Mix and match power amps? (Bryston +)

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Kevin C Brown, Nov 5, 2003.

  1. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Just curious if anyone out there mixes power amp manufacturers and what your thoughts are?

    I have an Acurus A200 and an A200x5. A nice setup, but I'm trying not to convince myself I might not be happy until I try a Bryston stereo amp. Thinking about mating a 4b-st with the A200x5.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    match the gains.
     
  3. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    A friend of mine use 2 Bryston 4b's with a Carver TFM6. One Bryston powers the mains while the Carver powers the center. There's quite a bit of difference in the sound when you get panning across the front almost like a vocal mismatch(the Carver is much brighter). All the levels are matched via an spl meter when we calibrated. At this point when he gets some more $$ he plans on purchasing another Bryston to round out his 6 channel setup.

    Being both the Acurus brand and the Brystons are considered by many as very neutral, I'd give it a shot. If nothing else you have quelled your inner thoughts about the issue and can lay it to rest.
     
  4. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    It can be done. I know someone who uses a Krell as the main stereo amp in his setup with an Anthem MCA-5 for surround and center duty.

    I have an Odyssey (dual mono) as my main stereo amp with a Sherbourn for surround and Center work. If you get amps from companies that have a similar sonic character, you can get away with it.

    I listen to a lot of two channel music so any (negligable) difference for HT I can live with.
     
  5. Phil Rose

    Phil Rose Agent

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    I use Bryston 7B-STs for my mains and an ATI AT1505 for center and surround duties. The center is bi-amped, the surrounds are mono-amped and one amp channel is spare. Speakers are B&W N802-mains, HTM1-center, N804-surrounds. There is no way that I can hear any change in sound when panning. Speaker matching is great and the amps are transparent. YMMV
     
  6. Ricky T

    Ricky T Supporting Actor

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    What about an Aragon 8008BB?
     
  7. Kevin T

    Kevin T Screenwriter

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    i'll second the aragon 8008bb

    kevin t
     
  8. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well keep in mind things like the following as an example.

    The input sensitivity of the Bryston 4BST is 1.5 volts to get 250 watts.

    The input sensitivity of your current A200 is 1.1 volts to reach it's rated output of 200 watts.

    Hence to match things up so you don't have an imbalance, whatever you're using as a preamp would need to have some sort of gain reserves and appropriate voltage capcity then these differences can be compensated for. I didn't crank the #'s for Shane's example that he listed but one could to determine if some of the audible differences that were heard were due to a mismatch. Appropriate levels should be determined by a VOM as SPL meters are fairly inaccurate in this regard.

    Happy hunting!
     
  10. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Chu- Yeah, I guess what I'd probably do is balance levels with Avia or something at levels close to what I listen to (watch) DVDs at. My price point for a 4b-st (or Lex nt225) is less than $1000 (used, of course). And the going rate seems to be about $1250-ish, so I still might have some more waiting to do. [​IMG]
     
  11. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    I've always found the folks over at Bryston to be very nice and pretty responsive with answering questions and it's not unusual to receive a direct reply from the head guy. Consider emailing them for any caveats or methodologies to use when considering your potential scenario.
     
  12. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    I've had Bryston and Proceed mixed and a while back Bryston and Rotel with no problem. The SST series is better sound quality wise than the ST and more flexible in setting up. Right now I have a 14BSST on the mains and a 6BSST on the center and rears. There is no big deal on difference in the amp gains. It is easily compensated for with the level controls. I had the 6BSST not that long on the front 3 channels with a Proceed on the rears and the Proceed and 6BSST were much closer in gain levels vs. the 6BSST and 14BSST. The 6BSST,4BSST and 3BSST I believe all have the same gain levels. I've previously owned a 4BST was well. If you have a speaker that likes power and has big woofers that need control the 4BST tends to sound good with it. If you don't have a very large room and a speaker with big woofers that is not on the inefficient side then you could also consider the 3BST (I've owned that too in the past in the individual power pack version) which sound better than the 4BST on many speakers. Bryston customer service is great. Incidentally, from what I understand, the list price may be going up on some or all of the current SST amps. Not sure what impact they will have on the used market for older ST series amps.
     
  13. Ricky T

    Ricky T Supporting Actor

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    Kevin,

    If you rule out 19inch gear, then your scope for used big amps would eliminate brands like Aragon, Classe, Parasound, etc.
    I have a couple of Madrigal used amp suggestions for you; both gorgeous looking! Do not be fooled by Madgrial's conservative amp ratings.

    1) Proceed Amp2 or Amp3 125W/ch (should be similiar to the Amp5). Member Yogi wrote in another recent thread:

    "I have a Proceed Amp2, Citations brother also built by Madrigal, rated at 125W/ch that sounds more powerfull and has better defined bass than even the Rotel 1090, Rotel's flagship 380W/ch amp. IMHO Citation is a class above Rotel, Outlaw, Parasound etc and even the venerable Bryston."

    2) Citation 7.1 under-rated 150x4, 75 lb, 2800 retail amps. Get two of these and hook up one to each Main Speaker; therefore, in stereo, the two 7.1s would essentially be 300+ watt monoblocks with three open channels. These amps run cool, sound great, are bridgeable, have triggers in & out, and look fantastic (with the nice blue lights). The smaller Citation 5.1's *100 watts* outplayed a Samson S1000 300x2 in driving my passive NHT subs in terms of sheer power as well as details in the bass. My friend had a similiar experience with a 5.1 amp vs a 300x2 pro amp driving his Shiva subs. Two 7.1s are about 1800 used; sell your two Acurus amps for ~ 1000; for 800 more, you get 150 lbs of better amplification, 8 identical amp channels for HT, and essential two highend 300 watt monos for stereo.

    http://www.audioreview.com/Amplifie...49_1583crx.aspx

    Reputable Jeff Sound Values might have 7.1s also:

    http://cgi.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cl....mult&1072129834
     
  14. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Phil- Can you comment some more on "The SST series is ... more flexible in setting up than the ST series." ??

    It's interesting in that you are the second person to mention that there is a significant/fundemental/sizeable difference in sound quality between the two. But I just can't afford the SST! Except for maybe the 3b-sst. But I even saw a 3 month old one go for $1400. Still kind of outside my self-imposed limit.

    Ricky- I had looked at Proceed too. And they were even more expensive than Bryston! (I had my heart set on a BPA2.) But the prices have come down a little, and looks like I could get an AMP2 for like $750 or so. Something to think about.
     
  15. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Kevin the BPA series is better than the Proceed Amp series. I've owned a BPA2 and a BPA3 as well (used on the rears). I have an HPA3 as well, which is currently in for repair for almost 2 mos. I will likely sell it when it is fixed, although I have toyed with the idea of using it when I finish the basement over the winter. Madrigal's Connecticut plant was shut down and everything is literally on trailers sitting at Lexicon's Massachusetts location. The HPA is still current and will be continued as a Levinson product and in the current environment it will be a long learning curve for Lexicon on Levinson and Proceed products. The local dealer just dropped them. He can't look customers in the face who spend $15k on reference preamps that they can't fix within a reasonable amt. of time. They will resolve the problems but it will take time. So I would be a bit wary of any Madrigal product at the current time.

    The SST series is much smoother than the ST series. Much better for music. There are toggle swtiches on the back of the 9BSST, 3BSST, 4BSST and 6BSST for each channel for polarity, whether it is balanced or single ended connections and also sensitivty switches that can be set to 4V, 2V or 1V to optimize gain depending on the source pre-amp operating level. I've owned so many things I get calls from stereo store owners or sales people I know when they have a customer who asks about stuff. I guess I've reached the point where I like the sound quality and reliability of what what I have in the main system.
     
  16. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Kevin, I would guess a used BPA2 would go for around $1,200 give or take a bit. I forgot to mention the Bryston SST series also has about 15-20% more power on avg. than the ST series. The (ST) power pacs I had were rated at 120W but the test sheet said 156/157. The old 4BST I formerly had was rated at 250W but the test sheet I think said 309W. The 6BSST I have is rated at 300W but the test sheet says 333/335W. The 14BSST is rated at 600W but the test sheet says 645/649W. While the 3BSST and 9BSST is rated at 120W, I believe the test sheets I've seen are in the low 160s.

    A couple of other points with the amps noted. The Proceed Amp series was modular and while it was made it was possible to upgrade from an Amp2 to an Amp3 and if one finds the parts and the technician that may be possible down the road. While it is not public knowledge, the last batch of 6BSTs actually had the same guts has the SST series except for the front panel switch. It is also my understand that the 14BST, except for the front panel switch, is the same as the SST series (probably true of the 7BST as well).
     
  17. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Here is a 3BST for sale: http://cgi.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cl.p...ran&1073222202

    I found out today the list price on a 6BSST is going from $4.4k to $5k and I believe the 5-channel 9BSST is going to $4.9k (the 14BSST will stay the same). As I noted earlier, I am not sure what they will do to the market for older amps but I can't imagine they will get cheaper or have that many people willing to drop the price as readily.
     
  18. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    To my ears Acurus and Bryston are both forward sounding amps so there shouldn't be a problem matching them. Even if they wern't, different amps are not that different sounding like different brands of speakers so I dont think combining amp from different manufacturers should be a problem at all. I have combined a neutral sounding amp with a laid back sounding amp for my HT and I cant tell the difference. As long as you have them level matched it shouldn't be a problem.
     
  19. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Phil- Wow. Thanks for all the info! I guess I'll have to keep an eye on prices. I have seen a few Amp 2's, but it looks like used BPA's are pretty rare. I guess I'll have to keep an eye out for a 3b-sst too. Thanks!
     

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