I think you'd be quite happy with either setup and I'm speaking of keep the gear from the same manufacturer together. Not that mixing them up wouldn't prove out OK but there usually is a synergy when it comes to separates from the same builder and I can say that the Bryston pieces work very well together having previously owned both. I am also very sure that the Bryston gear will make the Paradigms sing. Buy both Bryston pieces here used for great prices and you get that wonderfull 20 year warranty!
To my ears they are both a bit dry and bright sounding.
I have the Bryston 4BSST,BP-20 and Paradigm reference 100 v2 combo with an Arcam CD-23 CDP. The new sst series is much warmer and smoother than the older st series. The synergy of the system is wonderful
Timo I agree with you, except maybe the DNA rev,A.
" To my ears they are both a bit dry and bright sounding. "
Really? I would have to agree with you on the McCormack. But the Bryston is not close to being bright ( IMHO ) Maybe there something else in the system was bright when you listed to the Bryston? Unless of course you are a tube guy like me, then everything else seems bright :)
Some here have commented that the Brystons are challanged by low impedances, I can't comment on that. I find the McCormacks on the forward side (IMO a really great match for Vandersteens). I really like the Bryston 3BST.
Having purchased this amp FOR low impedance speakers, I would like to offer my 2 cents.
I've tried many amps with my dynaudio contour 1.3's (4 ohm nominal, 88-89 Db sensitivity), the 4bsst sounds as if it were made for this very task. I also have a sunfire signature sub II and it became obsolete the minute I plugged in the 4bsst! These little speakers finally fulfilled their promise. All I can say is, I have the combo I always dreamed about, I couldn't ask for more.
I would put this combination up againt any system I've ever heard except for a audio research / magneplanar combination I heard in SE Michigan about 6 years ago (12k).
I'm running a marantz av550 preamp right now, but I'll sneak a line level preamp into the mix when I can afford it.
I listened to the DNA225 and the new ARC 150M, and others, just prior to my purchase and found them to be less satisfying.
This person does not have a high end system, so we should factor this in. Yes, both are not among the best. The choice will depend on preferred kind of music and other things,like warranty, for example.
Bryston is way expensive, but superior to the Mac. But not for that reason.
Look for specs that show VERY low distortion: <0.05% over a say 5hz-50khz frequency range. Qualifying amps include: Hafler DH-200, 220; Rotel; ATI; Muse 160; BEL 1001; Bryston; Jeff Rowlands Design Group.
Note these amps vary in price from $200 to $8,000. Yet I defy anyone do discern any differnce sonically between them. Build quality, yes. But the specs are very close compared to their rivals at all too often also very high prices. Many do not show significant specs in their literature. And well they should not :-)
The BEST sounding amp is one you cannot hear. Like speakers. What you WANT to hear is whatever made it onto the source material. The good, the bad, and all too often the very ugly.
But, if you can hear it, and do not deliberatly mask it with inferior components of one characteristic of distortion, or another, you can be more selective in the CD's you buy. If you mask the bad ones, you will also never hear the good ones.
'It not the specs, its how it sounds' is the rhetoric of reviewers to sell high priced inferior products with lousey specs. If a component has superior specs, even they make note of it, don't they :-)
Both are very dry, bright and the Bryston can be unstable at low impedances to the point of clipping. If amps were medical instruments, these two would be ice cold scalpels.
great specs , but no human warmth nor musicality.
I am now running MF mono blocks on my Maggies and am in heaven. Very sweet, tube like sound, but great bass control, open, slightly forward midrange and pleasing high end without all of that high end brittleness that is so commonplace today.
You may also want to demo Classe and Stratos. I've heard good things but have no personal exp. with them.
Also consider a tube preamp. Makes all the difference in the world unless your goal is to try to hear all the recording defects on a CD in which case the instruments, er,..amplifiers you mention above will be fine.
From a purely practical point of view, Bryston is a slam dunk when it comes to resale. The demand is high for used Bryston amps and preamps. These can be purchased used and resold for virtually the same price if they are kept in excellent condition. Experimenting with a Bryston is a win-win proposition; keep it if you like it, or sell it if you don't like it with nothing lost in the process.
For the record, in response to Sv47's comment about the Bryston 4BSST being unstable at low impedences:
I've had this amp hooked up to several speakers in the last year, all sub 89 Db sensitivity, all 4 ohm or lower (the dynaudio's spend most of the curve under 4) and the amp did not clip, instead it's taught me the meaning of microdynamics, headroom, and pace.
It also cut more than a few discs out of my rotation!
This amp has shown me what's really on all these discs.
I would be afraid of the conditions under which this amp would clip!