A point of clarification: do you mean the 14B-ST, or the new 14B-SST?
Based on my own Bryston-based system, some listening to Bryston 7B-ST's, and on what I've read in several audio reviews, I'd probably be inclined to get the monoblocks.
However, if you are asking about the new 14B-SST, then I would buy it before the 7B-ST monoblocks.
I have only heard the 7B ST's in my systems. I love them. They have a very distinctive sound to them that I find I really like. At first, I was worried it might be fatiguing, but I have not found that to be true and I really think these amps deserve the high praise they get. They aren't fancy looking or anything, but they do the job very nicely.
I started with one 4B-ST, driving Sound Lab A-3s. Bought an additional 4B-ST for bridging. Read/spoke with several experts about pros and cons of bridging and decided to replace them with 7B-STs, with which I'm very happy. Still wonder if by doing so I in effect simply replaced bridged 4B-STs with "other" bridged 4B-STs (in the form of 7B-STs). The 7B-STs do offer a bit more versatility with the mode switching (series/parallel) feature however.
I haven't heard the 14B-SST, but from what I've read it's a better amp, with even lower distortion. With my present arrangement using monos, I have very short speaker cables, so going to a single amp would require some changes in that respect.
I think if I make any changes in amps it will be to tubed units, such as the ASL Hurricane monos. Hate to think about paying full retail though. With all of the swapping with Brystons, I've managed to upgrade without losing any money in the various transactions, and the 7B-STs were new units at a used price.
I have been using 7B STs for the last 16 months or so and see no reason to "upgrade", "downgrade" or "sidegrade". From what I read, the new SST series is better. The question is: to what extent? I don't think that the introduction of "new" or "improved" amps by Bryston should be seen as indicative that the previous models are, somehow, flawed.
So if you have the money to buy new, I would see what the best deal is and would go with either the 14B SST or a pair of 7B SSTs. I tend to favour monoblocks for all the obvious reasons: shorter speaker cables, totally isolated channels, probably better heat dissipation from the two separate chassis. So, money being equal or almost, I would go with the monoblocks. If you don't want to spend for new, I would use the same logic. Every new iteration of a product is, somehow, perceived as providing vast improvements in sound. That's fine. But if you go with the older model ask yourself a simple question: how significant are the improvements? Hard to do a side by side comparison, I agree, (and I think that is what you actually want to find out here) I would wager that all other factors being equal, the difference is probably very small. On one side we are told of a revolution a week in power amps, and on the other that they all sound alike given the same power rating and decent noise and distortion figures. The truth is probably that they do sound pretty much alike, with small improvements being made over time. Add to that the fact that improvements can be for reasons other than sound quality (heresy!), such as manufacturing efficiencies, improved reliability and marketing pressures, and running equipment that is not of the absolutely latest generation is not a bad proposition.
I posed a similar question a few weeks ago only it was whether to buy and bridge a second 3B-ST or buy a 4B-ST or two 7B-STs. The concensus was that the speakers' load was the issue since Bryston did not rate the bridged 3B-ST at 4 ohms. My speakers would present a 4 ohm load. The pair of 3B-ST amps would probably handle the load, but run hot. If the bridged 4B-STs can handle your speakers' impedance then you have a good option buy buying a second amp. That said, I'm hoping to get 7B-STs. You might write Bryston...
So what is the purpose of the upgrade? I can't imagine you needing more power to drive the Sonatina II's, they are fairly sensitive at 93db. Do you prefer the sound of the 7B-ST or 14B-ST? The 7B-ST operates in high-current or high-voltage mode (series or parallel, I forget which is which). High-current mode isn't recommended for speakers over 3 ohms. The high-voltage mode is essentially the same as bridging a 4B-ST. I had the 7B-ST in my system for a one week audition. The biggest enhancement over the 4B-ST is stereo separation. There was an increase in dynamics in high-current mode and a slight sweetness in the treble but you couldn't use it with your speakers.
If you have money to spend and want to improve your system I would consider power conditioning, power cords for your source, IC's, or speaker cables.
Hi. I am new to this site and this is my first post here though I have occasionally inhabited a neighbouring low brow mid fi site.
I have just traded in an 11 month old 4BST & BP 25 for a similar vintage 14 BST.There was nothing wrong with the 4bst, its superb value for money,but I was never entirely happy with the BP 25.In my view it was too clinical and neutral and did't gel with the metal dome tweeter of the B&W CDM 9NTs.Hence out went the 4bst & bp25 to be replaced by the 14bst and an ancient ARC LS2B(on temporary loan from the dealer).This combination is heavenly.The tubes on the preamp add just a hint of sweetness to the brute strength of the 14bst. This is a match made in heaven.I wonder what Patrica Barber & Diana Krall will sound like when I add a new preamp.Its a toss up between the ARC SP 16 or the CJ PV 14 L.There are much better preamps out there but beyond my budget.
Basically the 14 bst is a brilliant power amp and the equivalent Krells/MLs cost two to three times as much with no dramatic or tangible improvement in any area.The 14bst ( the SST has only cosmetic changes) is the most musical of all brystons.
Thank you all for your opinions, Jazzdude is absolutely
right. I love the 4B-ST, why change? I think this hobby,
as much as I love music at this level, sometimes brings
out questionable behavior in us all i.e. maybe tuning out
the people we love too often, spending vast sums of money
with questionable results. I think I'm going to take my
wife to dinner, maybe listen to her abit more.
Sunnyboy--I agree with you about the ARC LS2 with Brystons. I'm using an LS2 MK2R, into 7B-STs. Wish I had the version, like yours, with balanced inputs, however. So far I haven't found one with remote as well.
Hello! Like you I've been thinking of doing the same. I have a 4B(NRB) driving a pair of Swans. Upon audition they were driven by the 7B(ST's). Haven't sounded the same since.
The past few days I have been e-mailing various high-end stores to get some input on my thoughts. Also spoke with James at Bryston. My idea is to upgrade my NRB to either the SST or purchase a used ST to go in its place. Then purchase a 3B of that series and bi-amp.
For those of you who love tubes, you can use the 4B on the bass and drive the uppers via a tube amplifier.
Here is an excerpt from a reply by James Tanner:
"As for passive byamping usually the woofer requires more power than the mid
or tweeter so 1/2 power is fine. The thing to be careful about is the 'GAIN'
of the amplifiers have to be the same. The gain on the NRB is 30 dB the gain
on the ST and SST is 29 dB. So you would be better to get another NRB 3B to match."
Hope this may be of some use to some people.
Jarrod - just to add on here an NRB cannot be brought up to SST status only ST status. Actually the ST can't be updated either...There were too many changes with components and layout when Bryston went to the SST version.
Thank you! I knew that the NRB isn't upgradable. That's why I am going to be using either used ST or going all the way to the SST series. The point I was trying to make is keep within the same series. However since the ST & SST both have the same gain, one should be able to use a 4B(ST) on the bottom and the SST on the top end.
CORECTION: Stick with the same line. I forgot that the new series has higher output.
Just saw this thread and would like to add that I've upgraded from the 3 to 4 to 7B-ST's. Each adds more weight to the bass and clarifies dense muscial passages. So, as always, your choice depends on what you like and what music you play. I like solid bass so thought it very worthwhile to move through the line. From everything I've heard, the 7B-ST's are superior to two bridged 4B-ST's. I also read a very recent review (I believe in Stereophile)that suggested the SST's don't necessarily beat out the ST's on all fronts. In fact, the reviewer actually preferred the 7B-ST to the equivalent SST for serious listening.
If you're happy where you are, stay where you are and take that first to getting off the merry go round ;-) As you can probably tell, I'm an audioholic who is still having too much fun to quit. Whatever you decide, try before you buy, preferably in your home. Happy Listening.