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THR33P4C's picture
Last seen: 2 years 12 months ago
Joined: Dec 29 2008 - 10:26pm
Switched from an NAD1240 preamp to a Bryston .4B and my system took a turn for the worse

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.

commsysman's picture
Last seen: 3 days 16 hours ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am
System Choices

That old Bryston preamp was made before they really started engineering their products for home audio. The old "pro audio" stuff was only so-so.

It is not the best. i also think that the sound quality of the power amp is very poor.

I would encoursge you to get a good quality integrated amplifier.

You will get better sound quality that way; separates with the very good sound quality are pretty expensive.

I suggest that you look at the Arcam, Musical Fidelity, and Creek integrated amplifiers.

They all have excellent sound quality.

I have a Musical Fidelity M3i amplifier that cost me $1500, and is excellent. I am selling one of my homes and have surplus gear to sell right now.

it is like new and you could have it for $900; just like new. It puts out around 100 watts at 4 ohms or 8 ohms.

Get a GOOD integrated amplifier, and sell off the rest of that stuff. the improvement in sound quality will amaze you.

There are certainly better speakers than JBL for home audio.

I suggest that you look at Wharfedale, PSB, and Monitor Audio for good-sounding neutral speakers that are well-balanced and efficient.

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Last seen: 1 week 5 days ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm

I think what the OP has discovered is that a lot of pro-gear simply doesn't sound that good when compared head-to-head with good home gear. Yes, pro-gear is rugged and reliable but it's usually somewhat deficient sound wise.

IMO commsysman has given you excellent advice.

My advice is, ditch the JBL speakers. Find some that are not peaky in the treble and "in your face" in the midrange.

commsysman's picture
Last seen: 3 days 16 hours ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am

Focal speakers are also very good.

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