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Bryston BP6 Preamplifier and 2B SST Squared Amplifier Review  Print E-mail
Home Theater Preamplifiers Stereo Preamps
Written by Andre Marc   
Wednesday, 09 December 2009
Article Index
Bryston BP6 Preamplifier and 2B SST Squared Amplifier Review 
Listening Session
Specs and Reviewer

Listening Session:

Interestingly, the Bryston setup is not partial to any one kind of music.  I did begin my listening with some classic rock. The excellent 2001 remaster of Free’s self titled debut is a huge favorite of mine. Free created the archetype for heavy, blues based rock, with a self destructive, virtuoso lead guitar player, and full throated, lusty lead singer.  This CD just plain rocked with the Bryston gear. Everything was just so lifelike and to normal scale, not bigger or smaller. Paul Rodgers throaty delivery on such as tracks as “Song of Yesterday” and “Woman” was so true to his natural timbre, it was stunning. Things like the crack of the snare drum, the thick distorted guitar tones by Paul Kossoff, and the throbbing bass lines were in perfect focus,  

I then put on a disc I had played only a few times, Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band’s live Hammersmith Odeon, London ’75.  The performance is outstanding, but I previously thought the production sucked a little bit of the life out the event. Not so with the Bryston gear as it was alive with excitement.  It was actually pretty hard to believe that it was recorded 34 years ago. Bruce pushed the band to its limit, as he was out to impress the British crowd on his first visit to England. The Bryston components perfectly conveyed the pacing, energy, and pulse of the performance; a very happy rediscovery, for sure.

Next up, I put the Bryston through some varied paces with discs from such genres as bluegrass, jazz, classical, and folk.  I also spun a bending, impossible to define new work by singer, song writer, and composer Sufjan Stevens, The BQE.  His last three works were concept albums related to specific American locales, such as the states of Michigan and Illinois.  This particular CD employs various instrumental movements, vocal pieces, and everything but the kitchen sink.  The Bryston system laid out the complexities of the ‘movements” flawlessly; very impressive, indeed.  

Bryston 2B SST Amplifier Front View
I also spent quite bit of time with various discs in The Beatles Stereo Box Set. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band sounded awesome, with all the previously hidden little details illuminated by the excellent mastering team at Abbey Road Studios meticulously laid on in the soundstage. The other titles in the set sounded equally as stunning, as I have never heard the Beatles sound so lifelike. I was used to the slightly smaller images produced by my ARC gear.

Listening to each Bryston component separately in my reference system, then as a complete system with their own BCD-1 CD player allowed me to come to some conclusions. I believe the star of the group is the 2B SST amp.  In my opinion, it is without any flaws that I can detect ergonomically or sonically.  If neutral is your bag, and you are looking for a component that will probably work forever, you have found it. And if you have any doubts on the longevity, the 20 year warranty will put your mind at rest.  It was an absolute pleasure to evaluate, as it provided no set up challenges. No heat producing tubes to bias, easy connectivity, selectable gain, high quality binding posts and the option of balanced connections. There is plenty of power here to boot. At $2750, I really believe this is an excellent value. To get more refinement, you will need to spend significantly more, easily as much as a quality compact car.

The BP6 ($1995) is a very clean sounding and neutral preamplifier.  Setup was as equally trouble free.  A tape loop and two sets of outputs provide flexibility. The BP6 is ultra quiet and feels like a preamp costing at least double.  The optional remote control should last a lifetime, the ability to order the unit with an internal Bryston DAC, and a phono stage really covers a lot of bases.

I did try the BP6 and 2B SST with a few aftermarket tweaks. I replaced the stock power cords with my Acoustic Zen Tsunamis and immediately dynamics and overall performance improved.  Symposium isolation devices improved imaging and tonal accuracy. I’m sure your experiences will vary.

Conclusion:


These Bryston components really grew on me. Personally suprising, as my usual preference is tube amplification. I found the grain free, dynamic and rock solid presentation very pleasing.  What was missing? Well, my Audio Research gear certainly is a bit warmer in the midrange, with a more intimate presentation. My tube gear is definitely more forgiving of edgier recordings. But the Bryston set up had a truer sense of scale, and better bass control, by a mile.  While those looking for more romantic presentation will want to look elsewhere, if you desire a very clean window into the recording, Bryston makes the equipment you need. I believe these components are superbly built, and are very fairly priced.  Did I mention the 20 year warranty?



 

 
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