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Bryston THX Combo or AVC-A1SR

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by gringottsdirect, Jul 3, 2002.

  1. gringottsdirect

    gringottsdirect
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    Bryston SP1.7 / 9B SST THX vs Denon AVC-A1SR?
    Is the Denon enough or will the Brystons make a worthwhile difference.
     
  2. Branxx

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    Assuming that the cost are not limiting your choice completelly, I would always choose Bryston combo.

    It is a very solid peice of kit. Check what are the upgrade options on Bryston decoder.
     
  3. Lowrider

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    Better yet: TAG AV32R + Bryston power... ;)
     
  4. gringottsdirect

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    I am interested in thoughts regarding the upgrade path, and peoples feelings about whether having reached their aspirations, do they feel they have spent a step too far?
    Not the law of diminishing returns thread again, but a specific topic discussing AV amplifier performance. At what point do you feel you are still making a performance gain.
    Lowrider and Branxx, thanks for replying.
    If moving from say a Denon 3802, to a Denon AVC-A1SR, that's a step, if to move on to the Bryston combo, then ultimately to say a Theta Casablanca or Lexicon MC-12B working with Lexicon (Bryston or Crown) power amplifiers, do folks who have done similar upgrades feel the difference is justified by the results.
    Or if they are honest, could they have kept their previous set-up and been just as satisfied?
    I've posted the same thread on the AVS forum as I thought it would be interesting to compare replies, with the expensive amplifiers being more prevalent with their posters.
    So far advice to listen oneself...
     
  5. Lowrider

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    Well, I went all the way...

    Started with an Onkyo 787, quite good...

    Then added a Rotel 993 for the front and center, a lot more detail...

    Then replaced the receiver with TAG AV + nother Rotel, the 1080, for the remaining channels, what I gained most was upgradeability, DPLII, new software now and then, new DACs and SHARCS soon, to have more processing options, like THX Ultra 2, bass equalization, DVD-Audio in the AV, DAB, scaler, etc...

    Then replaced the Rotel by a Bryston 4B ST for the front channels, even more detail, better bass and treble...

    Next, I will replace the remaining Rotel by more Bryston...

    I hope this is what you wanted to know, put simply...
     
  6. gringottsdirect

    gringottsdirect
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    :cool: Yes, that's it exactly...
     
  7. Charlie Whitehouse

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    I would advise against setting out with the intention to be constantly upgrading by replacing bits of kit over & over. You are inevitably going to waste an awful lot of money trading those redundant bits of kit in as you move up the ladder.

    If you aspire to the ultimate system, then once you have your basic system, I would concentrate on upgrading step by step, buying components that you don't have to throw away, and that will ultimately form parts of your final chosen system. i.e., those that are software, and preferably hardware upgradeable.

    I would also agree with Lowrider's sequence of upgrades. The speakers are going to have the biggest effect on your final sound, but I would steer clear of upgrading these first. Firstly your old amplifier may simply not be able to drive them adequately, and secondly, they will simply expose weaknesses upstream in your system. I would tend to decide which speakers you are ultimately aiming at, though. I would also suggest at this stage auditioning these with the rest of the components that you ultimately aspire to. You might as well hear what the final result is going to be like, cos you're going to have to wait a while to hear it at home!

    Some speaker choices will require much higher quality power amplification than others. You also want to make sure that your final system will not end up out of balance overall. Spending a large chunk of your budget on one part of the chain may leave you having to skimp elsewhere which will always leave you dissatisfied.

    Having decided what your ultimate goal is to be, I would upgrade to your new chosen power amplifiers first. Even with your original speakers they will improve the grip and control available.

    Next, I would upgrade the processor. You won't be hearing the full benefit but you're at least set up for the future.

    I'd then upgrade the CD/DVD front end next, and only finally update to the speakers of your final choice.

    In my own system, the sequence in which I did things was slightly different, but nobody's perfect...

    Speakers, originally Front L&R, now Surround L&R
    Power amplifier, Front L&R
    Processor
    Power amplifier, Centre & Rear
    Centre Speaker
    Speakers, Front L&R
    DVD Player

    Though some would think that I have already gone further than is sensible, there are still upgrade possibilities with the processor I have, before I have to consider chucking it away for a Mark Levinson Reference No. 40, or whatever.

    However much you've spent, there is always something that little bit better to aspire to. :D
     
  8. Lowrider

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    As your question was about AV processor and power, I didn´t mention, but I did upgrade the speakers after getting the TAG, and that triggered the upgrade to the Bryston, the Rotel handled well the previous speakers, but clipped with the new ones...
     
  9. gringottsdirect

    gringottsdirect
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    Antonio and Charlie,
    Interesting....
     
  10. Nic Rhodes

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    Another Tag / Bryston owner in the making?

    Great combination by the way.:)
     
  11. LostInUK

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    I am pretty much undecided which way to go:

    TAG/TAG (250x3) or TAG/Bryston (6B SST)

    Any oppinions gentlemen? Has anybody compared this monsters in a fair test?

    Regards
     
  12. Matt F

    Matt F
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    Check out this month's HiFi Choice, I only had a quick browse through it but I seem to recall them testing a range of high quality power amps including the TAG 250 (I think it was two of the monoblocs) and a Bryston (but I can recall which one).

    They were tested in stereo systems (hence two TAG monoblocks) but this should give you some idea. For what it's worth I also seem to remember that the TAG came out quite well but not that well - it certainly didn't win the group test.

    Matt.
     
  13. Lowrider

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    I never listened to either, just Bryston 4BST and TAG 100x5.

    Still I would say:

    The TAG-link is not as important to the power, (otherwise between DVD and AV), the TAG is theoreticaly more upgradable, but you can remove and fix or upgrade each module on the Bryston too...

    I am sure both sound about as good as it comes, with a reasonable size box, I wouldn´t have those refrigerator size powers, no matter how good they might be, still Bryston probably has the edge, they have been around longer, lots of people think they are the best powers made, and from what I ear with mine...

    Then there is the 20 year warranty...
     
  14. Charlie Whitehouse

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    I tend to subscribe to the view that for competently-designed sold state amplifiers, most people would be very hard pushed to tell the differences (by ear) between them in terms of their frequency response and distortion characteristics.

    Differences in overall power rating are obvious to most, but what really sorts out the men from the boys is when you hang a particularly 'difficult' dynamic loudspeaker load on the end. This is why I advised at least *choosing* your speakers first and ensuring that the power amplifiers drive them happily at the outset. Auditioning with your own choice of speakers is the only way to be sure.

    I hesitate to comment on specific products I haven't heard or compared myself :)devil:), but I suspect that if you chose speakers like Martin Logans or B&W Nautilus 800, that are pretty current-hungry, the Bryston would probably fare better than the TAG. If you chose an easier speaker load, then there may not be much to choose between them.
     
  15. Lowrider

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    Touché... :blush:

    But, as you noticed for sure, not only did I mention it, but I also spoke objectively of the brands and the models, not my subjective opinions...

    Now the hifi choice test Matt mentioned, (I didn´t read it, but a friend told me about it), for what it is worth, has the Bryston ahead... ;)
     
  16. Nic Rhodes

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    Both are great amps, you will love either. I am in a similar situation at the moment Tag 250, Bryston 7 SST (haven't heard yet but the 7ST is great), Bryston 14SST and one or two others in the frame. They are all great amps, it is so much harder when one is a duffer....;)
     
  17. Charlie Whitehouse

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    I wasn't having a go, other than at myself, following the Dreadnaught incident..... :rolleyes: :D

    I have a copy of the HiFi Choice tests that Matt mentioned and it was between the Bryston BP20/4BST versus TAG DPA32R/250MR x 2 amongst others. As you say, the Bryston does come out slightly ahead, particularly in its dynamic power output and speaker load tolerance, hence my comments above.

    While I advised trying to audition your final system at the outset as an ideal, it is actually very hard, if not impossible, to achieve in practice, particularly if you mix'n'match from a large number of manufacturers. Most dealers only tend to stock one or two of the high-end brands for any one component type, so unless you can get dealers to co-operate (!!), you always end up auditioning components in systems that only approximate to what you want to end up with. This is mainly why I ended up with predominantly Absolute Sounds' brands, because having listened to them together in many demos, I was confident that they would work well together. There may be better (+cheaper) individual components to be had, but it would have needed a certain amount of pot-luck to select these all individually and hope the final result would be OK. :)
     
  18. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    wise words again from Charlie
     
  19. LostInUK

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    Hi all,

    many thanks for your oppinions. Usefull.

    I am still a bit undecided which way to go. I would like to get the most "universal" amp from these two. The one that I could keep longer and use even if I get some difficult speakers to power.
    The TAG has the convinience of the TAG bus and in my oppinion better look. It matches all my other TAG gear. So blue leds all around. :)
    But the Brsyton can also be controlled using the power switches of the AV32R EX.

    The Bryston seems to have that little edge that is missing in the TAG, however this is not important for my case at the present but maybe in the future.
    At the moment I am using Calliope speakers, which are very easy to feed, with impendace always higher than 4 ohm and not that large phase shifts, what gives quite low electro-reactive loads to the amplifier. So, not that much power-wasters. But I plan to get some like B&W 805 Signature, 802; Dynaudio or KEF Reference, depending on audition and the size of my next living room, in the future. At that time that small "edge" of the Bryston may make the difference. Oppinions?
    I do not expect to get anything more difficult to power than this models.

    The Sonus Faber-Bryston used by Antonio showed me how good the Canadian boxes are. :) The SF are not that easy to feed and the Brsytons do with perfection.
    But the TAG seem capable of doing some kind of work. So what should I do?!??!?! Help!!!! ;-)

    The magazine tests are something that I do not considered that much. I am really sorry but I do not think they are accurate, and they lack proper and correct setup to deserve that much attention. My oppinion. With all the respect for their work anyway.

    Nic,
    are you planning a proper testing of that two amplifiers in the near future?

    Thank you all again. Your help is very much welcome.

    Bests.
     
  20. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Pedro

    yes time permitting but I am finding it difficult at the moment getting out of Cumbria (baby sitting etc). New room I hope will be done by christmas. Plans just gone for planning permission approval. [Haven't mentioned the Servos!]

    I expect it will spin out a bit until christmas simply due to time / space up here. I will keep you posted.

    Not wanting to confuse things further the Parasound 3500 is a mighty fine amp as is Gordon's Bonnec 'special'. I understand that has recently got better and only £1k / channel. All are serious competition to the Tag / Brystons {I won't wention the others as it isn't helping much!!!}. There are some serious good amps out there now.
     
  21. Matt F

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    If planning permission approval is subject to the use of only one Servo then let me know right away.:blush:

    Matt.
     
  22. Charlie Whitehouse

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    Pedro,

    Only you can decide if aesthetics outweigh the sonic advantages. For myself, I would always go with the 'fit and forget' model which the Bryston would undoubtedly be. Don't forget the 20 year warranty.

    The Bonnec that Nic mentioned is also a pretty stunning performer. It probably wouldn't win any beauty competitions though from what I can remember - a very functional big black box! Can't comment on its load-driving abilities - perhaps Gordon might say something as he has undoubtedly tried this amp with the Nautilus 800 Signatures? You might have to PM him though to get him to go on the record.

    I have to agree that blue led's are pretty cool. When they switch on with my big Krell, it means we're really motoring! :eek:
     
  23. LostInUK

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    Of course not!! Never in this life.

    But, if the difference in performance is none or really really small, then it may help deciding. I just would like to understand if there is a winner or if it is only a question of preference, in case performances are very similar. That's the difficult bit. :(
    It seems they are similar, with a small advantage to the Bryston. I will take that in consideration.

    Thanks.
     
  24. gringottsdirect

    gringottsdirect
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    Everything is relative I guess, but is Bryston particulary skilled with amplification, a little less so with processing (SP1.7 not THX Ultra 2 if that is significant). Is it more relevant to say Tag are particularly skilled with processing (AVR32R THX Ultra 7.1), a little less so with amplification (100x5R five channel).
    Is it simply a case of saving say £1000 by buying Tag processor not Bryston, and spending say £500 more to buy Bryston amplifier not Tag.
    It seems on the face of it that the ideal combo is Tag processor with Bryston amplifiers. With the amplifiers possibly even providing service through an upgrade to Lexicon MC12B.
    It's reassuring that even at this level, owners are feeling their spending has been worthwhile, and their pleasure is increased.
     
  25. gringottsdirect

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    This thread was also posted over on the AVS forum, as previously mentioned, to compare responses.
    Interestingly, at first a few posts were made, including a robust defence from DenonJeff, then it dropped away.
    Thanks to Uncle Eric displaying his usual fierce intelligence, our American cousins have leaped aboard with gusto.
    Shows the influence a respected member's input has in eliciting opinions from other folks.
    Hats off to U.E. :cool:
     
  26. Lowrider

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    I just got two pairs of Bryston PowerPacks 120 to replace my Rotel RB993 for center and surrounds, (I ended up with one spare, but with 30% discount, I didn´t argue)...

    It is incredible the difference they make... I can only imagine what the new SST would do... but I think I will stick to what I have, why change if it works, like our american friends would say... ;)
     
  27. gringottsdirect

    gringottsdirect
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    If it ain't broke...don't fix it :)
     
  28. uncle eric

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    GD,
    Thanks for your kind words.

    I think the TAG is the best value for money processor on the market today. Nothing comes near it in its price range. TAG's dedication to sound quality and especially to the to often ignored upgradability issue is legendary.

    I'd just like offer another option that has not been mentioned in this thread. Powered speakers.

    One of our members, "Branxx" used Brystons with his speaker set up (M&K S150) with Lex MC12. He first upgraded to powered speakers for the front soundstage and said the difference was quite remarkable. Recently, when I met the gentleman, he actually dismissed his remaining surround speakers and replaced these also with the same powered speakers.

    He felt that apart from the extra performance he gained (which to him was the most important issue), he actually saved over 1k per channel in amplification costs. Makes sense to me.

    Having recently heard these myself (this time at length) and not being a huge fan of powered speakers (I'm always worried about things like noise issues, how many times have we heard people with certain powered subs complain of hum) I am now a convertee. After trying hard to prove my fears, I failed. I was dumbstruck by just how clean and dynamic these speakers are.

    I've just sold my M&K set up (thanks Jase) and will, according to finances, embark down this road (slowly). I will start off with the powered front three using my trusty A1SE to process these and drive the surrounds.

    Sometime in October, I will be testing a new processor from the american high end audio company "MOON". They already have a 6-7k machine but that is well and trully in Theta and MC12 terriitory. Whilst there is no question regarding the MOON's ultimate performance, it doesn't offer the upgradability of the two maestro's so its really up against it.

    MOON's new processor will be priced to compete with the TAG and is said to be "upgradable". If it has anywhere near the flexibility of the tag it could be a close call. As I will be commercially involved (power-buys) with Moon products (including a high end disc spinner), I will wait till then and decide the best option.

    *Please note* I have a commercial interest in some of the above products. However, those that know me will tell you my opinions are always honest and unbiased.

    Eric
     
  29. Lowrider

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    We trust you Eric, except for subwoofers that go down to 7 hz... :devil:

    The problem with active speakers is the limited choice... If you like M&K or PMC or Meridien or Dynaudio´s kind of studio sound, you are ok, for other tastes, it is more complicated... otherwise, if we don´t like to upgrade things, once in a while, (I prefer those that have external powers, you can still upgrade), they are perfect...

    Now, if you convince Sonus Faber to make an active Cremona, better still with Bryston powers inside, or out, I will be putting money on the side in a hurry... ;)
     
  30. Branxx

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    It is difficult to argue the benefits of active speaker, or for that matter any other speakers, if one is actually trying to achieve a sound of a type that is not originally recorded in the way it was.

    When musician and studio technician record and then mix a piece of music they use neutral sounding monitoring speakers to ensure that the sound is exactly what the artist what it to be.

    Having bought their CD I listen at home and if I don't like the sound I don’t fault my audio system, as I use the same one as they have used in the studio (or a very close to it). THEY SIMPLY HAVE BAD PRODUCT.

    Alternative approach is to assume that we can 'improve' their product and make if more pleasing by applying additional post processing. We can listen to the music via a set of specifically constructed speakers that would make badly sounding music appear better (or sound better to us).

    There is nothing wrong with the above approach, although I personally prefer not to listen to music that sounds bad. I retain the privilege of 'spoiled' consumer and want to buy/have music that is made to my liking in the first place.

    Going back to gringottsdirect original question: Bryston 9B-SST v Denon AVC-A1SR, I posted a response quite early in the thread. Since than I've had a chance to demo Uncle Eric system that I believe uses the older version of Denon A11SR.

    In combination with M&K S-150 speakers Bryston definitely sounds better than Denon+S-150. Comparing Bryston+S-150 to active M&K, there is yet another jump in quality.

    That may suggest that 9B-SST is not powerful enough and that you should be looking to 4B-ST, i.e. 250W per channel rather than 120W. There are of course other considerations.

    Looking from the cost point of view, if you intend to buy Bryston officially in the UK it will be difficult to escape the 'rip-off' factor. I am for one becoming particularly sensitive to this issue. This was a significant factor in making my final decision to by professional M&K speakers rather than the consumer version.

    And the final thought; whatever amplifier you ultimately decide to buy and especially if you end up with 2 of them, there will be a significant heat dispensation issue (add that to the head generated by other component of your system all localised within relatively small area). During the summer months, listening/watching may become particularly sweaty experience and even more so if you invite a few friends to join.
     

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