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Benchmark HPA4 based on THX AAA Amplifier

amirm

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#1
Just saw this reference to a new headphone amp from Benchmark called HPA4. It is mentioned in this video at 26:30:


Can't find any other information on it.

upload_2018-4-5_11-29-31.png


Looks like there will be plenty of vendors with THX AAA amps coming in the next few months.
 

svart-hvitt

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#2
Just saw this reference to a new headphone amp from Benchmark called HPA4. It is mentioned in this video at 26:30:


Can't find any other information on it.

View attachment 11884

Looks like there will be plenty of vendors with THX AAA amps coming in the next few months.
I thought the DAC3 headphone amp was of excellent quality?

Quote: «
THE ULTIMATE REFERENCE HEADPHONE AMPLIFIER
The HPA2™ is Benchmark's signature high-current, 0-Ohm headphone power amplifier. The HPA2™ is the ultimate reference headphone power amplifier. This high-power headphone amplifier is an integral part of many Benchmark products. In each of these products, the HPA2™ is designed to drive headphones with THD+N performance that matches that of the XLR outputs».

Maybe the new one is perfecter?
 

Blumlein 88

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#3
I thought the DAC3 headphone amp was of excellent quality?

Quote: «
THE ULTIMATE REFERENCE HEADPHONE AMPLIFIER
The HPA2™ is Benchmark's signature high-current, 0-Ohm headphone power amplifier. The HPA2™ is the ultimate reference headphone power amplifier. This high-power headphone amplifier is an integral part of many Benchmark products. In each of these products, the HPA2™ is designed to drive headphones with THD+N performance that matches that of the XLR outputs».

Maybe the new one is perfecter?
Was it the car company Lincoln that had a slogan once, "Perfection perfected". Maybe that is what this is.
 

Sythrix

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#8
Ah, didn't know about that portable one from monoprice.
Yeah but terrible volume knob placement in my opinion, just like the HA-2SE. If you put that fully in your pocket, guaranteed it doesn't stay put walking around unless it's really stiff and my bet is they didn't think about that. Other brands have recessed knobs or guards for a reason.
 

Wombat

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#10
Last edited:

Vincent Kars

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#11
My reference is the product that made Benchmark famous.
The DAC1; DAC, pre-amp and headphoneamp all at less than $1000.
 

amirm

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#12

Dialectic

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#14
I recently considered buying the $349 THX AAA headphone amp on Massdrop but demurred when I saw that it was not expected to ship until August. I want to see how the Monoprice version (with integrated DAC) performs.

While I probably otherwise would own a Benchmark device by now, I dislike the way Benchmark products look. The cursive Benchmark logo is ugly and, dare I say, déclassé, especially on a $3,000 device. It's odd that Benchmark--a purportedly anti-bling manufacturer--never managed to get a sampling rate or volume level display (other than some blue LEDs) onto any of their devices until this $3,000 eyesore.
 

svart-hvitt

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#15
BALANCED AND ANALOG VOLUME

Benchmark’s new tone on balanced headphones and analog volume caught my eye.

«BALANCED AND UNBALANCED I/O
The headphone output of the THX-888 amplifier features a 1/4" TRS and a 4-pin XLR. Both outputs deliver the full performance of the HPA4. However, we recommend the XLR4 due to its lower contact resistance. The HPA4 features two balanced stereo inputs and two unbalanced stereo inputs. The line amplifier provides one balanced stereo output, one balanced mono sum, and one unbalanced stereo output».

«THE ULTIMATE LINE AMPLIFIER
The THX-888 amplifier is driven by a Benchmark line amplifier that features relay gain control, relay input selection, and relay muting. The line amplifier incorporates the finest gold-contact relays available. The gain control has 256 steps in 0.5 dB increments. It also features a balance control. Relay closures are precisely timed to deliver silky-smooth volume changes. No other relay gain control offers this level of precision and performance. The HPA4 includes 4 independent 256-step attenuators: two for the L&R headphone outputs, and two for the L&R line outputs. To make this all happen, the HPA4 includes a total of 64 precision relays».

Does this mean Benchmark just changed their view on balanced headphones?

And do Benchmark claim that adjusting volume in the analog domain is more precise (neutral) than volume changes in the digital domain?

Background: https://benchmarkmedia.com/blogs/application_notes/13095789-volume-control-technologies

And:

«32-BIT DIGITAL VOLUME CONTROL
The DAC2 has a 32-bit digital volume control that feeds the array of 32-bit D/A converters. This 32-bit connection allows the use of digital volume control without causing a loss of resolution. At an attenuation of 48 dB, all bits from a 24-bit input still reach the D/A converter. When the DAC2 is properly gain-matched to a power amplifier, the noise produced by the DAC2 will remain inaudible at all volume control settings. The XLR outputs on the DAC2 are equipped with passive analog attenuators which should be used to optimize the gain range of the volume control. This hybrid volume control system is another key to the overall performance of the DAC2. It allows optimization of the output level to match the input sensitivity of any power amplifier».

https://benchmarkmedia.com/blogs/application_notes/audio-myth-balanced-headphone-outputs-are-better
 

amirm

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#17
I can't figure out why I need a touchscreen in such a simple, amplifier. It is likely adding good bit to the cost. I am thinking they wanted to go up market and decided to add this touchscreen to get there. If they built a networked DAC, it would work there but with something that just selects inputs, maybe gain settings and that is it, why would one need a touchscreen? And I agree it doesn't look nice or luxurious.
 

DonH56

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#18
I don't mind the looks but that is a lot of money for a line level switch and headphone amp. Impressive as all get-out, but $3k? Ouch! And all-analog so any digital buffs will need an external DAC. I'm with Amir; I have no need for a touch screen, and $1k is likely more than I'll ever spend for just a headphone amp (even with a few extra inputs). I wonder what their target audience is, audiophiles, well-heeled pros and studios?

The back panel looks pretty tight, especially for the RCAs, but I didn't look at the size of the case so maybe they aren't as close as they look in the pictures.
 

Sal1950

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#19
I'm a bit surprised to see Benchmark stepping into this type of "high end" marketing. They always appeared to sort of pride themselves on products that offered SOTA performance but held the line at a reasonable, kind of mid-level pricing. Maybe they just decided it was time to take a little more advantage of the audiophool mentality? Hope we don't lose them completely to the dark side. :(
 

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