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Bryston 3B-ST
71 Reviews
rating  4.63 of 5
MSRP  1565.00
Description: 120W/ch


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Reviews 1 - 5 (71 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by mmeysarosh a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: January 2, 2006

Bottom Line:   
Within its price category, it has few peers. But compared to the best it does show a certain misgivings.

Soundstage width is good but is somewhat forward and does not produce the depth you can obtain with better recordings and amplifiers. With the soundstage being somewhat forward combined with a very high level of detail makes for the possibility of fatigue more prevalent. So careful matching is certainly required with this amp.

Bass and mid-bass regions are very good with depth and control that are usually beyond most amplifiers in this power class. The midrange is clear but has a slight coarseness in the sound and this does follow along into the treble.

This amp would be best matched with speakers that have a warmer character that need a little push to open them up and become more lively. For a more neutral system, they hit or miss based on the source material provided. They really never step wrong with less then stellar recordings, they just may exacerbate the issue slightly (This is compared only to some significantly costlier options).

It is still one of the finest values in audio. With the incredible warranty combined with the price paid, you would be hard pressed to find anything that you can say actually would be the better (it took and amp at about three times the cost of the 3B-ST to succeed accomplish).

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $850.00

Purchased At:   Audiogon

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by LenMoskowitz a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: June 26, 2005

Bottom Line:   
I own a small company that manufactures high resolution recording equipment.

I try to keep the cost of my two-channel audio playback system to under $4000. I'm using a Benchmark DAC-1 that is fed from a Meridian 506 CD player's (used as a transport) S/PDIF output for CDs, and a Pioneer multi-format DVD player's (also only used as a transport) S/PDIF output for DVD-A and SACD. Speakers are a pair of Revel M20s (around $1200) and a Klipsch LF-10 Pro powered subwoofer.

I limit the cost of my amps to $1000 or under. Since I have fussy, audiophile ears, this usually leads me to buy second-hand, last generation amps.

I bought this Bryston 3BST to replace a McCormack DNA-1. The DNA-1 was a fine sounding amp, but as I increasingly listened to 24-bit recordings having very quiet backgrounds (I do lots of my own recordings), I found that the DNA-1's relatively high self-noise intruded on the blackness of the background and covered up some low-level detail, including reverb tail-offs and other very quiet sounds.

The Brystons have a reputation for being fine sounding amps, well made, well supported and very quiet. I found all this to be true.

The 3BST has roughly the same output power rating as the DNA-1 but is considerably smaller and lighter. As I mentioned, its background is considerably quieter than the DNA-1; it has similar soundstage imaging and tonal qualities. That is to say that it sounds quite wonderful.

I was less than happy with only one of the 3BST's features: in stereo mode it's designed to drive at minimum a 4 Ohm load, and my Revel M20 speakers dip below 4 Ohms at some frequencies. Also, in bridged mode the 3BST will work fine into an 8 Ohm load, but Bryston is very clear about it not being usable for 4 Ohm speakers.

Second-hand, the Bryston 3BST is a really excellent amp at its current price point (under $800). (For comparison, the current version of this amp -- the 3B-SST -- curretnly sells new for over $1700.)

I recently replaced the 3BST with a Krell KSA 80-B, a true Class A amplifier, for which I paid a bit over $900. The Krell is 16 years old but is still a gem. It drives loads down to half an Ohm with no problems. And it has an unusually fine sound.

Mated to the Revels, in my opinion the Krell has a sound quality that's a small notch truer to the sources of my recordings than the Bryston. I did have to lift the Krell's ground to get it to be as quiet as the Bryston, but now that I have it's even perhaps a shade quieter.

The 3BST's muting circuit failed last month. Bryston knew about the problem (apparently it's not uncommon) and fixed it for just the cost of me buying a reliable shipping box ($30) and paying for UPS ground shipping (around $25) to their Vermont (US) repair facility. It arrived back home in roughly a week. Kudos to Bryston for honoring their 20 year warranty and for the quick service!

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1998

Price Paid:    $700.00

Purchased At:   eBay

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by JCsix a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: September 14, 2004

Bottom Line:   
I have owned a number of different amplifiers through the years...

currently my surrounding system is comprised of a rega planet CD player, acoustic energy AE2 reference speakers and a rega cursa pre-amp.

my old bryston 3b was a 1985 model and I had kept it forever cause I could not find anything in it`s price range or a bit more expensive that did anything close to what it did with my system

the switch the the 2001 3b-st just cleaned the sound up even more - even more quiet, eliminated the slight graininess that I had on the old 3b, and expanded the sound stage, as well as provided a more balanced sound with less forward soundtage. (mind you the forward sound of the old 3b still is a favorite with some of my friends who ask me to plug it back in when they are around :) )

I am very satisfied with these amplifiers and as much other reviews state here it is a great bang for the buck in terms of performance. I had a chance to hear the new sst series which is even cleaner.

if you are seeking a used amp in the 1500-2000 range - this is probably one of the best buys you can make.

you would probably spend twice that for something minimally better.

I have quite a bit of experience with Rega and Arcam equipment - which are fairly close to the price of the Brystons - trust me - not in the same league at all! the Bryston puts them to shame on all levels. Don`t make the mistake I made when I bought an Arcam thinking it would better my old Bryston - never came close! I have sold it since.

actually to put things in perspective - when I was shopping for a used one online I called a seller - which ended up being lucas films sound ranch! one of the many studios that use these amps.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $1200.00

Purchased At:   local dealer

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jon a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: May 3, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I have the 3BSST. It has made a very considerable improvement in my system. Compared to my previous amp, which actually had more power, this puts out firmer, tighter bass you can really feel. I didn't know what I was missing.

It also does dynamics really well. The impact of a stick on a drumhead, or the sudden crescendo of an orchestra, really have impact with this amp.

Clarity and detail are also excellent. Every little thing that's on the recording comes through.

I've never even gotten this very warm, much less anywhere near clipping, despite using it to drive fairly inefficient speakers to as high a volume as I need.

I'm using this with the Bryston BP25 preamp, which is an excellent match.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2002

Price Paid:    $1250.00

Purchased At:   used

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by John a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: March 7, 2003

Bottom Line:   
Well, I have read many, many reviews on this site and others of all sorts of equipment so I thought it should be my turn to write.

Bryston, you will notice, does very well with overall ranking and will either get 5's across the board or something like a 4.6 (composed of many 5's and the odd 3). Notice that?

Here are my thoughts...

The bottom line is this: these amps are very neutral. Period. This means if anything in your system isn't neutral, then you don't hear the full potential nor what it is designed to do. Yet if everything is - you will get the most accurate reproduction of material that you will find via any amplifier on the market today. Is it Musical? Warm? No and no - it's neutral, transparent, detailed and very accurate. So - with a bad recording you hear the flaws and other lacking areas. No doubt. And with a great recording, nothing will touch this amp in terms of reproducing the sound and highlighting the great work and precision that went into recording the album (at least
nothing I have heard).

So try it out with the equipment and CD collection YOU have to help you determine if it is for you.

An anecdote that may help put some perspective around what I am saying: personally, I had an old 3B (15 years old) and an Arcam Alpha 9 that was a year old. The old 3B was simply more detailed and bigger - every album had a distinct sound. The Arcam made a lot of the material sound the same - a nice sound - so that bad albums were nice and good albums were nice. That
wasn't my thing. I prefer the old 3B and so did most others who heard them. I upgraded to a 3BST and the difference is quite significant - much cleaner and more detailed, etc...but still neutral. With great recordings, everyone who hears this amp is quite entranced by the sound. With bad recordings, it reveals all flaws but in a way is interesting to hear. It is amazing to discover who from the 60's and 70's was recording intense stuff and who just sounded nice at the surface. This amp does that. It reveals it all.

I personally like this type of sound. Whether you do or not is up to you. A 3 out of 5 suggests to me that you are looking for a 'coloring amp' - one that will alter sound to make things sound a certain way...sound 'nice' regardless of engineering quality. If you don't like the Bryston, then you either don't like that kind of revelation or lack of color or perhaps have not heard it at its best. Keep in mind that surrounding gear is crucial.

Put it this way - let me share with you a recent personal experience in comparison of other high end stuff. I was in a stereo shop with the Bryston 3BST amp a while back looking into new speakers (neutral ones). The salesman suggested I upgrade to a $9000 chord amp (6 times what I paid for mine!), as well as the $20000 kit he had running all of this (speakers, DAC CD player). Well we listened. I had to admit it was nice, yet everything sounded quite similar no matter what the recording. Then we switched his pricey amp for my 3bst and he was stunned. He commented on hearing things he never even knew were on the album. It was quite interesting…his reaction. With no doubt, the high quality albums sounded much more detailed and real.

Bottom Line: the Bryston 3BST is a world class amp for a reason. With a good CD collection you would pay a lot more to get something that can do what these amps will if that is your thing - accuracy, pure and simple.

Try it yourself. Hit your audio store with YOUR gear and YOUR music and compare - it's the only way to know.

I give it a 5. It does what it was designed to do - neutralize and provide accuracy, along with big
soundstage. And what it was designed not to do? Hide the true recording :)

I hope this helps you if you are shopping around.


Expand full review >>

Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $1500.00

Reviews 1 - 5 (71 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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