• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Review and Measurements of Benchmark AHB2 Amp

RichB

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 24, 2019
Messages
1,546
Likes
2,118
Location
Massachusetts
I think the import is directly from the US. Doesn't make sense to ship to the EU and then to the UK. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Brexit is playing a significant role - certainly not to hike the price of the item to that extent. Benchmark should do what the Chinese are offering and that is direct sales. How good would that be for us all here on the other side of the pond??!!!

There are issues with direct sales as well. Rythmik has had issues with direct sales with false claims and credit card charge-backs with recourse.
I think they suspended overseas sales for the time being.

- Rich
 

Docmoggy

Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
31
Likes
8
There are issues with direct sales as well. Rythmik has had issues with direct sales with false claims and credit card charge-backs with recourse.
I think they suspended overseas sales for the time being.

- Rich
I see. I think direct sales is the way to go because there seems to be a massive mark up on price. I mean, how is it you can get direct sales in the USA and not the UK? Surely, there must be the same assortment of "complications"? Perhaps the concern should be a Chinese produced product to rival the AHB2 offered at far less cost to the consumer and direct sales with no quibbles? This may be the commercial strategy being made by Chinese producers. Anyway, the point remains that the prices of Benchmark products cost far less in the USA, than they do in the UK and I still don't know what good that does to anybody.
 

RichB

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 24, 2019
Messages
1,546
Likes
2,118
Location
Massachusetts
I see. I think direct sales is the way to go because there seems to be a massive mark up on price. I mean, how is it you can get direct sales in the USA and not the UK? Surely, there must be the same assortment of "complications"? Perhaps the concern should be a Chinese produced product to rival the AHB2 offered at far less cost to the consumer and direct sales with no quibbles? This may be the commercial strategy being made by Chinese producers. Anyway, the point remains that the prices of Benchmark products cost far less in the USA, than they do in the UK and I still don't know what good that does to anybody.

This may not be a problem in the UK, but here is the post from Rythmik on AVS:

In the last 2 months many things have changed. For instance, we have suspended all shipping overseas until we figure out how we can provide better support and warranty to overseas customers with excellence like we do for US customers. We are still shipping to Canada and Mexico. Another factor the has discourage us as a company to ship to some countries in EU is that we have ZERO control over fraudulent claims. In the last 6 months we have had 4 fraudulent claims from customers in Spain and France. They received the subwoofers then filed a claim with their credit card companies to get their money back based of "defective products". None of them have had responded to our emails regarding warranty service. They are just scammers. Unfortunately this decision affects other customers from amazing countries like Sweden, Finland, Norway, The Netherlands and Italy where we sell very well and have a big group of fans and customers. In your case we may be able to do something. Please reach out to us using our contact form or just reply to the last email from us. And YES, we have been SUPER busy. Stock is selling like PPE to the point that every container is almost sold out before arrive to our warehouse.

Unfortunately, scammers can take advantage of consumer protection laws and credit card companies.
Understanding these laws gets complicated so it understandable for companies to use dealers.

- Rich
 

misterdog

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2018
Messages
333
Likes
218
I think the import is directly from the US. Doesn't make sense to ship to the EU and then to the UK. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Brexit is playing a significant role - certainly not to hike the price of the item to that extent. Benchmark should do what the Chinese are offering and that is direct sales. How good would that be for us all here on the other side of the pond??!!!

There is still VAT to pay whether imported from the EU or the USA.
As VAT is a 'European' sales tax we should have abolished it when we left :rolleyes:.

The point of my link to Thomann is that the amp is 'imported' into the EU distributor who is in the UK then 'exported' to the EU, yet it is still cheaper to buy it from Thomann in Germany than from a UK retailer.

It's the nature of trade ( capitalism).
 

RichB

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 24, 2019
Messages
1,546
Likes
2,118
Location
Massachusetts
There is still VAT to pay whether imported from the EU or the USA.
As VAT is a 'European' sales tax we should have abolished it when we left :rolleyes:.

The point of my link to Thomann is that the amp is 'imported' into the EU distributor who is in the UK then 'exported' to the EU, yet it is still cheaper to buy it from Thomann in Germany than from a UK retailer.

It's the nature of trade ( capitalism).

or the nature of Germany :p

- Rich
 

misterdog

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2018
Messages
333
Likes
218
Benchmark products cost far less in the USA, than they do in the UK and I still don't know what good that does to anybody.

Though UK Hi-Fi is considerably dearer over there in the same way. Though many states have no sales tax, certainly no 20 % VAT.

We have to fund our 'free' NHS somehow though....
 

GoldenOne

Active Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Messages
201
Likes
1,403
Does anyone know what exactly the difference between low gain and med/high is other than the actual gain level? Is there something different going on in terms of the actual operation of the amp?

When in low gain, there is only one relay click on startup, whereas on med/high gain there are two, suggesting something is going on different inside.
I saw mention here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-and-a-big-thanks-to-march-audio.14875/page-3 that low gain actually takes the buffer stage out of the path which seems unusual to me, but couldn't find anything to back it up.

Previously I'd been using med gain as it gave me a more ideal range of control with my GoldPoint passive preamp. But I just got a new Holo Serene preamplifier so have been curious about what the actual differences in amp operation are.

@John_Siau might you be able to share some insight?
Of course low gain does seem to measure the best, but I'm just curious as to exactly what's going on when in low gain vs medium
 

RobS

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 2, 2021
Messages
174
Likes
226
Location
Appalachia
I gotta think there's more feedback being applied to keep the gain down (and distortion numbers) when its in the low gain setting.

Because both high and med gain are audibly different than the low gain setting.

Interesting to read there is a buffer stage for the two higher gain settings.

One thing I have found is passive preamps are not the best to put in front of the AHB2 especially in that low gain setting. Dynamics sound a bit more "squished", so I'm thinking there is probably a impedance mismatch somewhere. A direct connection from DAC3B to AHB2 and using Jriver 64bit volume control is a little better but it loses some to the passive. The only panacea is to get a buffered active line stage like the HPA4.
 

misterdog

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2018
Messages
333
Likes
218
Is it possible to switch between gain settings with the amp powered on (Input muted), or is a 'reboot' required?
 

ta240

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Nov 7, 2019
Messages
636
Likes
994
This may not be a problem in the UK, but here is the post from Rythmik on AVS:

Unfortunately, scammers can take advantage of consumer protection laws and credit card companies.
Understanding these laws gets complicated so it understandable for companies to use dealers.

- Rich

The fact that the credit card companies have little to no interest in stopping credit card fraud can make it brutal on small to medium sized companies; because they carry all the risk for loss. I dealt with a chargeback in the past where we had, what we thought, was decent proof for our side so we fought it. The credit card company sent a follow-up letter telling us the customer was still disputing it and we could either 1) accept the chargeback or 2) continue to fight it and if we lost the next level we would be subject to a $750 fee on top of the chargeback. I can't imagine dealing with international shipping/tracking, address verification and foreign credit card companies along with the usual BS.
 

GoldenOne

Active Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Messages
201
Likes
1,403
Is it possible to switch between gain settings with the amp powered on (Input muted), or is a 'reboot' required?
It is, but when you do the amp effectively reboots itself.

If going Med <-> High the mute light comes on for a sec then it starts again.
If going low <-> med the mute lights come on, a relay clicks, then it unmutes
 

toddverrone

Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2021
Messages
27
Likes
54
Location
Bentonville, AR USA
To build this level of quality and safety features for a lot less would be a challenge. Unlike many audio companies Benchmark seems to price somewhat fairly. I'm in Europe so it's too hard to buy, too expensive and too difficult to get maintenance. On our side of the water, I went for dual Pro-Ject Stereo Box DS2 vertically bi-amped. The result is good, but one has to be careful not to put too merciless a DAC/pre-amp combination in front as the Hypex UdC102 amps are not providing a soft landing (as my NAD C372 would). Still working to find the right match (might be the RME ADI-2 DAC FS, the traditional NAD C165BEE in front of a Musical Fidelity V90 is very good but is very big in my space). The Benchmark amp sounds similarly merciless.

Benchmark DAC/pre-amp and Benchmark amp might be a tough long-term listen. Has anyone got the pair running together? If so what are your impressions?

I have the ABH2 and the LA4 and they sound sublime. I had a Jolida Fusion preamp and before that a full tube preamp. When I got the ABH2 to replace ICEpower monoblocks, the noise in my system became very audible.. I got tired of trying different tubes, moving components, etc, so I decided to try the LA4. What I got was absolute dead silence and the most effortless sounding music. I don't find the pair shrill at all. I think they're just so damned transparent that any harshness from the source is so much more apparent than with other preamp/amp combos
 

Braveanthony

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2020
Messages
12
Likes
6
I picked up ahb2 finally. For some reason it sounds thin. Clean but thin. Vocals lack meat. I have it on medium gain. Does it require break in?
 

Braveanthony

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2020
Messages
12
Likes
6
Minidsp - coax - smsl su-8 v2 - xlr - ahb2.
I was using octave v80se. Dont know VRMS.
Initially, I thought it was due to dac. My previous dac was ares2. Still waiting for pontus. But i hooked up v80se and sounds fuller even with smsl. I also have minidsp as source so perhaps dsp is the culprit?
 

RobS

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 2, 2021
Messages
174
Likes
226
Location
Appalachia
Minidsp - coax - smsl su-8 v2 - xlr - ahb2.
I was using octave v80se. Dont know VRMS.
Initially, I thought it was due to dac. My previous dac was ares2. Still waiting for pontus. But i hooked up v80se and sounds fuller even with smsl. I also have minidsp as source so perhaps dsp is the culprit?
Ok it's 4VRMS so you are on the right setting. I would try a different DAC and see if that alleviates the thinness for you. If it still isn't how you like it, then the AHB2 isn't the amplifier for you and there's nothing wrong with that.
 

DonH56

Master Contributor
Technical Expert
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 15, 2016
Messages
5,676
Likes
10,154
Location
Monument, CO
I doubt it's the DAC. Going from a tube amplifier to a SS amplifier is a significant change. The Benchmark will be less affected by your speaker's impedance and will be cleaner (lower in distortion) and flatter (in frequency response). You may not like the difference even though it is technically more accurate. I would give it some time; it does not need to burn in, but you might need time to adjust and decide if you like the new sound.

If you do not, I'll pay your shipping costs to me to take it off your hands. :)
 

Braveanthony

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2020
Messages
12
Likes
6
Of course I will give it more time. I am also going to have my wife and son do A/B test. Quasi blind test as they don’t know anything about amplifiers.
 
Top Bottom