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"I Have Never Enjoyed the Music More"
The Bryston BDA-2 is a state-of-the-art stereo D-to-A converter whose performance sets new standards for audiophile DACs. It uses fully discrete 'Class A' proprietary Bryston analog circuits, two independent analog and digital linear power supplies, and dual AKM 32-bit DACs. The BDA-2 also utilizes a new asynchronous USB input with vanishingly low amounts of jitter and the capability of 24-bit/192 kHz resolution.
The BDA-2 follows in the footsteps of its older brother, the BDA-1, which Stereophile honored with a 'Class A' listing in its coveted "Recommended Component" listing for 2010. The BDA-1 was also featured in The Absolute Sound 2012 High-End Audio Buyer's Guide.
"I Can't Imagine Living Without the Bryston"
"I found that the crowning achievement of the Bryston BDA-2 can be described in the simplest of terms: It makes the best of every recording that you play through it," says Karl Schuster in his May 2013 review for The Absolute Sound magazine. "I have never enjoyed the music more, and have never heard more in the recording. I cannot think of higher praise, nor can I imagine living without the Bryston BDA-2."
"I would classify the Bryston BDA-2 as detailed and neutral, with nary an audible hint of distortion," notes John E Johnson, Jr., in his April 15, 2013 review for Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity. "A few years ago, you could not get this performance at $5,000, so… this DAC is a no brainer for consideration."
"More Than A Hint of the Analog World"
"Regardless of the provenance of the sound source, I got an honest presentation of what was already there in a way that I do not typically associate with digital music files," reports Lawrence DeVoe in his April 1, 2013 review for Blu-rayDefinition.com. "Dare I mention that the BDA-2 gave me more than a hint of the analog world that audiophiles worship?"
Inputs Galore, All Types
The BDA-2 provides plenty of digital inputs, including SPDIF coaxial, optical, AES EBU, and USB. The inputs are selected by a front panel switch. A digital signal streams data at over 1 million bits per second and requires a bandwidth of 5 to 10 million hertz (cycles per second). At these high frequencies it is very important to maintain the quality of the signal by having the correct termination at the digital inputs. The BDA-2 provides for this termination in the best possible manner using high quality devices called impedance matching transformers.
Impedance matching transformers provide the optimal interface to the incoming source under all sorts of signal conditions. Lesser quality terminations will degrade the signal and cause increased jitter.
Two Independent DACs
The two independent DAC chips used in the BDA-2 are premium state-of-the-art 32-bit AKM DACs, which operate in one of three oversampling modes based on the input sample rate. Single-speed mode supports input sample rates up to 50 kHz and uses a 128x oversampling ratio. Double-speed mode supports input sample rates up to 100 kHz and uses an oversampling ratio of 64x. Quad-speed mode supports input sample rates up to 200 kHz and uses an oversampling ratio of 32x. This allows for the implementation of filters that are out of the audible range.
Audiophile Power Supply
The quality of power in an audiophile class piece of equipment is imperative for superb performance. The BDA-2 uses two independent power transformers for the initial stages of filtering and regulation. Each stage in the digital chain is also independently regulated to prevent any interactions and to provide rock solid power supplies for any up-sampling/ over-sampling process. The DAC chip also requires a very clean digital power supply if it is to function at its optimum.
The DAC requires a high quality analog power source, too. The analog signal is at its lowest magnitude coming in and going out of the DAC, so any added noise or distortion will be greatly amplified by later stages. Again a separate, heavily regulated and filtered power supply with carefully routed grounds is provided. This sort of care with the power supplies is one of the reasons for the superior sound of the BDA-2.
Discrete 'Class A' Analog Stage
Getting the digital side of the equation correct is only the start. Once the signal leaves the DAC, it is buffered and increased in strength by operational amplifiers. In the Bryston BDA-2, the op-amps are constructed from discrete devices (individual transistors, resistors, and capacitors) instead of the commonly used integrated circuits. The use of discrete devices allows the design of a circuit that exactly matches the needs of the DAC. They also allow for more powerful outputs from the op-amps, since the heat from the output driver transistors is separated from other devices.
Hand-Assembled With Care
Bryston hand assembles and individually tests each and every product we manufacture. Its traditional adherence to the use of proprietary parts, sophisticated construction, and refined testing techniques, guarantees that your Bryston BDA-2 DAC will perform superbly, without any problems, for many, many years.
The final arbiter of this exercise is to provide products that are as transparent and accurate a window on the performance as the current technology allows. The BDA-2 DAC captures this transparency without compromise.
"I found that the crowning achievement of the Bryston BDA-2 can be described in the simplest of terms: It makes the best of every recording that you play through it."
"What an unadulterated joy, then, to finally surrender to this cherished album’s unabashedly romantic spell from beginning to end, enraptured by the BDA-2’s magical ability to allow the music to transcend the recording’s limitations. I have never enjoyed the music more, and have never heard more in the recording. I cannot think of higher praise, nor can I imagine living without the Bryston BDA-2."
- Karl Schuster, The Absolute Sound magazine, May 2013
"I would classify the Bryston BDA-2 as detailed and neutral, with nary an audible hint of distortion."
"The Bryston BDA-2 is a very fine outboard DAC. It improves upon the BDA-1 in distortion, and adds an asynchronous USB input to be used for playing music with a digital output to the DAC. A few years ago, you could not get this performance at $5,000, so… this DAC is a no brainer for consideration."
- John E Johnson, Jr., Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity, April 15, 2013
"If you keep up with developments in digital audio, you already know that today’s best will eventually give way to tomorrow’s better. Okay, but this is not just a case of next year’s new Chevy model. Bryston has taken advantage of newer technologies to produce an audibly improved DAC.
"How does it differ sonically from the already highly regarded BDA-1 (which thankfully will remain in the product line)? To my veteran ears, the BDA-2 provides a greater sense of space, better exposure of inner details, and, man, oh man, tighter, more palpable bass. Regardless of the provenance of the sound source, I got an honest presentation of what was already there in a way that I do not typically associate with digital music files. Dare I mention that the BDA-2 gave me more than a hint of the analog world that audiophiles worship?"
- Lawrence DeVoe, Blu-rayDefinition.com, April 1, 2013