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Q&A with Bryston’s James Tanner:
Q: What was the impetus behind the BDP-1?
The BDP-1 was born out of my frustration with trying to assemble a quality digital playback system that would play NATIVE digital files all the way to 192/24 without glitches. I spent a year playing with different operating systems like Windows and MAC and different sound cards.
I played with a number of soundcards, and many had issues integrating with the specific operating systems. Tthe operating systems had to have many areas 'deactivated' (ex - 'do not map through this device' in Windows and bypassing ‘KMIXER’) in order to get 'bit perfect' output. Some would play 96/24 and 192/24 but not 176/24 etc. Anyway to make a long story short, I wanted a plug and play system which performed at a state of the art level, and you did not have to be a computer guru to figure out how to setup your computer operating system and choose an appropriate sound card that did not have issues with high resolution (192/24) playback. I wanted NO MOVING PARTS - no fans or switching power supplies etc. that can generate noise. I did not want a dead box that had to be on a network to operate
I finally decided the ‘Linux’ operating system because it can be dedicated to do 'one thing'- PLAY A MUSIC FILE - no housekeeping, no virus issues etc. I wanted a more Plug and Play approach. I wanted to separate the ‘Management’ side from the ‘Playback’ side. Not a Swiss army knife approach.
It is not easy to assemble a computer system which will have the incredibly low noise floor and low distortion and high resolution file playback that the BDP-1 has to offer. Certainly a knowledgeable computer guy can assemble a great sounding setup but it is not a simple task.
Q: What makes the BDP-1 unique is the fact that new features can added and improvements can be implemented via firmware updates. Is this going to be an ongoing process at Bryston?
Yes, the door is wide open moving forward as to the types of features we can add. The hardware is set and works superbly so software updates are continually being looked at to add more features and improve performance. For instance, on the current software we have implemented the ability of the BDP-1 to act as its own NAS. By that I mean you can transfer files from your main computer or external hard drive storage over the network to any hard-drive or thumb-drive connected PHYSICALLY to the BDP-1. That saves you having to connect and disconnect the USB drives from the BDP-1 to add more music.
Going forward we want to look at a dedicated NAS drive or cosmetically matching attached docking bay for USB drives.
Q: The reviews of the BDP-1 have been pretty consistent on one point, the total lack of distortion and purity of sound. Is this due to the Bryston's single minded approach of not making this sort of a Squeezebox on steroids?
ABSOLUTLY- The raw components in the BDP-1 were selected for their performance and reliability.
The Sound Card in the BDP-1 player is excellent in it’s native configuration, one of the best out there. To improve its performance we modified it with a much better output stage (both the transformer and driving stage are removed). We also installed a dedicated balanced low noise, low distortion AES EBU and BNC output section to integrate properly (impedance matching) with our BDA-1 DAC.
The specific Computer Mother board was chosen because it is used in industrial areas and changes very little over time so you have a consistent supply of parts and predictability in performance. But the really important part is it has NO MOVING PARTS - no fans or switching power supplies etc. that can generate noise. The motherboard has been used for metro area wireless systems for a number of years and has a very good reliability record. It also meets the essential requirements of low power and fan-less operation, both essential to the low noise acoustical and electrical requirements for good audio.
One important point about the way the BDP-1 deals with playing a digital file. Raw Data is processed at USB input not Music 1 or Music 2 streaming. The concern over USB asynchronous versus synchronous has to do with the use of the USB to stream audio class one or two from a Source to a DAC. These concerns do not have any effect on the use of USB to transfer data from a storage device, thumb drive or hard drive, to the CPU over the USB bus in the BDP-1. When a disc volume (USB) is connected to the BDP-1 Digital Player we are transferring computer data and not streaming audio from that drive. In other words, we are extracting bits without any worry over file corruption or inducement of "jitter" to the file.
The BDP-1 provides as faithful a bitstream as we know how to provide with current technology. Very few PC’s come close to this goal and then only with a lot of special optimization that cripple their utility as a PC. Many PC’s have a lot of audio processing running in the background as well as a lot of EMI and RFI that can influence the performance of connected equipment.
The BDP-1 is definitely a different philosophy and approach to playing back state-of-the-art digital files. Recent technology is allowing us as consumers for the first time to listen to music at much higher resolution than CD. Up to FOUR (4) times better than CD, Computers are allowing us to connect and download high resolution audio directly from the studios masters eliminating many of the compression and manufacturing issues with CD’s
Bryston BDP-1 Digital File Player:
β Output Sampling Rate: Up tp 24 Bit, 192 kHz
β Jitter: 20 pico-seconds
β Connections: RS-232, Ethernet, XLR Balanced Digital Output, BNC Balanced Digital Output, Four USB Ports, Trigger
β Dimensions: 2.75" H x 17" W x 11" D
β Weight: 12 Pounds
β MSRP: $2,195 USA
Finishes: Black, silver.
Bryston Ltd .
PO Box 2170
677 Neal Drive
Peterborough, Ontario K9J 6X7
Tel: (800) 632-8217
Cd Player: Naim CD5 XS with Flatcap 2X,
Server: Squeezebox Touch
DAC: Bryston BDA-1
Preamp: Audio Research SP16
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
Speaker: Thiel CS2.4
Cables: DH Labs Revelation (IC), Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent MM2 Super (IC), Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Element Cable Element Cord, (AC) Shunyata Venom (AC) Pangea AC-9 (AC) Audience powerChord e.(AC)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands, Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner, Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Salamander rack
Cd Player: Marantz 5003, Audiolab 8200CD
Music Server: Squeezebox 3
DAC: CIA VDA-2 with VAC-1 Power Supply
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Preamp: Belles Soloist 3
Amplifier: Belles Soloist 5, Revox A722
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: Kimber/QED/Transparant/Shunyata(AC)/PS Audio, Pangea Audio (AC), RS Cables, Element Cable