Please tell me.

OK, so I recently got my OLD Harmon Kardon back. It's a PM 655 VXI (20 years old). I currently own a Bryston 4b SST... brand new (a 300/W monster). Why does the HK sound better??? It is SO warm and the bass is sweeter. Reminds me of the Krell KSA 150 I use to own. I can't believe HOW good it sounds on my dyns. WHY????? Is this really as good as it sounds to me????? I'm having a hard time justifying that I spent $2400 on my Bryston when I like the way my OLD HK sounds better. I realize the Bryston is "accurate" and less "colored" but it does not have the sweet warm sound that the HK does... tube like. I'm freaking out on the sound of this unit. Does anyone know anything about it? Please advise.

Did you listen to it before you bought it?

Is it broken in?
My guess is the Bryston is tuned for high resolution digital playback with that bent towards home theater applications.

The Harmon Kardon was built to play analog music..

The same thing is happening to speakers....older ones sometimes sound better for music in a lot of systems.
You have to give it some time. The break-in period is for your ear/brain processor not the elecctronics!
If you search for warm sound, Bryston will not give you what you are looking for. Never heard any one claimed that Bryston gears are warm. More likely " neutral" and kind of leanning toward bright side. I owned and sold the 4 Bsst since in my own exprience, it is "dry", period. I agree that it is very good for HT application.
What preamp are you using on the Bryston? If your using an inexpensive preamp with the Bryston, you will not bring out this amp's best sonics & capabilities.
Why does the HK sound better???

Because its colorations appeal to you as you stated. It's quite likely that the Bryston was giving you what was on the source and you prefer otherwise. Many do.
the bryston will take at least 100 hours to break in. it will sound better than your other amp at that point
I am not surprised at all. I bought an older early 80's 50w Sansui Int. amp and I'm completely satisfied w/its sound and performance. Great synergy w/the the Paradigm Phantom V4 I'm currently using in my main system. Beautiful sounding system. Makes my toes tap and brings much enjoyment. Honestly, I do not miss the very expansive amp/pre-amp I was using previosly at all.
Wwshull, All Bryston amps are ready to go without any "break-in" period needed. Bryston folks run all their amps thru a 100 hours " break-in" process at their factory before shipping their amps to their dealers. What you receive from your dealer is good to go. As Bob said, Bryston gears is very neutral at the least distortion with virtually nothing added. If warmer sound is your flavor, go with some tube amps or hybrid amps. The 4 bsst is one of the best value you can get for the money. I myself, just like to have a little flavor ( coloration, name it) in my listening session.
If you go to live concerts...jazz club, symphony hall, theater stage, yada yada; the concert venue itself has a sound. The more famous venues tend to sound great.

A neutral amp is fine if that is what you want; to me it is like being in a neutral concert venue. Might as well wear headphones. My system give me the "coloration" that creates that live concert feeling.

To each his own. Many audiophiles do want to listen to perfect sound. I am not an audiophile in that sense. I am a music lover with a nice system.
I definately appreciate all your feedback. I was introduced to high end by people who preached accuracy only. They kind of brainwashed me to think that was what defined "high end". I have accepted that I don't necassarily prefer a "neutral" or "accurate" system. It's boring to me. I too like warmth and coloration. This Bryston definately doesn't have that. It's obviously a wonderful amp but not for me. I'm really curious to try out a tube or hybrid integrated amp. Something in the $2000 range. It has to have plenty of slam and warm bass W/control. I LOVE the Krell KSA 150 (limitless power and bass) on my Dyn's if that gives you an idea. Any suggestions?
You really summed it up nice Sugarbrie. I am a lifelong drummer and a touring roadie so I live with live music. Little bookshelf speakers on stands in a "neutral" system don't do it for me. To me that does not come close to reproducing live instruments. No system does for that matter. When a cymbal is struck the sound reflects in all directions using the room as a speaker. It not just L/R directional information for your ears. This applies to almost all instruments. What is accuracy???? It seems to me the only REAL accuracy is standing in the room when the instrument is played. Other than that, why try to "accurately" reproduce it? I don't consider instruments coming out of ANY stereo accurate. I just try to get as close as I can and having a "neutral" system doesn't achieve this for me. Just my opinion.
I am with you Drum75...

I don't have a "reference system" to compare components with.
I compare against live music, which I am exposed at least weekly, sometimes daily. It is amazing sometimes how my conclusions differ from the audiophile crowd in general.

When they make audiophile recordings, a lot of time they put a microphone on every instrument. Conversely, when "music" is recorded, there are just a few strategically placed microphones in the hall/venue in front of the performers. Same is true in the studio.
Drum75, do yourself a favor by audition some of the switching amps . I listened to an El Cheapo Audiosources amp300 using the pre-out from the low-entry Denon at my work place and it is amazingly good for its price. Class A, A/B, longer the only choices . Some of the D- amps have the open mid-range and liquid HF to die for. If D-class "budget amp" is not your style, try the Halcro MC20, not accurate and high in distortion but one hell of the soundstage with liquid HF and huge vocals. I'd rather have these switching amp over the A, A/B, Tube amps, anytime...the future is here for audio and so is the 1080P in video.
everybody runds their amps before they send them to you, but after they sit dormant for a while they need some break in again. tube amps are put the sound way to far back and you loose detail. if you like that sound that is fine, but the bryston will still need break in again
...why try to "accurately" reproduce it? I don't consider instruments coming out of ANY stereo accurate
Yes, well... you are referring to two distinct audiophile approaches:
1) "accurately" reproduce what's on the medium /the recording; this means the result may be good or consistently horrible depending upon the information the medium contains.

2) reproduce a musical result (tonality, balance, musical coherency) that is satisfactory. This means that we depart from totally accurate reproduction of what is on the medium in favour of our own "sonic taste".

I think "audiophile-ism" starts with the second, progresses to the first, and ultimately attempts to incorporate the second.
Seriously "good sound" is an extremely complicated matter and, at the end of the day, you may be reproducing many individual instruments reasonably well -- but not when playing together...
Yeah, I grew up on old school "consumer" level hi fi. I use to have Cerwin Vega AT-15's running off my HK... 20 years ago. So you could say I still like BIG sound with LOTS of low end. I hadn't been exposed to "real" hi fi until I was older so I will always have my roots. I have just come to accept that. I felt like I just didn't know how to apperciate "real" hi fi. I now know that real hi fi is in the eye of the beholder. It's easy to get caught up in all these variables to the point where you loose sight of the main objective... hearing the music the way YOU want to hear it. Not being told the way you're "suppose" to hear it. I'm enjoying my system more than ever now that I've given into this idea. Getting past mental quirks is hard... but once you do you find what it is you really desire.
What preamp are you using?
Drum75, like yourself, when listening to music I don't have audiophiles sitting in my living room evaluating my system each time I fire it up, only on rare occasions. So it really comes down to pleasing yourself. I'm not positive but it seems that musicians, at least the ones I know don't care much about high end gear and are content to hear their music through gear similiar to your older HK. If I could theorize a little bit I believe that musicians are more focused on the music where as most audiophiles are defined by both their gear & the music.
OK, I'll take it a step further and admit I'm loving having tone controls back in my life. It's been a long time. I like the option of adding a little bottom end to a recording that needs it by just turning up the bass. I had convinced myself that this was sacrelig!! Is there even such a thing(besides sunfire) as a pre amp with tone controls anymore? I realize if I go to Circuit City I could probably find one but there has to be a quality pre amp that caters to someone like myself.
Drum75, now you have really crossed the line--------- but since your a musician you are forgiven, (just a little humor here). There is a new affordable preamp offered by Halo (Parasound) that has defeatable tone controls (they are truly out of the signal path when they are defeated) so you can enjoy both audiophile sound or processed sound. It is the P3 and it retails new for $800.00 and can be purchased used for around $450.00 on Audiogon at times. Look into this quality but affordable preamp, do some research, you will be happy you did! The other alternative is to add a subwoofer to your current system for added bass response.
Yeah, I figured I crossed the line with that one. I'm usually more careful with what I say on hear but I was just in a mood and let loose... lol. I'm happy to hear people on here can appreciate a musicians approach. I have been enjoying messing with my old HK. It's cool to hear it on my Dyn's with all high end componants. It's kind of a reference to all the $$$amps that have passed through my system. I checked into the Halo pre amp and it sounds interesting. It has mixed reviews but definately looks like a nicely built piece for the money. I'm probably gonna buy one to check it out. I've heard a lot about Rel subs but I usually only use a sub for HT. For music I would need one that was real fast and punchy... but musical. Any suggestions?