I have listened to the AHB2, in mono configuration and they were spectacular. Serious drive, clarity, and dynamic headroom. They were driving a pair of Watt-Puppies, then a pair of Alexandrias. The A's bottomed them out, but the sonic result was good just the same/
Actually, at $6K for the pair I would hope they sound seriously good.
Jetter, At that money these amps are a huge bargain. You won't get anything better until Parasound releases a new JC1 and that will go for over 10K/pr
I was looking at a ABH2. Instead I think I'm going to try Class D PS Audio Stellar M700 monos.
I listened to the HPA4 at Axpona this year while auditioning headphones. I now have an HPA4 in my home system, as it paired astonishingly well with the Audeze headphones. It is dead quiet and just gets out of the way. Great bass extension and clarity. I got it to be my headphone amp, but it also ended up taking the place of my tube preamp (in front of 300b monoblocks). The tube pre has a little more bloom and spatial sound to it, but you really have to pay attention to notice. What was more apparent to me was the absence of a subtle distortion in the tube preamp that I did not know was there until the HPA4 did not manifest that same distortion.
Get it with the remote control - it is absolutely worth the extra $100 at that point.
I have an DAC3L/LA4/AHB2 setup, and it sounds phenomenal. More clarity than I've ever had before. Speakers are Salk Silk Monitors with a Hsu ULS15 sub.
DAC3HGC/AHB2 (no pre) with Joseph Audio Pulsars - definite synergy there with great definition and deep, wide image. Having not heard the pre-amp, it is not a priority for me right now.
I think the extra money spent on excellent cables is probably a better investment. (Nordost is best in this system IMO, have tried mid-range AQ and Shunyata also.) Can an extra piece of equipment improve the sound of the source - in this case the DAC3?
Compared with the Rega Osiris in place of the AHB2: I believe it is a matter of personal taste, but I preferred the AHB2 for its blacker background and tighter bass to the Osiris with its incredible dynamics.
@racarlson I used to own the DAC3 + AHB2. I am curious as to the differences in your system with the new preamp. Have you compared DAC3+AHB2 vs DAC3+LA4+AHB2?
@mayordaley In what vendor’s room or table did you listen to the Benchmark HPA4 at Axpona? I think I did too and I think it was at the Innuos room. I think if I am not mistaken they had three Benchmark DAC each fed by a different Innuos streamer. The HPA4 was the headphone amp they used. Unfortunately I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the amp as I was focused on the Innuos streamers. Was it Innuos or where did you hear the HPA4? Thanks.
The AHB2 is a spectacular amp to my taste.
It brought a whole new dimension to my system: Triton 1 speakers, Conrad Johnson preamp.
I heard the Benchmark HPA4 at the Audeze table in the eargear room. I also heard it in the Benchmark room (floor 6) through closed-back Audezes. I specifically wanted to hear the Pass Labs HPA1. Unfortunately, I did, and it was too lifeless to me. After three hours of back and forth auditioning (including LTA, Chord, Schiit, Woo (my second favorite) and several others), the Benchmark won me over.
aberyclark the AHB2 is better than any class D amp I have ever heard.
It is also beautifully constructed and no doubt will last a lifetime.
it was too lifeless to me
If you mean not altering the music, then that’s exactly what I want. I don’t want to hear my amp, my DAC, my speakers, my cables, etc., I just wanna hear the music (with DSP to combat room modes). Some people wanna hear their gear, but I’m a eyeglasses > tinted glasses kind of guy.
I mean more in the sense that it did not feel like there was enough power. Not that I listen at loud volumes, but the energy just wasn’t there. The Benchmark was similarly neutral, but had enough juice to make things sound more correct than the Pass. The Pass was designed to have just enough power, but in some cases, it feels lacking in drive. It would likely match awesomely with the right phones, just not with what I heard it with.
My bad, I thought you meant the Benchmark was lifeless by comparison (the same naming scheme threw me off).
The Benchmark headphone amp outputs more than double the Pass Labs’ one (at least into 300ohm), so your assessment has backing.
I've been using the AHB2 for a couple years. I wanted an amp that introduced no coloration through noise and that's what this is. It can be run as monoblocks or stereo. You can also adjust the input sensitivity (gain). I've never had a problem powering either my speakers. More than enough juice and I run my speaker pair with one amp at the lowest sensitivity, or gain.
@yyzsantabarbara Sorry, haven't been back to this thread. With both the DAC3 and AHB2 set for no attenuation, as recommended by Benchmark when used with the LA4, there does seem to be greater transparency. A bit more depth to the soundstage, a bit more detail in the texture of voices, etc. And the volume control is much more pleasant, with easily repeatable levels, and it's easy to make fine volume adjustments by remote.
I have the HPA4 which replaced the Bryston BP26 in my system (driving the Benchmark AHB2 amp). I found the HPA4 more transparent than the BP26.
Have used the HPA4 to drive a pair of AHB2 amps in mono mode - super clarity and reveals the best in music sources.
Had no intention to change that setup but stumbled across a good deal with some big ATC active SCM100 speakers, so now using the HPA4 to drive those directly - couldn't be happier.
Not for people who want to use the preamp to influence the sound of sources - that's not what Benchmark are about.
I’m thinking of an AHB2 to go with my PSAudio BHK preamp.