Bryston Vs Theta

G'day all. I've just purchased a pair of Dynaudio Contour S5.4's (to replace my KEF Ref 3's) as part of an upgrade and looking for a new amp to drive them. Tossing up between a Theta Dreadnaught 2 and a Bryston 6BSST(LCR)/3BSST(rear) combo (price almost the same here) for my system which is used 50:50 HT/music. Customer service at dealers is a major problem here in Hong Kong (they expect you to buy a $6000 piece of equipment without even listening to it!), so the best I've been able to do is hear these amps with Focus Audio speakers (Theta seemed to have bigger soundstage, but Bryston had better bass control). Must say the Bryston Rep here has been extremely helpful, but can't organise a direct comparison. Any comments welcome.
Those are the exact speakers I plan on upgrading too.

Well I use a Bryston 4B-ST with a SP-1.7, I love the 1.7 for 2 channel music. Bt your question is on amps right. I have not listened to the Dreadnaught at home. But from what I have heard it is a most excellent amp. You didnt mention which modules are in the Theta? I think they have 225w mono and 100w stereo modules. I would definately go for the bigger 225w modules.

Bass control is a trait of Bryston amps. I like mine quite a bit. Obviously the 6B-SST will pack more watts and a 20 year warranty. But on Thetas behalf, I just sent in a 12 year old Pro basic DAC for uopgrades/service and the customer service was outstanding.

Dave Reich(Theta) is an outstanding engineer as well as Stewart Taylor(Bryston). I must say it would be a very hard decision for me, but IMO the Theta might have the edge. (personally I would probably get a Pass X350, but I am 70% 2 channel and growing)

Sorry I cant help anymore than that. At least I moved this back to the top =).

Please post a review on the S5.4s. I find myself wandering to the Dynaudio website far too much these days. Maybe I should let my dog chew my credit cards?
I've used A Bryston 4B SST and I am currently running a Bryston 14B SST. Bryston amps are precise and detailed with renowned bass and legendary warranty service. I don't know what the audiophile's term "Musical" means when used in connection with amplifiers, so I'm not going to use that term here, but to my ears the Brystons deliver everything that's on the source. Having said that, they are not forgiving. If your loudspeakers are naturally bright, the Brystons might not be the best match. However, if you're looking for excellent soundstage, detail, and bass they may be just the thing. I can't comment on the Theta amps. Anyone else care to?
Here's' a vote for the Dreadnaught. If I had not dismantled my HT system and gone back to 2-ch, it would have stayed forever...
The Theda Dreadnaught is one of the best 2-channel + multichannel amps on the market. I will never part with mine, unless I win the lottery, in which case I will run out and buy the Theta Mono Blocks.

Krell and Dyn is pretty typical, as is Plinius/Dyn

Just other options to explore...
you can buy into Bryston through audiogon, use them as long as you like and easily sell them again, all the time covered by 100% parts and labour and return shipping [if needed] all at a net cost of nearly nothing, I don't know anything about Theta, but from a business point of view, my guess is they don't/can't compare.
Thanks for the input so far. Distortion: stop drooling and and go and get a pair of these speakers before the price goes up because of the weak USD (I paid HKD40,000 = USD5,200 for my rosewood pair, there's been a price rise here since then). There're a couple of good reviews at Bought them unheard after listening to a mates S3.4's (trying to get an audition of anything at most Hong Kong dealers is like pulling teeth, and a home trial is simply unheard of). Even after only a few hours with my Denon AVC-A1-SE (hence the amp upgrade) they are a huge improvement on my KEF's, with beautiful imaging (they disapear!) and very detailed top end from the Esotar 2 tweeter. Hoping a new amp will get a bit better handle on the bass.
The biggest problem with the Dreadnaught is it's size! I'd have to re-arrange my whole room to fit it in. I haven't seen Plinius for sale here, and the Krells, Levinsons etc sound/look very nice, but are just so much more expensive than the Theta or Bryston (the 5x225W Theta is USD6,500 here, with the Bryston a few $$ less).
Vettemanbc: I'd love to have access to buy/sell used gear like Audiogon (there's almost no market for used here, I'm still wondering what to do with my KEF's) but shipping to/from the Far East would be prohibitive. I'm still trying to clarify the warranty situation with the Bryston agent in H.K., but dealers tell me the local warranty is only one year, with the twenty year one requiring a return to Canada, which is the other side of the world from here.
Hi Busdriver

I gather you are from Oz with your G'day greeting.

Did you get your S5.4 from Excel? Also, how did you find they compare to the S3.4?

I was considering the S5.4 but that is simply too tall for my room and so have revised it to the S3.4. I heard them over the weekend at a friend's place and was rather surprised by the harsh treble I heard, although he was driving them with a low wattage tube amp.

Any thoughts?
G'day Mick

Good guess.

Grand Rich AV in Fa Yuen St, Mongkok. Took a lot of hard bargaining for that price and as I said earlier I think there's been a price rise due to the weak US$ and our linked currency.

I've ended up with the Dreadnaught 2 amp (450W/ch into 4 Ohms) and it drives the 5.4's beautifully (more "presence" than the 3.4's), even using my old Denon as a pre-amp until I can afford something better. Definitely no harshness in the highs and the bass is now so good (defined) that I disconnect my US$2000 Velodyne HGS-12 Sub when listening to two channel material. Diana Krall "live" sounds sublime on them.
Keep in mind the 3.4's have an Esotec tweeter where the 5.4's have an Esotar 2 from the Confidence series. Have you looked at the Special 25's (Esotar 2 tweeter as well, I think)which can be had for about HKD25,000?
And yes, the 5.4's do look pretty big in the lounge room of my 1500 sq ft flat. I may have to move to a bigger place to give them a bit more breathing space!

G'day Busdriver

I have auditioned the S25's but have found the bass boomy. I cannot place them too far out into my room. The treble from the Esotar 2 was great! In contrast, when I heard the S3.4 in a similar placement, there was no boom at all. The dealer then placed the S25's far out into the room and it was a great sound.

How much are the S3.4's in HK? Also, how much do you feel I am missing out by getting the S3.4's instead of something with the Esotar 2? I am currently using speakers with metal dome tweeters which I find fatiguing. I have heard others mention that the Esotar 2 may be too revealing on less than fine recordings. I listen to a lot of harmon muted Miles Davis and do not want ear bleed from shrill treble, which was why I asked for your opinion on the S5.4 vs. the S3.4.
Busdriver- great choice! I am jealous, and really miss my Dread I sometimes...
Hi Mick

You've heard both tweeters yourself in the S3.4 and S25. If you don't have a large room with space to move the speakers away from the walls don't buy the S5.4's, as they produce a prodigous amount of bass and need plenty of room to breathe. They also look big in my 20x15x9' room (I'm hopefuly moving to a larger place soon, but that's primarily to get a balcony to fire up my barbie on: another story).
I was quoted HKD33,000 (USD1=HKD7.78) for the 3.4's a while ago, but that was before a rumoured recent price rise. Some serious haggling may knock 5-10% off any initial price (I've found having the cash actually in your pocket always helps in Hong Kong).
As I said earlier I bought the 5.4's for my large (by Hong Kong standards!) room after hearing the 3.4's and I'm very happy with what I've got. I continue to be amazed by all the extra details I'm hearing on CD's that I've listened to many times on my old KEF Ref 3's. Yes, you'll hear more faults on some onpoorly recorded material (not all at the higher end of the scale either), but this is more than made up for when listening to good recordings. By losing the sub (for stereo) I'm now hearing lower end details and layers that I previously wasn't even aware were on the CD (this no doubt is also in part due to my new Dreadnaught).
There's a good review on this site by Mfish comparing the S25 and the S3.4.