56 responses Add your response
I bought the 4B3 amp and sold it fairly quick. I lost a considerable amount of soundstage on the top end compared with my older CJ solid state amp. It had very nice attack on drums and bass, just didn't fit my system otherwise. I'd audition if possible, yes I agree that warranty is hard to beat. Also make sure to verify that the reseller of person selling bought form a reseller, they changed their terms on the ability to transfer the warranty a few years back.
Thanks hikmer, honest appraisal is what I want to hear. I'm using a Parasound A21 right now, and I'm trying to figure out if making a change would be worth the money (different thread). I look hard at Bryston because their warranty is so darn good. Simaudio also offers a good warranty, but their equipment is harder to get my hands on.
I'll be honest, any reputable company making gear these days should last a very long time warranty or not. An amp doesn't have a lot of moving parts so you really shouldn't have to worry about things breaking....I know a long warranty is a nice thing to have but will you still own this gear in twenty years? Yes nice to have if you resell but I'd consider other brands at the $4K price point....there is a lot out there.
I own a Simaudio 870a and really love it but it is 4x the cost of the 4B3....Check out this thread on Agon. ’My Long List of Amplifiers and My Personal Review of Each!' The OP gives his review of dozens of amps and what he thinks of them including the new cubed series from Bryston...very informative.
On a different amp thread that I started a few days ago, I brought the Pass Labs X250.8 into the discussion. I keep steering away from it because of it's size and the heat it generates. After reading: ’My Long List of Amplifiers and My Personal Review of Each!' and input so far, it's becoming clear that a used X250.8 is clearly a better choice than a new 4B3. I may just strip down to my underwear, open a window, and live with the X250.8.
I owned a CJ MF2300a that was recently recapped...while it didn't have the same punch and dynamics of the 4B3, it did have more soundstage and upper range imaging. The 4B3 in my system was way too laid back, dark and frankly not all that impressive. The recent DNA-1 is a fantastic amplifier and gets into the music more while still keeping the character I had with the CJ amp. Have a new pre-amp inbound now too as the gain on my LS17 is not a good match for the DNA-1
I got your e-mail about the Mark Levinson amp and sent a personal response. Thought I'd respond here as well.
I checked Audiogon's "For Sale" listings and found three ML 532Hs for sale. I also did as much background research as I could (via internet) and found the consensus rating on SQ to be excellent. It's a dual mono amp that revealed no weakness to the reviewers. One reviewer didn't care for it's "looks" (I like the appearance), but that was the ONLY complaint. Reviewers really gushed over this amp. The price new at the time of reviews was $8500. The three listings ranged from a little more than half new retail to a little less. Those three amps looked like a steal.
I was considering the ML 532H for a while too. The heat sink placement (cannot stack or put in tight top bottom enclosure) and rear binding posts were a turn off. I also don't think its made with the same care and quality as their highest end gear and more suited for home theater (could be wrong). There is one for sale at a super low price but with some cosmetic issues.
I've seen pics of the ML 532H, the most revealing were with the lid popped off. Internal heat sinks don't seem like the best idea (glad you brought it up) and it's built on a "one size fits all" chassis. The obvious reason is a cost saving measure. More models on a single chassis is kinda what GM did with their cars about a decade ago. It is on my short list to buy, but I the checkbook won't come out unless I have concrete assurance that it could be returned. I've had buyer's remorse with new, that risk is elevated with used.
I would say the Parasound A21, Pass Labs X250.8, and Bryston 4B3 will sound different from each other and it will break down to your personal preference. Meaning you would benefit from hearing them in person if at all possible.
In my opinion, the overall sound character of the Pass Labs is closer to the Parasound than the Bryston is to the Parasound.
I recently picked up a 4B3 and find there is nothing it is lacking it's sound. Previous amp was a Classe CA-201 that I liked but the Bryston just sounds all around better IMHO. Rest of system is Canton Vento 890.2 DC, BP25 pre and Teac PD H600 cdp.
You have a nice system there and I recommend you demo a 4b3 if you can.
I know that the Pass 250.8 would probably musically be the finest of the bunch. It's reputation is that powerful. Again, the heat, size, and the fact I'd have to buy used (probably no returns) are negatives I have to consider. The reason I picked on the 4B3 is because I can actually audition it at home, it's at the extreme of my price range (new), and Bryston's build quality is bulletproof. I live about 2 hours north of Audio Advisor, so I could order the 4B3 one day and have it the next. They're also super with returns. If I can find a used amp for $6K or less that has a reputation for singing with the angels and built to last, I'd consider that as well. I received a personal e-mail that brought Simaudio into the discussion. I have limited experience with their products, but was really, really, really, impressed. I'd have no problem with one of their finer two channel amps (used).
For a few years I used 3B and 4B SST’s on two pairs of new Quads, for casual listening, and AtmaSpheres for careful listening. The Bryston sound was good, the build bulletproof.
Ancient history, I know, but might help a little.
Why not call the factory? I did, and the president himself gave me nearly an hour.
Thanks terry9. I've gotten tremendous feedback on this thread and another that I started about my Parasound A21. I'm stuck in the mud right now with my decision on which way to go with an amp. I have four strong contenders. Three I'd have to buy used, the 4B3 I could buy new. I like the idea of new because of no hassle returns/auditions and warranties that don't have transfer concerns. With the 4B3, nobody has talked me into it or out of it. It's like buying a new Ford truck with the simple belief that it will get the job done (I'm a happy Ford owner). I'll take a few weeks to digest and research what's been offered through everyone's kindness and experience. After that, it's probably a 50/50 chance that I'll end up with the Bryston. "Getting the job done" may be the best to keep me from driving myself nuts.
I recently bought a used Bryston 4B3 and am very happy with it upgrading from the B100 everything is better.On a good LP the soundstage is incredible,great high end coming forward,3D sound and nice side soundstage.Wonderful bass.I didn't want to spend a lot of money for an amp when warranty out after 2-3 years to develop trouble.I've had enough of that and then the expense to repair and you get a 3 month warranty on the repair.My Bryston is warrantied till 2035.I would look for a used on on here.
I own a Bryston 4B-SST². The only difference from the newer 4B3 is the input board on the 4B3.
For the warranty, buying used you MUST get the original purchase paperwork from the seller. And that purchase had to be from an 'AUTHORIZED' dealer. Or no warranty.
If you buy it new check Bryston website to see if your dealer is authorized.
Folks say the new 4B3 is warmer sounding than the 4B-SST².I am totally happy with my amp. So it might be hard for me to jump on a cubed. The fact one can save about 50% off the price of a cubed by buying a squared.. A squared is a great deal.
It's my understanding that the biggest difference between the two happens at the input stage. The cubed input has dramatic refinements/changes and this is where most of the magic happens with respect to musicality. All of the hybrid amps I've seen have tubes at the input for that season.
I've been overwhelmed with opinions on two different threads. All but a few have been valuable and insightful. I've come to the conclusion that I'm going with Bryston. If I don't like it, I can return it. The Pass Labs, Simaudio, ML, etc will still show up used. Right now, I find no more pleasure in the buying/selling of equipment and the tweaking with cords/cables and the like. It's time to just enjoy the music and I hope the 4B3 is the missing link.
I used to own a 4b3 for about a month or so, did not find that it was a good match for my Rethm Saadhana speakers. I found it too blend and too mechanical sounding and a little too colourful for my taste. It was also pulling to the left a little which I found strange, and I noticed that when I switched from Kharmas to Rethm (it was pulling to the left with Rethm). My only explanation was that I did not notice this with Kharma since they were 89db and Rethm are more sensitive at 103db. Anyways I switched to an Italian brand and my system sang. Just my two cents.
dedicated 20 amp line
Furman REF20i power conditioner
PS Audio P600 power conditioner for digital gear set to output AC sine at 110Hz
All Pangea power cords
Bryston 4B-SST² amp
Kimber 8TC speaker wires, double runs fluffed open with cotton insert
Magnepan 3.6 speakers
Bryston BP-26 preamp
Kimber KS1116 7 meter IC pre to amp
Audio Research Sp-15 preamp I use just for the tubed phono
Cardas Parsec IC SP-15 to BP-26
Kuzma Stabi/Stogi S TT with Dynavector 17D3 cartridge
Kuzma arm OEM IC
Kimber KS1016 IC from Sony to BP-26
Kimber KS1016 from Dac to BP-26
Various 5 disk changers/toslink
Behringer DEQ2496 from one changer to DAC via generic AES/EBU IC
I also own a Rega P5 TT with a Benz Glider to Bryston phono box, but it just sounds lean of late (My guess is the suspension is stiffened up?) and I never use it, just sits there. I LOVE the Kuzma!
I went to my local hi-fi store to audition the Bryston with B&W 805d3 and 804d3 speakers. Must admit I was quite disappointed. However, it was also my first listen to the d3’s so I wasn’t sure if the culprit was the amp or speakers. We then hooked up the new Mcintosh MC-302 and it immediately exposed the Bryston as the weak link. The 302 and d3 combination sounded stellar thus it is now on the top of my upgrade list.
Owner of 4B3 with Bryston 17 pre and Harbeth 40.1
Didnt like the sound at first at all . Limited transparency and harsh.
Broken in now and loving it 8/10. Very revealing and excels with good recordings.
I’m very happy with it NOW but I unfortunately listened to Plinius 103 with my speakers and I will upgrade when money is available. Plinius is a different price point though. If you could grab a used 4b3, I’m sure you would be happy.
I have a pair of 7B3’s fed with Yggdrasil dac and an audio research LS26 running balanced and love ehm... Figured I’d skip the upgrade bug down the road and jump in deep right away..
Yes there are better amps out there... You'll have to pay for them or get older units...
The brystons are by no means considered cheapies... But price to value ratio combined with warranty can't be beat...
I have the iconic Krell FPB 300cx, purchased new in 2001. It’s a Class A amp and does an excellent job driving my Dyanudio Confidence C2 speakers. The sound is glorious and while I’m not looking to make a move today, I AM looking to at some near future point consider a new , more powerful amp as my speakers can take anything I throw at them. My new home has a larger room so I’d benefit from more raw power, so I have my sights set on the big brother Bryston - the 14B3. With that said, I auditioned the 4B3 and the dealer happened to ALSO be a Dyanudio dealer and got to listen to this 4B3 with my exact same speakers and a preamp not as good as my Krell Foundation. There was no sub bass in the demo, while I have a large Rel sub bass in my system. To Beysron’s credit, I have to say I was more than a little impressed. The Bryston sounded virtually as good as my Krell. 300wpc v 300wpc and if my capacitors all burned out tomorrow I wouldn’t hesitate at all to purchase the 14B3. Sonically the two should sound the same with of course the primary difference being in power and headroom. But the sonic properties virtually identical. Always best to audition if possible. I imagine there must be a Bryston dealer in your area for an audition?
I'm having a great time with all of these responses and I'm getting FIRSTHAND (no reiteration of press releases) appraisals. That's what I had hoped for. For those of you that have shared what you've experienced in your system with Bryston, shared what your system consists of, and make comparisons to other notable amps, I'm especially attentive. It's all but a done deal, the 4B3 will be in my home for at least a test drive. I can try it for 30 days for the cost of return shipping if I don't like. By most accounts, it sounds like a risk worth taking.
Having owned multiple models of Bryston amps over the years and more recently a 4B3 I can say this is a wonderful amp and clearly a more evolved design than its' predecessors.That said,pairing with a quality tube pre amp is essential in providing that deeper richer musical experience and touch of romance.
I too have been a Bryston amp owner for quite some time. I bought my first one (3B) in the mid 80's. It is now in my son's system, and still running strong. I've owned a number of 4B's and am currently running a pair of 28 squared. I have not had the opportunity to have the cubed version of the 28's in my system, and am curious as to what sonic differences I would notice, but that's another story. The Bryston quality of build, and the longevity of their products speak volumes. As for the tonal qualities, that is purely subjective to each of us, but hopefully the OP has purchased the right "match" for his system, and taste. I would hope the OP will keep us posted as to his conclusions, once he has had the amp in service for a while. Cheers !!
I have a couple of 4b sst2's - I like them very much but there is one thing that bugs me - at somewhat high volumes they begin to clip. I am using an anthem avm60 and they both clip when I am up to around -10db which is nowhere near the max of +10db. Not sure if anyone else has experienced this. Apart from that though they sound fantastic.
BTW have you considered the Mcintosh MC302? I need another 300W stereo amp and have been thinking about getting the 302. I've heard that is sounds detailed, warm and lush which is the sound I'm going for..
The second week in February I'll free up some cash and make my move. If the 4B3 doesn't please me, back to the drawing board. I'll certainly share my personal comparison between the A21 and 4B3. If I can just dig out some of the upper mids and highs that the A21 wants to bury and keep it's soundstage and bass, I'll be pleased.
I own a 4B-ST and 4B-SST2, and both sound quite different. Sort of a good thing though, as they match better or worse with different speakers. The ST sounds more exciting, and maybe less refined. It's lived most its life powering my B&W 801s2's, and is a great match for them. The SST2 is too refined, and almost sounds compressed powering the 801's. I've just had the 20yr old 4BST repaired & recapped by Bryston, and it was really worth it! (~$700)
The SST2 drives my pair of Tannoy 15's, and the low noise pays off there. The ST is too harsh on the Tannoys. It's all about system matching! I borrowed a Parasound A23, and found it too bright. I've not heard the A21 in my home. I am SST3 curious, but not in the amp market now that my ST is restored!
My A21 has a lot going for it, it's just not enough. Too many times it misses the mark and has limited my music listening choices. I also own the Parasound JC 2 BP preamp, and for better or worse, almost certainly will hang on to that. The amp will be the final piece, with Bryston, Simaudio, Mcintosh, and Pass Labs all in the running. Bryston will be the first and hopefully a keeper.
By now, you’ve already made your decision, but I thought I would give you my $2 (inflation) worth anyway. 2 years ago, I purchased an Oppo BDP-105D, a pair of B&W 802 D3’s. When I auditioned them, the dealer was demonstrating them on a pair of MC601 monoblocs. Because of money concerns, I just used my Marantz MM7055 5 channel amp (140W into 8 ohms) to power my B&W’s. While I wanted to go with a pair of MC601’s to match what I heard, I couldn’t afford the $14k, so I bought a Bryston 4B3 instead. I was thinking that it offered an incredible amount of hookup flexibility and Telarc Records (I own a LOT of classical CD/SACD’s from them) have been using Bryston 4B?’s for years. So, what do I have? I have B&W speakers that were used in Abby Road studios and power amps used in the production of many of the Telarc SACD’s that I own; a total dream come true. I also forgot to mention that I am feeding the XLR pre-out’s from the Oppo directly into the Bryston 4B3. My original plan for the Bryston was to use it in stereo mode (300Wx2 into 8 ohms) and then purchase another (basically converting them into monoblocs). Then, since each Bryston would be powering each of my speakers, I would then have to make the decision as to run each amp in bridge mode (my individual spec sheet, something that comes with all Brystons) outputting 1,023 watts or in bi-amp mode (300W into 8 ohms or 500W into 4 ohms), to see which one that I like best. The Bryston sound, as everyone says, is super clear, pristine, accurate, detailed, and has awesome imaging (being a dual mono design). But despite how good my Bryston is and how much I love it (maybe them, one day), I still don’t have that same “sound” that I feel in love with 2 years ago. I am not debating whether to buy my 2nd Bryston as planned, or try to find the money to buy 2 MC601/611’s and sell my Bryston 4B3. I’m still thinking about what to do. I just wanted to gie you a different aspect of the Brystons that others have not mentioned in this blog; the extreme flexibility of the buying 1 or more Bryston’s and their hookup options. I think that if McIntosh had amps with such flexibility, I probably would have gone with them. Plus, looking at those big blue meters are absolutely stunningly mesmerizing. I hopes this helps you, after the fact.
Where are you? I'm really interested on knowing what did you finally buy. I'm in the market to buy the Bryston 4B3 and I can't fine a place to borrow it for audition it on my room.
I have auditioned the Bryston 28B3 mono 1,000 with B&W 800 D3 in a dealer on Los Angeles, CA and they sound amazingly good, great bottom, great mid range, very clean highs, big image wide and depth, great separation of instruments, natural vocals, very resolving, great liquidity, silky toms, great extension on the symbals, just unbelievable sound, for like $80K with associated audio gear. This is beyond my budget.
I'd love to audition the 4B3 but nowhere to be found as a demo in none of the dealers in Los Angeles.