Benchmark Branches Out Into Speakers
After spending years pairing their DACs with components from other companies, Benchmark has opted to do it all themselves. The new Benchmark SMS1 loudspeaker ($2450/pair in black), which ships in 6 weeks, is claimed to extend from 44Hz20kHz, with ±3dB between 50Hz and 12kHz, and a lifted treble in the top octave. These are a variation of the Studio Electric loudspeakers formerly paired at shows with Benchmark DACs, but with better parts including custom-made Clarity caps.
Together with Benchmark's new AHB2 amplifier ($2995, and shipping soon) and DAC2 L ($1795), the system delivered impressive low bass, very clear sound, and a lively top on a Patricia Barber Red Book track. Ear-opening clear silences, extreme transparency, and timbral beauty distinguished file playback of Livingston Taylor's "Grandma's Hands."