Bryston 4B SSTē

March 30, 2010

To John Crossett,

I must compliment you on your recent review of the Bryston 4B SSTē in SoundStage!, one of the best-written, no-BS, and useful audio reviews I have ever read. No ambiguity and honest. You catch the essence of the Bryston 4B perfectly; I know since I have owned one since 2002.

I was particularly interested in your review since I have the seven-year itch and am considering buying a new power amplifier. I have heard good things about the Meridian G57, which has advantages in price since I live in Portugal, and Meridian is made in the EU. However, I have also been considering upgrading to the 4B SSTē, and now you make me more interested in going that way. You said in your review that you would not recommend that present 4B SST owners run out to buy a Squared model. You outline some substantial improvements, and I wonder if you have changed your mind in any way?

I am picking your brain since Bryston does not have a commercial distributor in Lisbon. Rather, the distributor is a professional sound company, so there is no opportunity to listen before buying. However, thanks to your review, I know what to expect from the 4B SSTē.

So thanks again for the good review.

Best regards,


First off, thank you for your kind words. It's nice to hear that I've been able to capture the sound of the amp in words -- always a tricky thing. And that you found it most useful is icing on the cake.

As I said in the review, no, you don't have to upgrade to enjoy superb sound. But if you want to hear the Bryston to its fullest potential, then, yes, upgrading will do that. The improvements, while not night and day, are noticeable. If you like your SST, you're going to love the Squared version.

As you note, you already know what the SST version sounds like, so if you can translate my words to sound, you'll have a fair idea what improvements the new version will offer. I'm sure the Meridian will sound good. If you can, take it home and listen against what you have. But unless it blows the Bryston away, personally, I doubt you'll be disappointed with the 4B SSTē. . . . John Crossett

Hang 'em!

March 22, 2010

To whom it may concern,

How can I hang a B&W CM1 speaker on the wall? Between the 686 and the CM1, which one should I go for?



We haven't reviewed the B&W 686, so we can't give you any advice on that. There are a number of ways to mount a speaker on the wall, including brackets. One we like comes from Axiom Audio and is called the Full Metal Bracket. It's well built and versatile. The downside is that you have to make holes in your speaker to attach it. . . . Doug Schneider

Computer audio questions

March 16, 2010

To Colin Smith,

I read your first "The Digital Domain" and I admired your passion for great sound. If you have free time I would like to ask you for some advice.

I have a Pioneer DJM 400 mixer, which I connect with my stereo amplifier and my personal computer. I had an M-Audio 24/96 soundcard and now have ESI Juli@ and would like to improve the sound, but I have a dilemma. Should I buy a better soundcard or buy a DAC? Also, is MP3 at 320kbps good enough or is FLAC a better idea? I am interested only in sound reproduction, not in recording or MIDI. I am not a musician, just an audiophile. Thanks for your time!


The trouble with internal computer soundcards is that they are subjected to the harsh electromagnetic environment inside a computer and they share the same power supply as the rest of the PC. These factors can affect sound quality. A problem I'm personally experiencing with my HT Omega Striker 7.1 is that the company doesn't have Windows 7 drivers capable of 24/96 data transfer, a fact that appears to be true of all cards based on the CMI8770 chipset. This doesn't affect USB D/A converters like the Simaudio 300D I have now, which doesn’t need drivers and is plug’n’play.

As for the quality of music file formats, I think you'll find that FLAC is vastly superior to MP3. The MP3 file format cuts out a lot of music data to make small files and is like a person with no head and no feet: they might look like a person, but they don't work too well. On the other hand, FLAC files are lossless and so you get smaller file sizes without compromising performance. Try the free ripping program Exact Audio Copy and the free player foobar2000 to hear how good PC-based audio can sound. . . . Colin Smith

Gallo speaker impressions

March 5, 2010

To Doug Schneider,

As much as I wanted to attend CES this year, I was unable to. I would have gone just to hear the Gallo Reference 3.5 speakers. I heard the 3.1s for a short time and was knocked out by them, only wanting a bit more bass impact. Can you tell me how the bass sounded with the new 3.5s? I am thinking of purchasing these speakers, but am trying to gain as much information on them as I can.

Best regards,

Bill Demars

Designer Anthony Gallo drove these speakers hard for us during our CES demo and I was blown away by the 3.5’s bass depth and impact. I never expected it from such a compact speaker design. I only heard the 3.1 casually, never critically, so I have no idea how they’d compare. But the 3.5 certainly impressed me. . . . Doug Schneider