Finally took the Bryston 4B Cubed plunge


Back in January, I solicited folks on the forum for input on the Bryston 4B cubed amp. I was kicking around the idea of replacing my Parasound A21 amp. After dealing with poor health for the past few months, I finally did it! My take on the Bryston is: it's a keeper. It is a better sounding amp than my A21, but by only a very small margin. The Bryston gives the feel of being in a concert hall. An extremely full sounding amp with great detail and there's more emphasis on instrument placement than I've experienced before. The bass doesn't suffer at all either, very tight and clear. In comparison only to the two amps I'm discussing, if the Bryston were a "10", the Parasound would be a close "9". If I were to improve on my system (God forbid, I already have $35K into it), the 4B cubed would definitely be driving it. A premium solid state amp. 
To all the the forum members that were willing to guide me with their opinions, I give a heartfelt thanks. My previous posts (inquiries) were met with sincerity and am grateful that none of the discussion went off the rails. A few members contacted me personally, some I couldn't respond to. I didn't try to ignore anyone, there's simply a downside to old age and a weak heart.
professorsvsu
Congrats on the new amp.  Glad to hear you’re on the other side of your health issues too!  Enjoy.
Thanks for the update and glad to hear you are feeling better :-)
Every time I enter into a discussion or start one on this forum, I feel like I've made friends that I'll probably never meet face to face. Your opinions/comments and well wishes never cease to put a smile on my face. You're quality people and I hope you serve the rest of the audiophile as well as you've served me.Keep up the never ending work of dignity and decency.
Congrats on the new amp and indeed it's great you are feeling better! Also keep in mind, not sure how new the amp is, but you may find it improves more as it breaks in. Cheers and happy listening!
I bought the amp brand spanking new from Audio Advisor. If you've never dealt with that retailer, they are a class act and I strongly recommend them. A few years back, I purchased my preamp, a Parasound JC 2 BP. I ordered the wrong color by mistake. When it showed up silver instead of black, I called "A A" to let them know the mistake I had made. They sent out the correct unit that day before the wrong unit was on it's way back. There was no shipping charge for either the return or the second unit. That's the way to do business!With respect to a break in period, Bryston burns in their amps for 100 hours before they're sold. If this amp gets any better than it already is, I may end up wetting myself. =)

professorsvsu


the new cubed series is on my list as well. I have heard, on several auditions, the ST and SST series. I would be interested in reading more about your impressions, thoughts and observations. A Bryston amp is very powerful compared to much of the competition.

Happy Listening!

jafant,If you don't have to mortgage your home or sell a kidney to afford it, I'd say buy it. I can't find any negatives with the amp and a 20 year warranty means cost free trouble insurance that's longer than either one of my marriages. One thing I was told about before I bought the amp that I really didn't understand is that Bryston sound is a little on the "warm" side. I get it now, but I'd characterize the sound as "smooth". The 4B Cubed may not be the best for head banger music, but for everything else I'm happy. The smoothness is natural reflection of how instruments and vocals really sound . Also, Bryston critics have claimed that past generations of amps have been dry and a little bit clinical sounding. This amp is far from that, it's very musical. I don't know how many hours I have on it now, but it's pleasant to listen to for hours on end. I finally have something that sounds great and scares the bears away from my bird feeder at the same time.
@professorsvsu, just curious, what power cord are you using on the 4B Cubed?
I also totally agree, the people at Audio Advisor are a class act!
Silver Resolution Reference Power Cord by Signal Cable. Over the past few years, I've swapped out all of my cables in favor of Silver Resolution. I'm happy with the quality and the prices aren't too insane.
It's good but still hifiish! Auditioned the 7 cubed!
So the Bryston 4B3 barely surpasses the A21,which is 10 years old and costs 60% less.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the cubed series.
Much Thanks! professorsvsu
I will second, Signal Cable. What other gear is in your system?
Happy Listening!
Well here I go, I'll do my best to include everything.Focal Electra 1028 BE speakers (Great sound, but not durable. Two voice coil wires detached on two separate drivers)
Avid Diva II SP turntable with SME 309 tonearm. It sits atop a 3" thick maple block with sorbothane feet which in turn sits atop a Solid Tech Solo 4 rack. I'm also using an Audio Technica AT ART9 MC cartridge. I'm very fond of that part of my system. Vinyl lives!

Simaudio Moon Neo 310LP phonostage. I've tried other phono preamps in the $2K to $4K range and this was the best I've used. If I ever replace it and stay solid state, I'd probably consider their Evolution 610 ($7500, ugh!)
Bryston BCD-3 CD player. It sounds great and is better sounding than the Marantz 8005 SACD player that it replaced. When I first bought it, on occasion it would skip portions of songs. It happened at random for no rhyme or reason. I made Bryston aware of the problem and before I sent it back, it stopped messing up. Something sticking? I don't know.
Parasound JC 2 BP preamp. Nobody should ever complain about Parasound for what it costs. Unless it blows up, the JC 2 BP is staying in my system.
DIRECTV and my computer are both run into my preamp for sound and both share a 32" monitor on my desk.
That's about it. Oh, a little more. Cardas grade copper electric outlets and Silver Resolution everywhere!
Thanks for asking, jafant. Hope I didn't bore you with too much.




Enjoy !  Bryston is good stuff......    
Not at all- professorsvsu
Nice system indeed. I am certainly interested in the Bryston BCD-3 for CD playback duty. It is an interesting combo w/ the Parasound pre-amp and Bryston power amp.  I have not heard these (2) brands mixed/matched into a demo, same system. Looking forward inreading more about your musical tastes.Happy Listening!
When I got back into seriously listening to music about 7 or 8 years ago I was completely overwhelmed by the shear quantity of audio equipment available. I knew that I would go dizzy and most certainly broke trying to indulge in countless combinations of equipment to suit my taste. I took a different approach and listened to what people had to say about value, reliability, and of course sound quality. I did more homework than I probably should have and excluded some brands that I shouldn't have,  but came up with three names that folks were always pleased with: Parasound, Bryston, and Pass Labs. Great solid state equipment (I'm too cheap to keep replacing tubes) and all within a particular price range. There were a few outliers in my rack (i.e. the Marantz 8005 SACD player) and they've all disappeared except for my Simaudio phono stage. I started at the bottom of the price range (Parasound) and as the stock market has increased my net worth (thank you NVIDIA), I've "stepped up" to see if I can make improvements. Bryston has been a pleasant improvement, but Parasound is still a steal. I really don't think I can improve on the JC 2 BP for anywhere near it's cost. Someday, I may be in a position to afford Pass Labs equipment and drool over what I've been missing.

For what it's worth, I did the same kind of reasoning with a turntable purchase (the Avid Diva II SP rocks!), tonearm (the SME 309 tonearm replaced a Rega RB303 and was one of the most dramatic improvements in my system), and cartridge. The AT-ART9 replaced an Ortofon 2M Black. The 2M Black may be a better all around cartridge for any recording, but when the AT-ART9 strikes a groove that it likes, I'm listening to a live performance. It can be that good.With respect to speakers, same old story on how I came to Focal. I love the way they sound, but couldn't be more disappointed on reliability. A broken voice coil wire on a woofer followed by the same problem on a tweeter on the opposite speaker before the pair was a year old. Warranty took care of the problems, but I was informed I was at the end of being covered. Any further issues would be viewed as abuse of the speakers and I'd have to pay repairs. If I move on to different (better?) speakers, Focal will be scratched from my list of 3 companies.
Well jafant, there you have it. The very, very, very long story of how my mix and match system came together. I didn't address the Bryston BCD-3 CD player. I like it and probably won't look for anything better. The only downside  has to do with no remote control. It can be purchased separately,  but is too costly.
Whew! I haven't written this much since my last college history class about 25 years ago. Not complaining, this helps keep me going =)
An excellent over-view of your Audio journey - professorsvsuThe Bryston BCD-3 is a top-tier player. No need to look any further for rbcd playback. I would be interested in the BCD-1, but, drives/transports are no longer available? A poor decision on Bryston's behalf if you ask me.Luckily, these guys learned from this mistake and corrected it w/ the newer BCD-3.  I agree that this is a value-based company, minus the error with BCD-1, indeed. Focal was a better company under the older JM Labs moniker. Any speaker should never have a broken voice coil under any circumstance. Poor QC.The Marantz 8005 can benefit from a ModWright treatment to brin gthe spinner up to the same standard of playback as your BCD-3, only SACD in nature. Still, not  a bad player at its price-point. Finally, do not forget Cabling, to tie it all together.
Happy Listening!
jafant,It appears that know and have a passion for audio equipment. At the risk of taking my own thread off on a tangent, what kind of equipment are you using?
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elizabeth
I think you entered into a discussion on Bryston that I started a few months ago,welcome back! I have maybe 50 hours on the 4B Cubed now and I like it, I like it a lot. It's a bigger improvement over the Parasound A21 than I previously stated. No more hidden detail, better sound stage, just a more pleasant listening experience. Now I'm thinking about Revel Ultima Studio2 speakers and maybe adding a tube phono preamp. Somebody help me before my credit card melts! =) I think you were trying to teach me a lesson by mentioning your Marantz SA-10 purchase, I hear you. The perfect fantasy musical sound swirling in my head has not drowned out your voice.
A fun and wonderful passion indeed -professorsvsuI am in the process of putting together my system. I hope to finalize it by the end of the year. All will surround my beloved Thiel CS 2.4SE loudspeakers.As Elizabeth can attest, the Marantz SA-10 is on my list for CD/SACD playback. I bought my speakers from a gentleman that had a Bryston 4B-SST 2 and BP-26 preamp combination. I would like to hear a "cubed" amp to rule in/rule out this brand. For me, it is all about the Audio journey. Taking my time and auditioning lines.Happy Listening!
jafant,
Everytime you come into the the conversation I smile. It's a real pleasure reading what you have to say and the way you say it. On a different note (pun intended), what about the ModWright upgrade on an 8005 SACD player? You mentioned this earlier and I shared the same thoughts for months before I pulled the proverbial trigger on BCD-3 player. I don't own many SACDs (they're all hybrids) and the platform seems to be dying. ModWright boasts about SACD playback improvement more than Redbook CD, so I made the choice that I did.
Thank You for the kind words - professorsvsu.I consider myself fortunate as I grew up with music in my parent's home.In fact, I cannot remember a time when a stereo was not in my family's home. It was entertainment back in those days, long before cable tv and the internet.  I bought my 1st stereo in 1988 although mid-fi in nature. In 2000, I stepped up into entry level hi-fi with Rotel, B&W gear. Around 2011-12 I re-discovered my musical gear passion and began the next Audio journey via traveling for my work until 2015. During those critical years I visited several excellent dealers/retailers who helped narrow down my short-list.Reading the audio press is the flipside of this coin. I read Stereo Review and Audio Magazine from the late 80's until publication ceased.I picked up and subscribed to Stereophile and The Absolute Sound starting in 1993 to present date. I picked up and subscribed to HiFi+ and HiFi News & Record Review starting in 2011 to present date.  For web-based reading, check out dailyaudiophile.comStill, the best way to progress and grow is auditioning the Gear. I do not have the good fortune of several dealers/retailers in my immediate area.I must travel to Atlanta, Nashville or New Orleans.Now, to address the Marantz 8005 mod- it is still fairly new and not many audiophiles own this spinner. SACD is in production more so in Japan than the U.S.A. Reissues are hot as well as new releases for Classical themed music. For Jazz, Pop and Rock titles, eBay / Amazon offers thousands of used discs going all of the way back to initial pressings in 1997.
Yes, you made a wise and excellent choice purchasing the BCD-3. Bryston has made a promise and commitment to the owners that stock parts and service will be available for many years to come. Digital is far from a dead format both player and dac offerings.Happy Listening!



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elizabeth and jafant,
If you ever make your way to northern Michigan, let it be known. I'm buying dinner and drinks.
Glad to hear that your Bryston experience is as positive as mine was. Did I mention that they are bullet-proof? While shifting the 4B ST, I accidentally touched the output posts to a slab of aluminum chassis - basically, using it as an arc welder. It shut down immediately, and came back to life some minutes later, none the worse for wear. What build quality!
terry9
I rarely laugh aloud, but your story got me going. I don't plan on doing any welding with my amp, I think I'll just stick to using it for listening."Built like a tank" is one of the main reasons I looked hard at Bryston. I dealt with customer service once, and they're something special too. I'm pretty sure this amp will still be kicking long after I am not and I plan on enjoying the time we spend together.
Thank You - professorsvsuYou are too generous. Again, Elizabeth is spot on referencing an ARC Ref5/5SE tubed pre-amp to mate w/ a Bryston power amp. This is a very sweet combination that I have heard on more than one occasion.Adds a different flavor for those who do not want a solid-state preamp.
Happy Listening!
I use a Bryston 2.5 SST2 w/a Luxman Cl38U-SE and a pair of Aerial 5T's. Excellent amp. By the way the late Jim Thiel used Bryston amps at various shows w/his Thiels.
I own both a 4B-ST (recently reconditioned) and a 4B-SST2, and they sound a bit different from each other.  All things considered, I actually prefer the more lively sounding, older ST on most speakers. I've not heard the new cubes yet.
mirolab,
The more time I spend listening to the cubed, the more I'm in awe. I keep popping in more CDs and spinning more vinyl just for the experience of "better"; better detail, better soundstage, better bass control, etc. I may even bite the bullet and purchase a Simaudio Moon 610LP phono-stage. 

A even more interesting combination - luxmancl38


how do you like the Cl38U-SE and Bryston 2.5 SST2 matching?

How long have you owned both pieces?

Happy Listening!

professorsvsu


when you find yourself wanting to spin album (LP) after album, CD after CD, you have something special going on w/ your stereo. This is how our hobby is set up, the challenge, is getting to this destination.


Happy Listening!

The studio2 speakers are really incredible and can be had at bargain basement prices on the used market now. Smaller and much easier to drive than the Salons which would require every last drop out of a 4b and then some. The Studios are 85 to 90% of the Salons in an easier to live with form factor. 
I would love to try a Bryston cubed amp; the 14B3 or a pair of 28B3's, but I just don't have the spare funds to do so at the moment.

As with the creator of this thread, I had been using a Parasound, but it was the A51, great amp, sounds wonderful.   I then picked up a pair of Anthem Signature M1 mono blocks running at 2000 watts per channel with dedicated 240V mains.  As much as I love my Parasound, I have to say the M1's are much more powerful (using Bryston Model T 4 ohm speakers), more detailed, better soundstage, etc.  Plus the low end/mid range punch is substantially greater.  I did have another Class D amp here to try out, which was running 600 watts per side, however it's design was using the off the shelf ICE power modules vs. Anthems proprietary Class D design; huge difference.... the Anthem on the upper range is so much smoother, the other one was somewhat harsh to me.

Since my M1's were a substantial upgrade over the Parasound A51 like the Professor notice with his cubed Bryston vs. his Parasound, I'd love to compare the M1's against the Bryston amps.   Especially since I am using the Bryston big speakers which I absolutely love.   
I've read a great deal about how Bryston gets things right and it's almost unanimous. With my Bryston CD player and now the 4B Cubed, I'm singing in that same choir. I'm fond of the sound that my Focal speakers produce, but I'd love to hear what Bryston has to offer. My gut tells me that I wouldn't go wrong adding Bryston anywhere in my audio playback line-up. Great to hear from you slimpikins5!
professorsvsuyou have certainly peaked my interest in the Bryston cubed series.I hope to get an audition soon along with the BCD-3 player.Happy Listening!
I have listened to a variety of speakers.  Hours upon hours before I purchased a pair of SVS Ultra Towers due to the price point.  But when I had the SVS Ultra's set up next to a pair of Bryston Middle T's, I was longing for the Bryston's, there was no comparison.  I ended up getting a pair of Middle T's lent to me on in home demo; the dealer never got back to me with a reasonable offer on them, so I returned the Middle T's.  However I had the opportunity to use them at length in my own 9000 cubic foot space against my SVS's and I just had to have a pair of Brystons.  I ended up finding a hell of a deal on a used pair of the full sized Model T's, I had not ever heard them, but if the Middle T's were this good, the Model T's just had to be that much better.   When they arrived, I was able to play them side by side to the Middle T's, not three songs played and I knew that I made the right choice.  If you like the Middles, you'll absolutely LOVE the Model T.
These speakers are amazing and gorgeous to look at.
Late to the party, but I’m currently reviewing the 4B3, so thought I’d chime in. Initially, I found the sound with the BP-17 Cubed preamp to be underwhelming. It lacked resolution and was rather dull and lifeless. How much of this was the pre vs. the amp I’m not sure, but thankfully with a LOT of burn-in, it improves immensely. Now I can say that the 4B3 is a quite excellent amp - powerful, neutral and smooth with terrific bass. It’s not quite at the level of the really high-end stuff I’ve heard (Ayre, Pass, Chord, etc.) - those brands have a bit more resolution, sense of space, inner dynamics, harmonic completeness and sweetness - but you need a pretty high-resolution system and picky ears to notice it. On the other hand, I think it’s easily more neutral and musically accurate than a high-end Naim stack I’ve heard.

Anyway, my point is, if you think the 4B3 sounds a little uninvolving, make sure you’re listening to a unit that’s fully run in. I’m at least 200 hours in and I’m pretty sure it’s still improving. Given the warranty, bullet-proof build and features, and considering the stupid amount of money you can spend on gear these days, it’s an excellent value.

BTW the BP-17 pre is MUCH more transparent than past efforts, no doubt because it appears to be (and sounds) direct coupled. All the older models (even the BP-26) used bipolar electrolytic coupling caps in the signal path which killed any chance of them being really transparent. I’ve compared the BP-17 to no preamp at all and it is quite excellent, with great dynamics and bass and only the tiniest hint of upper midrange/treble glare.

Some more thoughts here:
http://taww.co/post/175557320172/top-10-impressions-bryston-4b-cubed-bp-17-cubed

Cheers,
TAWW
And no, the 100 hours of run-in at the factory is clearly not enough. The 200 hours are on top of that. :) 

taww


you are on target my friend. I have been thinking about the matching between a 4B3 and the new BP-17 pre-amp. No doubt that the BP-26 has been a long standard within the Bryston line-up.


Good to read that someone has heard this combo and reported his findings. Which brand(s) of cabling was used during your audition period?

Another point is break/burn in. 500 hours is a very good measure that I find useful.

Happy Listening!

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TAWW, it is very refreshing for an owner of a piece of high-end kit to be objective about it. Thank you. I wish there were more people on enthusiast boards like you-people who are able to avoid ownership-bias. 
I own gear that most would consider a step up from the Bryston gear being mentioned in this thread-an ARC Ref 6 and Ref 150SE. I am happy with them but don't pretend for a second that they are the best, even in their price category. I have listened to Bryston gear in my own home. I have always found it puzzling that the company seems ambitious and has solid engineers and yet manages to miss the mark a bit on transparency and inner detail in their amplification circuits. To me, their best products are their CD players. Given their apparent ambition, I don't understand why they don't try to market a "premier" line and start with a clean slate, employing a brand new set of engineers/designers. And sorry to digress, but why would they attempt forays into loudspeakers and turntables? In that regard, they remind me of McIntosh which now markets a huge catalogue of products such that I have lost all respect for the brand. 
I wanted to chime back in one more time. I now have hundreds of hours of use on the 4B3 since I started this thread. All that's left to say is WOW! The amp is crazy good. I briefly went back to my Parasound A21 for a comparison now that the 4B3 is broken in. My initial thoughts on the two were that they were close in sound quality, I was so wrong. The 4B3 is in different league, which is what I'd hoped for when I purchased it. My journey has taken me through speakers, cables, turntables, tonearms, cartridges, etc. and this amp is at least equal to the best improvement I've made. My search for THE AMP has ended.Next up: Herron VTPH-2A phono preamp. The order to build has been placed and hopefully finished in the coming week.Thanks Audiogon folks for all of your insight.
So you still have the Parasound A21?  Interesting.  One of the things I have recently found is that Parasound fuses the crap out of their amps.  The A21 has a main 15A on the outside and four 8A fuses internally (after the transformer).  They are all larger 6x32 size fuses.  Putting in Furutech fuses made a significant difference in the fullness and resolution of the sound.  I don't know that you want to try this experiment, as it's a $325 experiment, but it would be interesting to see how the Parasound circuit stands up without stock fuses getting in the way.  The Bryston amps typically don't use fuses at all - they like circuit breakers.
I just haven't gotten around to selling the A21 yet. That's the only reason I still have it.

Thank You for the update - professorsvsu

I hope to get a demo on the 4B3 very soon. Happy Listening!

fsonicsmith

ARC and Bryston makes for a very nice combination for those that want a tubed pre/solid state power amp. Specifically, I auditioned the Ref5SE and 4B-SST2. Wonderful synergy in full effect.


Happy Listening!

Rock On! elizabeth

The BP-26 is most certainly no slouch at all.

Happy Listening!

jafant,
Now I await your update on the 4B3. =)I speak for myself and hopefully elizabeth as well when I say, "try it, you'll like it."