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Bryston BCD-3 CD Player Review Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 January 2017
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Bryston BCD-3 CD Player Review
Set Up and Listening

ImageCanadian heavy hitters Bryston surprised everyone a few years ago with their introduction of a speaker line, which now, after wide acceptance and a slew of positive reviews, are considered class leaders in many circles. In fact, the Mini T three-way monitor is my current reference. Possibly more surprising is Bryston’s introduction of the BCD-3 CD Player, with retails for $3495, in an era where the conventional wisdom tells us optical disc playback is fading away in favor of hard discs, servers, and streaming. Not so fast.

First off, this is not Bryston’s first player, they had the BCD-1 disc player in the lineup several years ago, and it was a big success. They also have been producing some of the best sounding DACs and servers regardless of price with the BDA and BDP series. In other words, Bryston has been doing high-performance digital going on a decade now.

Second, there are untold numbers of audiophiles with large CD collections, even if they have ripped them to a server. Some never even went about that laborious process and still maintain a CD library for primary listening. Not to mention that CDs are still released every week, and the reissue market has never been stronger, with legacy acts assembling lavish box sets with loads of unreleased archival material. The new thirty-six CD box set from Bob Dylan, The 1966 Live Recordings, chronicling the famous 1966 tour is a fine example, along with Pink Floyd’s fantastic The Early Years: 1965-1972 multimedia collectors set with over 20 CDs.

Bryston BCD-3 CD Player

Even keeping in mind legacy CD collections, new releases, and a preference for physical media playback by some, what was Bryston’s motivation for introducing a CD player in 2016? From what I gather, it is to have the final word on the product category, to produce a state of the art player that puts sonics first, trends be damned. According to Bryston, "We are aware that the music industry has written off the CD format; however, we have a significant number of customers who have substantial CD collections they'd like to enjoy," explained Bryston VP James Tanner. "We had the ability to leverage our BDA-3 DAC platform--one of the most popular digital products from Bryston--combined with a very good quality transport and deliver an audiophile CD player with astonishing levels of clarity and detail."

James Tanner sent me a note to emphasize the BCD-3’s rather unique architecture. He stated the player “doesn't use the S/PDIF transfer of data and clock. The player is a synchronous system where jitter is essentially non-existent. The clock responsible for retrieving the data as it comes from the CD itself is also responsible for the D/A conversion process so there's no discrepancy between the master clock and any of its derivatives.“

So there you have it. No stone unturned. According to Bryston, “The BCD-3 has been engineered to play back Redbook CD using a premium transport/laser pickup assembly mated to two AKM 4490 384-kHz/32-bit DACs. Bryston designed the player to utilize a single master clock that syncs the transport to the DAC, eliminating one of the primary sources of an unwanted artifact called jitter. The DAC in the BCD-3 is based upon the BDA-3 platform and includes a fully discrete Bryston Class A analog output stage and independent analog and digital power supplies.”


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