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Benchmark AHB2 Review (Updated Measurements)

Rate this amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 7 2.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 6 1.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 47 14.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 256 81.0%

  • Total voters
    316
I was convinced that Amir had already tested this amplifier. Expensive? Here we go again...
Look at Gryphon, Soulution, et cetera, et cetera...
 
I was convinced that Amir had already tested this amplifier. Expensive? Here we go again...
Look at Gryphon, Soulution, et cetera, et cetera...
Everything is relative.
 
I don't understand the 6 ohm rating mentioned in review or documentation. I had asked Benchmark about this (wish I could find the correspondence), and they said there were no issues driving 4 ohm. Benchmark site even has article AHB2 - Driving PMC IB2S Studio Monitors ,complete with measurements while driving 4 ohm (monoblock mode) speaker system.
 
I have Benchmark DAC and have been thinking back and forth if I should buy a pair of Genelec 8341 or AHB2 + passive speakers to complete my system. I always thought Genelec was the way to go but whenever I read good reviews on AHB2 I became not so sure. XD

My Benchmark HGC has been sitting in the box as new for months. LOL

I had a similar choice to make some time ago and went the ahb2+passives way.
I am entirely happy with my system, but if I had the same choice to make today there's a good chance I would purchase big genelecs instead (for several non-technical reasons but also because built-in DSP is nice to have).
 
I don't understand the 6 ohm rating mentioned in review or documentation. I had asked Benchmark about this (wish I could find the correspondence), and they said there were no issues driving 4 ohm. Benchmark site even has article AHB2 - Driving PMC IB2S Studio Monitors ,complete with measurements while driving 4 ohm (monoblock mode) speaker system.
The documentation shows that it is for 8 to 3 ohms, the 6 ohm rating is for the bridged mode.
 
The ampflation is getting out of hand!

No, it's not. Benchmark AHB2 came out in 2014 and Amir reviewed the first one in 2019. Adjusted for inflation, $3000 in 2019 is just over $3600 today; and $3000 in 2014 (if that was its introductory price back then) is nearly $3900 today. So $3500 is actually cheaper, adjusted for inflation.

And that's using the US inflation rate, which has generally been lower in recent years than the inflation rates in a lot of EU nations, where many of our members live.

As for this amp's performance relative to other amps introduced since the first review, it's hard to answer that question objectively. IMHO the performance of so many amps has gotten so good that now it's more about available gain levels, build quality/reliability, how much wattage you want, preferred types of speaker connectors, location of power switch, whether you want mono bridge capability, and so on.

The ultimate takeaway for me here is that when the two different speaker connectors produce slight changes in performance because of what's going on in the 2-4 inches inside the case between the connector and the amp board, and those tiny differences would change the ranking of the amp relative to a few other high performing amps, we know that in general amp performance has reached a level where audible issues are not a concern. There are of course still plenty of substandard and obviously bad-value amps out there; but among the good ones we are spoiled for choices of dependable, high-power, audibly transparent amplification at multiple price points.
 
No, it's not. Benchmark AHB2 came out in 2014 and Amir reviewed the first one in 2019. Adjusted for inflation, $3000 in 2019 is just over $3600 today; and $3000 in 2014 (if that was its introductory price back then) is nearly $3900 today. So $3500 is actually cheaper, adjusted for inflation.

And that's using the US inflation rate, which has generally been lower in recent years than the inflation rates in a lot of EU nations, where many of our members live.

As for this amp's performance relative to other amps introduced since the first review, it's hard to answer that question objectively. IMHO the performance of so many amps has gotten so good that now it's more about available gain levels, build quality/reliability, how much wattage you want, preferred types of speaker connectors, location of power switch, whether you want mono bridge capability, and so on.

The ultimate takeaway for me here is that when the two different speaker connectors produce slight changes in performance because of what's going on in the 2-4 inches inside the case between the connector and the amp board, and those tiny differences would change the ranking of the amp relative to a few other high performing amps, we know that in general amp performance has reached a level where audible issues are not a concern. There are of course still plenty of substandard and obviously bad-value amps out there; but among the good ones we are spoiled for choices of dependable, high-power, audibly transparent amplification at multiple price points.


Had to give a like to your post since you were quite detailed on it, but I was just using the opportunity to say ampflation :)
 
Interestingly, the 19+20kHz IMD result is not stellar, compared to 1kHz HD. Of course, it is inaudible, but ….
Could be much better re odd harmonics (skirts around main frequencies). It might be interesting to see step response, with at least 20V swing.
 
The documentation shows that it is for 8 to 3 ohms, the 6 ohm rating is for the bridged mode.
Thanks. I didn't remember AHB2 manual mentioning bridged 6ohm guideline.
But even for that case, their own article touts "easily" driving 4 ohm load in bridged mode. Just makes me wonder what reasoning is for this.
 
In this world there is good, better and best. There are NC502 amplifiers available for under $1,000. Their SINAD doesn't measure as well, but it will be inaudible in nearly all applications. So, why spend $3,500 on this excellent ABH2 instead of an NC502 or a slightly more expensive Purifi which measures in the same class?

For some the answer is there is no reason. There are audiophiles who insist on having SOTA gear even if the cost is a sacrifice. For those who are well off the difference in cost of a few thousand dollars means nothing. However, it raises the question of needs vs wants. The economy of rich countries would tank if people only bought what they needed and forgot about the wants.
 
1. Pops at turn-on and turn-off may not come from the power amp but rather whatever is driving them. Often enough the preamp or source shuts off first and induces a pop in the output before the amplifier has died away.

2. John Siau, Benchmark's Director of Engineering, has posted here (somewhere) about the low-impedance power ratings. IIRC the problem is meeting long-term power specs. The amp will drive 4 ohm (and under) loads bridged as evidenced by many users. Again IIRC, Benchmark has stated it is not a problem in normal operation, but the amp will not meet their continuous full-power ratings with low impedances. That is true of many amplifiers, bridged or not.

3. While specs are important, there are other factors and features such as reliability, protection circuits, and such that enter into the cost. I do not own a Benchmark, but appreciate that in some ways it is a value at its price point for features and such, especially compared to the insane (to me) prices of many "high end" audio amps these days.

Since this is a review thread I am not sure a lengthy debate is appropriate.
 
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