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McIntosh or Bryston

 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1347
Registered: Jun-07
I'm not going to ask which I should buy, or which one would sound better, because obviously that only matters from what my ears hear. What I want to ask, is just for some input from you guys, on the differences in sound from the two brands. I have heard both, Mac and Bryston pre amps, but nowhere near the same time frame, and at two totally different places. Any thoughts?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 10037
Registered: Dec-04
Nick, throw Rogue audio into that mix.

Like, say, the Magnum 99, or a 66.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1351
Registered: Jun-07
Ok will do Nuck, any ideas on characteristic differences between Rogue, Mac, and Bryston pre amps/integrated amps?
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2621
Registered: May-05
I haven't heard Rogue, so I have no comments on their gear.

Mac and Bryston are nearly on opposite ends of the spectrum. Mac is warm, smooth, and laid back. Bryston by comparison is brighter, more aggressive, and more upfront. Bryston may be a little leaner, tighter, and have more resolution, whereas Mac may be more lush, fuller, and tube like. The Bryston sounds a little faster, but the Mac sounds a little more fluid.

They're pretty much equal in soundstaging, imaging, and most other hifi attributes. Both are tonally accurate. Both are equally musical, yet achieve it in different ways. Both are bullet proof and designed to last a lifetime.

To be totally honest, I like them both equally. Had I come across a Mac integrated for the same money I paid for my Bryston and the Bryston wasn't available, I'd have bought the Mac without any hesitation. If both were available, I have no idea which way I'd have gone. I guess it would have probably come down to the seller.

Even though I think they're equal in terms of quality, I don't know if they'll mix well. I don't know if you'll end up with the best of both worlds, or each other's strengths at odds with each other.

Your best bet is to keep the entire system in mind. Listen to a few all Bryston systems, and a few all Mac systems. The difference isn't exactly subtle. If you prefer the Mac, you should be able to get most or all of your money back when you sell it. If you prefer Bryston, you're half way there. I've heard the Apollo with Bryston and Mac, and it works equally well in both, if that makes a difference to you.
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 1234
Registered: May-06
I can weigh in on the Rogue and the MAC. Very similar, the MAC I heard cost 40% more and was tighter, slightly better presentation, but marginally better than my Rogue and to me not worth the upgrade. They were both tube, and the microphonics on both needed taming. I tamed the Rogue with JV's version of isolation and damping and that allowed it to perform at a much higher level and made it easy for me to pass on the MAC.

I have not heard a Bryston Pre-amp or integrated.
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 1235
Registered: May-06
Stu, kinda like a tag team eh?

Now where's that guy / gal who heard Bryston and Rogue but not MAC?
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1358
Registered: Jun-07
Thanks Stu and Mike. I have a chance to purchase a Bryston pre amp and a Mac pre amp both for 700 dollars. I am on a journey in the next couple weeks to hear a mac, before I pull the trigger on one of them. I will keep the Rogue in mind as well, but have no idea who would carry it anywhere near me. I wonder who has heard Rogue and Bryston indeed. Sounds like the Rogue presentation is also warm, and liquid like?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Betamax

Canada

Post Number: 28
Registered: May-07
Stu summed up the differences very well.

As far as price goes, I seem to find better used prices for Bryston, maybe because I'm in Canada. As Stu suggests, perhaps Mac holds its resale value more -- which is good if you plan on reselling, but you have to pay more up front.

I also am not sure about mixing the two, and a Bryston pre would probably be a better fit with your 3B. Which model is it? B20?

On a superficial level, the Bryston has a better WAF. I showed my wife some pics of Mac gear and she just hates the retro 1970's styling. Doesn't bother me; there's something appealing about its functional ugliness, but the Bryston looks more clean & modern. Though my gear is behind smoked glass anyway to keep the darn cats off it...
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1360
Registered: Jun-07
Yeah, im leaning a bit toward the Bryston pre, and yes, it was the B20 or BP20 w the Phono I think. I'll double check that as that is important. But the Mac I will hear.
 

Silver Member
Username: Wattsssup

Barrie, ON Canada

Post Number: 236
Registered: Aug-06
I heard a Naim CD5i through a Mac through B&Ws and didn't care for what I heard. But I don't know the components enough to know which piece didn't fit.

So I'm afraid, I'm not much help.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 12434
Registered: May-04
.

"I heard a Naim CD5i through a Mac through B&Ws ... "


That's not what I would consider a well balanced system. None of those pieces have a complimentary personality to either of the other two.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 12435
Registered: May-04
.

"I heard a Naim CD5i through a Mac through B&Ws ... "


That's not what I would consider a well balanced system. None of those pieces have a complimentary personality to either of the other two.
 

Silver Member
Username: Wattsssup

Barrie, ON Canada

Post Number: 237
Registered: Aug-06
Yeah, I was thinking the dealer didn't put a good combination together given the reputations of those brands on their own.

I personally don't judge any of those components based on that one experience.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1366
Registered: Jun-07
Anyone know of the Bryston .05b Pre Amp. Its about 15-20 years old roughly and comes with a phono. Any though on that? I am about to get one for 395. It is in absolutely mint condition, and coming from Canada so shipping will be hardly nothing.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Betamax

Canada

Post Number: 30
Registered: May-07
The Bryston .5's were good, clean preamps back in the day. I saw the one you're looking at, looks minty. Can't go wrong at the price!
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1367
Registered: Jun-07
U seen it on CanuckAudioMart Frank? Right on. It does look minty. For 400 bucks?? I can't see it NOT being a good investment. Sounds like your have had personal experience with the .5's. Is there a huge advantage in sound quality if I hold out for a B20 or will I be getting the same Bryston sound with better looks and a bigger warranty?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Betamax

Canada

Post Number: 31
Registered: May-07
Yes, saw it on CAM. I heard a .5 many years ago and was very impressed, but it's been too long to make a comparison, sorry.

I would hope that a B20 would sound noticeably better, but couldn't say how much better...
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1368
Registered: Jun-07
None the less, it should be a certain upgrade from the T763 I would think. hmmmmm.
 

Silver Member
Username: Jazzman71

Phoenix, AZ USA

Post Number: 156
Registered: Dec-07
I would think so Nick. And I think you are better off with the synergy of the Bryston pre with your amp than with the MAC. Sounds like different sonic character, so the whole may be less than the sum of the parts. If you like the Bryston sound, pair it up IMO.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2626
Registered: May-05
That's what I was trying to get at too, Neil. But, he should hear some Mac gear if he hasn't ever heard it. He may want to go that route and sell the Bryston amp he currently has.

Both Mac and Bryston have been very consistent in their house sound throughout their respective company's history. A newer Bryston pre-amp will be a little better sounding all around. It'll have more warantee, and more creature comforts like a remote, more inputs, and perhaps balanced inputs (not sure if the .5 has them or not). The new pre-amps won't embarass the old ones.

I may be wrong, but the .5 may actually have 2 phono inputs, instead of one. One may be MM, and the other MC. Not too sure if they all are like that, or if it was optional.

Either way - old or new - the difference should be on the same level as what you heard going from the NAD amp to the 3B.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1369
Registered: Jun-07
Thanks guys. I heard another Bryston Pre/Power combo today and must say. I really love Bryston's presentation. That said, weather MAC is as good to my ears or not, I like Bryston so much that I pulled the trigger on that .5b. It should be here in a week or so. Stu- The .5b I am getting does has two Phono inputs. Its very Minty and I am excited to get it. The separation of the Two channel and Home Theater system begins. Is there a way I can integrate the Bryston pre into my system and still use the NAD for surround decoding without switching the Interconnects back and forth between the Bryston pre and the NAD AVR? Just until I get a second pair of tower speakers.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2634
Registered: May-05
I'm sure there's a way, just not sure how. Maybe from the processor to the Tape In on the .5?

I know its been discussed here before, just not sure exactly where.

If you like Bryston's presentation that much, there's no sense on pondering what anything else will sound like. The .5 should be exactly what you're looking for. Another plus is that you'll have an easy time selling it if you want to upgrade in the future. I'm pretty sure the .5 won't depreciate much if any more than it already has.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1371
Registered: Jun-07
Thanks Stu. I sent off a money order today and should have the pre amp sometime next week.

As for using a two channel pre mixed in a Home Theater situation I found this quoted from Frank Abela in the "I Just Bought Bryston" thread under the amp section

"So lonog as your next preamp has a unity gain or bypass feature, you won't need to separate the two systems. You plug your stereo sources such as CD player and tuner into the stereo preamp and get the best 2-channel results that way. Then you use the pre-outs from your surround amp through the stereo preamp on its bypass input for surround sound.

In fact, even if you don't have bypass on the preamp all you need do is set the preamp to a predetermined high output (about halfway up the scale or maybe a bit more) every time you want to play a movie. Just remember to turn it back down afterwards or you could get a nasty shock when you next play a CD...

Regards,
Frank."
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2636
Registered: May-05
That's mainly the one I had in mind.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1463
Registered: Jun-07
The Pre-Amp arrived today and first impression was "Wow this thing is MINT" on an Audiogon scale it would be 9/10. Not even a scratch on it. And sound? Wholly F@#CK!!! Amazing. The NAD was good though, going back and forth the NAD holds up better than a lot of people on this forum would think it does. BUT!! after about an hour of hard listening, and as the pre warmed up the Dynamics of this thing just shined. Instruments are so separated even more, and when a bass kick hits hard, or a guitarists hits the strings hard, it just makes you jump out of your seat. This thing really gets the F@#CK out of the way and just lets the music rip. I can honestly say my system at the moment is as good as I have ever heard from any system. Cheers to Bryston. Cheers to Stu the Bryston guy. Cheers to everyone I am going to make myself a Whiskey.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Betamax

Canada

Post Number: 50
Registered: May-07
Congrats Nick, glad to hear it worked out for you.

At this moment I'm listening to an old favorite, Robert Plant's Principles of Moments -- and everything just sounds so...right. I almost feel like I'm hearing it for the first time. I put it on just to get a taste and find I can't turn it off...

I'm using headphones because it's late, but the Bryston's really made my old B&W 602's come to life. Not just better sound, but also the sound coming out of the speakers is more open, with a wider soundstage than before. I still intend to upgrade them in time, but now realize that they're better speakers than I thought!

My wife was listening to the stereo today, and she talked about the differences she perceived since upgrading and concluded that the Bryston was "really worth it" -- and she's frugal by nature, so there is no higher praise in her vocabulary.

It's great that you're so happy with your system. Wait till you get those R6's broken in!
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1467
Registered: Jun-07
Frank S- Im with you on the wife compliments.lol. When the wife can hear the difference its like a breathe of fresh air. She could hear the difference last night as well. I couldn't even get the thing warm as It was late by the time I got home.(Worked 12 hours). But today on my lunch it is going to be all out war for an hour.lol.

So glad to hear that your loving your Bryston. It is truly great equipment.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 10152
Registered: Dec-04
Sharing the music with your partner is something that makes me smile every time.

Have fun, Nick.

Spin some Sinatra.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 12588
Registered: May-04
.

"Sharing the music with your partner is something that makes me smile every time."




Just what are you smiling about with Nick's partner?
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1472
Registered: Jun-07
lol Have u SEEN my wife? There is lots to smile about. I will send you all a nice pic.

Nuck-You hear Jack Johnson's new one yet? Lots of lovie dovie songs on there.lol
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 1272
Registered: May-06
Congrats Nick, I would love to hear you kit when you get it rockin' in your new place.

Are you suggesting Nuck play Jack Johnson for your wife?
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1477
Registered: Jun-07
Mike-lol- He can if he wants. Everyone is welcome for a kit warming at any time.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2702
Registered: May-05
Nick,

I just noticed the updated posts now. As Col. Hannibal from the A-Team used to say - "I love it when a plan comes together."

Frank S,
Glad to see your B60 is working out well. I had the same experience with my speakers as you're having - I didn't know my speakers were that good.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 6811
Registered: Feb-05
I usually stay away from the pre amp threads...look what I missed. This must be how you came to live with a Bryston (or two) Nick...very right on (showing my age and lovin' it!)!
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1479
Registered: Jun-07
Stu-Thanks. What ever happened to the A-Team?lol

Art- I sure am loving the Bryston combo. The best way to describe it is "Real" sounding. So much faster too, and all the instruments just seem to play together in a less of a scrambled manner. Never really noticed how slow the NAD AVR made the music sound until I A/B it against the Bryston Pre. Might be some of that PRaT I am hearing. I love it.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 10163
Registered: Dec-04
Great Nick!
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1480
Registered: Jun-07
Thx Nuck.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 10165
Registered: Dec-04
Now for the Sinatra...











































And Barry White to work on filling the baby room...
 

Silver Member
Username: John_ashman

Albuquerque, NM United States

Post Number: 217
Registered: Apr-08
Stu, could you explain the apparent contradiction in this -

"Mac and Bryston are nearly on opposite ends of the spectrum. Mac is warm, smooth, and laid back. Bryston by comparison is brighter, more aggressive, and more upfront. Bryston may be a little leaner, tighter, and have more resolution, whereas Mac may be more lush, fuller, and tube like. The Bryston sounds a little faster, but the Mac sounds a little more fluid."

and -

"Both are tonally accurate."

If that is true, doesn't that really mean that the Bryston is harsh and/or distorted and the McIntosh is not? Or was "both tonally accurate" a slip of the tongue? Or do you mean that the Mac has no "PRaT"?

BTW, it seems to me that your impression of the Mac is similar to my impression of the NAD M3
 

Silver Member
Username: John_ashman

Albuquerque, NM United States

Post Number: 218
Registered: Apr-08
Nick, assuming you like both, I've always seen Bryston to be the better value.

Also keep in mind that you can't compare a stereo preamp with the preamp section of a receiver usually. They're in two different leagues. NAD's own preamp is a better performer than the T763 - dead quiet for one thing. Kinda like comparing a sports car to a mini van.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_ashman

Albuquerque, NM United States

Post Number: 219
Registered: Apr-08
"I heard a Naim CD5i through a Mac through B&Ws ... "

"That's not what I would consider a well balanced system. None of those pieces have a complimentary personality to either of the other two."

To be fair to the Naim and Mac, some speakers just don't take compliments well.......
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1481
Registered: Jun-07
Nuck- LOL soon I suppose.


JA- Indeed I am aware that the two channel pre is built just to be a two channel pre. In comparison to the NAD in sound, I don't find Bryston to be any brighter than the NAD hardly when connected with MA RS6's. To me, and again, just my opinion...the Bryston stuff just sounds like Music is suppose to. Like there is absolutely no coloring done by it. As it almost fully gets out of the way of the source and just lets the music play as it was recorded. Very Detailed, very neutral. I am loving it. And it also seems the Apollo is holding up quit well and will probably live to my cd player until it breaks which could be years and years.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 936
Registered: Feb-07
To me, Bryston sounds exactly the way music should sound. You don't hear the gear - you hear the music.

Kinda hard to argue with the 20 year warranty too.

Then again, I know nothing about Mac stuff.
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