Power Amplifiers

Bryston 3B SST2 Stereo 150 Watt per Channel Power Amplifier

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I listened to many of the same albums that I listened to when I reviewed the Bryston 14B SST2, and, well, they sounded just like they did with the 14B, namely neutral. As you will see in the bench tests, there is a bit more IMD with the 3B, but it is still so low, that it is inaudible. This is an amplifier that delivers all the detail, without a hint of harshness. Nice deep soundstage. Lots of great music.

I combined the Bryston with an OPPO BDP-83/NuForce Edition universal player, Mystère ca21 preamplifier, and Carver Mark IV ribbon speakers. Except for the jazz albums where I played along with the music, as noted below, I moved my drums to the rear wall.

Of course, I could not get the incredibly high volume that I could with the 14B, but the 3B is designed for smaller, well, venues we might say, such as a den, where you are not trying to impress your friends with shattering windows, but, rather, being soothed by classical chamber music or some easy listening jazz, and a glass of wine. Of course, if you want to listen to heavy metal, go ahead, see if I care. The 3B has headroom, just don't expect it to kill all the cockroaches.

Here are some additional albums that I listened to, as I just purchased them, and they are terrific. One is Baroque music, but the other two are classic jazz albums that I highly recommend. I had to search high and low to find the Frank Capp album in particular.

The first one is a compilation from various composers, with Daniel Hope as violin soloist. Violins are great instruments to test amplifiers with, and Danny boy's violin sounded as smooth as silk on the 3B.

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This is the album I had trouble locating. It's a Concord Records 1991 release. There is one strange thing though. Look at the title and then count the number of musicians on the cover art. Regardless, this is some marvelous jazz with a terrific alto and tenor saxophonist, Rickey Woodard, and actually, it's the trio with Woodard as guest soloist. As I have mentioned before, my favorite combination is a tube preamplifier with a solid state power amplifier, as I have done in this review, and - well, you just have to listen to a combination like this to hear what I mean. It really is wonderful. The preamplifier tube harmonics combined with the Bryston's absolute neutrality was a thing to behold.

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Here's another great sax player, Scott Hamilton, on Concord Jazz, but this CD was a little easier to find, as it was recorded in 2005. Same setup as the Frank Capp album, with piano, bass, drums, and sax. This kind of music is great to play along with on my drums, and the Bryston made it sound like I was a guest drummer on the play date (yeah, like I wish). The 3B's quiet background and ultra-low distortion made for some wonderful jazz evenings, with only the lights behind the speakers turned on, dimmed to about half brightness, and me in my easy chair, eyes closed, blood pressure dropping, sipping something cold and refreshing. I forgot about the sound system and just let my eardrums communicate with what's left of my 65 year old cerebral cortex. You know, I think spending lots of evenings listening to satisfying music on a good system may very well lengthen the lifespan. Good excuse to buy the best stuff, huh?

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