Benchmark has released their AHB2 stereo amplifier. Pricing is still TBA, but expected to be about $3,000. This is a very slick box indeed. While it’s shoebox sized, it’s not class D. There are apparently long whitepapers about its sliding Class-A / Class-AB / Class-H bias scheme. Benchmark is claiming a 130db signal to noise ratio. Power is 100 watts into 8 ohms. It’s able to be used as a 340 watt into 8 ohm monoblock. The Benchmark rep at the show claimed that it was safe into 2 ohm loads (in stereo mode). It has Speakon connectors on the back. This is not only a promising amp, it might be a speaker-builder’s dream come true.
That’s all provided that it sounds good, of course.
I mentioned that I’ve been a big fan of these rooms. Replacing more than $7k of smartly-crafted amplifier with $3k of assembly line shoebox is a pretty risky proposition. As far as performance at this show went, Benchmark may have a winner. If anything, the sound seemed faster and tighter than I’m used to from this room. Not lean, mind you, just tighter.
I’ll delay any real judgment until I get my hands on one of these. I don’t necessarily trust technology to deliver on all of its promises, and I never completely trust my first impressions. That said, this little thing left one hell of a first impression.