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Bryston 3B

Article from The Mix, February 1995

Powerful studio amp

The Bryston 3E power amp from Canada is built for comfort as much as speed. Chris Kempster takes a V8 for a spin...

Any pro-audio company that gives its products a minimum 20 year guarantee must be pretty confident of its quality control. And Bryston Audio of Ontario, Canada, are supremely sure of theirs.

Their 3B power amp looks like it'll get through a score of years of trouble-free service, and then some. Even if you're the fiftieth owner of this particular appliance, your guarantee will still be valid, so it represents an investment as much as a practical unit.

The aura of hand-tooled opulence is reinforced by the spec sheet, which is completed individually for each and every unit that leaves the factory. Just as each Aston Martin engine is signed by its creator, you'll find the signature of the chap who lovingly checked your model's harmonic distortion on both channels at 20, 200, 2,000 and 20,000Hz, on the ZB's spec sheet. So you get the idea - these amps are well made!

On the catwalk

Power amps are never going to stop you at a hundred yards with their looks, but this one is certainly one of the more understated and stylish designs I've come across.

The hefty steel front panel is adorned at first glance merely by the Bryston logo, and a couple of handles that are invaluable when moving around heavy and awkward bits of gear such as this. Look closer, though, and you'll notice the centrally-mounted power switch that, when depressed, sits neatly recessed in one of the two crevices that run the length of the unit (rather like those on a Rover SDI).

Look even closer, and you'll find a simple LED arrangement on either side, to indicate when a signal's clipping. But isn't there something missing? Where's the gain controls?

Flouting tradition, Bryston have fitted a couple of ultra-recessed screws, which will require a miniature screwdriver (or perhaps a girlfriend's nail file), for adjustment. It's not as inconvenient as it sounds.

Most studios will leave the levels on their power amp unchanged once they've plumped for a base level, and these types of pots ensure that they aren't changed involuntarily. Nice touch. Each side of the unit houses a massive heatsink which, in the absence of a fan, are essential components.

In use

There's a sensible choice of connections on the ZB's rear, with XLR inputs for balanced people, and RCA/phonos for the unbalanced amongst us.

The speaker cable binding posts allow the use of either banana plugs or just bare wire. A toggle switch flips you from dual (stereo) mode to mono (bridged) mode, in the latter case using just the left channel's binding posts. Since Bryston have gold-plated all input and output sockets for low distortion performance, you'd be insane not to use similarly gold-plated connectors too.

When powering up the 3B, the streetlights outside will probably dim momentarily as the Bryston sucks in half the National Grid's output. But seriously, you have to treat powerful amps with a bit of respect, and Bryston suggest giving the 3B its own wall socket, rather than sharing a gang socket (and please, no three-way plugs).

In use, the 3B gives a huge amount of squeaky-clean power, which bears out the impressive noise figures quoted on the spec sheet. It delivered smoothly and effortlessly throughout the frequency spectrum, in particular the lower frequencies which you can't take for granted with some amps. Put it this way - if you can't hear something you were expecting to hear, it ain't the amp's fault...


This power amp has got to come with a high recommendation, given the impressive level of build and performance. Cheap it is not, and was not intended to be, but with a twenty-year guarantee and the prospect of many-more-years-than-that service, it starts to look like superb value for your money.

There's an old saying that goes 'buy cheap, buy twice', and that's never more true than when buying a studio workhorse like this. So when you're buying your second or third amp, just remember what your uncle Chris told you.

Spec check

Power output: 125 watts/channel into 8ohms
250 watts/channel into 4ohms
400 watts (bridged mode) into 8ohms
Intermodulation distortion: Left 0.00246% Right 0.00234%
Power at clipping: 136W
Total harmonic distortion (2kHz): Left 0.00449% Right 0.00435%
Dimensions: 19" x 30

The essentials...

Price inc VAT: £1,159
More from: The Professional Monitor Company, (Contact Details)

Previous Article in this issue

Mission control

Next article in this issue

Dream machine

Publisher: The Mix - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
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The Mix - Feb 1995

Donated by: Colin Potter

Coverdisc: Mike Gorman

Control Room

Gear in this article:

Amplifier > Bryston > 3B

Review by Chris Kempster

Previous article in this issue:

> Mission control

Next article in this issue:

> Dream machine

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