Bryston is rated class B, except for 14B SST(not sure) and 9B SST in term of Amp catagories. On the other hand, Classe is rated class A for a while.
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Both amp are great and I did have a hard time when I chose them few years ago. Bryston has one thing no other company can beat them is their warranty. It makes resale and buyer from used market more confident to purchase or sale them. I personally and finally own the Classe CA201 after a long and hard decision, I like more on Classe even it is not pure class A like the old Classe few years ago. They are rated class AB. Classe have better authority on mid and lower bass and smoother on midrange and warm sound. It is a bit laid back. On other hands, Bryston has a touch grainy on midrange, brighter sound. I have a pair of Maggies so I found out Classe suit up for Maggies, Martin Logan more than Bryston. Bryston really made my Maggies sound brighter and more grainy and glare compare to Classe. Finally is your taste of music, I find Bryston suit more for rock, pop, some classical, movies sound track, Classe is better for jazz, vocal, string instrument.
The Classe won in my case is also on its look from inside to outside, "wife acceptance" on Classe is better than Bryston. Classe do take quite a lot of time to burn in. It took me almost 400 hrs, after then it is a big reward. Good luck
I have extensive experience with Classe and have just purchased a Bryston 4B-SST. I have always been a big fan of Classe and while I have no experience with their recent offerings I have been impressed with their older gear. I still own a pair of their model Seventy amps for my surround system and feel they are one of the best used values out there. In my main two channel system I use a pair of Aerial 10T loudspeakers. In the past I've used Roland model 3 monos, Classe DR-15, Classe CA-300, and have just replaced a pair of BEL 1001 MK3A monoblocks with the Bryston 4B-SST. The 4B-SST is the best yet in my system and I can't believe these only retail for $2800. The Classe CA-301 is to my understanding no different than the CA-300, just different cosmetics (personally I much prefer the older styling) and there is no way it is worth the differnce in price over the Bryston. A friend of mine owns a CA-400 and it has been back for repair twice since he bought it new. This last time Classe charged him $180 for repair and return shipping. As soon as he turned it on it literally smoked. That thing weighs a ton and is a real hassle to ship and now he has to do it for the third time!
As to the comment above by Amthanh, there is nothing bright or grainy about the Bryston 4B-SST in my system. Perhaps he heard an ST which is said to be brighter sounding or it is something upstream in his system, but I've no experience with the ST. I would never characterize the SST as bright or grainy. The rest of my system: Pass Aleph P preamp, Audio Research PH3 phono preamp, Well Tempered Reference turntable with Grado Reference low output cartridge, Dodson DA 217 MK2 DAC, CEC TL2 transport, Silver Audio Silver Stream 75 digital interconnect, Image Reference balanced and single ended interconnects, Cardas Hexlink Gold 5C speaker cable, API Power Wedge 116 line conditioner (used on front end only, not amp). There are some good reviews on Bryston's web site comparing the older ST with the new SST technolgy that I recommend you read.
As much as I like the Classe product I would go for the Bryston. If you really want to save some money I'd go for older Classe like a model Fifteen or Twenty Five. These are really nice amps and I think they may be more reliable than Classe's newer stuff, but maybe my friends experience is unusual. I know someone who can get you a nice deal on a new Bryston if you are interested. Just let me know.
Rating cannot be class AB. Class AB is a type of amplifier operation that works-off certain margin of neccessary power in class A than switches to class B whenever speaker impedance falls bellow certain point as designed by circuitry to deliver more power.
Your comments about driving planars and electrostats do make sence since Classe is probably designed to tame brightness of such and that's why sound laid back with dynamic speakers.
As to the types of music I enjoyed Bryston 3b-st and to me its bested with instrumental jazz, funk, fussion, electronics. What drove me immediately off the Classe equipment is the upper-midrange emphisis or even more closely defined brightess(that can realy be in any of midrange or upper-range frequencies).
Another great option for the author I'd suggest McCormack DNA2 that is a great competitor to Bryston 4b-sst.
When I first started this whole HI-End audio experience, and got to the point where an amp was the next in the list of upgrades, I had the same problem as you.
I was looking at the Bryston 4B-ST, Classe CA-300, Aragon 8008BB, and McCormack DNA1 Deluxe, . I was lucky enough to see, or rather hear, all of them at CES. One of the best times I have ever had. I got to see the guts of each one as well.
Based on looks alone I liked the Classe with its huge front handles and small back ones. It was huge. Almost saying "one person can't handle me". The Aragon had that cool V-cut.
Based on the construction of each, i.e. inside, the Classe won hands down. The transformer was HUGE. Way Bigger than the others. Capasitors everywhere.
Sound however is the only thing that should sway your opinion, ...and price. Not looks, not construction, not warranty.
In the end it was between the Aragon and the Classe. I liked the idea of a tubey sounding, solid state amp. That was the Classe.
The Aragon was better than either the Bryston or the McCormack. Fuller sounding, better bass extension, more precise location of the instruments.
Even at CES it is impossible to get a direct comparison of any two pieces of audio equipment. The absolute best way to make a decision is to sit in your own room with your equipment and listen. Unfortunately, this is also one of the most difficlut things to do. Especially for those of us who have no hi-end stores located within 50 miles, like me.
I bought a Classe CA-300 for two reasons.
1: After much reading, research, and listening to the Classe and Aragon in as many stores as I could over the course of 1 year, I decided I liked the Classe more.
2: I got one for a fantastic deal.
I liked it so much that my system now comprises of: Classe CDT-1, DAC-1, CP-50, CA-400. Never had a problem.
I've heard wonderful things about the 4B-SST, but haven't had a chance to audition them in my own home. Brief listening with Joseph Audio speakers / Audible illusions tube preamp was impressive.
Have listened to the Classe stuff (used to sell it, actually)-- With Martin-Logans, B&W matrix and signature series products, Aerial 10T usually with krell CD and krell, classe or Audio Research preamps, I always thought the Classe CA-300 (which if I'm not mistaken is not much different than the 301) sounded a bit too laid back, and I agree with whomever said they doubted power ratings-- it's not that they lack control, their amps just never grabbed my attention with their dynamics. I'm sure they output rated power, you just wouldn't know it to listen to them.
The reason I don't really care for Classe much is why many like the amps, however. They are smoooooth, and I don't think you'll get a debate on that.
As for durability, in my experience selling Classe, and owning a very well-used and daily-flogged Bryston (college years- brutal on an amp), you can't go too far wrong with either brand.
I purchased the Bryston 4B-SST ( replacing the 4B-ST ) which is a HUGE improvement in every aspect. I compared the 4B-SST with the CA 301, the ML 334 and a smaller Krell amp and the 4B-SST was the overall winner. Only the ML 334 came close, but was less powerfull, and less dynamic.( soundstaging and tonal balance about the same ). My system: Nautilus 802's, TacT rcs 2.0 roomcrrection pre-amp,Sony SCD 1 and Bryston 4B-SST.
Thank you Marakanetz for correcting me about rating. I sound like an id#*&. The grainy & bright I found on my system with Bryston 4b-sst properly my speakers, or properly the Bryston was not burn in yet (It was new and borrowed from dealer). By the way, does anyone know how long these amps burn in in average, especially Bryston. The manufacture said they have their products burn in 100 hrs before shipping out. My Classe was taking quite a long time to burn in. It is a lot better now compare at the first time when I bought home. If you have experience with these burn in time, please share. Thanks.
Burn-in is at very least 100 hours with music or XLO break-in tracks. Bryston's break in is with a single test tone at 10KHz, great for weeding out weak components, not so good for music. My 6B SST's are comming along nicely at about 150 hours of music and XLO break-in tracks for maybe 30 of thoes hours. I upgraded from a 4B ST and the difference in amazing. ENJOY
I've been doing a lot of research recently for upgrading my speakers. In the process I started reading the old AVA Audio Basics archives (http://www.avahifi.com/root/audio_basics/index.htm).
The man provides a very intersting take on popular hifi culture. He's been in high end audio for more than 20 years and really seems to know his stuff. AVA supports the unpopular opinion that hifi can be engineered (with only a few unknowns), and backs it up with a line of electronics and twenty years of the Audio Basics journal where he discusses every aspect of hi fi in great, easy to understand, detail.
Even if you don't wind up agreeing, it's a very good read. When I'm ready to upgrade my Bryston 2BLP, I will definately take advantage of their 30 day at home trial and see how the AVA amplifiers stack up.
after recalling some electronics studied years ago especially on amplification designes(hell not only at audio freequencies but at radio as well for repeaters) i started asking myself what the hell wire has to do at audio freequencies whatsoever?
And the only answer is it has to make money with tremendous profit that you can measure from 5x upto 20x.
I read AVA statement and the couple of things I didn't like about it is their specification hiding. Despite their statement, there are parameters of amplifier that only suitable for the "good sounding one" and not too long ago 20years or so manufacturers displayed all their graphs and responces to show how they stand for their product to reveal the design work. Secondly I wouldn't simply trust to the company that is producing amps in the garage lab with neither established dealer nor service network as Bryston, Audio Research, Pass Labs and even Classe. I know I'm able to fix many electronic failures but not always I'd want to waste my time on that and would prefere to have a service so I'd think before biting wire bait...
Pass labs is simple and excellent solution but very expencive even to build yourself or buy used and every expencive solution not always the best.
Pkmclean, like you I own Dynaudio speakers and am searching for an amp that match well with the Dyn. If you search archive here at Audiogon, you will find that many Dynaudio owners here found that Plinius gear to be a very good match. When I bought my Dyn, the authorized dealer that I brought from in NY recommended Bryston by name. Either way, I have no doubt that you will be happy with either the Bryston and Plinius. Best of luck!
Isn't one piece in the bryston line I'd be interested in personally keeping!..20 year warranty considered. I've owned lots of high end amps, and Classe's have been in my system as well. For the money, they are indeed superb! I find them more refined than what Bryston has made(no, the 7b's don't belong in class A, sorry). Yes, the top end slam, and overall refinement isn't what something like high end Pass, Krell, Threshold, or Levinson is offering in solid state, but it bests Bryston IMO! (of the older Classe, the CA150 was the best sounding!
I do give current delivery to the Bryston however, but I couldn't live with the Sonics. I think it's a bit warm, bland, and bloated in the bass..not to mentioned rolled off on top, as a line. I just think the Classe's offer more transparent and more pure sound compared to Brystons' sound
After auditioning the bryston 4b SST in my system (Adcom "temporary" CD player GCD-700, Rowland Consonance Preamp, Transparent musiclink super ICs (SE) and speaker cables, Signal Audio "new model" balanced ICs, Martin-Logan SL3s, Velodyne ULD-15 series II sub) I found I preferred the Classe CAM-200 monoblocks, much to my surprise. You don't have to scroll up very far to find me saying I don't like Classe. Someone made me a great deal on the monoblocks used, good enough that if I needed to I could re-sell them and roll into a 4b SST or something else-- to shorten the story, the Classe design really excels at letting detail come through, and has plenty of slam. The fully balanced amplifier circuitry was a good match for my preamp, and the noise level just dropped to nothing. The Bryston was good in this regard, but not as good.
The Bryston sounded good, but more "abrupt"- attacks were too "in your face"-- to the point of being unnatural (yes, the amp was broken in well, a floor piece is what I demoed)-- acoustic guitar strings were plucked too hard- like they were miked too close or something. Not sure if this is describing it well- this is why I don't write for a stereo rag.
The Classe's midrange was more natural, and whereas both amps imaged well, the Bryston's presentation was too forward, a bit shallow, and a bit narrow. The Classe seems to allow the soundstage to extend outside the speakers, with excellent depth. With the right other components, the Bryston might be outstanding, but with the rest of my stuff it was just too pushy. Some of this may well be interaction between the Rowland and the Classe vs. the Bryston.
BTW, before any of you ask, yes, the Classe and the Rowland use different pin-outs on the XLR plugs, Rowland adhering to the "commercial" pin out standard (pin 2 inverted, - signal), Classe and Bryston the "consumer" (pin 2 + signal). The preamp has a handy phase invert button on the remote, problem solved.
I also had a nice email chat with an extremely helpful tech advisor at JRDG about this issue. I'll start a thread for that. Beats working.
Hm. Kinda late to comment, but I demo'd Bryston (4B-ST), Classe and Aragon in my house, doing side by side blind comparisons with my family. In blind tests, my son and I could tell them apart without trouble, every time. The sound was that noticably different. The Aragon was warmer, and the Classe added a fullness to the sound. The problem was, it wasn't a warm, full kind of sound that was being played... they were adding stuff that didn't belong there. I ended up with the Bryston and have been very, very happy.
I wish people would learn what the terms "Class A", "Class AB"
and "Class B" mean.
These are terms for certain circuit topologies - i.e. modes
of amplifier operation - not a "grade" of quality.
One can have an amp that operates in Class A that is of poor
design and sounds it. One can also have a Class B amp that
is a well executed design - and shows it.
You can't say "Amplifier 'X' is 'rated' Class A, so it must
be better than Amplifier 'Y' which is 'rated" Class AB".
Dr. Gregory Greenman
Although I would have hoped that was the interpretation,
many have said that "Classe is rated Class A", and "Bryston
is rated Class B".
Stereophile has never rated a manufacturer - only individual
products. Also, I don't recall many Classe products occupying
the rarefied regime of Stereophile's "Class A" with the
exception of the Omega.
Additionally, some above responded to the above remarks
by saying that one amp or the other was rated "Class AB".
Stereophile has never had a "Class AB". Therefore, I
concluded that some were confusing the amplifier class
with a Stereophile rating.
The thread makes little sense with Class AB [ amp mode ]
being mixed with Class A and Class B [ Stereophile ] and
contentions that brands were rated and not individual
Besides, because of the synergy between amps and speakers,
the idea that one can go by the Stereophile recommendation
is faulty since Stereophile doubtedly used Dynaudio 3.3s
[ the speaker of choice for the original poster ] for the
respective reviews of both amps.
I believe we can do a better job of answering the original
poster's question by letting those with experience with
the Dynaudio speakers and particular amps from these two
fine manufacturers tell of their experiences.
Brand name partisans parroting one review or another from
one audio magazine or another is really less than useful.
Dr. Gregory Greenman
There is an interesting thread at www.avsforum.com in the audio forum.
There was an amp shootout whith 8 amplifiers used for 2/multi channel shootout and the Bryston was at the very bottom of the pack along whith ATI.
Even fans of Bryston were shocked at how bad it did.
The Theta Dreadnaught 2 did not fare to well either.