Bryston 3B-ST Amplifiers

Bryston 3B-ST Amplifiers 

DESCRIPTION

120W/ch

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 71  
[May 25, 2008]
Russ
AudioPhile

Strength:

Built like a tank, Neutral as all get out. Simple design, and probably the best warrenty in the business.

Weakness:

It's heavy to lift LOL. It means a balenced preamp if you can afford it.

First off I am canadian and NOT biased. My system consists of a bryston 3b st oracle delphi mk 3 (SORRY CANADIAN PRODUCT TOO),et2 air arm, grado signature tlz, audio refinement pre2, rotel rcd 975, and B and W 604 series 3's. Custon beldon 9860 interconnects with 1$ gold plated rca's(end's/rca's BIGGEST SCAM GOING). The cable has a 77% velocity of propogation. Anyways the bryston was the result of selling 2 systems and a tax return to buy. Worth every penny. First off all the reviews are correct. This amp is neutral, at first I ran an NAD 7100 for a pre. Really this amp has an amazing soundstage and is built like a tank. The 4bst has a higher THD and is more designed for concerts and cranking. The 2 b's more of a mono block setup. The 5 and 7's are for serious loudness. But really the 4b st is for the 2 channel crowd. The comments I would always get are about the soundstage from non audiophiles. It was loud with being able to talk(dead room 3inch wood floor concrete walls). Cranked well I blew a tweeter in the 604's which are rated at 250 watts. I DO NOT subscribe to the WARM sound of music since as a record dealer(recordalbums.com from 98-01) I needed neutral. I just wanted to hear what the recording was. This amp did exactly that without the tube degredation and additional cost for them. 20 year warrenty WHO has that NO manufacturer. With a high point of 9,000 albums and now 4-5000 I really couldn't say nicer things about the Bryston amps. I kept blowing NAD's and Luxmans. Really if you can't blow it then it's right. My truck sports 1200 watts so I like it loud this amp is LOUD. Detailed Neutral and built like a tank. The great reviews are endless.

Viva Canada home of Classe, totem, bryston, oracle, and others

Customer Service

20 year warrenty you'll die b4 it does. If your able to cook it

Similar Products Used:

NAD, Sony, luxman, rotel, classe

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jan 02, 2006]
mmeysarosh
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Clear and concise, this amplifier brings anything and everything in the recording to the front of the stage.

Weakness:

Sometimes, what is in the front of the stage was meant to be a further back, making he interactions of players less homogenous then originally intended.

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).

Similar Products Used:

Harman Kardon Signature 2.1 Pass Labs X250

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jun 26, 2005]
LenMoskowitz
AudioPhile

Strength:

Very low background noise. Fine sound quality. Fine imaging. Very good value (second-hand) for the price.

Weakness:

Not quite at the sound quality of the Krell KSA-80B.

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!

Similar Products Used:

McCormack DNA-1, Krell KSA-80B, Lexicon NT 212 (an OEM version of the 3BST)

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Sep 14, 2004]
JCsix
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

neutral, quiet, good sound stage, accurate reproduction of music with details many other amps miss

Weakness:

not as warm as tubes if warmth is important to you

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.

Similar Products Used:

rega, classe, arcam, chord,

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[May 03, 2003]
Jon
AudioPhile

Strength:

great bass, dynamics, detail, clarity.

Weakness:

none that I can tell!

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.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Mar 07, 2003]
John
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

reveals what is truly recorded on a CD in an unveiled way. But get the gear to support it too. Neutral gear.

Weakness:

none if the strengths are what you look for

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. Cheers

Similar Products Used:

none really. What I have tried: Denon, Chord, Rega, Arcam, Moon and a number of Tube amps from various high end manufacturers.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jan 11, 2003]
b smith
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

with a well recorded cd it can shine with the level of detail in its presentation. great bass. great warranty and service.

Weakness:

watch out for that hardness especially in the highs; really needs proper component matching.

I have had a Bryston amp in my system now for the last 15 yrs. I started with the 3B (I think it was NRB) in the mid- '80's, which I liked a lot. (my tastes have unfortunately increased) I traded for the 3B ST two years ago, and changed to the new version 3B SST in 2002. Several weeks ago I replaced this with the Classe 401. I would characterize the Bryson amp sound as powerful, with a deep, well controlled bass, and fairly revealing of detail. The downside of the 3B ST is that this revealing quality comes with a certain degree of hardness, that is evident in the mid-range, and can be etched, (and annoying), in the higher frequencies, (particularly with violins). I had the 3B ST matched with Bryston's preamp BP 25, Spendor FL9's floorstanding speakers and a Rega Jupiter cd player. I was disappointed in this system. The amp really needs to be matched with components, and interconnects/cables that provide some major smoothing to its presentation. I think its strengths could then shine. I had my earlier 3B NRB matched with an Adcom pre-amp and cd player and this seemed to work better. ( but with less precise detail.) The 3B SST is a significantly better amp than the 3B ST, and it costs about the same. It has all the traditional positives of the Bryston line, but has greatly improved the smoothness which I criticized the 3B ST for lacking. I think it represents good value at this price point. It does not have the tonal refinement and richness, or layered and deep soundstage of my new Classe, but it approachs this sound, and at a cost of about a quarter of my new amp. I suppose it comes down to the audio expectations we bring to these products, and what we are willing to stand behind them with our budget. Generally I am a believer in the 'you get what you pay for philosophy'.

Similar Products Used:

SimAudio, Classe, Chord, Musical Fidelity, Rotel, Adcom, Denon, Rogue, Antique Sound Lab

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
[Aug 16, 2002]
John L
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Detail, soundstage, great control of bass, very neutral especially when mixed with right equipment.

Weakness:

Very Few - especially for the price. However one last note: detail can be a good and bad thing, you will not enjoy mediocre recordings on this amp - all flaws in the recording will be bluntly exposed or the recordings will sound very thin.

I just purchased a 3b-st which was a demo unit in a store that I stumbled upon. This is my second Bryston Amplifer - my first was a 3B that is about 16 years old. This amplifier is coupled to a Rega Cursa pre-amp, Rega Planet CD player and Acoustic Energy AEII Series 2 speakers (monitors). The first thing I must say is that the changes between the old 3B and this new one are not as significant as one would think but essentially the new is less forward sounding, better balanced, more detailed and the bass is even more controlled to my surprise (since the old 3B was great that way) - basically the old amp sounds a bit more multi purpose, the new one sound like a home stereo amp. I very much enjoy the Bryston products and to give you a bit of a comparison, I also own a 2000 Arcam Alpha 9 integrated amp. Both Brystons leave the Arcam in the dust in any category I can name - detail, bass, highs and soundstage etc... A good preamp is very important to bring out the detail in this amp... running it with my Arcam as the preamp is nice and perhaps a bit more dynamic sounding, but with the Rega the level of detail is much greater. Using neutral speakers is also a good idea to maintain it's innate ability to really paint the true picture of the recording you're listening to.When I first auditioned it I did so with a set of B&W's (503's), the acoustic energy's and a few other makes of speakers. Many of the recordings on the B&W's sounded rather similar although I knew they weren't in terms of quality and mood, with the Acoustic Energy every album rang differently - had it's own mood and really brought out the neutrality of the Bryston since the speakers seem to be very neutral as well. I highly recommend Bryston - in fact, if you are building a system from scratch - test a Bryston with different components and head to head with other amps (even twice the price). You may be surprised... If anyone tells you they don't like this amp, especially compared to other amps in the same price range, chances are there is a mismatch with some of their components or they didn't know what they were buying when they got it. If you buy a Bryston it is because you like detail and neutrality so all your other equipment should be too. But like anything else, do some testing before you buy and see if this is for you. If you like "colored" sound, this isn't for you.

Similar Products Used:

To a certain extent - Aragon, Classe. Nothing really in the price range that I feel was as good quality.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Aug 08, 2002]
DBerry
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

See post

Weakness:

See post

Background: I have had the Bryston 3B-ST for about two weeks now. It was manufactured in February 2001. It is powering a pair of Paradigm Studio 60v2 speakers that are about 6 months old. They are bi-wired with Home Depot 12-gauge wire. The source is a Sony SCD-C555ES SACD player. I am using the preouts on a Denon 3802 that I have had for about 4 months. Comparison: I had been using the Denon amplifiers to power the Paradigm speakers and have done plenty of listening to regular Redbook CDs as well as SACDs. One difference that I noticed between the internal amplifiers of the Denon and the Bryston is that it is a touch “brighter” but for me that is not an evil thing. I have a large room with a 10-foot ceiling, fully carpeted with large sound absorbing furniture. Also, when playing at low or high volume levels, the Bryston has an iron grip on the woofers. I guess that is what having “tighter bass” means. And yes, the Bryston does seem to be able to pull those low notes up to a good listening level. Again, not overbearing at all, just very musically pleasant. Changing back to the amplifiers in the Denon, the sound is just slightly mushy – not bad mind you by a long shot, but just in comparison to the Bryston powering the speakers. I was not able to clip the amplifier (make the twin green lights go to red). I played it loud enough to the point where I thought if I turn it up any louder, I might damage my speakers. Build Quality: Removing the dozen or so screws to pop the top off reveals a seemingly simple, solid design format. For me, it was quite remarkable to look at. The outside build quality is, as everyone states, “built like a tank”. It has to be both inside and out, otherwise with Bryston’s fully transferable 20-year warranty, they would be out of business. As a side note, it has a nice small footprint. Overall: Aesthetically pleasing appearance; however, I do not appreciate my equipment looking like pieces of art – I value the solid engineering look. Musically pleasing and did not require second mortgage ($1300 Cdn. – private sale). A solid piece in my setup. As a side note, I am giving the Bryston a 4-star overall rating, because it is not... "far better than I imagined" (5-star). I did a lot of research, and I expected an outstanding product and that is what I got.

Similar Products Used:

Denon 3802 internal amplifiers

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Mar 27, 2002]
Michael
AudioPhile

Strength:

The unit was well built for the money and the 20 year warranty a plus.

Weakness:

The Bryston had a number of weaknesses that included a lack of midrange dynamics and detail,and a somewhat poorly focused soundstage.In comparison the Bryston just didn''t create a believable musical event in a 3 dimensional space. I wanted to like this amplifier because I like the attitude of the company and I thought that in 20 years real progress must have been made in SS electronics. While this is only one comparison, it was disappointing.

I recently did a comparison with some friends between the Bryston 3B and a 20 year old Audio Research D120. Both units were the same power rating and both were SS. The differences were quite pronounced.

Similar Products Used:

Audio Research

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Showing 1-10 of 71  

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