Is a Bryston 3B SST2 enough for Magnepan 3.7i or 20.7?


Hello,

I currently have a Bryston 3B SST2 with BP26 Preamp.  My current speakers are Magnepan .7s with a small KEF sub.  I love the combination but am getting the upgrade bug.  

I'm just not sure the 3B SST2 has enough power to drive the 3.7i's or even the 20.7s well.  I do not listen at very high volume levels, as a good deal of my listening is late at night after everyone else is asleep.  That is another concern is that will the amp drive them well at very low volume?  Not sure I would need the sub with the 3.7s or 20.7s.

Appreciate any thoughts from Bryston and Maggie owners.

Thanks,

GK



grekon39
Hello, my first instinct was to to say no, a 3b would not be enough, Maggie's love and require power, but since you said you do not listen loud it the 3b might do just fine. Could you bring it to your dealer and have a listen? 
Christopher 

Yes taking the 3B SST2 to a dealer is definetly an option and what I will try to do.  Thanks for the input.


GK

I think the Bryston is underpowered for the Maggies.  I own 3.6 Maggies and my first amp with them was an Audio Research 150.2 amp.  It also speced out at 150 into 8 ohms and 300 into 4 ohms.

Maggies need a lot of current.  You cannot bring out their true essence without more power.

I am now running McIntosh MC501 mono blocks and the difference is huge.

Just one guys opinion.  I have had my current set up for 11 years now as I am not a chaser of gear.  Happy to listen to the music now.
Thanks for the responses.  

My plan is to take the Bryston into the dealer to demo it with the 3.7s.  The dealer believes the Bryston has enough power for the maggies but he is more than happy to let me demo the amp there.
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Wow, great to hear that you think the 3B SST² will be enough for the 3.7i's.  I was really just looking to go to the 3.7's and the 20.7s are a bit out of my price range at this time in my life.  Definitely a future upgrade possibility though.  My guy at my local dealership did also state that the 3B may not be enough for the 20.7s, so it would be upgrades in both areas, amp and speakers.   Its good to have upgrades to look forward too.  

I agree with you on the BP26, definitely the heart and sole of my system, a spectacular pre amp for the money.  I went from my 30+ year old Bryston .5B pre amp, and 3B amp, and the difference was a very pleasant surprise.  Every aspect of the sound, the clarity, detail and depth was better with the newer Bryston's.

Thanks for the comments.  
I did want to add that I am not considering buying the speakers used.  I want to get New to be able to go through the break in period with the Magnepan's.  It has been a great experience with the .7's, and one I look forward to.  I also really want to be able to support my local dealer, he is one of the last high end audio dealers in the area, and I have known and worked with him for over 30 years.
I would be hesitant to use the 3 series with 3.7's. It might work if your in a tiny room. I would recommend a minimum of 7 or 14 series if you are in a larger room and listen at 70db or louder. 
Bryston definitely is the brand of amp to use with maggies. 
So let me ask these questions: 

I listen to music at low volume levels most of the time. As a reference when I say low, the volume control on the BP26 is at 9:00 or less.

Is it only a matter of not being able to listen to music at a loud level?

Or will the speakers just not sound as good as they could at any volume level?




Most setups don’t use more than 25W, even using 100W is rare.
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The lower the volume you listen at the bigger the amp I would get . Seems counterintuitive , but your going to get bass at lower volumes with a bigger amp . You may not put an importance on bass though . 
@maplegrovemusic  
 
That is wholefully false. 99% of solid state amps amplify linearly, doesn’t matter the volume. A 50W amp and a 500W are gonna have the same amount of bass if only using 10W (if everything else is similar).
no , no , no  - With speakers like maggies  you are going to want to bring to the table a much larger amp for low level listening . Speak from experience here . Owned mag , 1.6 , 1.7 , and 20.1 . Owned a 4bsst2 and a 14bsst2 at the same time I owned the 1.6 . The 14 series at lower volumes did exactly as I stated . What more can I say .
what efficiency speaker does this law of physics apply to you speak of ? Your saying a ten watt amp is all that is needed for a Magnepan 3.7i ? Okay Then !
@maplegrovemusic  
 
Your saying a ten watt amp is all that is needed for a Magnepan 3.7i 
 
I never said that, I was addressing your claim: 
 
your going to get bass at lower volumes with a bigger amp 

 Which is untrue, as I explained above. 
 
As for the 3.7i, it states: 
 
Sensitivity: 86dB/500Hz /2.83v
Impedance: 4 Ohm

Let’s just take that as 85dB across the whole spectrum.  
 
Let’s do some math with some assumptions: 
 
1) 85dB @2.83V anechoic
2) Room gain: about +2dB
3) 4 meter listening distance:  about -8dB 
 
If wanting to achieve 90dB peaks in this scenario (low level listening), one would need ~25W into 4ohm.
Sorry man , You can throw all the mathematical equations out to support a low power amp will drive a speaker the same as a larger amp does  . If the speaker was 100 db efficient , then we can say that will work . Not going to happen with magnepan though .
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Yeah , Stick with the 3 series and be content . Bryston makes larger amps for the hell of it . 
@maplegrovemusic

Please explain how a 200W amp has more bass than a 100W amp when only using 50W.

You can throw all the mathematical equations out to support a low power amp will drive a speaker the same as a larger amp does . If the speaker was 100 db efficient , then we can say that will work . Not going to happen with magnepan though .

Speaker efficiency is irrelevant. You stated more powerful amps have more bass than less power amps even at low listening levels. I stated that it’s impossible simply because that’s not how it works.
Just get any 50 watt amp . Its all you will ever need for one of the hardest to drive speakers on the market. Great advice . Any more brilliant pointers we should be aware of ?
@maplegrovemusic

So you aren’t gonna answer the question?

And no, I specifically stated that 25W was enough for low level listening (90dB peaks). If one wanted 100dB peaks, that’s 10x the wattage, so 250W. 
Ok , Just get a 25 watt amp op . LOL
You obviously have no experience with Magnepan my friend . No need to chat about them further with you . 
While I couldn’t find measurements of the sensitivity of the three speakers that have been mentioned in the OP, I note that their sensitivity and impedance specs are identical. And I would assume that the sensitivity specs (86 db/2.83 volts/500 Hz) are based on a distance of 1 meter.

I would therefore expect that at reasonable listening distances (as opposed to 1 meter) the larger speakers would require **less** power to produce the same volume as the .7, not more. Large panel speakers tend to "throw" the sound forward to a greater degree than smaller panel speakers, since the height and width (especially the height) of the larger speaker will "subtend" a larger angle relative to a given listening position.

It is possible, of course, that like many speaker sensitivity specs the 86 db figure is somewhat optimistic (and I note that Stereophile’s measurement of the sensitivity of the 3.6/R was 83.5 db/2.83 volts, while that speaker also had an 86 db/2.83 volt spec). But as long as any inaccuracy in the specs is consistent among the three models what I said above would apply.

Also, I see that the 3BSST2 is specified as being able to supply 250 watts into 4 ohms. Keep in mind that even if you were to go to an amp rated at 500 watts into 4 ohms that would only be a difference of 3 db in maximum volume capability.

Good luck as you proceed. Regards,
-- Al
@maplegrovemusic

I feel you are not understanding at all what I’m saying. I’ll try to be more clear:

1) If you listen to music at soft levels, you aren’t using as many watts. This should be common sense.

2) If you aren’t using a lot of watts, you don’t need a lot of watts.

3) A SS 100W amp and a SS 200W amp will have the same amount of bass if outputting 100W or less (assuming all else is equal).

Your point of Maggie’s being one of the hardest to drive speakers has nothing to do with anything I’ve said regarding the rebuttal to your claim that a more power amp has more bass at low wattage than a less powerful amp. I’ve pressed you for an explanation for your claim, and you continually deny to give one.
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I agree with Elizabeth and Almarg.

I spent all my loot on Tympani 1a's back in the day, and got by with lesser amps for years. It was a very good decision. 20.7's all the way!
I would argue against Elizabeth for one of the first times in my postings.  Moving up in power made my 3.6s much more revealing from an amp with half the power.

That is at all levels to my ears.   150 into 8 and 300 into 4 soes not so them justice, even at lower levels.

You Can enjoy the Maggies with less power, no question.   But IMHO they bloom at all levels with a bigger amp.

Just one old guys view
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Sound quality of the amp, overrides excess high power, provided you have an amp that never clips at your listening SPL.
Thanks to all of you for your comments and recommendations.  

I will add that the 3B SST² has plenty of power for the Magnepan .7's.  I have brought the volume up to clipping on the amp and I am not detecting any distortion that is concerning at all.  Amp clipping begins at 12:00 on the volume dial.  Of course this was only for a short time, and as I said before, I listen with the volume control at 9:00 or less 90% of the time.  I'm leaning towards, and believe that the 3B will power the 3.7i's very well for my listening.  

I also plan on taking the 3B into my dealer to audition it with the 3.7i's.  If I like what I hear I will then audition the speakers with a much higher power amp and compare.  If I am not happy, I will then have to discuss amp upgrades with him also.

Happy listening to all,

GK
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@almarg

Hi Al,
got a question for you:
I’m looking at a stereo amp that can be bridged into mono, the increase in output is about 6 db over stereo:
From [email protected]/[email protected] -> [email protected]/[email protected]
however,
-the gain @8ohm also increases from 31 ->37 db
-while the input sensevity decreases @8 from 78.8mV ->39.3mV
-a decrease of input impedance (balanced) @ 1khz from 95k -> 47.5 k ohms
-Stereo damping factor for 8ohm of [email protected] is also cut by half for the mono mode.
-the output noise goes from stereo -95dbw -> -92dbw in mono 
So,
What is the net effect on the sound, say these 3.7i or 20.7 Maggies, when this amp is bridged? Any degradation anywhere?
(I omitted the brand and model of the amp, also the links to the review & measurements, cause I don’t know if that’s allowed by Agon or not.)
Many Thanks in advance
@lucidear, the main concern regarding the possibility of bridging that amp with Maggies is that a bridged amp "sees" the speaker impedance divided by two.  So it would see the 4 ohm impedance of a Maggie as 2 ohms, and most amps will not sound good driving such a low impedance.

So unless the amp is known to perform at or close to its best when driving 2 ohms in stereo mode I would not count on it providing good results when driving Maggies in bridged mode.

Unrelated to that, a minor point that may be worth mentioning is that the sensitivity numbers you cited appear to reflect the input voltage required to drive the amp to an output of 1 watt (into 8 ohms).  As opposed to the more usual way sensitivity specs are defined, which is the input voltage required to drive an amp to its maximum power capability.  On that basis, its sensitivity calculates to about 1.4 volts for stereo mode, which is a fairly typical number.

Regards,
-- Al 
Thank you Al,
Ok then the idea of bridging just went out the door...🤗
But To make sure I got this right:
So what you are saying is that the amp should also close to triple it's power into the 2 ohm load (in the bridged mode) or about 3000w, in order to sustain the same increase of 6 dbw?

Another question that perhaps pertains more to the discussion/argument in this thread:
I have a Levinson 532h which has similar output ratings to the Bryston 4bss2 in Elizabeth's comments (before they disappeared), or the newer 4b3:
[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected] ohms ([email protected] clipping 1% Thd+N per Stereophile)
The amp which I was referring to in my prior post (I'll name names now since everyone else is doing it!), Simaudio 870a, or the prior model W8, have output powers which are pretty close to the other two:
[email protected]/[email protected]/ about [email protected] ohms (w8 per Stereophile, 870a in soundstage review)
But the Sims have a pair of much larger toroidal transformers: 1.3 kV vs .5 KV , as well as about 240k vs about 96k of capacitance... and though I couldn't find the output Amp, slew rate etc. for the other two, the Sims show 28 amp continuos/62 amp pick power for these models, slew rate of 42, a damping factor of [email protected] 20hz/[email protected] vs the Bryston's [email protected]/[email protected] (couldn't find it for the Levinson)...

Now understanding that these amps could sound different from one another, my question is:
Do these larger transformers, more capacitance etc. etc. have a noticeable affect on these Maggies even though the indicated output wattage of all three are very close to each other ?

Lastly,
if anybody is interested, Hifi news did a review of the 20.7 and found it to be an "Outstanding product", though in their measurements they estimated the speaker's sensitivity @ about 80db instead of the declared 86db.
https://www.hifinews.com/content/magnepan-magneplanar-207-loudspeaker
Thank you Al,
Ok then the idea of bridging just went out the door...🤗
But To make sure I got this right:
So what you are saying is that the amp should also close to triple it’s power into the 2 ohm load (in the bridged mode) or about 3000w, in order to sustain the same increase of 6 dbw?

@Lucidear, no, I wasn’t saying that. When I said ...

So unless the amp is known to perform at or close to its best when driving 2 ohms in stereo mode I would not count on it providing good results when driving Maggies in bridged mode.

... I was referring to the amp being known to **sound** close to its best when driving 2 ohms in stereo mode, since in bridged mode it would "see" a 4 ohm load as 2 ohms. Implicit in that statement, of course, is that the amp should be able to function in a reasonable manner when driving a 2 ohm load in stereo, without overheating, fuses blowing, or self-protective shutdowns being triggered. The 2 ohm power capabilities you listed for the specific amps suggest that they would meet the latter requirement, but say little or nothing as to how they would sound in doing so.

And regarding how the amp would sound in bridged mode when driving 4 ohm speakers, the fact that Simaudio does not appear to provide a power capability specification for bridged mode for anything other than 8 ohms is not encouraging. (Also, btw, text on page 11 of the manual indicates a capability of providing 800 watts into 8 ohms in bridged mode, which conflicts with the specs page of that same manual and the specs shown at the website, which indicate 1200 watts).

Now understanding that these amps could sound different from one another, my question is:
Do these larger transformers, more capacitance etc. etc. have a noticeable affect on these Maggies even though the indicated output wattage of all three are very close to each other ?

While I certainly appreciate your attempts to determine these matters analytically, and if everything else is equal those factors are of course **potentially** beneficial, as a practical matter there are so many design-dependent variables and unknowns involved that listening, and/or finding credible reports of relevant listening experiences, is probably the only way to tell.

Best regards,
-- Al

P.S:  "[email protected]/[email protected]" in your post should of course be "[email protected]/[email protected]"
Al
Thanks a bunch for all the info, I'm pretty sure I got them...
And you are correct on the last point, it was a typo on my part.
All the Best


So you have a very inefficient speaker with a low ohm loading on the amplifier. I believe that many amplifiers distortion profiles change for the worse as they get driving low ohm loads, it requires a stiff power supply or a switch mode power supply. Maggie's are awesome though in every sense when properly driven, and properly placed in the room, pulled significantly away from reflecting surfaces as bass waves will screw with them. THEY CAN IMAGE LIKE CRAZY! Good luck!
Random memory trace just surfaced. 

I used the Bryston 3B SST on one pair of Tympani II, I believe it was, and a 4B SST on another pair of Tympanis, running in parallel. Could not tell the difference at moderate listening levels.
Anthem's PVA 2 is comparable to the Bryston, but still not really what you want to run the Maggies.  I would say step up to Anthem's MCA225 $1999 Retail 225w x 2.  More power and more open sounding than comparable Bryston's.  Bigger money - go to the Anthem P2 $4500 325w x 2.  
OK, I’ve read this thread and here are my thoughts, simple as they may be. A 100W capable amp and a 200W capable amp will output the same amount of bass at the same wattage. Notice I have used the word "capable," as it is the "maximum" wattage the amp is claimed to produce. If each amp is putting out 25W at a particular point, then the bass output would be the same.

Now, the capability issue comes into play generally with musical peaks, and/or low sensitivity or low impedance speakers ... it is in this area where wattage capability becomes important. A 200W amp will better address those issues than a 100W amp, and will provide more headroom when and if needed. Is a 200W amp preferable to a 100W amp? It depends on several factors. However, if one listens at low levels mostly, then the difference in wattage becomes somewhat negligible.

Nonetheless, I agree with both propositions that: (a) amps outputting the same amount of wattage at a given point in time will output the same amount of bass; and (b) a larger, more powerful amp generally will provide better control of a speaker IF the additional wattage is necessary for musical peaks (i.e., high volume listening), a speaker with low sensitivity, or a speaker which is not stable into a relatively normal impedance (i.e., 8 Ohms). Them’s my thoughts, no flaming, please.

rlb61,

I agree with all you have said in your post.  I am currently waiting to get the funds together to make the 3.7i purchase.   I'll le you all know how it turns out.

GK
Here are my two cents as a longtime Magnepan owner (SMGa, 2.7, MG.6, MG-12, currently 3.5s). I like to crank it up and have my Maggies in a pretty large room (about 4000 cubic feet). Power makes a big different in that situation. When I had my Sunfire amp rebuilt recently (600wx2 into the Maggies), I used a Shiit Vidar to fill in during the repairs (Vidar does 200wx2 into the Maggies). The Vidar worked wonderfully, excepting lacking dynamics when cranked up. At lower levels there was no real difference aside from the voicing of the amplifiers.

For your situation, enjoy the 3BSST2. Its 250 watts into 4 ohms should be plenty for your listening preferences. For my situation, I would want more power, but even using a 14BSST would only give about 4-5 db headroom over your 3BSST2.