I started getting into 2 channel gear about 5-6 years ago and finally phased out the last piece from my original NAD separates system. My NAD 1240's phono stage took a dump a year or so back and had been limping through with a realistic external phono pre. I had been wanting to replace it for a while as it was one of the last weak links in my system. I wanted to go with a bare bones solid state or tube pre made in the Americas or Japan. I stumbled upon a Bryston .4B which seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. I read some reviews and decided to take the plunge even though it did not have a phono section (figured the realistic could get me by for now as I rarely fire up the TT).
Here is my system to date top to bottom:
Technics SL-1500 Turntable
Magnum Dynalab FT-101 Tuner
Bryston .4B Preamp
Esoteric D-700 DAC
Teac PD-H303 (Used As Transport) -En Route, I previously used a cheap Akai and a Rega Planet but I need a half sized transport to fit on my rack and the Esoteric and Teac VRDS transports are a little out of reach price wise at the moment.
Kinergetics KBA-75 Class A Power Amp 75WPC
JBL LX44 Speakers
AudioQuest Type 4 Speaker Cable and Esoteric Audio (USA) interconnects.
When I first swapped out the preamps I noticed an immediate and apparent loss of bass and body in the overall sound of my system. The hip hop tracks that used to sound stunning had nothing to offer. Other favorites from various genres lost all of their punch and the signature sound of my system that used to give me chills. I experienced something similar when I swapped my power amps from an NAD Monitor 2400. The Kinergetics grew on me quickly though and now I don't know if I could part with it. In that case the sound was just different but in a good way and it took me a while to notice it. I have been listening to the Bryston for a good month or two and sometimes I just have to shut off the stereo because it hurts my ears. At first I thought it would grow on me like the Kinergetics did but the change was for the worse.
After I got my Kinergetics I left the NAD's EQ completely flat (where it sounded best). I had thought that I had achieved a fairly transparent sound and that a preamp with No EQ at all would be the best upgrade for the 1240. Less to get in the way of the signal and all. I do not believe that the Byston is the problem. It came from a reputable used stereo dealer and it sounded great on their demo system paired up with a McIntosh amp. My sources are also not the issue. The loss of bass is across the board. I have concluded that although my NAD was set flat it still colored the sound quite a bit. That leaves the speakers. I am convinced that the JBL's with their 8" woofers and great titanium tweeters have naturaly overpowering highs and lack of bass. The NAD may have covered up this flaw where the Bryston may be less forgiving.
I switched from Monster XP speaker wire to AudioQuest Type 4 which improved the bass slightly but the mid bass still has no punch and I find it hard to follow the bassline on some tracks. Overall I think my system sounds more detailed with the Bryston but the sonic high I used to get from the system is gone.
I wanted to get a few opinions before I try a new set of speakers. Am I right that the JBL LX44s could be the culprit, or should I have someone take a look at the pre? Also, based on my current combination of components I am looking for speaker suggestions. The JBLs are the last weak link in my system as far as I am concerned. I like to listen at low levels as I live in an apartment and the sound that I like is extremely detailed but I like accurate clean bass and a bit of warmth I guess. I auditioned a pair of Monitor Audio RX-1s for about an hour or so on a new NAD integrated and loved them. I just really don't feel like carting my amp and pre down to the stereo shop.
Any ideas or comments, especially from Bryston owners would be greatly appreciated.