Look at an Ayre K-5. It should be at least as good as any of the combo's you mention above, and most likely better. But you still have to listen to it first just to be sure.
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I haven't heard the BP17 but James Tanner of Bryston on the AudioCircle Bryston pages inferred that the BP17 is a little laid back compared to the more expensive top of the line BP26. The BP26 has limited remote functions but, that aside, could be what you're looking for. I own a BP26 and can tell you it is not about warmth. It is about transparency and detail.
Thank you for your responses.
ZD542 - Did some reading on the Arye...would love to audition one.
TheDuke - I believe you may be correct... I am NOT looking for laid back...I want highly resolving detail which is I'm sure what the BP26 is all about. The BP-17 just may not provide that level of transparency. Not being able to switch sources is a very real limitation in my environment, however.
Has anyone compared the Bel Canto Pre3 compare to something like the Bryston BP26. How resolving and transparent is it?
Thank you for your responses.
ZD542 - Did some reading on the Arye...would love to audition one."
No. I don't read equipment reviews. Any components I comment on are based on actual listening experience. On occasion, if I bring up something that I haven't listened to, I will state that in my post.
I have had a Bryston BP-17 preamp in my system for about 15 months and have been very pleased with it. Bryston products have typically gotten positive reviews, but I think the BP-17 has gotten rather short shrift from the high-end audio press. Given the BP-17's excellent performance in my system (paired with the 4B-SST2 amp), its range of features, the 20 year warranty, and a very competitive price, I have no reservations telling someone to put this preamp on their "short list". I can't compare its sound to the BP-26 (don't have one, and too long ago to trust audio memory), but as James Tanner has commented, the BP-17 has much more current technology.
ZD542 - I meant "I" did some reading, not you!! :)))
Anyway, thank you all for your answers. Isn't the BP6 based on the preamp in the B60 SST - which is the same as the pre in the B100 SST? As I stated in my initial post, the B100 pre does not match the clarity of my Benchmark DAC2 PRE. It's close, but adds some warmth that viles the music ever so slightly compared to the Benchmark. My reference song that sounds fantastic throught the Benchmark still sounds good through the Bryston B100 pre, but not as good. Where I really notice the difference is the attack and bite of the steel guitar strings. The Benchmarks transparency is amazing.
For some, the benchmark might be too revealing but because of the rich, analog sounding DAC I am using (Metrum HEX and Octave) the sound is anything but dry and analytical. (However, the built in DAC in the benchmark does suck in my system for purely music...to flat, dry and analytical)
I guess I really didn't know how good I had it. I'm now thinking that maybe I should just get another Benchmark and work around the limited analog input problem. I'm wondering if anything can really match the Benchmark DAC2 Pre???
James Tanner told me the circuit in the BP6 is very similar to the BP26 with the main differences being the latter's outboard power supply and balanced connections, which would concur with Jaxwired's findings above. I have the BP6 also and agree with others that it is above all neutral, detailed, and transparent. Adding warmth is not in its DNA. I've not heard it, but I'm thinking the Benchmark may possibly be a little on the lean side, which is a combo that might just be working for your tastes and in the context of your system.
You don't mention what cable/interconnects you're using, but that could also be a part of the equation depending on what you have. Anyway, best of luck.
I think the Benchmark could sound lean with some sources, especially many digital sources. I think a better word for it is transparent. If your source is lean your sound will be as well. Even though the benchmark is extremely transparent, it does not mess up the music...it still sounds very musical.
I had forgotten about an ATC CA2 preamp I heard a few years ago. I was very impressed with the system sound (all ATC). I'm thinking it might rival the benchmark in transparency???
BTW, thank you for all your responses. I have eliminated Bryston from my list based on the reply's. Even though I know it I really good, It's not exactly what I'm looking for.