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Bryston BP6 Preamplifier and 2B SST Squared Amplifier Review Print E-mail
Wednesday, 09 December 2009
Article Index
Bryston BP6 Preamplifier and 2B SST Squared Amplifier Review
Listening Session
Specs and Reviewer

ImageAfter having reviewed a series of tube based components from Manley Labs, I looked forward to getting a view from the other end of the spectrum when I took delivery of a solid state preamplifier and power amplifier from Bryston, a Canadian company that has been making pro audio and audiophile equipment for 40 years.  Their longevity is no accident, as they are known for making great sounding, reliable, stylish gear. They also back up their reputation with a 20 year warranty, virtually unheard of in the consumer audio market.

Up for review is the Bryston 2B SST Squared, power amplifier, MSRP $2750, and the BP6 preamplifier, MSRP $1995. A volume controlling remote control is optional.  The 2B SST amplifier is rated at 100 watts per channel into 8 ohms, and 180 watts per channel into 4 ohms. Both units arrived with a silver faceplate, but black is also available.

Initial Impressions:

I decided to give each component a listen one a time in my reference system, then to assemble them as a complete system. Bryston also sent their BCD-1 CD player to use with in conjunction with the BP6 and the 2B SST. The BCD-1 (MSRP $2695) has gotten rave reviews from the audio press and users alike. However, it should be noted the BCD-1 is not officially under review here.

First up, I substituted the BP6 for my tubed Audio Research SP16 preamplifier. The BP6 is slim and fits into any equipment rack. There are three large knobs in front that select, source, balance, and volume. There is also a headphone jack on the front panel. The BP6 is single ended only, with four high level stereo inputs, and two sets of outputs.

The optional remote control offers Volume Up, Volume Down, or Mute, but no source selection.  The BP6 uses only discrete circuits with no IC’s in the circuit path, which Bryston says can cause distortion and non linearity. Additionally, the unit can be shipped with an internal Bryston DAC, a MM Phono Stage, and a choice of silver or black face plates in 17 or 19 inch length.

Bryston BP6 Preamplifier Front View
The first thing I noticed with the BP6 is how quiet it was in comparison to my ARC SP16. I must have grown accustomed to a subtle amount of tube hiss. Using the BP6 with my Audio Research VS55 power amp, it proved to be extremely clean, grain free, and a very solid performer.  The combination worked great, and I would predict the BP6 would be a trouble free, zero maintenance preamp for life.

Next in, I tried the 2B SST amp with the SP16.  The 2B SST is also available in silver or black 17 or 19 inch faceplate. It has user selectable balanced and single ended connections. There is also a user selectable gain switch for each channel. One can select between 1V and 2V with a small toggle switch on the back panel. The amp is finished with high quality connectors and speaker binding posts.

It became apparent from the get go that the 2B SST was an excellent sounding amplifier. It was like someone cleaned a dirty windshield to allow better visibility. A higher level of transparency than is available with my VS55 was evident. Bass slam and articulation was superb. The soundstage was, without a doubt, wider than I was used to.  The only quibble I had at first was the slightest pinch of opaqueness in the higher frequencies. This disappeared after being powered up for a day or two and never reappeared.  The overall tonal balance was neutral and the presentation was expansive, without a hint of any grain. The Bryston doubled the power of my VS55 into 8 ohms, but I did not necessarily notice a huge difference in my smallish listening room.  With a larger room and power hungry speakers, you would clearly enjoy the benefits. Suffice it to say, you would be hard pressed to push the 2B SST to its limits. It also ran cool, barely producing any heat to the touch. I left it powered on for the duration of the review for optimum performance.

System Set Up:

After listening to the BP6 and the 2B SST separately, I then assembled a complete Bryston system, including the BCD-1 CD player Bryston sent along with the other components.  The BCD-1 is very solidly built, has balanced and unbalanced connections, and uses a Crystal 192k/24bit DAC.  

After spinning a few CDs to get everything warmed up, I did some serious listening. The first word that came to mind is “synergy”. As a system, each component complimented the next. I had hours and hours of fatigue free music listening. Dynamics were stellar, and as noted before, the soundstage was wider than my reference system.  I was enjoying clean, quiet backgrounds, detail retrieval, depth, and the extra power, even though as noted before, my room precludes rock concert levels. f


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