Powerfully Passionate Performance
by Venoth Nair
Canadian brand Bryston has long been associated with manufacturing some of the most transparent and musical equipment for the high end audio enthusiast. Bryston’s balls out approach to building uncluttered, simple electronics with class leading performance have made it a stalwart when it comes to manufacturing fantastic high end equipment. The latest addition to its stable, the 4B Cubed, is a replacement to the previous 4B SST2 model which already set the bar pretty high when it comes to what a power amplifier is capable off.
The 4B Cubed is built with a typical Bryston form with its thick solid aluminum plate upfront, all aluminum chassis and large heatsinks on its side keeping the amp cool. The body of the 4B Cubed is built using as much aluminum as possible as it is excellent at dissipating heat. This follows a philosophy that moving parts in an electronic device can disturb and distort the signal leading to poor sound quality thus keeping the unit entirely solid state by using a convective cooling method as opposed to fans.
The amp delivers a massive 300 watts x 2 into 8 ohms and goes up to 500 watts on a 4 ohm load. Switch it to bridged mode and this titan shoots up to an ear shattering 900 watts of pure muscle at 8 ohms. This is truly an amplifier built to drive demanding difficult to control speakers.
Not too long ago, I was given the honor to listen to and review the B135SST2 integrated amplifier from Bryston hooked up to the A2 floorstanding speakers, also from Bryston. The pairing proved itself to be a great team as the system produced a beautifully rich and detailed sound which was transparent. I could discern all the various sounds and instruments in even the busiest of tracks which left me in awe of the Bryston pairings capabilities. Playing music with just a lone instrument and a vocal lead left me bolted to my seat. The system produced a sound that was so engaging that you wanted to complete the song to hear all the details which have now been brought to light. I was thoroughly entertained.
This time the 4B Cubed is put in-between, switching the B135SST2 to a preamp with the same A2 floorstanders for output duty. What happened next blew my mind. Upon hitting the play button and turning the volume up just a little, immediately the merits of using the 4B Cubed come to light. The sound stage expanded dramatically, enveloping you in sound. Though much more controlled and powerful, the sound does not lose any of its detail, in fact the sound is more lifelike with a noise floor that is so low, moments of pause within the track feel like the system is turned off. There is also a sense of dimension to the music now. You could close your eyes and imagine with the help of the sound the position and placement of all the instruments and the vocals creating a sense of omnipresence that is rarely achievable in a system of this price.
Switch genres to the deep pulsating bass lines of electronic music and the Bryston shows off its new found depth thanks to the excellent power delivery of the 4B. No bloated or boomy bass here, just pure deep, fast bass that keeps pace effortlessly. High frequency performance is also great with treble that’s defined and crisp but never distracting from the rest of the frequencies. The Bryston combination seems to work with pretty much any genre from Rock to even Hip Hop. All you really need to ensure the performance is nothing less than spectacular is to make sure your source is of similar or better pedigree then the Bryston setup and you will not be disappointed.
Overall the Bryston setup can add up to a somewhat sizable amount of money. But considering the fact that the respective parts can be bought in stages and in some way builds up to an amazing end product once the system is completely assembled, makes for a delightful journey as you go about building the system, with each step establishing a marked improvement in performance. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the Bryston 4B Cubed in its own right and when paired with its own family members it absolutely shines. Its ravenous power, expert control and amazing delivery makes this an amplifier which is far more precious then what its retail price of RM26,500 would suggest.