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I'm using the Bryston 10B. I understand the Marchand is very good too. At the time I bought my Bryston, Marchand did not offer a balanced version--which is what I needed. I think they do now, and are very good value products. Bryston is also excellent, maybe a little better, but costs a fair amount more. If you can get either of them used they should be within your budget. As far as getting it to work, the first thing to do is call your speaker manufacturer and find out what the cross-over point is and what slope is recommended. My Bryston uses cards that sets this--it is not user selectable, but if you buy a used one you can order a new card with the right cross-over point and slope.
THE Bryston is a great crossover - I use the 10B version which is balanced - it sells for 1500 or so new - I bought it on Audiogon for 840 after placing a wanted ad.I am not sure the Ashley you are using is why there is no punch - the balanced Bryston gives you bass control but not high control. I tried a commercial Rane unit that sells for 400 to see if a crossover does a good job in biamping my Martin Logans - i realized even with this product that good things can happen with one so I stepped up to Bryston. I do not know of anything else in the high end that is better or as good for 750 or less. Make sure that in your system it is the croosover that will enhance your punch and some other link because you could be spending for no added benefit .
a couple mfr's i spoke w/several years ago, when i was in the market (and since then ,as well), said the marchand deluxe version of the xm-9 was at least as good as the bryston, if not better. the fact that the marchand was less than half the price, coupled w/the fact that it was 24db/octave (bryston is 12/18?), plus the fact that it has a volume pot *at* the chosen x-over frequency, as well as volume pots for lo-pass & hi-pass, made it a no-brainer for me. i really like it, & it has made blending my subs w/different monitors, extremely easy & transparent. you can easily change x-over settings by plugging in cheap (~$5?) chips.
ymmv, doug s.
I have the 10b also, it's a great piece. The things that make it better than the Marchand: Stepped attenuators (no pots at all in it.), selectable frequency without plugging in chips, a truly balanced design (not sure if the Marchand is or not.. much stuff with XLR connectors is not really balanced), a 20-year transferrable warranty, switchable 6/12/18 db/octave slopes (and a 24db LR version available also), and all discrete components (no ICs).
The Paradigm X-30 is a great little unit for ridiculously cheap money (under $100 used, $180 new).
Do your Linn speakers support Aktiv cards in the back? (eg switchable tempaltes that plug into the speaker connection area) If so, get those and a Linn amp w/ aktiv card and that will be the best biamping you can do- straight from the factory as it should be.
ed, what makes the marchand better is the sound... ;~) just kidding, i really have no in-depth experience w/the bryston. accolades from others who *have* heard both, plus the features & price, were enough for me.
regarding stepped attenuators, they are available for the marchand, but phil marchand said not to bother, i wouldn't be able to hear any difference. he says he has to offer them because some folks aren't interested in his product, otherwise. i also asked him about balanced vs single-ended. he said that if you get the xm-9 balanced, it is a true balanced design, different from the single-ended unit, not just w/different connectors. he then went on to say that it is only worthwhile if you have a noise problem, otherwise it offers no sonic improvements. of course, if your amp & pre are configured in balanced-only mode, then it also makes sense to go this way.
re: plug-in x-over frequency modules, i much prefer the simplicity & lower cost of doing it this way, as opposed to having a switch. it only takes maybe 3 minutes, & i do it *so* infrequently, that it's not really an issue.
i also much prefer having a volume pot at the cross-over frequency - this really makes it easy to match different subs w/different speakers, in different rooms. w/my present set-up, the increased clarity, detail & smoothed frequency response (confirmed w/a pink noise generator & spectrum analyzer) when the x-over volume pot is set to -2db, is really noticeable.
regarding use of i/c's vs op-amps, in this day & age, i think it's more of an intellectual argument, w/no real-world meaning - plenty of outstanding audio products w/op-amps. they *can* offer sonic benefits to a savvy designer...
don't get me wrong, i'm sure the bryston is an outstanding unit. it was one of my 3 choices (the other being a db systems unit). it just didn't make sense to me to spend the extra money when there didn't seem to be any significant sonic improvements to be had, & when it was actually less flexible for my purposes, w/o the x-over volume pot. i *can* honestly say, tho, that i wouldn't trade my unit straight-across for a bryston, fwiw... ;~)
regards, doug s.