B&K with bryston?

Hello all,

I am wondering about a possible scenario for my first setup.

I am finally purchasing my front mains...JM Labs Cobalt 816s. I don't have a reciever/pre-pro +amp yet, and I have a possible combo I would like to get some advice on.

My speakers are super efficient...91.5dBs with a max power handling capacity of 125W. Until now I have been planning on buying a reciever, but I was browsing, and found a Bryston 2B-LP amp for sale, cheap. This amp has reported 60W, but that is pure bryston power. How would this amp work with these speakers in conjunction with a B7K Ref30? I would love to grab a Bryston SP-1, but that is a bit out of my price range. This would also allow me to add a Bryston 5B-ST at a later date, to run fronts and center, and move the 2B to the rears when I purchase the rest of the system. Slick.

So, does anyone have an opinion on how well this combo would work? I really want to go with Bryston power now that I found the 2B for so cheap, and the 5B for a grand. If not the B&K, (but in the same &1500 neighborhood) what other manufacturer?

Zsokes, at the sake of being redundant, listen before you buy. I hope you are not buying a 2B based on the reputation of the Bryston ST's. Not to disparage the 2B but there is a difference.
Is it possible for a Denon or B&K reciever to sound better than the setup listed below, even if the amp is a 2B-LP? I seriously do not know...I am a newbie at this. I figured that the 2B would be a good place to start...If I don't like how that amp sounds with the mains (this is probably temporary, unless I really like the sound), I could transfer this amp to the rears. I certainly am not experienced enough to tell a major difference in the surrounds, unless it's an astounding difference.

So in addition to the above scenario/question, does anyone possibly have a suggestion for a pre/pro and amp combo to accompany my speakers....JM Labs Cobalt 816s? Thier sensativity and max power handling seem to limit my options, but that's good 'cause my budget is smallish anyway.

Thanks for the input Unsound. Any other comments are welcome and appreciated.

Please don't discount the Bryston 2B. I honestly don't know how it would pair those recievers. I am also not familiar with your speakers other than they handle up to 125 watts, 91.5 db sensitive, and here is where amp choices are not so generous (I think the Bryston can handle it)the impedance drops to 3.3 OHMS. As far as recievers and surround sound are concerned, I can't help you. I have "issues" with the whole idea. You mention a bargain price. Do you mind sharing your budget so that others might help you?
Ah the budget. Well, for everyone trying to do this on a 'budget', God help them, and me.

I would like to grab an amp for $800 or less for the mains, however, considering I don't need 250 watts per channel, I think I should be able to spend a little less than that. For center and surrounds (I will employ a 5.1 setup), maybe another $800 to $1000 for a 3 channel later this year, early next year.

I do however, need a pre/pro and or a reciever. I figure I would like to go one way or the other here...using a reciever AS a pre/pro and adding amps seems like a waste or resource, at least to me. My budget for this caps at about $1200 to $1500. The B&K Ref30 seems like a bit of a stretch at $1500, but I did see one that sold already for $1595...just have to make it to my wife at that price. 8^)

Hell, I don't know. I guess I'm lost in the 'newbie' fray. Componants sounds like a good idea for upgrades and even sound/dollar, but the ease of a reciever sounds good also. However, the B&K 305/307 goes for $2000 used, if a fella is really lucky...probably closer to $2500. For that much, I can certainly pick up the Ref30 and even a Bryston 5B-ST. ???

Thanks so much for your imput and guidance.

I really don't think I can help you much as I don't buy into the whole surround sound thing. Not to lecture you, but I think it takes a great deal of (1) space (2) money (3) tech skill (4) room treatment and /or room correction (5) maybe not a prerequisite if you have done (4) correctly but omnidirectional speakers wouldn't hurt. While I believe it can be sucessfully done, I haven't heard it yet. I'm more of a quality vs. quantity kind of guy. But hey, I'm not trying to convert you. If you were going two channel it would be a lot easier. While I'm not familiar with your speakers, your room, your musical taste or your prefered listening volume I would guess that a Forte 4A amp would work nicely in your budget. Filling the other x # of channels would be a problem. I should point out that Forte is no longer in business and replacement parts are unavailable. Bryston has one of the best warranties in the business and should be around for quite awhile. Good luck, perhaps you can recieve the help you are seeking from others of a more like mind.
Hi Z,

Since the soapbox is free at the moment, I'll chime in a couple of my very own opinions, totally free of charge! ; )

First, forget about the receivers. Time waster.

Pre/pros are all a bit pricey, as you've noticed. You pay for them to develop or license software - these things are NOT simple, elegant 2-channel components - quite a bit of work goes into them. Lots of complexity, lots of marketing, lots of brand identity wrapped up into flagship processors - they almost never come cheap.

I agree wholeheartedly with your observation about bang for the buck with seperates, especially at a lower price range. I've found many entry-level integrateds (not even to mention receivers) to be grossly overpriced, underpowered, and oftentimes terrible sounding.

60w of pure Bryston power is still 60w. They don't use any different watts than Conrad Johnson, B&K, McCormack, or alot of other gutsy amps out there. 60w of SS power just isn't enough, unless it's a class-A circuit design, which it's not (most are AB - whip out your circuit design manual or look up the topic on the web for more info). I suggest 150w or above for your mains. The speakers you have are above average in sensitivity, but not enough that you can get away with markedly lower power amps. Also important is the impedance curve of the speakers and your listening material. If you have a pair of speaks that hits 1.8 ohms at 50 HZ and you listen to a lot of techno, your amp better have some lead in it. More power also equals more "control" over the speakers, and usually a more dynamic and fuller sound. Of course, some manufacturer's amps differ in other ways as the wattage increases, so it's important to listen to them all if you can.

Depending on how important the latest "features" are to you (to me, they hardly matter), you may find an interim option of buying a good SS amp and a slightly older preamp/processor (even of dolby prologic vintage - mid 90's) a good first step. Adcom and Lexicon make some very decent pre/pros that you can get cheap used to hold you over until you settle on a long-term processor. These will handle all A/V inputs, video switching, surround sound level adjustments etc, just not have all the latest codecs.

I agree with Unsound about surround in general. Surround sound is *really* tough to get right. Just putting a couple speakers here and a couple speakers there doesn't begin to address the subject. The room itself is most of the struggle. I've found most 2-channel setups more involving and "room-filling" than the same systems with more than 2 channels driven. I still try to do both, but the truth is in the telling, which is why people like Unsound still cry "aaaarg, me wooound!" when people mention surround. Do yourself a favor and make sure any pre/pro you buy has a 2-channel mode, number one, and that it actually sounds GOOD in stereo. You'll find yourself there in between movies!

Cheers, and best of luck
Good advice fellas, but I am still have a couple questions...

I want to stress to you that I pretty new to this. I have been doing a bit of reading, and a bit of listening, but still know very little.
I also want to let you know that I am not after perfection...it seems to me very hard to approach this trying to achieve perfection, especially with my narrow budget. Furthermore, I want music to sound a bit better than movie tracks, however I do wish to include Dolby Digital/DTS which is why I am looking at pre/pros. This is a music first system though, so should I just get a simple, elegant preamp and add a seperate processor later? Seems to me this will cost more in the long run, and I am trying to hit the sweet spot. I think the Ref30 suits my needs pretty good from what I have heard and read, but I am a newbie. I heard the JM Lab Electra mains pushed from a Ref20 and a B&K amp while in the shop, and they sounded great. I don't doubt they could have sounded better with a mega-expensive setup, but to me it was wonderful.

My musical taste is: a bit of jazz, a bit of rock, but mostly acoustic music, singer/songwriter and bluegrass. I also like some dynamic music...have you heard Mark Knopfler's "Sailing to Philidelphia"? That has a wide range of sounds to it, and I enjoy such music, so dynamics and imaging are important to me also.

When I listened to my JM Labs, they were pushed from a reciever, and I thought they sounded good. I figured a pre/pro with enough decent clean power (isn't most reciever power a bit overrated and (for lack of a better term dirty?)) would sound better just on principle...am I wrong about that? I just don't have the ability to test every piece of equipment I am considering, so I am reading a bunch.

On my speakers spec sheet, it says that the recommended power is 25-100w, with a max of 125w. If I push 150w through them, won't I damage them? Also from what I have read, they are 8ohm speakers with dips down to about 3.3ohms. Plus, I have a powered sub, so complete bottom end from these speakers is not a necessity, nor is powering said sub.

Sorry for being long-winded, but I am just about ready to purchase, and I sure would like to make a purchase without questioning myself.

Thanks again,
Listen to the Psychic...

and read my threads on 2 channel HT.

I used to own JMlab speakers (Tantal 509). If there's something you don't want to do is to mismatch that inverted titanium dome with a bright and/or harsh amplifier.

If you want movies and music, and it is going to be a music system, primarily, then forget about the processor. PERIOD. Stay with 2 channel HT, get a *decent* tube preamp and plenty of adequate noise control gear (isolation transformers are very cheap on e-Bay, I have six--plus a Tice A/V Solo). Something I've learned is to keep digital noise from contaminating my other components.

With a cheap processor you'll be headed for trouble and a lot of grunge coming out of your speakers. That's one of the reasons why good processors for both HT and music are so expensive--they are clean and musical...
Have you taken a look at the 5-channel Bryston 9B-ST? It is 5X120W and might be worth consideration.