Future System Ideas

Stereophile's quick writeup about the 2013 Benchmark AHB2 amplifier debut shows it being used together with the Benchmark DAC2 in a room with Studio Electric's decoration-simplified small monitor loudspeaker, the SE Monitor Basik. Together, those could form an outstanding compact system.

Sterophile's full review of the Benchmark DAC2 HGC includes this quote form John Atkinson about some of the measurements:

The Benchmark DAC2 offered one of the highest resolutions I have measured.... The drop in the level of the noise floor with 24-bit data indicates that the DAC2 offers 21-bit resolution, which is state-of-the-art performance.

The DAC2 is a significant improvement over the excellent DAC1, with significantly better specifications and smoother sound in part due to its ESS SABRE DAC. The AHB2 amplifier offers a unprecedented-at-the-price high signal-to-noise ratio approaching their outstanding DACs', along with great efficiency and low distortion using a recently patented THX amplifier topology. The Studio Electric Monitor has been garnering very strong reviews from the audiophile community for the past couple years for its accuracy, clean dynamics, clarity and authority.

Working together they could be a very high quality, listenable, accurate system, which somewhat ironically is targeted at recording studios, but should also do very well as an audiophile system. It's also relatively affordable in both roles at about $2k for the DAC, $3k for the amp and $2.5k for the speakers. That's a lot of money, but relatively affordable for audiophile gear and also very high value for the quality.

North Creek's near wall monitors and very pricey Fibonacci large ribbon full range transducers also look interesting.