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Bryston BDP-2 Server and BDA-3 DAC Review Print E-mail
Friday, 15 July 2016
Article Index
Bryston BDP-2 Server and BDA-3 DAC Review
Set Up and Listening

Both the BDP-2 and the BDA-3 are available in black or silver faceplates, and in either 17 or 19 inch width. Both my units were 17 inch silver. Both are beautifully built and are covered by Byrston’s comprehensive warranty. Both products are made in Brystons Canadian factory. An optional remote control is available as well.

The BDP-1 and BDP-2 were developed with the notion that a consumer grade computer, even if “optimized”, cannot compete with a purposefully designed and built file player. High quality power supplies, stripped down processes, and careful attention to layout make the difference. The BDP-2 takes things further with a custom Intel motherboard, and an in-house designed / manufactured sound card.

Bryston BDA-3

On an ergonomic level, the BDP-2 requires no external software or drivers. When using locally attached storage, MPD is used, and when used as a network player any number of Android or iOS control points can be used to control playback. A web browser is used to customize the settings, and to update update the firmware. The interface is seamless.

I used the BDP-2 both as a DLNA network player and with locally attached drives. My set-up, for reference, consists of 10 TB of FLAC and DSF files attached to a networked Mac Mini, running MiniMServer, which decodes the FLAC files to WAV before sending them through the network.  I used the Linn Kazzoo app on an iPad Air to control network playback, and the MPD app for iPad to control local playback.

I have Ethernet running into a SOtM ISO-Cat6 LAN Isolator via Rosewill Cat7 cable, then from the SOtM, a run of Supra Cat7 Ethernet cable into the BDP-2. A Wireworld Electra 7 power cord connects the BDP-2 to a Bryston BIT-15 isolation transformer

The BDP-3 had significant development cycle, as Bryston wanted to not only add DSD support, native at that, it also wanted to add any other improvements it could along the way.  I know with certainty that not only was the BDA-3 an engineering driven design, but a lot of listening was done for fine tuning. James Tanner, VP at Bryston, who is deeply involved with product development did not let the BDA-3 hit the market until his ears were satisfied, despite impatience from Bryston customers!

Bryston BDP-2

Set Up & Listening

The BDP-2/BDA3 combo was installed in my main system consisting of an Aric Audio Unlimited tube preamp, a Simaudio 760A power amp, an Audio Research VS55 tube amp, a JL Audio d108 subwoofer, and Bryston Mini T monitors, which sat on wrought iron Sound Anchors stands. Cabling was Wireworld all the way. Both units stayed powered on 24/7.

The BDP-2, as noted, can be used in many different ways, and I used mostly DLNA/Open Home for network playback, and MPD for local playback. Local drives had AIFF files, and networked files, were FLAC decoded to WAV by MiniMServer. I hooked up the BDP-2 to the BDA-3 via both AES/EBU and USB (for DSD decoding) with Wireworld Gold Starlight 7 and Platinum Starlight 7 cables. When connected via AES/EBU, I left the upsampling engaged, as I thought it improved the presentation. Bryston’s upsampling takes 44.1 kHz and multiples / re-clocks them to 24 bit, 176.4 kHz. Multiples of 48 kHz are re-clocked to 24 bit, 192 kHz.

Upsampling is not available via the USB input for a very good reason, as it allows for DSD decoding, and Bryston wanted to make sure separate signal paths were used, which is one of the reasons the development of the BDA-3 took longer than expected. The company wanted no compromises for PCM playback, which is still going to make the great majority of users digital libraries.

I noted in previous reviews that I am on an extensive classic progressive rock kick, especially so called Krautrock and the legendary Canterbury scene. The music is not only cosmic and expansive, but because of it’s complexity, more often than not, was recorded with great care. During this review, I probably cycled through over fifty albums from The Soft Machine, Gentle Giant, Camel, Brainticket, Eloy, Gong, Can, and more.

Bryston BDA-3


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