements, I can't think of a better choice. The LA4 was literally made to drive the AHB2, it's a perfect combination.
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,903
    edited April 22
    You know threads like this light a fire inside me.
    Makes me want to go down that path and start digging in. I must resist.
    Awesome review. Thanks for posting. Beautiful looking gear, they have always made very nice stuff.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • sgmsmgsgmsmg Posts: 446
    edited April 22
    2 Channel
    Pre:Bryston BP173
    Amp:Bryston 14B3
    Speakers: Golden Ear Triton Reference
    Source: Oppo UDP-205, Bryston BDA-3, Bryston BDP-3, Bryston BCD-3, Apple TV, Amazon Fire
    Cables: Wireworld Gold Eclipse 7 Speaker, Wireworld Gold Eclipse 7 XLR, AQ Diamond USB/HDMI
    Power: PS Audio P10 Regenerator, AC12, AC10 and AC5 Cables
    Display: Sony XBR65-Z9F

    Home Theater
    Pre: Yamaha CX-A5100
    Amp: Parasound JC5, A31, A51
    Speakers: Polk LSiM 707 (FL/FR), Polk LSiM706 (Center), LSiM 703 (SL/SR), Polk 900-LS (Atmos)
    Subwoofers: SVS SB13 x 4
    Source: Oppo UDP-205, Apple TV, Amazon Fire
    Cables: AQ Rocket 88, AQ Niagara, Wireworld Silver Eclipse 7
    Power: PS Audio P5 Regenerator, Furman IT Reference 15i, Pangea AC14SE and AC9SE Cables
    Display: Sony XBR75X940D
  • tophatjohnnytophatjohnny Posts: 2,906
    Great review. If I wasn't amp flush I would sure give one of these a shot.
    "if it's not fun, it's not worth it & remember folks, "It's All About The Music"!!
    *****************************
  • voltzvoltz Posts: 5,423
    Nice! glad your happy again!
    2 ch- Polk CRS+ * Vincent SA-31MK Preamp * Vincent Sp-331 Amp * Marantz SA8005 SACD * Project Xperience Classic TT * Sumiko Blue Point #2 MC cartridge

    HT - Polk 703's * NAD T-758 * Adcom 5503 * Oppo 103 * Samsung 60" series 8 LCD
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 25,403
    Not even crazy 'spensive.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,973
    A big thank you to Benchmark for featuring excerpts and a link to my review on their website!

    https://benchmarkmedia.com/blogs/reviews/la4-and-ahb2-review-drew-gagliano-the-audio-beatnik
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