Amp Review (Bryston,Rotel,Anthem,Nuforce,Butler,Mudical Fidelity) - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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post #1 of 7 Old 07-09-06, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
 
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Amp Review (Bryston,Rotel,Anthem,Nuforce,Butler,Mudical Fidelity)

I did promise Sonnie a power amp review as a penance for tricking him a few months ago, but have put it off. If you're all like me don't you just hate those posters who post about their latest toy claiming that they've struck the AV mother lode and reached nirvana, and if you don't agree with their equipment choice you must be dumb, stupid, blind or deaf (or any combination/permutation)? Well my dilemma has been to give feedback on the amps that have crossed my threshold over the last few years, in the hope that it can help short circuit anyone from making the same mistakes as I did. What I have discovered is that there is no such thing as a bad product, they're just different.

Here goes, in chronological order:

Bryston 4BSST

http://www.bryston.ca/4bsst_m.html
300 watts per channel, 20 year warranty, built like a tank.
Very neutral sound, lots of power. At the time I bought this it represented great value for money but after recent price increases I'm not so sure, because of their warranty and reputation Bryston amps that come up on Audiogon are a great second hand buy, and because of their popularity come up frequently. Bass is claimed to be a strength, but their is better bass to be had with other amps. However, I would definitely recommend taking a look at their multi-channel amps.

Rotl 1095
http://www.rotel.com/products/specs/rmb1095.htm
200 watts x 5
My local dealer recommended the Rotel to power my centre and rear channels when I moved to a HT system, leaving the Bryston for 2 channel and front left/right duties.
For $2k the Rotel is hard to beat, and I would not hesitate to recommend it in a HT system. I see some dealers are recommending it with B&W Nautilus speakers, they must be nuts - these speakers both demand and deserve better amplification. In the less expensive B&W ranges I'm sure the 1095 works fine. My problem was that, in comparison with the Bryston, the 1095 was too 'grainy and coarse' when listening to music. So great for HT, but not an audiophile amp - it had to go.

Anthem Statement P5
http://statement.anthemav.com/HTML/P...ure/P_Lit.html
325 watts x 5 (continuous)
Too simplify my system I needed a multi-channel amp that would replace my Bryston and Rotel, only two options in my price range - the Anthem or the Cinenova (both had great reviews), but could only get a home demo on the Anthem.
First of all this is a monster, 140lbs and requires two separate 20 amp circuits. The P5 is basically 5 monoblocks in one chassis, with each of the 5 amps having its own transformer, which allows it to rock and roll at 325 watts on all channels simultaneously.
My first impressions were that the P5 was dynamic, powerful and too bright, so back to Bryston. On doing an AB with the Bryston I realised that bright was really detailed, and the Anthem was a better amp in my system. It was here to stay! Well for about 11 months. The P5 is very transparent, bad recordings sound bad, great recordings sound wonderful.
I sold my Anthem to prepare for a move back to Europe, but grew to love this amp - very neutral, great for both HT and 2 channel and bags of power. I would not hesitate to recommend the P5 or the P2.
Only downside, US dealers are inflexible on the list price of $5k, Canadian dealers are more flexible.

Nuforce Ref9
http://www.nuforce.com/products-monoamps.htm
Had these on demo, did a blind AB with my Anthem and a DIY UcD amp, both Big Lou and I preferred the Anthem. Nuforce amps have an interesting sound, worth listening too but make your own mind up.

Butler 3150
http://www.butleraudio.com/tdb3150.php
3x150 watts
I went down a different path and needed a 3 channel amp.
Butler amps have great feedback and a unique design (tubes in power stage with a patented design that also gives them a very, very long life).
A few phone calls to Butler, BK Butler has direct customer interface, and I decided to give these a shot -even though they are rated at 150 watts BK claims they push out close to 200 watts.
Wonderful build quality, integrates well in my system, lots of detail and great bass.
Definitely worth a listen, you can get 2/3/5 channel versions - home demo's available if you buy direct.
Anyone interested PM me and I can put you in touch with a dealer who has great service and deals.

Musical Fidelity KW500
http://www.musicalfidelity.com/products/kw/kw500.html#
510 watts x 2
My first audiophile amp was the MF A1 class A amp (a classic product), and having heard the predecessor to the KW500 (TriV-Vista) I love the sound of MF products. The KW500 is unusual in that it has a separate power supply and the amp is an integrated design (tubes in the preamp), how do you incorporate this into a HT system? Once I'd figured this out I bought the KW500.
In comparison to the P5 I thought it didn't mine the same bass depths - I was wrong, it goes deeper and is more articulate and detailed. What is totally different is that the KW500 is able to separate out individual instruments and present them as such - difficult to put into words, but it's a more realistic representation of music with emotion. Soundstage is also very three dimensional, power goes on for ever. My system (B&W 803N's/P5) started to sound coarse at insane volume levels, which I put down to the 803's, I was wrong it was the P5 - they go on for ever with the KW500.
For two channel nuts MF, Ayre, Classe, McCormack have to be on the short list.

My path is now with a system (MF/Butler) that puts the emphasis on 2 channel performance, but works extremely well in HT. My needs differ from the HT only group here, for those I would not hesitate to recommend any of the amps I've mentioned. If I had to give a clear recommendation for 2 channel then the KW500 would win by a mile, for multi-channel/2 channel the Anthem P5 is an exceptional amp.
I've been able to integrate the 2 channel performance I was looking for in a HT system, it would have been cheaper and quicker to buy a MF product in the beginning, but it was fun - and trust that my learnings will help others.
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post #2 of 7 Old 07-09-06, 05:30 PM
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Re: Amp Review (Bryston,Rotel,Anthem,Nuforce,Butler,Mudical Fidelity)

Thanks Phil.... excellent comparison review of some mighty fine amps. Sure wish you could have squeezed in a demo of one the Cinenova's. Maybe one day you'll get the opportunity.
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post #3 of 7 Old 07-09-06, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Amp Review (Bryston,Rotel,Anthem,Nuforce,Butler,Mudical Fidelity)

Quote:
Sonnie wrote:
Thanks Phil.... excellent comparison review of some mighty fine amps. Sure wish you could have squeezed in a demo of one the Cinenova's. Maybe one day you'll get the opportunity.
Waiting for my invitation to the Cedar Creek IB sub/RAD speakers inauguration ceremony, and I can crank your Cinenova up
NB - Their latest 7 channel version gets good reviews, and discounts are easy to negotiate.
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post #4 of 7 Old 07-09-06, 10:48 PM
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Re: Amp Review (Bryston,Rotel,Anthem,Nuforce,Butler,Mudical Fidelity)

I could have bought the Grande 5 new for about $1850. I think I paid $1300 for mine used... maybe $1350. I met the seller in Tallahassee and picked it up. Then I ordered the crate from Earthquake so I'd have one in case I ever sold it. Selling it is definitely not in my plans though. Best amp I've ever owned, although I must say my Sunfire Cinema Grand was quite the amp. I think the amp that cost me so much and disappointed me the most was my McIntosh MC7300. It was like it was holding back... maybe it just wasn't a good pairing with my Snell B-Minors... but I thought it was the weakest 300wpc I had ever had. My Adcom mono-blocks were not near as clean, smooth and warm as the McIntosh, but they had plenty of power.
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post #5 of 7 Old 07-11-06, 06:33 PM
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Re: Amp Review (Bryston,Rotel,Anthem,Nuforce,Butler,Mudical Fidelity)

What a great review! The Butler amp sure does peak my interest.

Jeff Aguilar

Jeff, If you go down this path let me know and I can point you in the direction of a great deal.

I'm just an old thug huggin redneck realtor ready to sell you a shack!
_________________________________________________________
Theater Room
Mitsubishi HC-4900, 120" Elunevision Screen, Atlantic Technologies A2000 7 Channel Amp, Denon X4000, Energy Veritas LCR, Twin SVS 16/46 PC+ Subs, Tivo
Two Channel System
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post #6 of 7 Old 07-15-06, 01:31 AM
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Re: Amp Review (Bryston,Rotel,Anthem,Nuforce,Butler,Mudical Fidelity)

I totally agree with Sonnie & Jeff, this is a great review! Though your protracted path to 2-channel Nirvana may have been expensive and time consuming, I sure it was a great ride and very educational.

Sonnie, I appreciate your note about the MC7300. I often thought this would be a great amp to own; it has good specs- comparable to modern amps, and it has an absolutely gorgeous look to it. But putting esthetics aside, if it doesn't perform, then what's the point.

This whole discussion has rekindled my interest in upgrading my amp. I have been looking at the Lexicon NT-212 (same as Bryson 3BST). Great specs, reviews, and prices, and plenty enough power for my application. Unfortunately I have too many financial mouths to feed right now, but some day...

Reed


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post #7 of 7 Old 07-17-06, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Amp Review (Bryston,Rotel,Anthem,Nuforce,Butler,Mudical Fidelity)

Thanks for the feedback, my objective was to describe a 'journey' and not to trash amps that I'd moved on from, and it looks like I achieved that.

The Butler is settling in nicely, great value amp.
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