Having auditioned the same Acurus at hom with Aerial 6's, I found a similar lack of weight. I traded up to the larger 3 channel B&K, which was better, but ultimately to a 9b. Very, very satisfied; you are not buying 5 3b's. I have reconfigured into a larger system using Aerial 8's, and added two 7bs'. The 8's definetely benefited from the extra power, and I was pleased with the intergration of the three amps. Unless your speakers really need the extra juice, however, I don't think you can go wrong with a 9B.
Proceed Amp 5. Saw one on this site for around $3K yesterday. About the same power, though doesn't have the hundred year warranty or the big gnarly handles option. I like Bryston, but the Amp 5 is worth a look if you need a 5 ch. amp. Should have all the big tight bass slam you could ever want.
I'm not sure what speakers you use, but here's another suggestion. A while back I went from an Acurus A250 to an Aragon 8008BB. The first thing I noticed was more "bass slam." Based on that, I think you might get similar results from an Aragon 8008x5. I've listened to both Aragon 8008BB and the Bryston 4BST and while they do not sound exactly the same, the Aragon and Bryston have some of the same strengths including controlled "bass slam".
I am currently running a Bryston 4B-ST for my front speakers (Vandersteen 3A Signatures), and a 5B-ST for the center channel and rear surrounds (Vandersteen VCC-1 center, and Coincident Triumph Signatures rears), and my system definitely has all the "slam", dynamics, and power that I need. Since you already own the 4B-ST, and want to ensure that your system has the power you want, I'd suggest you buy the 6B-ST. I have already talked to the dealer where I bought my 4B-ST, and he will sell the 6B-ST for around $2800 (versus $3800 MSRP). If you want to contact my dealer, drop me a private E-mail and I will give you the contact information.
Thanks for the responses. I auditioned Aragon (Palladium, 8008) and Proceed when I was looking for my audio amp. I settled on the 4B-ST. My impressions were as follows:
Aragon - musical
Proceed - raunchy power
B&K - had punch, sort of
Bryston - pure control
The Bryston literally tamed the bass drivers into submission. And that's really what I'm looking for. Thanks for the info, Sdcampell, on the 6B-ST, but I have a pretty good relationship with my dealer. I know he'll cut me a good price. I have thought about going with the 5B for the center and rears like you mentioned. Possibly an 8B to bump up the power for the center channel. Have you noticed any sound drop-off or sluggishness in your center or rears because of the power varience between the 4B and the 5B? That is my main reason for waiting on the 6B.
Argent: I have found the 5B-ST to do an excellent job handling the center and rear speakers. I need to qualify that statement, however, by telling you: 1) the Coincident rear speakers are 3-4 db more efficient than the other speakers, which means the effective power (at the speaker) is almost identical for both amps. (Bear in mind that each 3db increase in speaker efficiency reduces by half the amount of amplifier power needed.) 2) My listening room is not very large, so my speaker setup is essentially a "near field" listening environment. 3) I do not tend to listen at "wake up the neighborhood" levels (although I have a subwoofer, and the Vandy 3A Sig's go down to about 26-28 Hz). All of that said, the center speaker and rear speakers generally do not require as much power as the front speakers, assuming your main front speakers are full-range. Most rear surrounds do not go much below 65-70 hz, so the amp does not have to drive a lot of bass information. I would summarize by saying that unless you have really inefficient center/rear speakers, have a large listening room, and/or like to listen at ear-bleed volume levels, the 5B-ST will probably do an excellent job for you. At the very least, ask your dealer if you can borrow a 5B-ST for a weekend home demo. I think you will find the 5B-ST to be very satisfactory. I bought mine for $1800 new, with full warranty. I have also thought about selling the 5B-ST to buy the 6B-ST, but the 5B-ST provides ALL the power I need for surround sound, so it makes little sense to spend another $1000 or so to buy more amplifier than I need.
I use Energy C-8's for front, C-6's for rears. Energy has no comperable center channel, so I went with the most neutral speaker, PMC LB-1 (essentially a professional monitor). I know I've broken every rule in the book by using a different tweeter and driver cone than the rest of my system for the center channel, but I must say the PMC does not color the sound at all. The transition across the front three speakers is seemless. But the PMC just strains the heck out of the center amp (Acurus 125x5). The Energy's are extremely efficient, but need to be tamed on the lower end (enter by Bryston 4B-ST). The PMC is woefully inefficient, but it utilizes a spectacular Dynaudio driver. This is why I toyed with getting an 8B and splitting it into a three channel amp (mongo power for center, and 120 at the rears). I feel that 120 on the center may be a hair underpowered. But if an 8B is more expensive than a 6B, I may just get the 6B. Anyway, thanks for everyone's assistance.
One final thought, Argent. While Bryston rates the 5B-ST at 120 wpc, their ratings are conservative. If you look at the laboratory test spec sheet that came with your 4B-ST, you will find that your amp actually produces in the 290-300 wpc range. Likewise with the 5B-ST: it produces around 150 wpc. Bryston amps have a lot of "slam" and bass control because they have very large power supplies, with top-quality toroidal transformers. Unlike some manufacturers that rely on 2-4 very large capacitor "cans" to filter the power supply, Bryston uses a number of smaller caps located very close to the output transistors (similar to the "distributed node arrangement" -- DNA -- used by McCormack in the "DNA" line of amps). The power supply, which doesn't have a "power" rating as such, has a great deal to do with an amp's sound quality, control, dynamics, transient response, etc. Hence, when you consider "smaller" Bryston amps, bear in mind that their actual performance is going to be better than its "statistics" may suggest.
To support the last comments, I have found the 9b to be a very strong compliment to the 4b in my system. I have seven channels and the difference in power is offset by the difference in the efficiency of the various speakers that I use (aerial in front and center, triad in the rear and the back) I could not be happier with the bryston, and that is after the audition of the proceed, ead and sunfire. good luck.
Has anyone compared the bryston to earthquake casa nova grande? It was reveiwed as the best for 2 or multi channel ever bar none by home theater magazine.The ead has also been highly reveiwed for its two channel abilitys.The 2001 sght has no bryston amp near the top and has not reveiwed the eartquake as of yet.
To answer the post above, check the 9B-THX review that Stereophile did (Vol.23 No.9) - also check Bryston's site for more reviews. Looking through my 2001 Recommended Components list from Stereophile I show they rated it Class A.
Like SD, I am an unapologetic fan of Bryston. In fact, I run the 4BST and 5BST in my HT arrangement. Have listened to the 9B any number of times and think, quite simply, you can't miss if that's the one you settle for. Superb piece. It's what I would have bought had I not already owned the 4B, which I am unwilling to part with. SD's right: Bryston amps are very conservatively rated and behave as though they are a lot more powerful than published specs.
Figure out those things most important to you and let them drive your decision: sound, quality of construction, warranty, your tendency to buy the latest and greatest toys, what have you. If you like to settle on something for the long pull, you'll have to look long and hard to find something other than Bryston to fill that bill better. For some people it's Krell, others, CJ, Levinson, McIntosh, Pass. All great stuff.
The equipment from the folks at Bryston does just fine for me. OTOH, if you're a compulsive upgrader, buy whatever suits your fancy. I don't have the budget for that indulgence, but salute anyone who does.
I have to agree with those of you who support Bryston amps I have had a lot of experience with a number of mega $ amps, like Krell (hard and shrill), Levinson (sublime but buckish), Aragon, Classe, Audio Research, etc blah blah, and none of them offers anywhere near the value and performance of the Bryston amps.....I think if you are building a world class digital theater system and you aren't using Bryston amps, you might as well feed your money to the cat!
So is the 9b a multi channel amp, because i am talking multi channel amps and sght,has no brystons near the top,only ead and aragon.The reason i need an amp to do both is iv'e heard the 4bst is not great with theils but other,and i am not talking levinson or krell amps can drive the big thiels with 100 watts rms, this tells me maybe bryston,s are maybe only good with easy to drive speakers.I am not hear to slam brystons,just asking if anyone compared earthquake or ead with one.This is not the kind of info you can find in a reveiw,so i am asking owners. A 20 year warranty,i could live without but great sonics on 2 and multi channel from the same amp,i can't.
Let me add my kudos for the 9B-ST...I bought one after hearing Emmett's (see first post above). He's my little brother, and I couldn't let him get the jump on me. I drive Thiel 1.5s with it, and am very satisfied. Just for the record, my factory spec sheet says the amp clips at 160 watts into 8 ohms. I assume that's one channel driven, but with independent power supplies for each channel, it shouldn't matter.
How does the Bryston 9B push Dynaudio speakers with a 4 ohm load?