General Asylum: REVIEW: Bryston B60R Integrated Amplifier (SS) by Dave Van Harn
General audio topics that don't fit into specific categories.
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This integrated amp lives up to everything I expected from it, and for a SS product, it is remarkably smooth and free of grain. (But then, my CD source is 24/96 tube-output, and that probably contributes to the smoothness.) Build quality appears to be excellent, but the design is boring and plain.
The B60R is dead silent, both from the chassis and through the speakers with no input and the volume turned very high. However, there is a little input crosstalk, and the if the tuner is on, the tuner signal can be heard faintly during with the volume high and no other input active.
Soundstage and imaging are not that important for me, and our L-shaped living/dining room is not condusive to showcasing these attributes. I had the place to myself for two weeks in November, and moved the furniture and speakers to do some optimization for a couple weeks of extensive listening.
With the Apogee ribbon tweeters, the top end is very detailed, relaxed and airy. It never sounds strained until pushed beyond its limits with large-scale music. Midrange is quite good, but playing some mid to low notes on the piano, and then playing some classical piano music makes it obvious that the AE SE-1 300B SET amp is much closer to reality. Bass is excellent - tight and detailed down to the ~50Hz limit of the speakers. Bass doesn't sound quite as deep as it did with the Jolida SJ202 that I had for a while. However, the Jolida bass was a bit tubby and exaggerated.
Timbral accuracy is excellent but not outstanding. The Bryston is a very good value at the $1.2K price I paid for it as a one-year old used unit, but I'd love to compare it to the less expensive Audio Refinement integrated.
I listen to a wide variety of music, but classical is my favorite, and piano is normally my most critical test for timbral balance and the realism of the sound. One of my favorite piano CD's is Maria Joao Pires playing Chopin's 2nd Piano Concerto and 24 Preludes. The piano sound is excellent on this system, but with the AE-1 300B amp and transformer-coupled custom pre-amp, it was exquisitely lifelike. The Mapleshade Kendra Shank CD, "Afterglow" (produced by Shirley Horn), was also excellent with the Bryston, but did not have the startling lifelike quality that the 300B amp gave it.
Complex music - big band and orchestral - was well rendered at modest levels, but 60 watts and a relatively small monitor led to compression at higher levels. The Bryston did, however, do a significantly better job at resolving loud, complex passages than the AE SE-1 SET. This is one area where the limits of an 8-watt SET were quickly exposed with compression and smearing of detail, and the Bryston was much better.
Yes, there is a SET in my future, but the Bryston may remain in our living room for some time to come.
Dave van Harn
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Topic - REVIEW: Bryston B60R Integrated Amplifier (SS) Review by Dave Van Harn at Audio Asylum - Dave Van Harn 20:11:38 12/3/99 ( 0)