A few reviews at Audioreview indicate that some people prefer the sonics of the 3B over the 4B. If you look at straight power then the 4B will play about 3dB more than the 3B will so its not a helluva lot louder. I have owned both and can tell you that the 4B will provide more control and the strain has disappeared with my 1.5 Maggies vs when I had an old 3B. IMHO their repsective sonics are very much the same and will only be differentiated by how hard you drive them. I think that the extra $$$ for the 4B is worth it in the long run...
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I currently own the 4B-ST, and have done a bit of A-B comparison with the 3B-ST. If you have large main speakers and like to listen at moderately loud levels, or you listen to music with a lot of deep bass content, then I believe the 4B-ST is worth the extra money. Otherwise, the 3B-ST is an excellent alternative. Since you are posting on this board, I assume you are willing to consider the purchase of "new demo" equipment. I got a superb buy on my 4B-ST from "Bestofdeal", a clicks-and-mortar audio business in Santa Clara, CA. I suggest you contact the owner, Danny Oovlin. The easiest way to contact him initially is by E-mail at his business address: [email protected] I found Danny to be very professional, and I intend to buy several more pieces of Bryston gear from him.
I have owned both (3B, 3B-ST and 4B-ST)and prefer the 4B-ST. It sounds slightly better and has much greater power reserves. Also, the 4B-ST runs quieter at idle. Brystons amps are best left always running and the 3B has a fairly loud transformer 'hum' at idle. The 4B also has a hum but it is much quieter. I've owned four Bryston amps over the years (the three above & a 5B-ST)and they are a terrific value. Lastly, Bryston service is among the best in the industry and their products carry a 20 year transferable warranty.