Power amps DO make a difference

I’m still constantly amazed at what we can hear.  I mean, you’d think that if you’re comparing two really great pieces of recording gear, you wouldn’t expect a night and day difference.  Well, maybe my night and day is a bit more exacting than most 🙂

Quested AP700

Quested AP700

When we bought our fabulous Quested H208 monitors they came with a Quested AP700 power amp (which is a MC2 rebadge).  It was supposed to be an amazing amp, but it had some problems.  It was old and the fans (why are there fans in professional audio gear?!) were noisy.  In fact, the amp was so noisy that it couldn’t be used in the control room unless you opened the top.  Eventually, the amp died and I bought a Bryston 4B NRB as a temporary fix.  The Bryston sounded so good that while the Quested was out being fixed, I wondered whether the Bryston shouldn’t be the main amp and the Quested retired to back up.

Bryston 4B

Bryston 4B

Finally I had both amps back from service yesterday and was able to compare them.  While we couldn’t switch seamlessly between them, and levels were only matched by ear, the difference was startling.  The Bryston sounded punchy and exciting and fun; on consideration it was very mid-forward.  The Quested, on the other hand, was sweeter, more balanced across the frequency spectrum, and had greater stereo width.  We were stunned at such a noticeable difference between these two top-notch amps.

In the end, we decided that though the Bryston was first pick on first blush, the Quested was a better choice for a studio monitoring system.  After all, studio monitors are supposed to approximate “The Truth” without flattering the audio.  The Bryston was just too much “fun”.  It was nice to have the chance to compare such great choices.  It’s still hard to believe there was that much difference.

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