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Bryston SP3 vs. Classe SP800 vs. Audiolab 8200AP

post #1 of 97
Thread Starter 
Now I know the Audiolab unit is much cheaper than the other two, price is a major consideration factor for me. I can get the Bryston for about $9500 , the classe $7500 used from Audiogon and the Audiolab unit for about $2000. My question is are these other two units that much better than the Audiolab? Enough to justify the spending that much more? Buying either of those two would be stretching my budget. I wanted to get a processor to be able to do everything with one unit.

I will be running a 5.1 system with Kef blades as the main speakers in front and Parasound JC1 Halos to drive them. Will most likely get one of the Oppo Blu Ray players as a source. I will be using the set up in a fairly large open living room. I will be using the setup for mainly 2.1 stereo listening and watching movies, with the odd multichannel music listening and live concert watching thrown in.

Any help would be appreciated, just a little lost on what to do here.
post #2 of 97
You may want to expand your list to the Arcam 888 and the Cary Cinema 12. Price wise both fall about half way between your high and low cost units.smile.gif
post #3 of 97
Get the Bryston SP3. I own it having replaced my Arcam AV9 for it. While the Arcam was great, the Bryston sonically is in another league. It has been stated by a pro reviewer who used both the Classe and Bryston that the Bryston is the first great processor for audiophiles, and it sounds better than the Classe.
post #4 of 97
Thread Starter 
Interesting Gbaby , I came across a few of your posts in a Cary Cinema 12 thread. Yeah I read that stereophile article. He really raved about the Bryston , the question is it worth the extra 2k or so. You would think when you get to that high of a level the differences between the two units would be minimal.
post #5 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Kinney View Post

Interesting Gbaby , I came across a few of your posts in a Cary Cinema 12 thread. Yeah I read that stereophile article. He really raved about the Bryston , the question is it worth the extra 2k or so. You would think when you get to that high of a level the differences between the two units would be minimal.

What you hear with the Bryston SP3 is pure signal devoid of any noise which translates into a weighty sound in every frequency range without grain, distortion or a hint of anything being between you and the sound. This is especially true using the balanced inputs which is the only way to go. I truly believe that currently, this may be the best sounding pre/pro on the market, and is sonically, the one to beat. Its features are spartan, but I would trade features any day for a sound like the Bryston SP3. It has made me think that the processor or preamp may be the most important link in the audio chain, over and above speakers. I like the philosphy behind the design of the SP3 which is essentially to concentrate on sound rather than features. While some like audio manipulating features, these can have a detrimental effect on the sound of well designed speakers due to reflective qualilties of the sound which speakers have already been designed to compensate. Frequency manipulation can cause listeners fatigue because the altered sound can get fatiguing to listen to over an extended period of time. There are articles on this subject, and you can google them and find some. Once you get a Bryston SP3 and listen to it, you immediately know you are listening to something special.
Edited by gbaby - 8/10/12 at 7:06am
post #6 of 97
Since you are going with the Blades electronics will be very important. I would recommend either the SP3 or the JC2 with HT bypass and a lesser Pre Pro as I am guessing 5.1 will be HT and not music. I have heard the SP3 with JBL Synthesis Array 1400s and super clean.
post #7 of 97
Thread Starter 
Ok sounds like the Bryston might be the route to go. It just seems there is no end to the amount of money you can spend on this hobby, speakers amps preamps sources cables etc.
post #8 of 97
[quote name="Brian Kinney" url="/t/1423873/bryston-sp3-vs-classe-sp800-vs-audiolab-8200ap#post_22294604 It just seems there is no end to the amount of money you can spend on this hobby, speakers amps preamps sources cables etc.[/quote]

Sadly, I agree. But, this is my last purchase, and I will not be renewing my subcription to any audio magazine. smile.gif
post #9 of 97
I'm surprised given you said "price is a major consideration" that you so readily want to hand out $9.5k (which you also said will stretch your budget) based on one user's claim of "pure signal devoid of any noise" and one mag reviewer. Aren't you going to verify that distortion is measured at absolute 0.00% and have an audition of all three models first?

BTW, this should have been in the ultra high end forum. Here, people believe all amps sound the same.
post #10 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilian.ca View Post

I'm surprised given you said "price is a major consideration" that you so readily want to hand out $9.5k (which you also said will stretch your budget) based on one user's claim of "pure signal devoid of any noise" and one mag reviewer. Aren't you going to verify that distortion is measured at absolute 0.00% and have an audition of all three models first?
BTW, this should have been in the ultra high end forum. Here, people believe all amps sound the same.

You must be having a bad day.tongue.gif
post #11 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaby View Post

You must be having a bad day.tongue.gif

I agree with him. No disrespect but OP would be doing himself a disservice if he shelled out 9.5k based on only your positive post and a positive review. It would benefit him to do more research imo. There are a lot of options out there and new ones being developed as we speak.

He said he has a budget. This means to me he has to find the hughest use and return on a finite amount of money.

And this really is the place where it is argued that all amps sound the same.
post #12 of 97
Thread Starter 
I have done lots of research on the units before I posted this thread. Auditioning them all is not possible in the city I live in and especially not possible with the same equipment so unfortuanately I have to go from what I read. I had already read that the Bryston was most likely the best unit but I was just trying to figure out if it is worth the extra cost as I will be stretching my budget if I get that unit.
post #13 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Kinney View Post

I have done lots of research on the units before I posted this thread. Auditioning them all is not possible in the city I live in and especially not possible with the same equipment so unfortuanately I have to go from what I read. I had already read that the Bryston was most likely the best unit but I was just trying to figure out if it is worth the extra cost as I will be stretching my budget if I get that unit.

I, like you, live in a city where trying pre/pros is not an option. So, I looked up the dealers in North Carolina and found one in Raleigh. But, when I visited the store they had none in stock nor had they every had any in stock. My father was ill in Philadelphia so I called the dealer in Jenkinstown, PA while in Philly, and it was in stock. After numberous visits to listen to it at Hi Fi House, I finally decided the take the plunge. It was a financial strain, but I justified it because so many people were dying around me that I decided that perhaps I need to get it while my hearing is still good.smile.gif It turned out to be a great decision. I can honestly say that most of my expensive equipment were purchased after having read review on it from Stereophile, and the only time I was disappointed was the review on the Oppo BDP-95 in that I did not like the sound of it over my Sony ES blu-ray and SACD. I sent back the Oppo so there was nothing lost. I can tell you that every sonic trait of the Bryston SP3 described by Kal Rubinson in Stereophile is true, and what makes things even bettter is that he had other high end pre/pros as a point of reference. There is no way I could make comparisons like Kal because I will never have the opportunity to have these major processors in my home. But, I can corroborate what has been written of the unit by Kal as well as What Hi Fi.wink.gif
post #14 of 97
Not knowing what the AUDIOLAB sells for why not consider Integra or Marantz. They are in the $2500 MSRP range.
post #15 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaby View Post

I, like you, live in a city where trying pre/pros is not an option. So, I looked up the dealers in North Carolina and found one in Raleigh. But, when I visited the store they had none in stock nor had they every had any in stock. My father was ill in Philadelphia so I called the dealer in Jenkinstown, PA while in Philly, and it was in stock. After numberous visits to listen to it at Hi Fi House, I finally decided the take the plunge. It was a financial strain, but I justified it because so many people were dying around me that I decided that perhaps I need to get it while my hearing is still good.smile.gif It turned out to be a great decision. I can honestly say that most of my expensive equipment were purchased after having read review on it from Stereophile, and the only time I was disappointed was the review on the Oppo BDP-95 in that I did not like the sound of it over my Sony ES blu-ray and SACD. I sent back the Oppo so there was nothing lost. I can tell you that every sonic trait of the Bryston SP3 described by Kal Rubinson in Stereophile is true, and what makes things even bettter is that he had other high end pre/pros as a point of reference. There is no way I could make comparisons like Kal because I will never have the opportunity to have these major processors in my home. But, I can corroborate what has been written of the unit by Kal as well as What Hi Fi.wink.gif

Interesting, the only thing when your demo'ing the unit in Philadelphia is how do you know what your hearing is a result of the processor and not the other equipment such as the speakers or amps they were using. Out of curiosity what speakers are you using with the processor? Interesting because that exact Oppo unit was what I was planning to get next for a source. Read many good things about it.
post #16 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Kinney View Post

Interesting, the only thing when your demo'ing the unit in Philadelphia is how do you know what your hearing is a result of the processor and not the other equipment such as the speakers or amps they were using. Out of curiosity what speakers are you using with the processor? Interesting because that exact Oppo unit was what I was planning to get next for a source. Read many good things about it.

I am certain the speakers amp and the source had a lot to do with the sound. In fact the sound is going to only be as good as its weakest link. I think the speakers were Sonas Fabers (not exactly sure) and the amps were Bryston's 9BSST and 4BSST. All I can tell you is that I went there to listen with the review from Stereophile in the back of my mind. Every sonic trait of the SP3 that was described in that article, I could hear. My only personal point of reference for a processor was my Arcam AV9 which is no slouch. The SP3 betters it by quite some margin. I, too, read a lot of good things about the Oppo BDP-95, and I purchased it, but, I could tell immediately I did not like its full, but to me, somewhat course sound in the highs and mid range. My Sony BDP-S5000ES had a much better sound for DTS-MA and True Dolby HD. It just lacked SACD. But, the Bryson SP3 had obviated the need for me to be concerned about analog outs. You can tell when you first fire up the SP3 that the sound is special. Anyone thinking they can buy an Oppo BDP-95 as a reasonable substitute for it are only fooling themselves. My speakers are Infinity Compostion Preludes P-FR, and all my cables are XLR silver cables from Bettercables.com. My 2 channel amp is a Class A Aleph J that was hand built by Nelson Pass and my 5 channel amp is a Krell KAV-500. I have been seriously building my system since 1995, and only now do I feel its complete.biggrin.gif
post #17 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilian.ca View Post

I'm surprised given you said "price is a major consideration" that you so readily want to hand out $9.5k (which you also said will stretch your budget) based on one user's claim of "pure signal devoid of any noise" and one mag reviewer. Aren't you going to verify that distortion is measured at absolute 0.00% and have an audition of all three models first?
BTW, this should have been in the ultra high end forum. Here, people believe all amps sound the same.

Re the last blurb: yeah, only hyper-materialistic, ego-maniacs with more money than sense tend to disagree with such a logical, evidence-supported assertion.

But yeah, I'm still completely open to hosting an amplifier ABX session so those of your ilk can prove otherwise.

Oops, wait, you folks don't ever have to prove anything, correct? You just basically postulate that it's "impossible" to know (that NO ONE can reliably discern one level-matched, solid state amplifier from another)? rolleyes.gif

Go figure.

James
Edited by mastermaybe - 8/14/12 at 12:37pm
post #18 of 97
"You can tell when you first fire up the SP3 that the sound is special."

Actually stated twice within a handful of posts...by the same human.

Good god people, escape while you still can.

Of course you thought little of the oppo. Duh: it's nearly reasonably priced at ~$500.

Closer to $5K?! NOW you'd have a winner! That "full" and "course" sound: now immediately "perfectly-weighted" and "transparent".

And if you're going to fictionalize sound at least please get it right: it's coarse, not course.


James
Edited by mastermaybe - 8/14/12 at 12:53pm
post #19 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post

Re the last blurb: yeah, only hyper-materialistic, ego-maniacs with more money than sense tend to disagree with such a logical, evidence-supported assertion.
But yeah, I'm still completely open to hosting an amplifier ABX session so those of your ilk can prove otherwise.
Oops, wait, you folks don't ever have to prove anything, correct? You just basically postulate that it's "impossible" to know (that NO ONE can reliably discern one level-matched, solid state amplifier from another)? rolleyes.gif
Go figure.
James

Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post

"You can tell when you first fire up the SP3 that the sound is special."
Actually stated twice within a handful of posts...by the same human.
Good god people, escape while you still can.
Of course you thought little of the oppo. Duh: it's nearly reasonably priced at ~$500.
Closer to $5K?! NOW you'd have a winner! That "full" and "course" sound: now immediately "perfectly-weighted" and "transparent".
And if you're going to fictionalize sound at least please get it right: it's coarse, not course.
James

These comments make me think you may have a little jealousy.tongue.gif Price had nothing to do with my purchase. The original poster stated he was considering the BP3, and I gave my opinion based upon first hand knowledge. Why would you classify a person as having ego and being materialistic because he purchased audio equipment you consider too expensive? You should be happy for me as this site is about sharing experiences in audio and video, and not insulting folks. I don't personally know anyone on this forum. Again, these comments smacks of jealousy. Believe me, I'm just a regular Joe with audio being a hobby as opposed to boating or other expensive hobby. And, for the gentleman who stated I should have posted in the high end section, I believe its heading states it starts at 20k. If you really want to escape, when you see the name gbaby, don't read it.tongue.gif But, for those who do read my posts, you should know that I post in good faith, and my comments are sincere.smile.gif
Edited by gbaby - 8/14/12 at 3:39pm
post #20 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaby View Post

These comments make me think you may have a little jealousy.tongue.gif Price had nothing to do with my purchase. The original poster stated he was considering the BP3, and I gave my opinion based upon first hand knowledge. Why would you classify a person as having ego and being materialistic because he purchased audio equipment you consider too expensive? You should be happy for me as this site is about sharing experiences in audio and video, and not insulting folks. I don't personally know anyone on this forum. Again, these comments smacks of jealousy. Believe me, I'm just a regular Joe with audio being a hobby as opposed to boating or other expensive hobby. And, for the gentleman who stated I should have posted in the high end section, I believe its heading states it starts at 20k. If you really want to escape, when you see the name gbaby, don't read it.tongue.gif But, for those who do read my posts, you should know that I post in good faith, and my comments are sincere.smile.gif

^^^ well said! gbaby- enjoy that SP3 for many years in good health!
post #21 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaby View Post

These comments make me think you may have a little jealousy.

That word does not mean what you think it means.

Face it, you post here because you want group reinforced rationalization, some sort of online pat on the back for your acquisition. It may be human nature, but it is just flat out stupid. And neither that nor your entirely unsubstantiated anecdotal experiences do anything to advance audio/video science, which is the entire raison d'être of these forums.

AJ
post #22 of 97
Really...

I think AV Science was just a cool name thought up by the origional founders.

Nothing more nothing less.
post #23 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaby View Post

I am certain the speakers amp and the source had a lot to do with the sound. In fact the sound is going to only be as good as its weakest link. I think the speakers were Sonas Fabers (not exactly sure) and the amps were Bryston's 9BSST and 4BSST. All I can tell you is that I went there to listen with the review from Stereophile in the back of my mind. Every sonic trait of the SP3 that was described in that article, I could hear. My only personal point of reference for a processor was my Arcam AV9 which is no slouch. The SP3 betters it by quite some margin. I, too, read a lot of good things about the Oppo BDP-95, and I purchased it, but, I could tell immediately I did not like its full, but to me, somewhat course sound in the highs and mid range. My Sony BDP-S5000ES had a much better sound for DTS-MA and True Dolby HD. It just lacked SACD. But, the Bryson SP3 had obviated the need for me to be concerned about analog outs. You can tell when you first fire up the SP3 that the sound is special. Anyone thinking they can buy an Oppo BDP-95 as a reasonable substitute for it are only fooling themselves. My speakers are Infinity Compostion Preludes P-FR, and all my cables are XLR silver cables from Bettercables.com. My 2 channel amp is a Class A Aleph J that was hand built by Nelson Pass and my 5 channel amp is a Krell KAV-500. I have been seriously building my system since 1995, and only now do I feel its complete.biggrin.gif

Interesting , so are xlr cables what you call "balanced" and rcas "unbalanced" then? Also if I were to purchase this unit would the oppo 95 be adequate using the Bryston dacs? Or do I need to get something "better"? If I purchase the Bryston then I definately will not spend 4k on a source, the Bryston until would be the last big audio purchase for me for a while. Will have to settle with a cheaper source which is why I thought the Oppo might be good for 1k, supposed to sound much better than its price.
post #24 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaby View Post

These comments make me think you may have a little jealousy.tongue.gif Price had nothing to do with my purchase. The original poster stated he was considering the BP3, and I gave my opinion based upon first hand knowledge. Why would you classify a person as having ego and being materialistic because he purchased audio equipment you consider too expensive? You should be happy for me as this site is about sharing experiences in audio and video, and not insulting folks. I don't personally know anyone on this forum. Again, these comments smacks of jealousy. Believe me, I'm just a regular Joe with audio being a hobby as opposed to boating or other expensive hobby. And, for the gentleman who stated I should have posted in the high end section, I believe its heading states it starts at 20k. If you really want to escape, when you see the name gbaby, don't read it.tongue.gif But, for those who do read my posts, you should know that I post in good faith, and my comments are sincere.smile.gif

I don't think that means each piece needs to cost $20K. I think it means the system is more expensive than $20K. Also, I couldn't help but notice you said KEF Blades and that price was a consideration.... Don't the KEF Blades retail for more than $30K / pair? I think this more than qualifies for the high-end forum, but I'm not sure how you can claim to be concerned about cost.
post #25 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmiles View Post

Really...
I think AV Science was just a cool name thought up by the origional founders.
Nothing more nothing less.

Perhaps AVForum was already taken (UK) so they needed something to make it unique. My guess is you are correct.
post #26 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by WiWavelength View Post

That word does not mean what you think it means.
Face it, you post here because you want group reinforced rationalization, some sort of online pat on the back for your acquisition. It may be human nature, but it is just flat out stupid. And neither that nor your entirely unsubstantiated anecdotal experiences do anything to advance audio/video science, which is the entire raison d'être of these forums.
AJ

I agree but you can also flip this and say he probably already made up his mind that he really wants the unit and if someone 'talks him down' to something cheaper that is just as good that he will probably regret it too.

Personally i try to dig deeper but that first 'gut' feeling in wanting to own something is very strong, Pride of ownership can/should be more valued than people think. I buy many things because they make me smile every time i use them and admitting that i pay for that part and having peace with it helps in holy-wars.

** these cables don't help anything, me: I know but don't they look nice ?

Daniel.
post #27 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by TL5 View Post

^^^ well said! gbaby- enjoy that SP3 for many years in good health!

Thank you. As a matter of fact, the SP3 will most likely be my last major purchase. I have been contemplating on this unit for a few months, but after my father died, and an acquaintance died, I decided that I need to get this unit while my hearing is still good.smile.gif I just turned 58, and as you know time is not my friend. One thing I like about the SP3 is the clean signal. It makes my Arcam AV9 sound like distortion. I think that as s result of the signal being so clean, it makes the notes sound clearer and more pronounced. Additionally, it seems to be getting every ounce of sound from my speakers which seem to have no more to give. I don't mean this in a bad way, but I have determined that the SP3 is the best link and everything else may be the weakest link. The SP3 is ruthlessly revealing, and it makes a great recording sound marvelous, but makes a bad recording sound really bad. It is really a great processor to determine the quality of the recording and every recordiing seems to take on a different trait. For once, I feel like I'm in the big league for audio.cool.gif
post #28 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by WiWavelength View Post


Face it, you post here because you want group reinforced rationalization, some sort of online pat on the back for your acquisition. It may be human nature, but it is just flat out stupid. And neither that nor your entirely unsubstantiated anecdotal experiences do anything to advance audio/video science, which is the entire raison d'être of these forums.
AJ

Oh my goodness!rolleyes.gifeek.gif
post #29 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaby View Post

These comments make me think you may have a little jealousy.tongue.gif Price had nothing to do with my purchase. The original poster stated he was considering the BP3, and I gave my opinion based upon first hand knowledge. Why would you classify a person as having ego and being materialistic because he purchased audio equipment you consider too expensive? You should be happy for me as this site is about sharing experiences in audio and video, and not insulting folks. I don't personally know anyone on this forum. Again, these comments smacks of jealousy. Believe me, I'm just a regular Joe with audio being a hobby as opposed to boating or other expensive hobby. And, for the gentleman who stated I should have posted in the high end section, I believe its heading states it starts at 20k. If you really want to escape, when you see the name gbaby, don't read it.tongue.gif But, for those who do read my posts, you should know that I post in good faith, and my comments are sincere.smile.gif

Why would you assume I'm jealous after reading and comprehending (or not?) the information I provided?

Sure, I could go out and spend $X,XXX on an amp or pre-amp, but I won't because I know better. MANY others (poor and well-heeled, alike) do not, sadly. BUT, it is (more often than not) the well-heeled who actually buy the products- many for the same reason(s) they spend $5,000 on a wristwatch or $150,000 on a car. Neither rarely occur because they simply appreciate a nice timepiece or automobile- as equal and even SUPERIOR examples of either can be secured much less expensively 9 times out of 10- but for many OTHER reasons that have been studied, researched and well-documented. Just do a modicum of research on the web, you don't need me to regurgitate it here. And yes, if folks choose to post such decisions- "supported" by absurd, completely merit-less zeal on an internet forum where I belong, I will comment on said decisions.

The worst of this lot fall right into line with what everyone else already knows: you anticipate- and some actually believe, ghastly- that most "others" are "jealous" ...and make no mistake, some certainly are, but that just makes them of the identical ilk of those us "others" are amused by...just with less monetary means.

And I do not doubt for a second that your posts are sincere, as they're completely and utterly linked to my dual-headed contention, of course. I never stated that ALL those who fantastically overspend on audio components are ego-maniacal, materialistic, "look-at-me's". Just a good number. Some actually believe they can pick out one correctly operating, level-matched amp/straight pre-amp from another. And that's another genus altogether.

It's all really pretty straightforward.

James
Edited by mastermaybe - 8/15/12 at 8:01am
post #30 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by TL5 View Post

^^^ well said! gbaby- enjoy that SP3 for many years in good health!

Actually, disastrously said, and soundly pummeled with logic and reason, but heh, whatever helps you sleep at night.

James
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