Benchmark HPA4 and LA4 Preamps

I have always had a Benchmark product except for last year.  I sold my old Benchmark AHB2 amp and will move to the Luxman m900u next. I liked the AHB2 a lot but find the Luxman is better. The 2 preamps I have in mind for the Luxman m900u are uncomfortably expensive to me, Luxman c900u or Mola Mola Makua w/DAC, do-able price wise but I keep wondering if I can get similar sound from a lower cost alternative. The sonic character I want is essentially the m900u amp's.

I have had the Benchmark LA4 in mind as potential upgrade to my old Bencmark DAC3 + AHB2 system. I am not a huge fan of volume driven by a DAC, especially at low volume levels. I dropped the idea of getting the LA4 once I sold all my Benchmark gear to fund some other things. However, now that I am getting back to buying new gear the idea of the LA4 with the Luxman m900u has entered my brain.

I will do the 30 home trial of the LA4 with the Luxman m900u but I was wondering if others have replaced a great preamp with the HPA4 or LA4. Were you happy with the results? The HPA4 and LA4  are supposed to let the sonic character of the source and amp to dominate. Is that how you heard it? Did you lose anything GOOD by switching preamps?

The AHB2 is really great. It gives you a clear sound like nothing I have ever heard. I loved it with my KEF LS50's. I sold it to raise funds  not because I disliked it. I would like to get the AHB2 for my LS50's in the future (2 future classic pieces that I will keep until they fall apart)

However,  when I demoed the Magico A3 speakers I was able to do a direct AB comparison with the Mark Levinson mono blocks ($20K), the Mark Levinson 585 integrated ($12K), and the AHB2. I found that the AHB2 had a slightly clearer sound but the ML gear moved the sound away from the speakers and gave a beautiful soundstage and separation of performers (instruments). Now the AHB2 was not bad with the soundstage it was the the ML gear was a lot better. 

It could have been that the Magico  A3 required more power than a single AHB2 was delivering. There are some big speakers out there that are being driven by AHB2 monoblocks and I would think those owners know what they are doing.

If you have the spare cash I think an AHB2 is a great amp to have in the house. As either a main or spare. I can vouch, to my ears, that with the KEF LS50's it was amazing. This is one of the reasons I am even considering the LA4 preamp (it has the THX stuff as the AHB2).
Like you, I have a Benchmark system - the DAC3 HGC and I’m awaiting the arrival of the backordered AHB2 amp. I use older Klipschorn speakers. I got the HGC at a good price but I would have preferred to get the L version of the DAC without the headphone amp or the volume control and instead get the HPA4 to go in between the DAC and the amp, not only for the better headphone amp and better volume control but also because it has a second analog input. If I want to add a tuner now, I’ll have to unplug and plug. With the HPA4, I wouldn’t. I don’t currently have this need but, you know this hobby, I’d like to be ready someday. But I’m very happy with the performance of the DAC3. I had a DAC1 many years ago and though I liked it, I wanted the signaling on the front of the bit/kHz combo coming to the unit. Best wishes. 
There is a new review of the Benchmark preamp without the headphone amp.

I am a little disappointed in this review in that they did not mention a comparison of the LA4 into a high end amplifier compared with the same amp on a highend preamp.

Whatever, the case I am going to get a home demo of this preamp from Benchmark and try it with the Luxman m900u amp (my end game amp).