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Article: Power Amp Comparison | Cambridge Edge W, Benchmark AHB2, Bryston 4B Cubed


JoshM
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22 hours ago, JoshM said:

I think the above comments are all related in my mind. When I think about equipment, I don’t necessarily first categorize them by price. What drew me to all of the amps I tried is that they either measured well, got good subjective reviews, or both. So, for example, even though I don’t tend to like Class D amps, the NAD M22 got great reviews, measured well, and I found one used at a good price. I tried it, didn’t like it, and resold it. 

 

This has been my process as well, although I have tended to group amps/designs together into certain categories based on the semantics of the reviews. Over time and reviews/-ers, there are some commonalities and that is what I was after with my question; price is very much secondary. I am curious if you had sonic qualities in mind but maybe the measurements are your common denominator.


Anyway, thanks for the comparative review. I'll have to check out Bryston sometime.


 

Sum>Frankenstein: Schiit Yggdrasil A2+Shunyata Venom/PS Audio P3 Regenerator+AVOptions Tibia, W4S Remedy/Uptone LPS-1.2, Linn LP12/Hercules II/Ittok/Denon DL-103R, Naim 72/HiCap/250 DR, Tellurium Black II, Monitor Audio Silver 500, Epos, Uptone Audio ISO & EtherREGENs, Witch Hat/Audience/Silnote/ZenWave/Mapleshade/Shunyata/Transparent Audio cables/cords, and nice room w/treatment.

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On 10/2/2021 at 7:32 AM, JoshM said:


I bought the finished BMR Monitors from Dennis (a.k.a. Philharmonic). Mine are the square cabinet Monitors. I think the curved cabinet option was introduced a few months later. At some point, I’ll write my own review comparing it with the KEFs and a few other bookshelf speakers, but I think Erin’s review is pretty much on the money.
 

Do they surpass the KEFs, which are many multiples their price? No. But they hold their own way more than they should for the price. I’ve tried lots of bookshelf speakers in the BMR’s price range (I hate to say it, but it has to be in the dozens by now), and they’re the best I’ve heard by a wide margin.
 

The three-way design is superb. They have a very, very wide sweet spot. Sure, this horizontal dispersion means they don’t have quite the pin-point imaging of some other speakers (they’re similar to the KEFs in that way, actually), but it’s a good trade off for the excellent off-axis performance. Tonally, they’re fantastic, and the FR is very neutral, maybe shading slightly towards warm. They just sound like much larger and more expensive speakers than they are. They’re what I imagined/hoped the Ascend Sierras (which were solid, to be fair) would sound like. 

Thanks for the very useful response. Erin's review is also useful.

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On 10/3/2021 at 12:50 AM, feelingears said:

 

This has been my process as well, although I have tended to group amps/designs together into certain categories based on the semantics of the reviews. Over time and reviews/-ers, there are some commonalities and that is what I was after with my question; price is very much secondary. I am curious if you had sonic qualities in mind but maybe the measurements are your common denominator.


Anyway, thanks for the comparative review. I'll have to check out Bryston sometime.


 

 

There's a baseline of measurements that I look for, but it's definitely a lower baseline than the ASR folks, for example, want. However, if I can't find any measurements, that won't necessarily stop me from buying something. My preferences are definitely neutral/detailed. But I also want some smoothness (which isn't to say warmth) from my gear. I can't say for sure, but I think smoothness has something to do with harmonic structure and IMD (perhaps square wave reproduction, too).

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1 hour ago, JoshM said:

 

There's a baseline of measurements that I look for, but it's definitely a lower baseline than the ASR folks, for example, want. However, if I can't find any measurements, that won't necessarily stop me from buying something. My preferences are definitely neutral/detailed. But I also want some smoothness (which isn't to say warmth) from my gear. I can't say for sure, but I think smoothness has something to do with harmonic structure and IMD (perhaps square wave reproduction, too).

 

"Smoothness" is the absence of distortion anomalies that are disturbing to the listening mind. It's as simple as that - and those who have achieved this from their playback understand the value of reaching this point. Recordings don't have "lack of smoothness", which somehow the rig is magically meant to compensate for; it doesn't, and can't work that way - if some recordings are "smoothed over" by the signature of the replay chain, then other recordings will sound worse; there will always be some recordings whose intrinsic distortion conflicts badly with the distortion of the replay chain - and they will sound, 'orrible, 😁.

 

Best solution is no distortion. Of the playback parts. There will always be some audible characteristics from this, but they should be as benign as possible. If you do this well enough, then the presentation becomes, well, smooooth ... automatically, 😉.

 

The side benefit of this is that the presentation becomes convincing, and, can be turned up as loud as your system can go before starting to manifest misbehaviour, with no discomfort ... 🙂

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Shucks, I'm just thinking about branching out from my Naim loyalty for fun. Maybe an esoteric preamp with a Bryston 2B^3 or heck, a Schiit Aegir...

 

Maybe someday an AirBnb experience will be hopping around a city to some local audiophile homes for auditions of insane setups like @pga's. Actually I could see a kind of documentary/slight mock-umentary film about audiophiles and the search for the perfect amp going along these lines...

Sum>Frankenstein: Schiit Yggdrasil A2+Shunyata Venom/PS Audio P3 Regenerator+AVOptions Tibia, W4S Remedy/Uptone LPS-1.2, Linn LP12/Hercules II/Ittok/Denon DL-103R, Naim 72/HiCap/250 DR, Tellurium Black II, Monitor Audio Silver 500, Epos, Uptone Audio ISO & EtherREGENs, Witch Hat/Audience/Silnote/ZenWave/Mapleshade/Shunyata/Transparent Audio cables/cords, and nice room w/treatment.

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One slightly off topic point worth mentioning is how much of an engineering company Bryston and Benchmark truly are, and how important this is.  I’m less familiar with Schiit and Cambridge, but I suspect that is also true there.  There is no substitute for great engineering.  
 

The guy that bought my Centaur monos took a listen on my system when it was just two ABH2s in mono.  He was surprised at how good they sounded.  I’m just glad he didn’t change his mind on purchasing the Constellation amps.  But what surprised him the most is that I had taken out all the audiophile cables and at the time had all Bryston interconnect and speaker cables.  
 

Guess what, Bryston makes great cables, sound great and are built amazingly well.  I needed a bunch of new cables for the biamp system, so I switched to Benchmark cables.  These are also excellent.  Both companies simply use great parts and quality manufacturing to put these together.  

 

One lesson I learned is don’t try to fix a room response problem with cables or subtle differences between electronics,  the only real way to fix this is either with a new room or EQ.  The other lesson I learned is to avoid audio equipment made by companies that emphasize marketing over engineering.  At best you will end up gorgeous, expensive equipment that sounds as good as it looks (like Constellation), at worst you end up with stuff that’s just overpriced.  

Audio Alchemy DMP-1 / Roon / Berkeley Alpha RS 2 / Constellation Monos / TAD R1s

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Thanks for the excellent review @JoshM.  Really well done!

Digital:  Sonore opticalModule > Uptone EtherRegen > Shunyata Sigma Ethernet > Antipodes K30 > Shunyata Omega USB > Chord Hugo TT2 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha and Delta power cords, Shunyata Alpha interconnect, Shunyata Sigma Ethernet, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, ASC isothermal tube traps

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18 hours ago, pga said:

One slightly off topic point worth mentioning is how much of an engineering company Bryston and Benchmark truly are, and how important this is.  I’m less familiar with Schiit and Cambridge, but I suspect that is also true there.  There is no substitute for great engineering.  
...

One lesson I learned is don’t try to fix a room response problem with cables or subtle differences between electronics,  the only real way to fix this is either with a new room or EQ. 

 

Largely agree, although I think engineering is important but not the be-all, end-all. Even Schiit, which has a few distinctive in-house technologies behind their designs in both digital and analog, does not design simply by engineering. I don't know if you're trying to say this so I'm not trying to put words in your mouth. In Schiit's case, they are quite open about listening tests and even the differences in impressions between the founders (Stoddard and Moffat). Case in point is the latest DAC upgrade which you can read about elsewhere. I wish/think other companies should follow Schiit's openness as it builds community/brand and fosters better products.

 

Not to go totally off-topic, but preferences are huge and as it happens, I read about a Bryston owner's preference for Sugden. Having heard the latter recently, I can only imagine because I think Sugden doesn't get enough credit for the extremely high quality of their sound. And, I think their slogan is along the lines of "getting technology out of the way of music."

And to your point, our rooms and room-treatment are definitely an under-discussed topic. Drapes are a huge part of mine and when they were out for a week for cleaning, OMG I never imagined my system could sound so. incredibly. terrible. And, I almost couldn't believe I heard that bass traps "work" when I put one in.

 

Back on topic: I'll be sure to have my drapes and traps in place when I audition a Bryston!
  

Sum>Frankenstein: Schiit Yggdrasil A2+Shunyata Venom/PS Audio P3 Regenerator+AVOptions Tibia, W4S Remedy/Uptone LPS-1.2, Linn LP12/Hercules II/Ittok/Denon DL-103R, Naim 72/HiCap/250 DR, Tellurium Black II, Monitor Audio Silver 500, Epos, Uptone Audio ISO & EtherREGENs, Witch Hat/Audience/Silnote/ZenWave/Mapleshade/Shunyata/Transparent Audio cables/cords, and nice room w/treatment.

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On 10/6/2021 at 12:09 PM, feelingears said:

Not to go totally off-topic, but preferences are huge and as it happens, I read about a Bryston owner's preference for Sugden. Having heard the latter recently, I can only imagine because I think Sugden doesn't get enough credit for the extremely high quality of their sound. And, I think their slogan is along the lines of "getting technology out of the way of music."
  

 

Not to go even further off topic, but I've been buying/trying/collecting some vintage DACs for fun (and for a future "Reconsidering Redbook" article), and the Sugden SDA-1 is one of the final three out of about 10 or 12 that I've bought/sold.

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Suggestions on your off topic, other than the original Sony, some DACs that I would consider historically important are of course the early Meridian, the Wadia 2000 (perhaps first DAC with custom digital filters, sounded good, measured poorly), any of the DACs using the Ultra Analogue chips (Levinson, Spectral made two outstanding DACs) and the pro DAC Apogee made (this was a bargain, better than almost anything at the time, they made a version for Cello).

Audio Alchemy DMP-1 / Roon / Berkeley Alpha RS 2 / Constellation Monos / TAD R1s

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1 hour ago, pga said:

Suggestions on your off topic, other than the original Sony, some DACs that I would consider historically important are of course the early Meridian, the Wadia 2000 (perhaps first DAC with custom digital filters, sounded good, measured poorly), any of the DACs using the Ultra Analogue chips (Levinson, Spectral made two outstanding DACs) and the pro DAC Apogee made (this was a bargain, better than almost anything at the time, they made a version for Cello).

 

The only Ultra Analog-based DAC that I've had thus far was the Parasound DA-2000. I'd like to get a Spectral SDR-2000.

 

I *just barely* missed out on buying the Apogee DA-2000, but someone responded to the ad ~20 minutes before me.

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