I had one of these and I had it paired with a Bryston BP25 with moving coil phono preamp. This was a solid pairing and formed a synergy. I see there is a bp5 with MC section for sale on the 'gon. This would be a good value.
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One thing to remember is that Bryston amps have a somewhat lowish input impedance. This can be an issue with tube preamps. Obviously, any of the Bryston preamps work well.
I would try to take advantage of the 4B's balanced inputs.
If you don't need remote volume control, the Benchmark DAC1 Pre would be an excellent choice.
Parasound Halo P3 has balanced outs and fits your budget.
I used to own a Bryston 4B ST. The input imedance is 50 kOhms, which by today's standards is an easy load for most preamps. My favorite preamp mated with the 4B ST was an Audible Illusions Modulus 3A, which you might find used within your budget. The Modulus 3A will flesh out the sound of the Bryston a bit over comparably priced solid state preamps, without sounding colored like some tube preamps. At the time I owned the Bryston, I also tried out Bryston, Quick Silver, Balanced Audio Technology, and various passive preamps. The Audible Illusions was the best fit of the bunch.
I'm finding myself leaning towards a tube pre, with at least four inputs (ideally including phono), also ideally with at least remote volume. One reason I'm inclined to go with tubes is that the high end on the Dalis (dual tweeters) is quite intense and can sound a bit harsh with some instruments. Overall, I love them, but I want to make the best pre match here. For all this, of course, I'm willing to stretch the budget some. Aljordan, the 3A sounds interesting, I wish it had a remote. Which Bryston did you try? Stevecham, could you say more about the "synergy" with the BP25. Any other thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you all very much. Rick
I connected the pre and power amp with balanced Synergistic cables and the 4BST powered Thiel 7s at the time I had this system. Wish I'd kept the 7s but that's another story.
My thoughts around synergy are not so much sonic as they are from a design standpoint, where the manufacturer optimized the output of the BP25MC specifically for their ST series of amps. I had no experience with other preamps, except for a brief audition with a CJ 17 preamp in that system; the results were very "sweet" sounding but I lost the dynamic punch that the BP25 had. Certinly this is one of the quietest combinations I've ever had. Quality cables were a must, and I also tried Tara Labs, I liked the Synergistic more. Another contender for a quality solid state preamp at a bargain price, unless you're sold on tubes, is Parasound's JC2.
What preamp are you currently using? I'm currently using a BP 6 preamp and it's excellent but I don't think any Bryston pre will do anything to reign in those Dali tweets unless your current pre is overemphasizing the treble range already.
I like the Audio Research suggestion for tubes if they're in your price range, but if you're still entertaining solid state I'd recommend a Marsh P2000b. Detailed but refined treble and will let more tonal color and emotion through than a lot of other solid state preamps. I had mine paired up with a Bryston 2BSST for a demo and it was a very nice match. They occasionally show up used here in the $600 - $700 range.
Best of luck.
Thank you, Stevecham and Soix. OK, so here's my confession: I only recently acquired 4BST, and am not using it yet, but trying to get a good preamp match. The Dali 400's are a recent aquistion as well, so I'm still getting familiar with them. So far I think they are fantastic across the entire frequency range, but when listening to one recording, an older jazz recording from the 60's, the sax sounded a bit harsh and edgy. However that may well be his tone. As I've listened to other recordings, I get no harsness, but crystaline clarity in the highs (and rock solid, clean bass as well). I'm currently using a Rotel 1052 Receiver (100 wpc). Fine for what it is, but not a match for the Bryston and Dali's. My interest in a tube preamp was as a result of my ABing a Cary tube vs. a Cary SS pre at a showroom. The tube sounded more open, transparent, airy and fluid to me and I liked that. The dealer said, that's what you get with tubes somewhere in the chain. (Of course he was trying to sell me something.) Others (here) have suggested tubes, such as AR pres might be a good blend. Now, that said, although I have a good ear and know music, I am not savy elecronically, and when you guys start talking about matching output impedences, I get nervous. E.g., the AR LS16 has output of 600ohms balanced and 300 ohms SE. So would that match with the 4BST 20K and 50K? The Cary SLP 03 has output impedence of 500 on XLR and RCA's. (Would it work on the Bryston?) Moreover, most I can't find the output impedence listed for most preamps. Do I need to worry about this? Should I just play it safe and go with a Bryston, and put aside my tube dreams? Also do I need to put the Speaker impedence (4ohms) into this equation, or it that only and issue for Amp choice, vs. preamp, as I'd assumed. Help.
Yes, you need to worry about the output impedance of a preamp in relation to the input impedance of the amp. And not just the best case as the manufacturer prints in their spec. You need to know the worst case output impedance. I'll venture a guess that neither ARC nor Cary list the worst case values. Typically, as the frequency decreases the output impedance increases. In some cases quite dramatically. This isn't an issue with the typical tube amp, because they have high enough input impedance to compensate. Here's an example from the $18K BAT Rex preamp:
However, its output impedance was a little higher than specified, at 1000 ohms at 20kHz, 415 ohms at 1kHz, and 4.8k ohms at 20Hz. The last is due to the necessarily finite size of the output coupling capacitors. As MF noted, it should not be a significant issue in listening to music as long as the power amplifier has an input impedance greater than about 50k ohms. (BAT's own power amplifiers have input impedances well above 100k ohms.)
The result of having a high output impedance preamp connected to a low input impedance amp is bass rolling off early. As the output impedance increases the percentage of voltage getting to the amp decreases.
Call the manufacturer (or look for JA's measurements) to determine the worst case output impedance in the bass region. You'll likely be forced into using the 4B's unbalanced inputs; that may not be an issue.
No, the speaker impedance is not an issue for the preamp, but the speaker's impedance curve (impedance varies with frequency) can be a concern for amp's with high output impedance. Bryston amps have low output impedance so you don't have any problems in that regard.
I'm a big fan of Bryston -- owned their 7B SST amps for several years and still use the BP26 preamp. But there are some solid state amps with higher input impedance. Like the Parasound A21.
BTW, I received an email from Benchmark today and they are releasing a remote controlled version of the DAC1 Pre.
Hope this helps.
Thank you Bob for your informative response. I was able to find a Bryston BP25 (without phono section, unfortunately), but I thought I should grab it as I assume there should be no problem matching it with the 4BST and using balanced interconnects. I'm still considering trying a tube pre, though, but I'm not sure (given the sparce information provided) which ones would mate well. Aljordan says the Audible Illusions worked well, but which ARC would work? Still would prefer a pre with a remote. Bob, why did you suggest the Benchmark?
Like Bryston, Benchmark seems to be a very good engineering company. I own their DAC1 external DAC. Since you have a digital source, their DAC1 Pre would be a good fit between the Rotel player and the Bryston amp. You could use balanced ICs between the Benchmark and Bryston. JA recently measured the DAC1 Pre and claimed it to be as good as it gets measurement-wise.
I know less than nothing about vinyl, but I gather that you'd probably want a separate phono preamp so I think you did well with the BP25.
I know everyone's experiences are different, but when auditioning preamps a few years ago I had a chance to listen to a Prima Luna PL3, Pass Labs X1 and the Bryston BP26 in my system. Both the X1 and BP26 sounded more tube-like than the PL3 to me and my friend (the PL3 owner). We found the PL3 to be very noisy. I kept the BP26 and my friend bought the X1.