Listed in The Absolute Sound 2012 High-End Audio Buyer's Guide
"The Bryston BDA-1 reveals previously unattainable (from digital) worlds of information about both the sound and the specific performance of the music. More that any other DAC AT has heard, the BDA-1 allows listeners to hear how instrumental lines relate to each other, how rhythms trade off, why the composer wrote the music as he did, and why each musician plays his line a particular way."
- The Absolute Sound 2012 High-End Audio Buyer's Guide
"Digital Separates Product of the Year Award" 2009 - The Absolute Sound Magazine
"This new DAC, based on Bryston's highly successful BCD-1 CD player, breaks new ground in its price range. It does this with a remarkable ability to resolve information in a musically coherent way, rather than by raw sonic analysis. The way instrumental lines relate to each other, how rhythms trade off, why the composer wrote the music as he did, and why each musician plays his line a particular way are all beautifully laid out by the BDA-1. Significantly, the BDA-1 requires no 'decoding' by the listener to appreciate these qualities. Rather, the Bryston effortlessly makes these musical values evident."
- The Absolute Sound, 2009 Awards Issue
"Golden Ear Award" 2009 - The Absolute Sound Magazine
"Bryston clearly is on a roll... The BDA-1... represents yet another great audio value from Canada. More importantly, this DAC epitomizes Bryston's commitment to getting the music right."
- Alan Taffel, The Absolute Sound, June/July 2009
"The Bryston BDA-1 let me enjoy the best-sounding digital playback I've ever heard in my listening room, outshining even Bryston's own BCD-1 CD player. This might be related to the fact that the BDA-1 has two Crystal CS4398s vs the BCD-1's single chip."
"The Bryston BDA-1 has become an essential part of my listening expe- rience. Mated to my Quad ESL-989 loudspeakers and used with Bel Canto's USB Link 24/96, the BDA-1 let me enjoy hi-rez files downloaded from the Internet, producing open highs, de- tailed imaging, deep soundstaging, and well-defined and authoritative bass that connected me to those crucial elements of music: pace, rhythm, and emotion."
"And, yes, the BDA-1 also let me enjoy a higher level of musical dimensionality and realism. As Bob Reina did when he added the Audio Research Reference 110 amplifier to his reference system, at the end of my listening sessions for the BDA-1, I put down my notebook and picked up my checkbook. I give the BDA-1 my heartfelt recommendation for the highest rating in Stereophile's 'Recommended Components.'"
- Larry Greenhill, Stereophile, February 2010
"One tends to approach a piece of kit like this with high expectations, and we were encouraged to find them almost immediately fulfilled."
"In fact, we were really most impressed, not only with the general degree of tonal purity and detail exhibited, but also with the unusual degree of what, for want of a better word, we'll call 'polish' on the sound."
"There is a legitimate question over the value of any expensive DAC (or CD player, really) when devices such as the Cambridge DacMagic at one-tenth the price can achieve remarkably good results. It would be ridiculous to claim that the BDA-1 is ten times as good, but if you are not afraid of the good old Law of Diminishing Returns there is certainly a rewarding step-up in quality from even the best budget units in a fine component like this."
"As with so many things in life, the finest and rarest come at a price, but we thing the arguments the BDA-1 makes for itself are exceptionally convincing."
- Richard Black, Hi-Fi Choice, February 2009
"The BDA-1 is an excellent DAC and will produce great results provided your source (and source material) is good enough."
"Build is as solid as you'd expect from a company like Bryston. Its products are born of the Pro-world where ruggedness and long life carry infinitely more weight than fancy looks."
"As far as DACs go, this is no stripped-down unit. It has eight inputs, a digital bypass, should you want to do any extra signal processing, and both balanced and unbalanced stereo outputs."
"Almost two grand for a plain metal box may not sound like a sensible exchange, but if you love music, have a tired-sounding CD player or a large music collection on a hard drive, the BDA-1 is a great buy."
- What Hi-Fi?, February 2009
"Upsampled high bit rate lossy MP3s offered an improvement though the BDA-1, as did many CDs. High resolution digital of course sounds considerably better than any CD or MP3 no matter how up-sampled but we all have some low resolution music so it is good to know this DAC makes the best of them sound very good."
"I recommend the Bryston BDA-1 DAC for your high resolution music files if you use the upsampling feature as at every sample rate the string tone is smoother and there is considerably more ambiance up-sampled. Also if you have very high resolution music files, such as 176.4K and 192K confirm that your computer will output these rates first and if you already have a Firewire to AES Interface this may be the DAC you are looking for…"
- Teresa Goodwin, Positive Feedback Online, Issue 49
"So what do you get for your $1995? Clear pure tonal accuracy. Highly detailed treble. A large recessed soundstage which fills the rear corners. 8 digital inputs. Upsampling on the fly. Exceptional jitter reduction. And a touch of warmth that a well executed discrete class A output stage can deliver. In this price range, it is a must audition for those looking to upgrade their existing digital player whether it be a stand alone CD player or computer based."
- Ken Wong, StereoMojo, June 2009
"During my considerable time with Bryston's BDA-1 I put it through a myriad of music challenges, and it impressed on every one. Externally, it's a simple design that nevertheless provides comprehensive connecting options. Internally, it showcases Bryston's engineering and superb technical ability."
"Musically, the BDA-1 resolves dense mixes in a way that maintains the integrity of the music. Its smooth midrange and treble performance allow long non-fatiguing listening sessions, but the BDA-1 does not compromise detail, dynamics and immediacy in doing so. In fact, be prepared to also be startled by its dynamic prowess and bass power. If you're in the market for a DAC, it's time to open your wallet!"
- Edgar Kramer, Australian Hi-Fi magazine, June 2009
"The BDA-1 is incisive, clean and detailed. In the cello passage you can distinctly hear two of the three breaths that the cellist takes (there are three … keep reading)."
"You can appreciate the DBA-1's remarkable control over bass frequencies .. no fuzziness. Each instrument remains distinct without creating a feeling that all is analytic and cold."
"With their BDA-1, the folks at Bryston have demonstrated their solid mastery of digital processing procedures. This unit has its place at the heart of every system which places a high value on transparency. This exceptional transparency from the BDA-1 let me perform all my tests (even if they're not exhaustive) and also discern both the subtle and the not-so-subtle differences in the sources or digital ﬁles."
"Before you purchase your next DAC, make sure that you think hard about what may possibly become the heart of your audio system. Then go and take a serious look at the Bryston BDA-1.
- Cyr-Marc Debien, Quebec's Sound and Image magazine, February 2009
Note: Debien admired the BDA-1 so much, Bryston reports that he bought the review unit to keep.
"The Bryston is well worth the money. This inconspicuous converter delivers from up to eight digital sources vast, clean, transparent and harmonic results which are even more stunning if the sources are of high resolution material."
"The Bryston is not a flatterer who sings like Orpheus and makes even stones melt. No, it acts with Swiss precision. It expands the soundstage, which now moves much further back and out and makes instruments highly palatable."
"Soloists have a shocking presence. This is because of the BDA-1's dynamic expansion, which compared to many other players- places the instruments
perfectly in the soundscape."
"With the BDA-1's ability to uncover the details it calls our attention to another aspect: the background. One example: on Kenny Drew's unbelievably tight ''Undercurrent' (recorded in 1960) the drum hits a beat behind the saxophone on the right side. Some D/A converters only show a narrow soundstage here. The BDA adds space and resolves the rhythmic nuances. The Bryston really makes the inner detail of a recording audible."
- Saubermann, Germany's Hi-Fi & Record magazine, February 2009
"1. Channel separation is excellent, with the BDA-1 returning a best result of 141 dB at 1 kHz, while the result of 113 dB at 20 kHz is one of the best I have seen at such a high frequency.
"2. The Bryston's overall signal-to-noise ratio was also excellent, with Newport Test Labs measuring 116 dB A-weighted. This, too, is one of the best results I've ever seen from a DAC.
"3. One reason for these low noise levels is evident on the spectrograms, where the noise floor continues flat right down to 0Hz, with no evidence of any mains noise creeping into the circuitry. Also, the noise floor is sitting down at -130 dB, which is a fabulous result! No wonder that overall THD+N was tested at 0.007%.
"4. As for linearity, the figures tabulated in the table speak for themselves, with the Bryston delivering only imperceptibly small errors all the way down to the measurement signal limit of -90.31 dB. Distortion performance at these low signal levels is excellent... Without dither, the BDA-1's noise floor is lower than -140 dB. Adding dither to the test signal sees the noise floor increase to -130 dB, but as expected, the distortion visible in Graph 3 disappears entirely.
"5. Output from the unbalanced outputs was around 2.3 volts, and the balance between the left and right outputs was within 0.01dB, which is terrific."
- Australian Hi-fi Magazine