Best Value in Used Bryston Amps and Monoblocks

As a long time fan of Magnepan's, I have always wanted to try Bryston amps, especially their monoblocks which are rumoured to be a very good match for my speakers, and have also been recommended by Magneplanar over the years, albeit off the record.

What I can't figure out, however, is the logic to the Bryston product line, where there is value in the used market, or which version or vintage I might buy for a reasonable price.

I can't tell which ones are monoblocks vs single chassis stereo amps, I don't care about "THX" designations or multi channel and I don't know what "SST" means.

From time to time, I will see a SINGLE monoblock for sale, which I keep in mind for my next mono system, or perhaps when I want a mismatched, high powered center channel.

I find weird ads which supposedly have brand new, never opened, but 5 years old "NOS" (new old stock) which I suppose were obtained through a time machine or recovered from a sunken ship in perfect shape.

Then I find ads for what look like basically new ones, which are suprisingly expensive, or battle scarred old amps with faceplates so scratched they look like they were traded in a drug deal and ended up in a pawn shop.

I read good things about Bryston's customer service, but every time I have reached out to them to try and better understand this, I get more than a whiff of we really don't care if you buy our products or not attitude, despite the fact that there is no dealer in my area.

So in summary, can someone please explain the history of these amps, which ones sound best, and what vintage might represent the best value in today's market?

I don't have a set budget, but thinking I would sell my Levinson 23.5 for $2-2500, so < $3K would be great.

Thank you,

Bryston produces only two full chassis mono-block amplifiers, the 7B and the flagship 28B. They do also make three different versions of the Powerpack mono amps which are designed to be installed directly onto the cabinets of certain loudspeakers. All other Bryston power amps are either two three or five channel. They used to make a four channel amp but that one, the 8B ,has been dropped from their lineup. The Bryston amps have undergone progressive upgrades during the course of their history. The earliest Brystons had only the model designation with no suffix, except the baby 2B LP. Then came the suffixes starting with and then in chronological order the NRB, the ST(the initials of the designer Stuart Taylor), then SST for Super Stuart Taylor, then SST "C" series then the SST squared "C" series which are the current models. While I have also heard that Brystons amps are a good match for Maggies I can't imagine that they would outperform even your older Levinson, with possibly the exception of the very expensive 28B. The Levinsons are just in another class altogether in my opinion. I am also very surprised by your customer service experience as Bryston is extremely well regarded in this area. They have a forum that is basically just about Bryston stuff and a wealth of info can be found there as well as regular contributions from James Tanner who is the head honcho at Bryston who regularly answers inquiries at this site. Unfortunately the name of the site escapes me at this moment , maybe audio circle or something like that. I'm sure someone else here will be able to furnish the correct name of the site and possibly even a link.
The Bryston discussion is found here:
Rcrerar gave a very good lineage, so to speak. The C-Series designation is not electrical, it is cosmetic. The C-Series was a facelift during I think the SST series.

In regards to which is the best sounding series, the newer the better. I'd go no lower than the ST series, as that's when Bryston came into their own IMO.

While the house sound stayed the same, there was an appreciable jump between ST and SST. Not huge, but definitely worthy of a new name. If I were looking at Bryston amps in that range, I'd take a model number lower SST over a model up ST - e.g. 3B SST over 4B ST.

If the a new 2B SST2 will power your Maggies sufficiently, that may very well be the way to go. The current line is a good deal better than the previous ones.

People on Audio Circle's Bryston Circle should know about your Maggies. James Tanner may have had a pair in his room at one point.

Bryston doesn't look down on second hand gear IMO. James, Mike Pickett, and others have helped me a lot online and over the phone. Maybe someone over there had a bad day? I've had my integrated amp upgraded too. Never once talked to me like I wasn't important. If they looked down on it, I'm sure they'd change the transferrable part of the warranty.
Hi there: If you will give me a call (423) 227-2158, I will give you an unbiased opinion of a great amp for your Maggies. I am not a dealer, just a music lover and audiophile. Sincerely, Dennis. Or if you prefer, send me you phone number and I will call you.
Your Levinson 23.5 is known for being a classic amp. I'd hold onto it until you can compare the Bryston in your system vs. the Levinson.
Pdreher has good advice
Which Maggies?

for the 1.7R (1.6qr)'s I would suggest the 4 bsst

for the 3.6r's I would get the 7 bsst

great choice for Maggies, I love Brystons with them.
Like virtually all other high-powered amps, Bryston amps use feedback to stabilize the circuit. While they are reasonably clean-sounding and solidly constructed, the feedback and all of the output devices required to achieve high wattage make for a less-resolved, uninvolving sound compared to lower powered, no-global-feedback designs like darTZeel and Ayre (I'm not singling out Bryston - the same is true for Krell, ARC, etc.).

In any event, the vintage of Levinson you own is the better sounding amp - unless you are concerned about reliability, Bryston would be a step backwards. It you want a high-powered amp that sounds decent and will drive Maggies, I'd look at Parasound JC-1's.

PS - I ran a 4B-ST for five years.
Spoke to son of Magnepans founder about amp matching and Bryston is it.I think the 3 series Maggie has been matched with the Bryston more often then any other combo because it works.Plenty of current in the 4B ST (rated at 225 and benches near another 50 watts more).Mono's would be better but you may not need it if room isn't too big and you don't play too loud (not a head banger speaker anyway) but they do suck it down.My choice would be a 4B ST and then when you have some more ching-a-ling get second one to bi-amp HORIZONTALLY with a Bryston 10B X-Over.I got the 3.6 4ST for buddy and I keep telling him it would be worth it.I have not heard that Levinson (latter models with other speakers yes and they are fine amps) but think Raquel has idea with those excellent 400 watt mono Parasounds.Love to hear by buddies hear with 'em.
One of the top five all time best sounds I've ever heard from a dealership setup was a pr of Maggie 20s connected to a pr of ML 100wpc mono block amps.. back then though the ML amps actually were ML amps. Mark hadn’t yet signed off.

The imaging was such that I felt I could step in between the panels and shake hands with the musicians. Sound pressure levels were modest, and the music was acoustic and from a SCD 1 SACD player into an ML preamp, all in balanced config. So I can’t account for any assignment of the low end output, nor the height of the volume knobs influence…. But the sound was startling. More so still when I found out the amps were only 100wpc…. In a fair sized room.

The odd thing here is I had that experience nearly 20 yrs ago.

Otherwise, I’ve not been impressed by ML or Maggiesseparately. Together however it’s a different story completely…. And I’ve never heard Bryston amps. But what I’ve heard about them is well represented here in this thread so far.
Hmmm, SCD-1 twenty years ago? Not possible. Maybe ten years ago. The SACD format has only been around for less than ten years. Maybe some of that memory is mixed up with another one.
Thanks everyone so far.

I have been very happy with my 23.5 and that was also recommended by a Magneplanar expert as "the best amp he ever heard with Tympanis".

I have never had a problem with it, but servicing it has become more difficult apparently, so the reliability of the Brystons was another consideration.

I have always heard that whatever the merits of Bryston amps, they had a special synergy with Magnepans.

Ultimately, actively biamping Tympanis is supposedly the way to go, where the Bryston monoblocks and crossovers could be used on the bass panels - another reason for my inquiry.
It's truly a shame how Levinson(Harman) treats their customers.
I bought the Magnipan 3.6/Bryston 4B-SST2 combo. I auditioned them becuse it was 'the' synergy combo to get, and after auditioning at local dealer, agreed.
Magnepan has shown their speakers with Bryston numerous times, if my memory serves me right. If they can choose pretty much any electronics manufacturer and choose Bryston on a regular basis, that says something.


thinking more on it I believe you're right... the CDP was a two piece item comprised of a Sony & a Phillips. Which was the player and which was the DAC I don't recall.

Both were silver in color and one was far taller than the other resembling the boxy SCD 1, so that stuck in my mind and likely was why I said SCD 1 in error.

My bad... but to recall such a intriguing sound from that far back says something too. it may well ahve been a bit past 1990 too, though not by much. '92?
"If they can choose pretty much any electronics manufacturer and choose Bryston on a regular basis, that says something."

This has always been my thinking, which makes Racquel's opinion the contrarian view here.
Putting together a system with the equipment choices used by the manufacturer of a key component in a system (here, the speakers) certainly makes sense - I do it myself - but there is a lot to a manufacturer's choice, and in many cases, they choose moderately priced ancillaries in order to make their gear seem more accessible. It would be upending the order of the universe if Bryston turned out to be the absolute best performance choice for Maggies (or any other system).

I stand by my other point, namely, that high-powered solid-state amps which use feedback (the vast majority of high-powered SS amps do) are to be avoided where possible.
A good while back, it seemed in vogue to use BAT SS for panels. Maggies included. I heard from more than a few owners they loved that Combination.

so perhaps Bryston isn't the only answer... or even the optimum one, given the subjectivity of various amp & speaker configurations.

The only true given fact for panels is that they can eat up some power.
Jim is right in that there is not one answer for this or any question (with the notable exception of course that after the first level of upgrade power cables have zero effect on sound, ahhh, but I digress), I love Bryston amps with Maggies, but I don't own them anymore.

I like my Cary CAD 500 MB's better than the Brytson 7 Bsst that I had. I actually like the Innersound ESL better than the Bryston as well.

But they all sounded pretty darn good is the point, as did the Parasound JC-1's, lots of good amps out there. I wouldn't say one was the best, but you can have a favorite.

BTW, I heard some 3.6r's at our local dealer recently, and he had them hooked up to some Krell's, and man, that was some GREAT sound, very deep bass from Maggies, sans sub. But, he has optimal placement and room treatment, so that helps.

Anyway, good luck with the amps, you can't go wrong with Brystons, or about 10 others that I can think of for Maggies, great speakers, I'm a big fan!
I would like to have tried the original 4b amp on the magnepan 1.6's I had. Would have been interesting.

My favorite Bryston amps, were the sst and then originals, which were a different animal(punchy).