Each amplifier, including a Bryston, has a certain signature. Not every brand can say that the signature has remained the same over the years. So did Bryston. Your editor might know. Several 4B’s of different generations have served in different sets for short or longer periods of time. Whichever generation is listened to, a Bryston sounds like a Bryston. Whereas the first ones sometimes buzzed and struggled a bit with circuit breakers in the meter cupboard, later generations of meter cupboards became a lot more sophisticated and sound friendly. More expensive, unfortunately. An enormous leap in sophistication was introduced with the SST models and now again a similar leap with the ‘Cubed’ series.
Our reference Bryston BP26 with the very stable MPS2 power supply unit serves as pre-amplification and our Usher Mini Dancer 2 Beryllium speakers are used as reproducers. The Beryllium tweeters of the MD2’s, but for example also of our new reference speaker, the Focal Sopra No1, are in practice very critical with the matched amplification. If something is out of balance or there is a mismatch, they bite off aggressively. The layer of these speakers is also a good indicator of the quality of the amplification. If the control is good, the speaker is able to reproduce sub-layer in a recording in a powerful, defined and controlled way. If the amplification somewhere is not stable, then it sounds low on this speaker just very restless and messy. If it’s already displayed.
Bryston’s marketing device (if we can call it that at this manufacturer) is usually reluctant to make value judgements about the capabilities of its new products. From the mouth of humble Bryston this would almost sound like bragging. Maybe that’s why we’re so charmed by the brand.
Directly and cold from the packaging, the 4B3 sounds neutral, relatively sterile with an emphatically present layer and sub-layer. We didn’t experience this as such with the 3B3. It sounded ultra neutral right out of the box, refined with a hint of sub-layer. The middle area of the 3B3 sounds a bit cooler in our memory compared to the 4B3, but because we have been returning it to the importer for some time now, we cannot make a direct A-B comparison and therefore dare not say this with absolute certainty. The 4B seems to lay just a little more foundation under the presentation and has more ‘balls’ in the lower octaves. The height of both family members is immediately detailed and velvety soft. The latter in particular satisfies us.
After a few days of playing, the sound image of the 4B becomes more balanced. Every time with small steps, but oho, what a difference in totality. The layer becomes more and more neutral, the definition becomes better and more layered. The middle and high become more and more transparent and subtle. This is not only clever in the price range in which the Bryston set is positioned, this is clever in a general sense.