Published On: October 26, 2009

Bryston 2B SST Stereo Amplifier Reviewed

Published On: October 26, 2009

Bryston 2B SST Stereo Amplifier Reviewed

Boasting one of the best warranties in the business and the reputation as one of Canada's best amps (along with Anthem and Classé) Bryston is a recording studio and movie theater standard. Home theater enthusiasts and audiophiles alike love the somewhat dry sound of these powerful yet controlled amps. Read the Jerry Del Colliano review here.

The Bryston 2B is a true audiophile classic. First released to the public in 1979, the Bryston 2B is an absolute workhorse of a stereo power amplifier that has successfully powered many of the most demanding speakers ever designed. Today's Bryston 2B SST version is still packing 100 watts per channel into eight-ohm impedance loads, but now boasts lower signal to noise ratios than past units, with balanced and unbalanced operation, as well as a greatly improved industrial design.

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Sonically, the Bryston 2B SST can best be described as a muscular amplifier. While you can get more power on the spec sheet at the $2,650 price point from other amps, the Bryston 2B SST has a solid, hefty sound that you won't find in those Class-D digital amps that are all the rage today. The Bryston 2B is perfectly suited for use with today's high-resolution surround sound codecs when placed in a cutting edge 7.1 surround sound system. Another place that the Bryston 2B SST thrives is in an audiophile system that uses a lower-resolution source, such as an MP3 player. The slightly bright high-frequency response that is characteristic of all Bryston amps is part of the appeal to its loyal fan base. The Bryston sound is more relevant that ever with MP3 and other sub-CD resolution music files. The Bryston 2B SST on all accounts breathes more energy and life into those often flat-sounding recordings. Considering how prevalent iPod devices have become as part of the way we listen to music, specifically with higher-end solutions like the WADIA and Krell iPod docs now on the market, the Bryston 2B SST today is more relevant of an amp than ever before.

High Points
• The build quality of the Bryston 2B SST is fantastic. This is an amp that will last a lifetime and is manufactured to amazingly high tolerances, especially internally.
• The Bryston sound has never been more sonically relevant than today, especially with ultra-resolution surround sound tracks via Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio, as well as the Bryston 2B's ability to play well with MP3 devices like iPods and iPhones.

• The 20-year Bryston warranty is about the coolest thing I have ever heard of.  Bryston's track record of making studio-tested amps that can stand 24 hours a day of abuse and never fail is a matter of fact. You could demo the U-571 depth charge scene 2000 times in a row and your Bryston 2B will be just as solid as the first time you hit play. For some reason, Bryston puts their money where your amp abuse is, as they will fix it. This is a huge perk.

Low Points
• The new faceplate on the Bryston 2B SST is very much improved, but the back of the case is designed for people who are likely to install the the unit in an equipment rack. In the studio environment, I completely understand this concept, but the Bryston 2B SST is so good that you might want to show it off. However, compared to other amps, it doesn't have sexy good looks past the faceplate.
• The energized high-frequency response of the Bryston 2B isn't for everyone, especially those who have already bright speakers. While this characteristic is good for MP3 playback, you need to make sure the Bryston 2B SST is a good matching flavor for your speakers. Darker-sounding speakers will love it. Speakers with edgy tweeters already might not yield the hoped-for results. 

Conclusion
The Bryston 2B SST in many ways reminds me of a Porsche 911, as it is a design so classic that it only needs slight improvements to stay relevant in the marketplace. The improvements made to the SST version of the Bryston 2B have made the performance of the amp unquestionably relevant in today's increasingly complicated and HD-driven world. The Bryston 2B brings to life audio from the most high-resolution soundtracks just as well as it elicits more from the dark but increasingly relevant world of MP3s. If you are in the market for an amplifier that understands what real power is and can bring your music to life, you owe it to yourself to audition a Bryston 2B SST.

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