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I buy a lot of music in FLAC from Bandcamp and, on some occasions, a physical CD is mailed to accompany the digital download. Two recent purchases, by neo-psychedelic bands Beautify Junkyards, from Portugal, and Us And Them, from the U.K., saw shiny discs arriving in my mailbox and I could not rip open the shrink wrap fast enough. The music is exciting, proudly retro, trippy, and pastoral. It is also better produced than most current modern recordings due to the fact they really dive into the retro aesthetic.
Us And Them’s Summer Green And Autumn Brown sounded cozy as tea in the English countryside. The female lead vocals, wide open arrangements, and lyrical touches like the use of harpsichord, bells, synths, and wide stereo panning was so well reproduced by the BCD-3, it illustrated again that lovingly-produced Redbook-quality music is far more desirable than squashed higher resolution downloads. There was so much space between the instruments and vocals that those to who continue to question the fidelity of the CD are downright swimming upstream.
The Beast Shouted Love by Beautify Junkyards is cut from similar cloth, with delicate, psychedelic arrangements, retro sounding, mellotron like keyboards, and spacey melodies. The classic, mellow progressive folk-rock vibe, with a mix of male and female vocals, sung in English and Portuguese was hypnotic, and the BCD-3 unraveled the complex arrangements without breaking a sweat. I had this disc on repeat, and it will get tons of spins in the coming months. Again, digital recording has gotten a bad rap, but only due to abuse of the format. This album sounded as lush and warm as just about anything I have heard recently on vinyl.
I went through a pretty a large stack of CDs, some that were well produced, and some that were not great. Either way, the BCD-3 extracted what was ever in the pits, with a precision and depth of character that was admirable. Addressing a few things, I did not have the inclination to use the digital outputs on the BCD-3. The analog output stage was so sweet sounding, there was no incentive.
The tray loading mechanism was as smooth as butter, and I could hear no mechanical noise while the disc was loading unless I had my ear a foot away from the player. Lastly, the front panel has more control buttons than usual, and I liked having a scroll ahead button available for getting to specific passages of a given track. There are also rarely seen Time, Repeat, and Random buttons.
The Bryston BCD-3 is the most natural, unmechanical, distortion-free CD player I have encountered. If the format is in decline, it is not because of sound quality. Properly mastered discs produced with care sound sensational on the Bryston. At $3500, it will be the last player you may need for your compact disc collection. If Bryston updates the player via firmware, a network jack makes it easy for the user to implement. The network connection also allows for remote control.
if one does not want to spring for the optional chunky metal remote control unit, which by the way will control multiple Bryston components. It is important to point out you can use =thirdparty universal remote units, or your web browser, or a mobile device once the BCD-3 is on your network. The choice is yours.
The BCD-3 is a purist, no holds barred approach. It is not entry level in cost or design. No apologies there. To reiterate, there are no digital inputs, no SACD or DVD-A playback, and it does not brew coffee. It simply produces state of the art Redbook CD playback. If this is what you seek, the Bryston BCD-3 is a must audition.
Bryston BCD-3 CD Player
Outputs: RCA, XLR, S/PDIF RCA, AES/EBU XLR
Control: Ethernet, USB-A, IR, DC, RS-232
DACs and transport slave to single master clock for jitter-free performance
Dual balanced AKM digital to analog converters based on BDA-3 design
Fully discrete class-A operational amplifiers form the analog output section
Available with silver or black faceplate
17” or 19” faceplate available
Rack mountable option available (2U)
BR2 remote control available (see Accessories in Other Products
Server: Bryston BDP-2
DAC: Bryston BDA-3
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Turntable: Rega Planar 3
Phono Preamp: Lounge Audio LCR MKIII, Lehmann Cube SE
Preamp: Aric Audio Unlimited. Schiit Audio Freya
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Simaudio 760A
Speaker: Bryston Mini T
Cables:, Wireworld, iFi, Transparent, Black Rhodium
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks and Svelte Shelves, Shakti Stone, Bryston BIT-15, Salamander rack
Music Server: Sonore microRendu
Turntable: Project Debut Carbon DC
Phono Preamp: Graham Slee SE
Preamp: Schiit Audio Saga
DAC/Streamer: Simaudio 280D
Power Amplifier: Onkyo M5000R
Speaker: Magnepan MMG, Spendor S35R
Accessories: Cable Pro Noisetrapper, iFi iPower, Audience aR6