Bryston BP-17 cubed or Benchmrk LA4 Preamp

My old Levinson No. 38s preamp is getting a bit long in the tooth. Oh, it is working fine; I've got the itch.

I have recently used a Cary CAD-120s in my system and found it less musical than my Bryston 2.5b cubed power amp, so tube preamps are out. Seems I just can't "appreciate" the tube sound.

I've been researching preamps. The Benchmark and the Bryston BP-17cubed (or other Bryston preamps) are the two that seem to meet my price and feature desires. But sound....don't know how these units differ. How different is the sound compared to my old Levinson? Which one(s) would you recommend?

My speakers are Usher V-604, a 2-way MTM floorstander, and a HSU sub.


Thanks for your help.

128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xkevemaher

I could try this test using the volume control on my Oppo BDP-105 to play digital media and files. This seems to be a good way to estimate the sonic signature of the 38s.

I want to stay analog all the way with my other sources - a tuner and two cartridges - so I will only use the above for testing. I need a control amp to select the different analog and digital sources. After the preamp, my system is all analog (EQ, crossover and speakers). The only digital components are the Oppo and the BDA-3.



I bought a Pass Labs XP-12, used for about the same price as the Bryston and Benchmark preamps. I will get it tomorrow.

The reason for the switch to Pass is that the buzz around the Pass gear is that ii is warm(ish) sounding. The other two are probably neutral. I'm looking for a bit of warmth, so...

I replaced the 38s with an old Apt preamp, I have recapped the PS. Yes, it sounds different....better to my amazement. Vocals and strings are a bit clearer and the entire sound is smoother, with no audible edges (the Apt is from 1978!). Only downsides are no balanced lines (XLR) and no remote. I've made a special cable to change male XLR to male RCA. No ground loop hum. But the lack of a remote is a bit of a pain.

Anxious to hear the XP-12!

Congrats on the Pass XP-12!  Let us know how it sounds in your system. The Apt Holman preamp was legendary in its day.