@teajay Couldn't agree with you more!
@david_ten I don't know how many have received the Encores per se. I only know that several people have placed orders already for their Encores. With the longer lead times I would say it could be awhile before anyone chimes in with their opinion on the Encores, unless they purchased a version that was already ready to ship, assuming Eric built more than just the one pair for me and had a couple laying around. I know a local audiophile in Raleigh who has heard the Encores in my home is really considering the Encores as a serious upgrade over what he has now.
My impressions are quite simply this. Never in 35 years in this hobby have I averaged 10+ hours of listening to music a day with half of that time spent critically listening to them in the afternoon/evening hours each day. The array is extremely revealing and doesn't hold back at any volume level. Both mircrodynamics and macrodynamics are fully realized with ease. The bass is incredible, very detailed, complex, and very guttural. Setup was very painless and they were not hard to place even in my smaller room. I find what this speaker is capable of in resolution in the most palpable midrange and it's just mind blowing, but never aggressive or fatiguing.
The Encores are a near perfect coherent launchpad and they have the best dynamics of the best horn systems, the delicacy and transparency of the best electrostatic speakers. They just do everything right, I can't not find fault with them in anyway. It's the best 'live sounding event' creating event speaker that I have even owned or heard.
@beme54 I've heard the vast majority of speakers worth hearing and plenty not worth hearing. I compare them very favorably to my experience having been in the industry and having been to the shows and CES. Thanks for coming to my thread and bringing up the only negative thing you could bring up in an otherwise glowing positive review regarding a speaker that has nothing to do with the speaker I'm actually discussing. Please move on.
@charles1dad I couldn’t agree more buddy! I think some people chase hyper-detail or exaggerated resolution, and they try too hard and ultimately fail to recreate the original recorded event in their listening space. I’d rather experience an emotional event in my listening room that although may not be as detailed or perfectly accurate, but nonetheless is emotionally satisfying; an event that makes me forget I’m listening to a recording. I don’t want a merely close reproduction, I want to close my eyes and be there in the moment deceived into thinking there is no equipment or speakers. I don’t go for a perfect reproduction, it’s still a reproduction and you’ll be chasing that dragon forever. I try to create an organically real and palpable event in my listening space. Having said all that, damn if the arrays on the Encores aren’t able to do amazing detail retrieval and in such an effortless way as to appear completely natural and audibly satisfying with no fatigue. It’s just so perfectly done.
@fetguy Sir, never change, without detectives like you helping people like me, people like me wouldn’t realize the level of satisfaction that I’ve reached using juducious dsp/eq to correct for anomalies between my speakers and the room they happen to be occupying. If it wasn’t for you I would have ended up a complete placebophile. Instead I am a fairly balanced and split between being both analytical and also holistic regarding sound quality and how to alter it to suit my ears.
@lancelock Thanks for the comment. I think Benchmark should consider that since they are going after the audiophile market that maybe they might consider releasing an alternative version of an amp that’s less about specs and slightly more emotionally involving. I know this goes against their ethos of impeccable specs, but they would likley sell to a broader base if they offered something a tad more emotional sounding and not just simply measuring exceedingly well. It would be hard for me to feel compelled to buy the AHB2 based on specs alone. I will repeat their new preamp is exactly what I want from a preamp. Nearly no alteration or editorialization of the preceding source signal is what I’ve always wanted in a preamp.
@charles1dad So I've been auditioning the Benchmark AHB2 amplifier, as well as their new HPA4 Preamp, and I've even been trying a Dangerous Convert 2 PRO Audio DAC just for comparison to Benchnark DAC2 HGC on the Encores.
The AHB2 is actually very smooth, dead quiet, detailed, transparent and dynamic to listen to, especially at lower to medium volume levels, but unfortunately at higher levels the 200w/4ohm power limitation of the amp becomes its achilles heel. I wouldn't suggest that the amp is cool or clinical, but maybe a slight tad less emotionally involving nonetheless. The Nords are better in this respect at 700wpc into 4ohms with a very similar sound quality thats slightly more involving and even at higher volume levels. Ultimately, I'm sending the AHB2 back because I do not feel spending $6k on a pair of them so I can run them in bridge mode is warranted when I love the Nord monoblocks a bit more and which only cost me half the money and deliver very good sound quality and plenty of power.
The new Benchmark HPA4 Preamp is a real keeper. It's very transparent, detailed, has great dynamics at lower volume levels and improved on the sound of the Benchmark DAC2 HGC being used as a stand alone dac/preamp. It's 64x relayed volume control is a joy to use and it does seem to take my system up a notch dynamically when driving the nords or my Diavolo SET.
The Dangerous Convert 2 Pro Dac sounds were very close to the Benchmark once the levels were adjusted in the HPA4 preamp. Using Roon I could play music simultaneously to both dacs via USB as a grouped zone and go back and forth. I may keep the piece just because I think its a really nice DAC with maybe a touch more naturalness and not at all analytical. A very involving sounding piece and I totally dig the level meters on it. I know thats a bit silly 😋
I've got a Crane Solaris DAC coming to compare to the Dangerous convert 2 and the benchmark dac2 hgc next week.
Well, after an all day affair of putting the HPA4 in and running source direct repeatedly. The HPA4 is going back to Benchmark.
I'm very sad to say the HPA4 Preamp does rob me of some upper frequency sparkle and transient response. I've run through putting the hpa4 in and taking it out several times and running each DAC direct to either my Nord Monoblocks or my Art Audio Diavolo SET Tube 300b Amplifier to my Tekton Design Encores speakers and regardless of the DAC or amps I'm using I can hear clearly a noticeable drop in resolution, upper midrange clarity, and transient response. Plucks of guitars seem a little lifeless now. The overall sound is more homogeneous sounding and more 2 dimensional sounding. It's a warmer less neutral sound, but almost like a film coating painted on everything I hear. This is really disappointing because this preamp was supposed to take my system to the next level, but unfortunately it's a step backwards for me. I'm returning it to Benchmark, but I really feel bad about it all the same.
@charles1dad I think anyone who hasn't run source direct for 20 years would definitely love the HPA4 as a very cutting edge fairlt neutral preamp. It's definitely not clinical and in my system it seemed a touch warmer sounding, but I preferred the more resolute and dynamic presentation running source direct.
@david_ten When I originally said the HPA4 was a keeper I hadn't swapped it out and reverted back to source direct for comparison, but over time something didn't seem quite right with transient response and upper mid frequency sparkle and a loss of dimensionality. I spent all day yesterday putting the HPA4 in and taking it out, playing the same group of songs each time. The repeatability of the changes in music character were apparent to me each time and this truth be told, was very depressing because I really wanted to keep the HPA4.
I did let Rory at Benchmark know I would be getting a new DAC3 HGC because I love the DAC2 HGC source direct with my amps and Encores. It sounds as good as the Dangerous Audio Convert 2 pro mastering DAC. I was going to try a Crane Solaris DAC too, but without the HPA4 or an alternate preamp I decided to cancel the order. I'm very certain that for me in my system running source direct is what I'm looking preference-wise for sound reproduction fidelity.
I might consider trying some more gear in the near future and I'll reach out to you. For now I'm just going to do some more research about what's out there to see if I can find a potential upgrade that I can afford. I'll pm you.
I've only heard the upgrades DIs and the Encores. The Encores have everything I've ever wanted in a speaker. The 15 tweeter MTM array is incredibly detailed, coherant, and effortless with a electrostatic-like presentation with the dynamics of horns.
The bass from dual 11" long-throw woofers produces prodigious, accurate, and gutteral bass that surpasses the DIs entirely.
@david_ten Benchmark HPA4 and AHB2 are going back. The HPA4 was very good, but I've been running source direct out of a Benchmark DAC for 20 years and for me I feel like putting a preamp in between the dac and amp just robs me of resolution that I end up missing. The HPA4 has immaculate specifications that should make it virtually transparent which is what is what I wanted, but instead the music sounds homogenous with slightly less transient response and this while using both the Benchmark DAC2 HGC or the Dangerous convert 2 pro audio dac I auditioned.
Once they were both gain adjusted to the same volume, both DACs sounded identical to my ears and I was able to switch between them effortlessly using roon feeding them both simultaneously and switching instaneously with the HPA4. I'm starting to get the impression that all competent DACs sound pretty much alike. I refuse to spend a lot more money for some uber DAC that only adds a tone control of flavoring and ridiculous price tag.
I've heard esoteric and dcs in the past and I wasn't impressed at all. Sounded thin and airy to me. I couldn't afford it anyway so the point is moot.
I'm kind of stuck at the moment and just listening through the DAC2. I may get the DAC3, but I doubt it would be audibly better at all, or I may consider something fron Auralic, maybe a Vega Dac/Streamer. Honestly though, I've heard the Vega in my system already and it sounded the same as the Benchmark to my ears. I returned it to the ebay seller because it had a broken toslink jack. My dac2 hgc is getting old so I'd like to replace it soon, but I doubt I'll gain much improvement even if I do.
I'm not much for using tubes on top of tubes on top of tubes....tube dac, tube preamp, tube amp. Too much of good thing (tubes) again seems to just rob me of resolution and dynamics. I love what set amps do, but I don't ascribe to using tubes everywhere else in a system because you're stacking a lot of 2nd/3rd order distortion to the point of losing purity you'd gain from using a simple direct path from source to amplifier. I'm not saying people who do this are wrong, it's just not my cup of tea, sonically speaking.
All that being said, (and just to contradict myself) I'm still mildly curious of the Lampizator tube DAC, but its a bit out of my league price wise and I have no easy way to audition it.
@shadorne Yes the Dangerous Convert 2 was extremely competant and yes I did connect both dacs to the HPA4 via balanced and used HT BYPASS on the input and ensured the internal dac2 jumpers were set to zero db. I spent 2 days swapping from source direct to the HPA4. I kept hearing a dropoff of sparkle and transients on guitars. It was a tad veiled and homogenous sounding, like a coating on everything I played. This phenomenon happened in equally to both dacs.
@david_ten i will check out that dac you mentioned.
@waltersalas I own a pair of Nord One Up Class D Monoblock amps that I love as well as my Art Audio Diavolo SET 300b Tube Amplifier that I switch between using a LUXMAN AS-55 high end amp switcher. It allows me the best of both worlds and saves my tubes from unnecessary wear when I'm not critically listening or watching a movie or tv show. My thought is that I'll eliminate my Benchmark DAC2 HGC as a DAC and preamplifier altogether and use the tdai-3400 as a dac/preamplifier/room correction to feed my Diavolo SET Tube Amplifier and using the Luxman AS-55 amp switcher I can redirect the tdai-3400 amplifier's output to my Encores for the times I'm in the mood for tubes. It's this versatility and simplification that appeals to me the most.
The best case scenario is that I love the tdai-3400 so much that I'll sell the Nords, Benchmark DAC2 HGC, and the Diavolo SET Tube Amplifier altogether, but if not I'll just sell the Nord monoblocks and my Benchmark DAC2 HGC and keep the Diavolo in the chain for the times I critically listen to particular genres of music that benefit the most from it glorious mid-range.
@grannyring I've been a SET fanatic for 20+ years, The flexibility of using the TDAI 3400 as both a DAC, Roon Endpoint, 400w amplifier and preamp to feed my SET amp plus the room correction are the reasons I bought it. I sometimes just feel like listening to certain music with a set amp and at times I crave the power from solid-state for bigger pieces of music. This solution allows me the best of both worlds using my Luxman AS-55 amp switcher to feed the Encores either tube and solid-state output effortlessly which is my main goal. I'm all for the idea of TDAI-3400 replacing my SET amp, but I'm not holding my breath because on certain pieces of music the sound my amplifier produces is just glorious in the mid-range and excels on female vocals, jazz, small acoustic pieces.
I'll be very pleasantly surprised if it this piece replaces my tube amplifier.
@charles1dad Thanks Charles, won't be long to find out what's what. I kind of just want to keep the SET regardless because I spent way too much money for it which I'll likley never recoup (to say nothing of my rather large tube collection investment), additionally it's a beautiful piece, and more importantly it sounds phenomenal.
@grannyring I hope your assertions pan out. I could really use the money selling off my Nords, Benchmark DAC2 HGC, and even the Diavolo (even though I really don't want to give it up). At least the Luxman Amplifier switcher makes switching amplifiers a turn of 20amp rated heavy duty knob, so no cable swaps are needed.
@evolvist My room is smaller, only 16x14.5x9
@evolvist I just wish I had an extra 10 feet to give these speakers more room behind them and more room behind my listening position to get better depth and addedambiance.
MY LYNGDORF TDAI-3400 SHIPPED ALREADY!
Tentatively it’s arriving on the 7th if there’s no customs hold ups. That was so much faster than I expected! I highly recommend Neal at Sound Science if you are interested in getting a Lyngdorf. He was very polite, professional, and extremely fast with turning this purchase around very quickly.
@david_ten Because of how my room is layed out, I'm forced to fire off my long wall which is 16' across. The speakers are 8.5' apart, approx 2.5' from the front wall, 3.5' from the side walls and my listening position is 8.5' away with about a 2' space behind me that allows me to recline in my listening chair. The room has a 9' trey ceiling that drops to 8' around the perimeter. The acoustics are very good in this room, so only minimal dsp around 40hz and 18khz needs to be applied in software on my roon media server to achieve a very flat response.
@grey9hound Yes, I’ve heard that too with Lyngdorf, duly noted. I’ve heard you can put the speakers against the front wall with the Lyngdorf, but that’s crazytalk. The Encores are rear ported and I’ve got an obstruction in the way regardless. Just seems counterintuitive because depth of field comes from bringing your speakers out from the front wall up to 1/3rd the distance to the rear wall.
The array goes a full octave lower. The array is very transparent, very resolute, exceedingly dynamic, and effortless in it's presentation from 300hz-20khz. There's nothing in the way between you and the music, no film, no grunge, no struggling. It's like electrostatic-like crossed with the best of horns. The bass is prodigious and gutteral yet defined and detailed, the DIs are just not in the same league. I could here tape-print-through on a vinyl rip of Frank Sinatra B side of Only the Lonely "Blues in the Night". I can hear the next line of the song imprinted on the previous line of the song. It's not analytical in the slightest, yet as detailed as humanly possible. They are the best live sounding speakers I've ever heard.
@charles1dad Yes, they are a very worthy upgrade. Where else can you get a manufacturer that gives you more than 50% of the speaker’s price tag just in drivers and the crossover parts alone? It’s unheard of! You’re lucky to get $2000 in total parts for a typical $10k high-end speaker. Hell, just the tweeters alone in the Encore are worth around $2400, but what they do collectively and sonically is priceless. This is a very high value proposition for anyone looking for a real steal of a deal along with exquisite performance that rivals speakers costing many multiples of the Encores price. Join the club, you won’t be disappointed.