Dave’s Faves – Bryston 4B-SST3

Bryston 4BSST-3 $6000, 300×2 Stereo Power Amp


Bryston 4B-3

Bryston’s 4B-SST-3, dubbed “4B Cubed” is the latest rendition of this most famous of amplifiers. Bryston has made a Model Four since the 70s. Of course it has been updated about every five years along the way. It continues to be among the best amplifier values on the market. Why?

First of all, the performance is magnificent! Clarity and bass impact are absolutely unsurpassed for the price point. The amp has the muscle to start, and stop, your loudspeakers better than anything this side of Bryston monoblocks. If you want to hear the spellbinding technique of a great pianist or guitar player for example, no amp near this price will beat the 4B. If you want to throw barbells around your room, with control, no amp near this price will beat the 4B.

As a diehard classical piano fan, I love the 4B’s ability to GRIP the bass register of the instrument and maintain it while the accompanying orchestra goes wild. It’s really quite something to hear! You’ll find most speakers that claim to be efficient, STILL benefit from this high water pressure. You would think speakers of 88-90dB might not benefit from big power like this, but they DO!

Case in point. Toss the 4B on to a set of Bryston T ($8665pr) or Middle T ($6240pr) speakers. These speakers are rated at 89dB. Common experience would lead you to believe that 200×2 from Rotel or Adcom ($1500 made in China) would drive these speakers close to full capability. But when you listen to the 4B in comparison, you can’t believe it’s the same pair of speakers! This holds true for many other great speakers as well- Magnepans, B&Ws, Wilsons… All the big names that perform well only reach their capability when you mate them with an amp in Bryston’s class. It’s a small class!

Bryston uses a proprietary output stage called QUAD COMPLEMENTARY. In short, it manages voltage gain with a dramatic reduction in overall distortion. THD on Bryston amps runs thousands of times lower than the other guys.

Our demo 4B Cubed tested 345 w/ch, about 10% stronger than claimed power. The THD is a scant .001%. Here are some Chinese competitors: Parasound Halo A21, 250×2, .2%THD, Rotel RB-1582, 200×2, .03%THD. The Chinese guys run around $1500, but have much more distortion and more tellingly SOUND LIKE IT.

OK Mr Smartie, aren’t there a lot of amps in the Bryston 4B class? Don’t I have a wide array of amps to consider? Well, you do if you if you ignore history and reliability. Who else has a warranty of 20 YEARS parts and labor? You will find that a 5 year warranty is considered very generous.

Do I really need a 20 year warranty? Well, with Bryston, you probably WON’T! But Google most any other amp company and check on their reliability. The stories will unfurl like the scrolls from the Black Sea. Nobody, but nobody, makes a more reliable amp and supports it better than Bryston!

Why don’t other manufacturers provide a 20 year warranty? The answer is more simple than you would suspect. Other guys simply don’t expect their amps to last that long, much less work reliably for that period of time.

What most of you are wondering is, can’t I just buy a Chinese amp for $1500 that’s close enough? Number one, it won’t sound like a Bryston. And number two, if you get ten years out of it- that’s a lot. We have sold NAD & Rotel among other nice amps for the money over the years. You will find in the 7-10 year span, you have a better than 50% chance of seeing a repair bill of $400 ish. We’ve been there with all of them. When you do the math, yes, it’s a few buxx cheaper to buy a Chinese amp. But in the long run, given performance and replacement and/or repair costs, you’re really not saving much money. We know there’s the odd case of a guy who bought an NAD in 1995 that’s still running. THAT is the exception. Those high powered amps, 200×2 or more, generally do not see ten years of service. Also consider the performance difference and enjoyment during the use of the amp.

There is a great case for just biting the bullet, spring for a Bryston 4B Cubed and YOU’RE DONE. We have sold Bryston since the late 80s. We have never had to service a Bryston we’ve sold out of warranty!

Can you beat a 4B Cubed? Yes. Bryston makes two monoblock options.
Model 7BSST-3, $6000 each, 600 watts each
Model 28BSST-3, $11,000 each, 1000 watts each
Bryston 4B-3 rear