Bryston and Emotiva amplifiers, HDTV tuner for projector, amazing TCL Q6 television

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 13, 2024

Q. I have a pair of Monitor Silver Nine speakers powered by a Harman/Kardon integrated amplifier. A friend has the same speakers powered by a Bryston amplifier and preamplifier. That system’s sound is my favorite of anything I have ever heard. Can you recommend a similar setup for my Monitor speakers, or tell me where to get a used Bryston amplifier? New ones are very expensive.

-S.S., San Jose, CA

A. New Bryston amplifiers can indeed be somewhat pricey, but they are worth the price of admission for those who can afford it. Bryston is one of the few ultra-high-end companies that I tremendously respect. Much of the high-end audio market is littered with products that are ridiculously overpriced, unreliable and which often do not perform as well as more affordable products from less esoteric manufacturers. Bryston products are a lifetime investment, and the company has a long-standing, glowing reputation for high quality and solid engineering. Every Bryston amplifier is handmade in Canada, tested for 100 hours and comes with a 20-year warranty. To my knowledge, that is the best warranty in the industry.

A new Bryston 3B Cubed amplifier is $5,995. If it is your dream you might just want to bite the bullet and save up, or use a credit card and get one. You will have it for the rest of your life.

Used amplifiers are available on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Audiogon to name a few sites. Pair your amp with a brand new preamp from Parasound or Emotiva (available for under $1,000) and you will be off to a good start. You can upgrade the preamp later if you want.

If a Bryston is out of reach I can give an extremely enthusiastic recommendation to the Emotiva XPA-2 Gen 3 amplifier, $1,199. This super-high-quality amplifier offers 300 watts/8 ohms with impeccable specifications for noise and distortion. It is built like a brick and has received high praise from both owners and the audio press. Frankly, for $1,200 I would rather buy a brand-new XPA-2 Gen 3 than a used almost anything. Don’t rule out the $499 Emotiva BasX A2 stereo amplifier either, especially compared to used. It has 160 watts/8 ohms of clean, quiet power and has also received widespread acclaim. Last year I advised reader E.M. of California about amplifiers. He had Thiel speakers and was comparing the cost of a new amplifier to repairing his vintage McIntosh amplifier. I suggested trying the affordable Emotiva BasX, saying it might surprise him. After he received it he said, “The Emotiva BasX arrived yesterday and I have been thoroughly enjoying its silky detail. You predicted it may sound better than my McIntosh and it indeed has.” Emotiva often provides a 10% discount if you sign up for emails on their website.

Q. I bought one of those inexpensive projectors you recently recommended. What is a good HDTV tuner to use with it and an an antenna?

-C.F., Milwaukee, WI

A. I have had good luck with the $30 Mediasonic HOMEWORX models, which connect to the projector via HDMI. They can also record on USB drives. Speaking of tuners, I recently helped someone set up a new TCL Q6 television with their existing rooftop antenna. The previous TV pulled in 45 channels, which seemed quite satisfactory. The TCL Q6 pulled in a staggering 121 channels with the same antenna, and all but a few came in crystal-clear with no breakup or pixelization. Absolutely incredible! If you are cutting the cord and going to an antenna, the Q6 belongs on your very short list.