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Review Bryston 4B SST3 power amplifier

Experience

Experience

Several albums have been reviewed in the meantime. Even without fine-tuning the set, some albums sound so lifelike, that the music touches us to the depths of our souls, and every now and then your editor really has to shed a tear. Our BP-26/4B3 combination lets us experience every album we set up with an emotion that we usually only experience with high quality five-digit tube combinations.

Actually, it’s a big mistake, ‘Door’ by Slagerij van Kampen. On almost no configuration this album really comes into its own, so the expectations with the Bryston BP-26/4B3 are corresponding in advance. Door’ is a dynamic album with different musical styles, performed with percussion instruments. For this album, the correct reproduction of ‘timbre’, key tones and resonances of the different instruments are essential. Besides that, it is important that focus, placement, transparency and micro detail are in order, because otherwise this album will soon become a tiring knitting. We never listened to this album in one piece, because on a mediocre performing set the album is tiring on us. What’s more, in many of the configurations we listened to, we miss ‘power’ in the playback and then it quickly becomes sluggish and tedious. Therefore, the album has been in the closet untouched for years in a row.

Apparently the Bryston combination does something magical; we have listened to the album completely for the first time. With the Bryston combination we almost look through the drum band with a stage viewer, we give the moderate volume a hefty pendulum and immediately experience the fierce blows of the drums against our diaphragm and we feel the sub layer (without a subwoofer) rolling through space. And during all this violence even the re-resonation of drum skins is heard. Even miniscule background noises we hadn’t noticed before (not surprising if the album has been in the closet for years) are effortlessly absorbed. It ‘feels’ live. The rhythm is exhilarating. Lovely. A feast to listen to and very carefully we fall in love with the excellence of this Bryston combination. And the 4B3? It stays all lukewarm underneath; it doesn’t shrink.

We accidentally grab an album of the Klein Orkest from the closet. A sonically less fortunate choice. It concerns The Best Of The Small Orchestra, a moderately recorded album that penetrates the ear canal rather raw and unpolished, but the Bryston combination conjures up a very nice picture. The recording doesn’t get any better, but the Bryston knows how to create some transparency in the album and this makes the album easy to listen to. Harrie Jekkers’ singing to the song ‘Verloren Tijd’ (Lost Time) sounds convincing and gives us goosebumps at times. As the album progresses we notice that we often tap with our feet to the rhythm. Tricky when the editor in question is tapping a review with a notebook on his lap. Despite the mediocre quality, we are able to grasp the whole thing and hum and whistle along with the catchy melody of the album, which turned grey in the 90s. And this is exactly what our beautiful hobby is all about, isn’t it?

The Bryston combination clearly shows overcompensations and/or shortcomings in the mastering process. The Album ‘The African Groove Experience’ of the label Afrosonic has received such a boost in the mid-low and mid-high that the natural timbre is largely lost. It sounds much too bold and worse, it distorts in the sound peaks. The recordings do sound holographic and we have the feeling that we are in the centre of the music, but because of the bad mastering not between the musicians themselves. The Bryston clearly shows the shortcomings in the registration (and of the mastering equipment) for piano playing in the second song ‘Shoe Shine’. As if the piano is half as big as it really is.

We can’t emphasize it often enough, quality starts at the very beginning of the process: the recording and mastering. It’s not for nothing that many top studios worldwide have opted for the neutral signature of Bryston power amplifiers for decades. And a good mastering engineer of course.

The Bryston combination plays so neutrally and accurately that after a few days of critical listening we even catch shortcomings in our own reference set. This mainly concerns added signature cabling; cabling that we have collected over the years for matching and fine-tuning previous reference sets. Partly because of these qualities we used a Bryston 3B3 a few months ago in our extensive interlink test.

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