There are friends who are 'yang' - loud, slap you hard on your back, irreverent; there are friends who are 'ying' - brooding, a little fragile, probably moody. And there are friends who are 'balanced' - always there for you, cheering along when you are up, and stay with you when you are down. The object in this write-up is the third kind, it is a friend in hifi that you can count on.

I seem to get all the pass-me-down from Panzer. :-) So, true to tradition, the Bryston BP26 / 4BSST2 pair ended up at my place for a couple of weeks while he was busy with other things.

Throughout my years' in the hifi hobby, I never owned an amp more powerful than 100w (I don't know why, probably it is the issue with my wallet). So with the 300w per side Bryston 4BSST2, I jumped at the chance, I would love to hear what a high power amp could bring to the table in my own system.

The stable mate of the 4BSST2, the BP26 pre-amp also came along for the ride. I decided to go one by one. The pre-amp would go into the system first, then the power amp. I have just completed step 1, so this write-up focuses only on the pre-amp.

The Bryston BP26 Pre-amp and MPS2 Power Supply

The BP26 is a great example of a thoroughly modern pre-amp. It is built like a tank, has all the connections that one would need (2 balanced inputs, 5 unbalanced inputs, 1 tape loop, 1 balanced output and 2 unbalanced outputs), Bryston also, in their wisdom, added some additional features that, to me, upped the value-for-money quotient for their ware - there are a headphone out, balance control, mute, and a rarely seen phase inversion switch. So this Bryston offers greater conveniences compared to those strip-down pre-amps out there, some can't even do much more than source selection and volume control.

The MPS2 power supply comes with 4 outlets, so you can power other Bryston gears with it. It connects to the main body via an umbilical cord cable. Built into a same size chassis as the pre-amp, both looked dandy stacked on each other. And that is how I installed them on the top of my equipment rack.

Mated to my Pass Labs XA-60 monoblocks, the BP-26 offered up a sound that was quite refined and smooth. This was an excellent level of performance for me, this refinement was better than my resident Pass Labs X2.5, and reminded me, to an extent, of that offered by Pass Labs' much more expensive XP-20 pre-amp (RM30k, compared to the BP26's RM16k), which I listened to a while ago.

The BP-26 also offered up excellent details. There was a slight heightening of clarity apparent towards the upper mid regions and higher (upper range of vocal, guitar plucks, violin strings), giving the sound a little sunlit quality and letting the details coming through. The sound was neither bright nor cold in any stretch of the imagination. The BP-26 also emphasized the main event (vocal, main instruments) more than the ambiance and surroundings. It is my nit to pick, after comparing to my X2.5, to wish for a tad better resolution of low level information. These traits though made the main musical details that much easier to follow.

There was no mechanical feel to the BP-26's music reproduction. The sound flowed. There were no etching, no edginess, unless it was in the recording. Do not expect the BP-26 to romanticise or beautify the music for you though. The BP-26 is an honest guy, its no non-sense demeanor will just pass on the signal as it is.

With these traits, you would be in cloud nine if you were more intellectually oriented in your music listening. Every word and every note in the music were portrayed clearly for the ears and the mind to savour. I could not ask for more in this respect, listening through to the music with the BP-26 was easy.

The control that the BP26 exerted was clear to hear on the 'Poem of Chinese Drum' track that I mentioned earlier in my E.A.R. Acute cd player post. At certain parts, the music was not only loud, but also complex and fast. the BP26 was unfazed, it segregated the threads clearly and cleanly, things do not get overblown, and each drum beat was presented in a tactile manner. The BP26 was evenhanded, it did not go weak at the knees, nor did it charge hard at the listener.

The rear view
The BP26 had no tendency to offend. There was no primadonna behaviour in its operations nor in its sound. It stayed true to the musical signal. And with its 20 year warranty it will do this year after year, presenting your music to you.

I don't think one can ask for a more dependable and trusty piece of gear than this.

Bryston is sold by AV Designs, contact James Tan, tel: 016-3280237


Eddie said...


You give me many idea what to upgrade. Make me want to test listen the Bryston.

Sounds like very good product.

Ken said...


May I know what is the RCP of Pass X2.5?

hifikaki said...


Glad to know that you like to test listen to the Bryston. Please share your experience with us.

The X2.5 was listed at around RM15k when it was available.