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Bryston BCD-1 CD Player Review Print E-mail
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Article Index
Bryston BCD-1 CD Player Review
Conclusion and Interview

I also stumbled upon a new disc by Irish singer and songwriter Luka Bloom called Dreams in America. The album features re-recordings of tunes from his earlier, excellent back catalog, but featuring just his voice and guitar, minimally miked; a true test for any system, especially a digital source component. The Bryston passed with flying colors.  Bloom's voice was rich, dark and passionate. His very underrated guitar playing was also rendered beautifully, with a bell like clarity to the strummed chords and picked notes.  It was a real breath of fresh air in today’s world of overly compressed, artificial sounding pop recordings.

Of note, I was able to compare the BCD-1 to the Naim CD5x ($2950), without the external power supply I usually employ. The BCD-1 has a slightly higher output, so I made sure to match levels. In general, I felt the Naim set the presentation a row or two back from the Bryston. They were very similar in over all tonal balance, but the Naim was a bit darker. I found myself preferring the Bryston about 70%, if not more, of the time.  The Naim is not an upsampling player, by the way.

Stainless Front


In high end audio, we often hear the term "giant killer." In my opinion, it is very much over used and sets up consumers for disappointment. However, I don't believe I would be going out on a limb in labeling the Bryston BCD-1 CD player as a giant killer after spending a significant amount of time with it and comparing it to other, more expensive units. It is built beautifully, highly engineered, sounds terrific and is made in North America. The hefty, superb backlit remote control is a very nice bonus indeed.

RemoteIn addition, I really like the fact that there is a total lack of audiophile marketing nonsense from Bryston concerning the design. There is no talk about exotic chassis materials, fancy digital filters that can "make 80's CD's sound like audiophile masterings", or other questionable claims. What Bryston has done is take the essential elements of a one box CD player, such as clean signal paths, high quality power supplies, discrete analog output stages, and jitter reduction, etc, and they have optimized them.  The proof is in the listening. The player is a very clean window into compact disc playback.  It has a presentation that is very well balanced and could be inserted into mega buck systems without a single eyebrow being raised. It’s a job very well done by Bryston and at an extremely attractive price.  I can easily recommend the BCD-1.

Q & A with James Tanner of Bryston:

Q: The BCD-1 is superbly made, nicely engineered, and great sounding CD player in a crowded field. What did you feel Bryston needed to do to make it stand out?

With the BCD-1, we paid very close attention to the digital design: bit-timing errors (called jitter) have been eliminated by perfectly synchronizing the player’s master clock and drive. The Crystal CS4398 DAC is an advanced generation chip using a combination of several different conversion methods to optimize the digital processing. Each DAC has dedicated power supplies—a separate, closely regulated and filtered digital power supply as well as a heavily regulated and filtered analog power supply with carefully routed electrical grounds. Finally, careful trace routing throughout the complete circuit architecture of the BCD-1 eliminates potential noise via capacitive coupling, which delivers those critical extra dB’s of noise and distortion reduction.
After addressing the digital stage, Bryston made a significant investment in the discrete analog stages around the DAC. The BCD-1 CD Player uses fully discrete Class A operational amplifiers after the DAC instead of the commonly used integrated circuits. The use of discrete devices enables exact matching of the needs of the DAC and allows for a more robust output than IC-based amplifiers. The use of discrete devices also allows us to select components with carefully matched input and output impedances based on specific in-circuit requirements
Q: What is your best guess about the future of physical media in the digital market?

 We think it is likely that consumers move toward hard drive-based media storage, and in our market that means high resolution digital music files. That is why Bryston unveiled the BDP-1 music player (see attached). That being said, many people have substantial CD collections and want to be able to play that music at the highest level of performance possible. That is why we built the BCD-1 CD player.
Q: After having been in business for several decades, is it a challenge in today's climate to live up to the Bryston reputation of solidly built products at very fair prices?

We don’t feel that it is more challenging to design and build top quality products today—it is just more challenging to overcome the consumer’s mindset that “cheap” is OK. The BCD-1 CD player is a good example—we designed the player based on the premise of how can we make it the best it can be—not how do we hit a price point. It has always been Bryston’s philosophy to put performance first, however more and more consumers have been conditioned to buy inexpensive, disposable goods, which don’t do a very good job of playing music or lasting very long. Bryston products are always a strong value and our reputation for performance and durability is legendary around the world—and as part of that pedigree, we are very proud of the BCD-1.


Description: CD/CD-R player with remote control. Digital outputs: transformer coupled AES/EBU (XLR), S/PDIF (RCA), TosLink (optical). Analog outputs: 1 pair balanced (XLR), 1 pair unbalanced (RCA).
Maximum output level: 2.3V
Dimensions: 17" (432mm) W by 3.125" (79mm) H by 11.25" (286mm) D. Weight: 18 lbs (8.2kg).
Finishes: Black, silver.
Price: $2695.
Manufacturer: Bryston

Reviewers Associated Equipment System 1:


  • CD Player: Naim CD5 XS with Flatcap 2X,
  • Preamp: Audio Research SP16, Marantz SC-11S1
  • Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
  • Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3, THIEL CS2.4
  • Cables: DH Labs, RS Cables, Kimber/QED/Acoustic Zen (AC)/Transparent (AC)/Element Cable, Shunyata, Pangea
  • Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands, Timbernation platform, CablePro Noisetrapper

Reviewers Associated Equipment 2:

  • CD Player: Marantz 5003
  • Music Server: Squeezebox 3
  • DAC:CIA VDA-2 with XPS
  • Tape Deck: Revox A77, HHB CD Recorder
  • Preamp: Belles Soloist 3
  • Amplifier: Revox A722, Belles Soloist 5
  • Speaker: Spendor S5e
  • Cables: Kimber/QED/Transparant/Shunyata(AC)/PS Audio(AC), Pangea Audio, RS Cables, Element Cables.

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