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Thread: Bryston 10B

  1. #1
    Senior Seņor boputnam's Avatar
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    Bryston 10B

    Widget suggested we post our impressions from the time we spent together evaluating the sonic characteristics of the Bryston. So, here goes... What follows is largely subjective, as one cannot measure the sonic differences in gear. What one can do is critically listen to the gear's ability to reproduce sounds "honestly" and with the least coloring and most transparency. The impressions were unanimous - they were not vague nor subtle.

    I had Bryston special make a 10B with the voltage drive of the HPF from the 3145 four-way:290Hz, -12dB slope. I talked this over extensively with Giskard - he was very generous with his time discussing the background of the 3145, design topology, and the difference between the 3145 and the 5234a. He cautioned about the difference between the -18dB slope of the 5234a (and the -24dB slope of the Ashly XR1001 I was using) and the more subtle -12dB slope of the original 3145 design. I opted for the -12dB slope.

    I hope Widget will chime in here, but let me add to other posts I made on the 4343 to 4344 upgrade thread in the DIY subForum.

    Switching from the Ashly, immediately I noticed an increased voicing in the entire spectrum >290Hz. Widget confirmed this. I hadn't expected this large a change, but clearly the Class A circuitry in the Bryston produces a more "open" sound. All tonality and voicing is improved - there is also a noticable improvement in imaging. The sibilance of the HF was "returned". This is not to say the Bryston is "bright" as others have posted - that is simply not the character. The Bryston is open - un colored - and presents the natural sibilance of the voice and percussion and whatever in a good, natural balance. It was more acoustically "real" (or live sounding) than the Ashly. This translates into improved imaging.

    Widget and I made numerous measurements comparing the response of the Ashly to that of the Bryston. I prepared a number of screen-saves if they prove to be of interest. In short, the Ashly simply does a great job, and is unequalled in it's price range. The crossover is very managable, allowing great flexibility to the user. Smaart helped the usage of the Ashly, in that in revealed a lessened response from 2.5kHz upwards, which I was able to adjust for with subtle EQ. While I had elsewhere pondered if this EQ was "endemic" to the 4345, it is not. The open character of the Bryston obviated the need for any EQ boost in that range. Frankly, the Bryston required less EQ, period.

    The only area where Widget and I tweaked things a bit was at 290Hz. Smaart revealed what EagleEar Widget described as a "wooliness" in the lower range of female vocals - in-particular a Joni Mitchell he was fond of. Smaart showed the slight bump at 290Hz as expected with the -12dB slope. There it was, a hump of about +2 dB, maybe a half-octave Q. It was easy to very subtly EQ out, and the improvement quite material.

    So, what did we learn? At this level of gear, even somewhat subtle improvements are very costly. For average listening, this could not be justified. But, if you have the means and find yourself doing a good deal of critical listenting (without dogs walking about, and laundry running or dinner cooking...), a Bryston should improve your experience materially. I'd suggest a steeper slope. Brtyston makes switchable versions, but I opted for simplest, purist design. -18dB would be a good choice, but at-the-same-time at this level of gear one must have access to good measurement gear and this allows very, very subtle EQ adjustments which vastly improve the response.

    What you say there, Widget...?

    -----

    btw - Widget has a great set of ears. He is quite practically sensitive to voicing characteristics.
    bo

    "Indeed, not!!"

  2. #2
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Thanks for the compliments Bo... and especially for giving me the opportunity to experience the comparison. I'll try to explain what I heard in my own words so that folks can connect the dots between your comments and mine to come to their own conclusions.

    I went to the audition with my own set of biases as we all do. I have heard Bryston amps that I thought were a bit bright sounding, and thought it might be possible that the 10B would be bright too. When I arrived Bo had the Bryston in the circuit and I asked for a particular album that I am very familiar with... I immediately noticed two things. A wooliness in Joni Mitchelll's voice and better sounding 2405s than I have been used to hearing... next I noticed a better sense of stage depth than I normally expect from 43XX systems and a higher level of detail in the upper mids. (Absolutely not a brighter sound or more aggressive sound... just a bit more detail.) The wooliness in Joni's voice bugged the shit out of me, but I assumed that it was due to the crossover topology and also that it could be "fixed" with a bit of EQ.

    After a bit of listening Bo replaced the 10B with the Ashly and immediately the wooliness was gone, but so was the detail, the highs were not as refined sounding, and the stage depth had collapsed. I had expected to hear the hard transistory sound that I associate with inexpensive op-amp based devices... most Rane gear and other moderately priced "pro-gear" has this sort of sound... happily none of that was present... probably why I was impressed with the Ashly when I first heard one a couple of years back... (On that subject, I agree with Bo that it is good bargain. I would rather listen with a thin pillow in front of my speakers like the Ashly sounds like than have a sound that is assaulting me with hard glaring sound.)

    We went back to the Bryston and Bo played around with the EQ... mostly removing EQ that had been in the system for the Ashly. He did remove the wooliness by bringing down the bump at the crossover frequency. I have always liked the sound of Bo's 4345s... with the addition of the Bryston, the sound in his room was the best yet.

    In his post, Bo mentioned the crossover slopes. I am not sure if the differences were as much due to the relative steepness of the slopes as to the types of slopes. The Ashly is a 24dB Linkwitz-Riley (that can be tweaked into a pseudo Butterworth, Bessel etc. at the turn of a knob). His new Bryston is a 12dB Butterworth. In my experience on most systems a 12dB Butterworth gives you a measurable and quite audible bump at the crossover frequency... we were certainly able to hear and measure it on the 4345s. If I were going to order a Bryston, I would get a 24dB L-R crossover... but every system is designed a bit differently and depending on the drivers being used a different slope or crossover type may be best.


    Widget

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    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    Interesting read

    Very good review. Thanks to both of you.

    Ken

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    Senior Member porschedpm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boputnam
    ...Widget and I made numerous measurements comparing the response of the Ashly to that of the Bryston. I prepared a number of screen-saves if they prove to be of interest....

    ...one must have access to good measurement gear and this allows very, very subtle EQ adjustments which vastly improve the response...
    Thank you both for a great review. I for one am interested in seeing the graphs. Also could you provide a brief description of the measurement gear you use. Thanks again.

    Ed

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    I just picked up a pair of Bryston 7B ST amps to use with my B&W N801's. Amps are not supposed to make that much of a difference. I compared it to a QSC3402 amp. Using Diana Krall and in mono I sat in front of each speaker for a while. I kept going back and forth focusing on vocals. The QSC sounded great and I woudl not have noticed that something was missing, BUT, the Bryston sounded more natural. You woudl swear that she was right there while the QSC came close, the Bryston just had the extra "right there" and more natural character.

    In stereo the soundstage also seems more defined and deeper. Bryston makes some very nice stuff. Coupled with the B&W (I know - British junk) they are just awesome.

    Chris

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    Senior Seņor boputnam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget
    In his post, Bo mentioned the crossover slopes. I am not sure if the differences were as much due to the relative steepness of the slopes as to the types of slopes.
    I agree, however, slope is quite audible, too.

    As I mentioned on Sunday afternoon, before you arrived at that steamy outdoor gig I was dialing-in the KT DN9868, and took a few minutes to sample different slopes. The DN9848 offers either -12dB or -24dB Linkwitz-Riley options. The -12dB slope had a muddy sound - less detail at the crossover point (100Hz in this case) than did -24dB. I did not "Smaart" this to view the response curve, or try to see if I could remedy the effect with EQ - I just dialed between the two, and found the -24dB to be cleaner and more tonally precise. This observation was clearly impacted by coupling resonance, but in that setting at that time the steeper slope was preferable.

    It's very important to sample different crossovers and different slopes and gain familiarity with their characteristics. In multi-element systems there may be different preferences at different points in the response curve, dependent upon transducer and cabinet characteristics. Certainly JBL found this in their work with the 43xx series Monitors.
    bo

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    Senior Seņor boputnam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by porschedpm
    I for one am interested in seeing the graphs. Also could you provide a brief description of the measurement gear you use.
    Hi, Ed...

    Sure - that stuff is sitting on my other HDD so, maybe I can get to it this evening. The graphs may be disappointing as they are a bit noisy (time-slices were kept narrow to present the most current data), but they certainly do show acoustic reality.

    As to the "gear", I've posted this elsewhere but use:
    - laptop: Dell D410
    - software: SmaartLIVE 5.0 from SIA Software
    - preamp: USBPre from Sound Devices. This is an astonishingly powerful pre - and in my case necessary due to driver conflicts between Smaart and the Dell on-board soundcard. This pre saves my butt at live shows with it's incredibly flexible I/O options. I often use two or three different measurement sources, switching between them.
    - measurement mic: Earthworks M30BX from Earthworks Audio. I prefer the AA powered version over the +48v phantom version as I've experienced "popping" noise when switching the latter on/off, or recabling things.

    btw, dood, if you're ever over this-a-way, lemme know...
    bo

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boputnam
    I agree, however, slope is quite audible, too.
    Of course! I didn't mean to sound like the slope is trivial... I was just trying to explain the bump in response at the crossover point.

    Hey Bo, I think you might want to explain how you had your 10B configured and how the factory convinced you not to get the version with more flexibility (adjustments) as it would degrade the sound quality etc.


    Widget

  9. #9
    Senior Seņor boputnam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget
    Of course! I didn't mean to sound like the slope is trivial... I was just trying to explain the bump in response at the crossover point.

    Hey Bo, I think you might want to explain how you had your 10B configured and how the factory convinced you not to get the version with more flexibility (adjustments) as it would degrade the sound quality etc.
    Yep, the bump was certainly there - I'll try and make a highlight of it on the images (to come).

    On the choosing, from discussions with Giskard on the history of the 3145 and the iterative process used then, I opted for the -12dB slope to as-close-as-possible match the original work of Greg Timbers and the JBL team. Giskard did warn that I may not like the -12dB slope, after my having used steeper. I can't say I don't like the slope - but there is/was a noticeable lack of definition at the crossover point (as Giskard warned), but this was easily improved with very minimal EQ (hi Q, -2 dB notch).

    Bryston urged that, if-at-all possible I should choose a set slope. Bryston strongly recommended using a set crossover point and slope as any switches in the signal path degrade sonic quality. Their work shows that the highest quality circuit is the simplest possible. So, I opted to go without any flexibility.

    There's one minor edit I'd add to my first post - IMO the LF is also much more tonal with the Bryston. Listening last night to Patricia Barber's Cafe Blue on recommendations of Widget and Ken P. The recording is not for casual listening - it will command your attention (as do all of hers!). The experience was breathtaking. There was a bit excess reverb in the vox track for my taste, but the mic'ing and recording of the bass and Kit are a marvel. Jim Anderson truly knows what he is doing...
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    Last edited by boputnam; 10-22-2012 at 07:32 PM.
    bo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bo
    He ( Giskard ) cautioned about the difference between the -18dB slope of the 5234a (and the -24dB slope of the Ashly XR1001 I was using) and the more subtle -12dB slope of the original 3145 design. I opted for the -12dB slope.
    - If you want to experience the 90° phase offset ( at crossover ) that one achieves utilyzing 18db slopes ( for both lopass & hipass ) then; use your Ashly ( 24 db LR ) on just the lowpass, while using your new Bryston ( 12 db Butterworth ) on the hipass.
    - This "cheap & cheerful " approximation of the 90° phase offset will offer it's own education in "slope listening" .
    - I'd start the listening evaluations, with the woofers polarity wired the same as the 2122H.
    - In fact, this polarity "sameness" is, IMO, reason enough to pursue getting this asymetrical slope topology to work in a 4-way system .

    <>

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    Senior Seņor boputnam's Avatar
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    Hi, Earl...

    I considered exactly that, last evening. All I need is a couple of splitters, and can input into both crossovers simultaneuosly taking the LF from the Ashly and MF/HF from the Bryston. I also considered changing the polarity of the 2245H too. I was questioning the phase impacts, so your comment is timely!

    Giskard posted long-ago the effect of wiring the 2245H and 2122H of the same polarity - it produces a hump at the crossover point as expected. Widget recently reposted this, I think, in the 4343 to 4344 Thread.

    Thanks, Earl - I'll let you know if I do this...
    bo

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  12. #12
    Senior Seņor boputnam's Avatar
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    Earl:

    That (now missing...) post about the energy buildup in the crossover region with graphic results from the Le Cleach Excel file was quite interesting. Any chance you could reconstruct it, here...?
    bo

    "Indeed, not!!"

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    Senior Member Ian Mackenzie's Avatar
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    This link might explain it:

    http://www.maxim-ic.com/appnotes.cfm/appnote_number/733

    Then there is the Rane primer:

    http://www.rane.com/note160.html

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bo
    Earl:

    That (now missing...) post about the energy buildup in the crossover region with graphic results from the Le Cleach Excel file was quite interesting. Any chance you could reconstruct it, here...?
    Hi Bo,

    - I reconstructed that crossover study Here !

    - As you can see ( over there ) a "split-pole", 12 db/octave Butterworth offers a pretty smooth transition.

    - I dialed in a voice-coil offset of 3 inches ( 75 mm ), not actually knowing what it is . ( FWIW; A positive number in the box for the specific transducer means it's voice-coil is closer to the listener ).


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    Senior Seņor boputnam's Avatar
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    Excellent - thanks, Earl.

    Being a moderator here, I could view the (deleted) post and knew it would be of interest to many. Kind of you to make the extra effort, and tying into Ian's long idled thread!! I anticipate there will be much coming from it...

    I will reference Ian's post there, too. Thanks, Ian!
    bo

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