Benchmark Introduces Their HPA4 Line Stage And Headphone Amplifier
Benchmark Media Systems will be introducing their new HPA4 headphone/line amplifier at AXPONA on April 13th through 15th. Benchmark will be conducting personal listening demonstrations. Benchmark partnered with THX Ltd. in order to incorporate the THX Achromatic Audio Amplifier (AAA) technology into this new high-end audio product.
According to John Siau, VP of Benchmark, they "chose to leverage the THX AAA technology because it reduces harmonic, intermodulation, and crossover distortion by 20 to 40 dB to guarantee a realistic and fatigue-free listening experience". This is the same THX technology Benchmark uses in their award-winning AHB2 power amplifier. The HPA4 features the flagship THX-888 headphone amplifier design and is driven by an all-new Benchmark line amplifier featuring a fully-balanced 256-step relay gain control. A separate 256-step attenuator controls balanced and unbalanced line outputs. The HPA4 also features a touch screen and remote control capabilities.
Benchmark's HPA4 is a completely analog product and is designed to be driven from an external DAC or analog source. According to Siau, "from start to finish the HPA4 development team has been focused on delivering the ultimate listening experience". The core of the line amplifier is a bank of four fully-balanced 256-step attenuators featuring gold-contact relays and precision metal film resistors. Siau added that "the attenuator relay closures are precisely timed to provide a silky-smooth volume control with precise 0.5 dB steps... this Benchmark system defines the state-of-the art for high-end volume controls".
Benchmark expects that many customers will purchase the HPA4 strictly for headphone use. Others will use the HPA4 to drive their favorite power amplifier and speakers. The HPA4 has independent volume controls for the headphone and line outputs and is well-suited for users who enjoy both modes of listening. This headphone amp / line amp configuration provides the flexibility to integrate with virtually any hi-end audio system and is specifically designed to match the performance of the ultra-clean AHB2 power amplifier.