While I was attending the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest over the past weekend, I learned that Allen Burdick, the founder and former principal designer at Benchmark passed away on the 27th of September. My condolences go out to his friends and associates at Benchmark and to his family. The audio industry lost a true innovator and wonderful man.
I first met Allen about 10 years ago at a Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. While cruising along the aisles of exhibits and booths, I noticed a copy of one of my recordings on a stand at the Benchmark Media booth. Allen was demonstrating the original Benchmark DAC1 using the AIX recording of Peppino D’Agostino, a terrific finger style acoustic guitarist. I was intrigued as I overheard Allen talking about the tremendous fidelity that he was able to reproduce from our wonderful recording. He had no idea that the producer/engineer of those recordings was standing a few feet away.
After the booth visitor had left the booth, I introduced myself to Allen and we chatted for a while. He was very pleasant, funny and absolutely dedicated to quality audio…I thoroughly enjoyed meeting him and we became friends over the next several years. His company, Benchmark Media has been instrumental in establishing the high-resolution audio quality that is typical of AIX Records products. We use many products from this exceptional company in the preparation of our releases.
The following paragraphs are included in the product announcement for Benchmark’s latest innovative design…an amplifier that is capable of delivering real high-resolution audio to your speaker of choice.
“The AHB2 power amplifier is named in honor of Benchmark’s founder, Allen H. Burdick. Allen had a life-long passion for audio, and became one of the leading innovators in the pro-audio industry.
Allen’s business ventures began in 1983 as “Benchmark Sound Company” where he operated from his garage in Dallas, Texas. He surrounded himself with a staff that shared his passion for achieving new audio performance “benchmarks”. Benchmark’s first product was a large mixing console for television and radio broadcast applications. In 1985, Allen changed the business name to Benchmark Media Systems, Inc., and relocated to a facility in his hometown of Syracuse, New York. By this time Benchmark was manufacturing the DA101 audio distribution amplifier for television studios. Allen’s DA101 was a 35 W power amplifier card with astonishing specifications. It had a 150 kHz bandwidth, and a dynamic range of over 120 dB. The DA101 was designed to distribute line-level audio through extensive distribution networks. Television networks often require many cascaded distribution amplifiers, and this places extraordinary demands on the performance of each individual amplifier. Allen’s DA101 revolutionized audio distribution in the era of analog TV.
Allen retired in 2006, but Benchmark continued to develop new products under the direction of John Siau. Allen’s DA101 was never marketed as a power amplifier, but it became Benchmark’s amplifier of choice for critical listening tests during the development of Benchmark’s digital products. The recent development of the DAC2 converter family highlighted the need for a power amplifier that could match the performance of the converter, and Benchmark began the “PA2” amplifier project.
In many ways, Allen’s DA101 helped define the performance goals of the PA2 project. Early prototypes were evaluated against the DA101. Benchmark’s performance goals were achieved through the use of two new patented topologies from THX, the application of good engineering, and a high level of cooperation between the engineering groups at both companies. The result is an amplifier that Allen would have been proud to call a “Benchmark”.
Sadly, Allen passed away September 27, 2013. Just minutes before his death, we changed the product name to AHB2 in his honor.”