3B SST or 4B SST for N804s?

Any help appreciated...I have a pair of B&W 804 Nautilus speakers and am in the process of selecting an amp. I like the Bryston sound and have auditioned the 4B ST, but have not heard the 804s on the 3B SST. The cost saving between the two ($600) is significant to me...will I miss very much if I go with the 3B SST?

Thanks in advance for any advice!
Unless you tend to listen at rather high, sustained volume levels, the 3B-SST should be very satisfactory for your needs. As a practical matter, the difference in power output between the 3B-SST (150 wpc) and the 4B-SST (300 wpc) is about 3db, which is not very significant.

There are two primary differences between the "ST" and "SST" series of amps:
1. the "SST" uses a newer model of Motorola output transistor (first used in the 14B-ST and 6B-ST amps), which Bryston believes to offer better audio performance;
2. the "SST" has filter capacitors in the power supply that are twice as large as the "ST", which is important if have inefficient speakers, tend to listen at high volumes, or listen to a lot of music and/or effects with sustained deep bass.

Some people think the 3B-ST sounds slightly better than the 4B-ST -- a bit more transparent, and a bit better imaging. I have listened to both the 3B-ST and 4B-ST, and can't say that I consistently hear any difference.

The early reports on the "SST" series of amps is that they sound better than the "ST" version -- but this may be somewhat system-dependent. I also tend to think that people who have upgraded to any newer model (be it amp, preamp, speaker, etc.) are subject to the effects of "cognitive dissonance", which virtually assures that people need to experience something better to justify their expenditure. (For more on the research on "cognitive dissonance", explore the work of psychologist Leon Festinger.)

In short, I think you will be very happy with the 3B-SST. Stop fretting, buy the 3B-SST, sit back and enjoy the music, and use the $600 you saved for CD's, DVD's, SACD's, etc.

P.S. As you will note from looking at my system, I am a Bryston owner. I have listened to most of their amps, and think they all represent fine value.
Nice informative post Sdcampbell. Summed it up pretty well.
I think the 3B-SST will be okay as long as you don't try to reproduce spl peaks over 100db.
Thank you very much gentlemen! Sdcampbell--I especially appreciate the time you took to develop such an eloquent and insightful response. Regards.

Thank you so much for your response to my 3B SST or 4B SST question. Clearly, you take this hobby very seriously and are willing to help us newbies with your experience and knowledge. That said, I hope to tap into your expertise and ask one more question. Should I invest in the Bryston BP-25 ($1330 new on Audiogon)as the premier preamp to mate with the 3B SST or are there other alternatives I should consider? I'm starting from scratch with a set of B&W N804s sitting in my living room simply looking pretty and nothing else.

I greatly appreciate any advice you may give me...many thanks in advance.

AJ - having owned a variety of Bryston gear over the last 15 years or so I can offer the following as it pertains to the Bryston BP-25:

It is an extremely detailed preamp that does nothing to hide the components upstream from it. Brutally revealing is my take on it. I had one mated to a 4B-ST and found it to be too revealing for my taste. My analogy would be that the BP-25 is a black and white HDTV - every little detail is provided but after a while the lack of "color" becomes a tad overwhelming. In the end I chose a tube preamp (Rogue 66 Magnum) - ran like a very good color television in comparison - less detail but the color added the "warmth" I was missing with the BP-25. I still think the BP-25 is a great preamp but your choice of source may weigh heavily on whether it will work in your system...
Thanks, Rdg...awesome analogy! I appreciate your comments...continuing my research, sure wish I could hear alot more of them. AJ