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The Most Linear, Neutral, and Clear Output Possible
Bryston's new BDA-3 adds new capabilities and technology compared to the best-selling, award winning BDA-2 for even more capability and the top flight performance that Bryston is known for. The Bryston BDA-3 is different from prior Bryston DACs in that it adds DSD playback. The BDA-3 can decode up to DSD-256 through the asynchronous USB inputs and is the first DAC on the market that can receive DSD signals over HDMI – via a Blu-Ray player playing an SACD, for example.
For maximum flexibility, the BDA-3 has an astonishing ten discrete inputs including four 2-channel HDMI, asynchronous USB, AES/EBU, TOSLINK, and digital coax. It also includes Bryston’s network module, which facilitates control via TCP/IP and RS-232 – a must for integration with modern smart home platforms. With the BDA-3, music aficionados get the very best playback of high-resolution digital files including DSD with the additional flexibility of being able to connect a television or Blu-ray player to their audio system.
The Bryston BDA-3 utilizes a brand new decoding chipset that can decode up to 384 kHz/32-bit PCM music and up to DSDx4 natively. Each format is processed in its native resolution, preserving absolute bit-perfect signals all the way to the analog outputs. Additionally, Bryston’s ultra-precise re-clocking circuit reduces jitter to nearly immeasurable levels. Bryston’s proprietary analog section is completely free of integrated circuits (ICs) that limit the bandwidth and dynamic range of so many competitive DACs.
Superior Sound Quality
Great sound quality starts at the BDA-3's input. Each electrical input is transformer isolated to prevent ground noise from polluting the signal. PCM signals are then reclocked to virtually eliminate jitter. Because Bryston values accuracy above all, the BDA-3 processes all digital signals at their native rate. With the exception of user-selectable upsampling, the BDA-3 does not convert anything to another format or to another sample rate.
Signals drive a dual-mono pair of ultra-high-end DAC ICs. Each IC decodes one channel and operates in balanced mode to achieve the lowest crosstalk and highest dynamic range possible. From the digital chipsets, audio flows to Bryston's proprietary discrete operational amplifiers to provide the most linear, neutral, and clear output possible. Bryston never uses ICs in the analog signal path.
The two USB inputs are both asynchronous. This means that they control the flow of audio from your source component to eliminate the timing irregularities that can otherwise plague digital files streaming form your computer or other devices. Each input is fully USB Class 2 Audio compliant.
A Killer DAC for Home Theater and Multimedia
The BDA-3 isn't just a high-end audio solution for hi-fi listening. It's also a killer DAC for use in home theater and other applications. The two-channel HDMI inputs are available to permit connection from a Blu-ray player or other multimedia sources, letting you enjoy movies and even SACD audio to the max through the HDMI inputs on the BDA-3.
The BDA-3 is ready for a wide range of source components. If offers ten digital inputs, including four HDMI, two asynchronous USB, one AES/EBU, one BNC, one coxial RCA, and one Toslink optical in. On the output side, it offers one balanced XLR stereo out and one unbalanced RCA stereo out. It provides HDMI video pass-through with audio out and 4K video pass-through.
The BDA-3's inputs are selected by individual front panel buttons. A digital signal streams data at over 1 million bits per second and requires a bandwidth of over 24 million Hertz for 384k / 32 bit PCM (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-3 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.
For integration with your other gear, including your home automation system, the BDA-3 boasts fully featured RS232 and TCP/IP control protocols plus IR.
Audiophile Power Supply
The quality of power in an audiophile class piece of equipment is imperative for superb performance. The BDA-3 uses two independent power supplies. 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 chips also require a very clean digital power supply if they are to function at optimum levels.
The DACs 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-3.
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-3, the op-amps are constructed from only 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.
More importantly, the use of discrete operational amplifiers lets us design extremely low distortion and highly optimized output sections using carefully chosen components in an ideal circuit layout to prevent noise, preserve wide bandwidth and exceptional linearity regardless of partnering preamplifier.
The BDA-3 is available with 17"-wide or 19"-wide dress panels in black or silver finish. Bryston's five-year warranty on all digital audio products testifies to the superior build quality.
The BDA-3’s low-level detail recovery, musicality, and neutrality are all reference caliber. With countless songs, Bryston’s flagship DAC re-created the musicians’ intentions with far greater clarity, insight, and perspicacity than I’ve ever heard before."
- Douglas Brown, NOVO
"The new flagship BDA-3 DAC has the ability to bring out the best in one's favorite music and deliver the emotion in one's most impassioned compositions. Throughout this review, I enjoyed the clean, crisp details reproduced by the BDA-3."
- The Computer Audiophile - September 1st, 2016
“With its extremely low levels of noise, harmonic and intermodulation distortion, and its superb resolution, the Bryston BDA-3 offers measured performance that is as good as digital can get.”
– John Atkinson, Stereophile
“It delivered the superbly effortless, delicate, subtly revealing, tube-like analog output from a variety of digital file formats and sample rates... I had no choice but to buy the review sample, and I recommended that the BDA-3 be listed in Class A+ of Stereophile's Recommended Components”
– Larry Greehhill, Stereophile, December 2016
|Write Your Own Review|
I got my BDA-3 six months ago. Spectacular DAC, spectacular company and Spectacular service! If you have a number of digital audio sources like I do, this is an ideal product to get maximum performance out of all of them. I run the cable box, streaming box and DVD player though the HDMI inputs on the BDA-3. With this stellar DAC decrypting the digital audio, you will be very happy. DVDa works great, I need to test SACD again. I also own the Bryson BIT-15 power conditioner which also made a big sonic improvement in my system.
|- Jose A.C., TX|
|Its A Steal!|
No other DAC I could find offers this many connection options! I was able to connect all my digital gear - streamers 2, Mac Mini, optical transports 2 & Sony DAT - with ports to spare. One week in and the sound is stunning! By audiophile standards this dac is a steal.
|- Chance B, TN|
|To Say I'm Thrilled Is An Under-Statement|
I can't say enough great things about the quality of this Bryston gear. I'm very impressed with the construction quality which easily bests the top brands I've owned - from Audio Research, Conrad Johnson, to Krell - and the warranty is second to none. Its sound character is musical, a touch on the warm side, with superb staging and resolute detail. Bass is rich, well-defined and goes exceptionally low. Top end is vibrant and airy. Acoustic instruments offer superb decay .... It's not too overly analytical but deliver copious amount of detail. To say I'm thrilled is an under-statement. Thank you Bryston and 'Advisor for such a superb piece of gear!
|- Hans L, WA|
|Thank You Bryston!|
My friends and I managed to compare the original Bryston BDA1, the BDA-2 and this new BDA-3 for an extended listening session and the BDA-3 stands out - head and shoulders - above the earlier models in terms of transparency, richness and musicality. I am very happy and all my friends are jealous. Thank you Bryston and also Tim for guiding to through this purchase!
Listening for one month now. I chose the BDA-3 because it uses the new AKM 4490 chip. I've listened to the Sabre and the R2R Das and I prefer the sound of the AKM. Also love using DSD over HDMI. Its the perfect solution for me with this format. Sound is wonderfully detailed, exceptionally accurate and super musical - never dry. Transients are delivered with impressive impact - more meat on the bone - than my old Berkeley DAC. Good Buy
|- Neko, ID|
|Musical and Neutral|
Using with Oppo 105 and it sounds marvelous with my Aerial 7Ts. I also tried my friend's PS Audio Direct Stream DAC but we both agree the Bryston is slightly more neutral sounding and a tad more musical. On the bottom end, the BDA-3 is the clear hands-down winner. There's not really a big difference in other areas. We both rate the BDA-3 a 8.6 and the PS a 8.2. I may be able to get the BDA3 up to 9.0 with the right mix of cables, but my budgets not ready for that yet. Soon.
|- Scott T, CO|
Replaced a three year old Berkely DAC with the BDA-3 because I wanted a change and also wanted to start collecting DSD files. After a warm-up period I noticed a deeper - at least 3ft deeper - and more detailed sound stage with more image height, weight and ahh, density. Images were more solid and not just in the middle as I've heard with some DACs. No, Images were more solid and 3D across the width of the soundstage - out on the edges and far into the rear. I also experimented with a new Pangea Premier XL USB cable which I found increased both the clarity and 3D quality of the images. Overall a beautiful upgrade for me and my partner.
|- E Burns, FL|
|Great Sounding DAC|
I purchased the BDA3 from another store in a package deal that involved a trade-in and an Audio Research Ref 6. The major reason I chose the BDA-3 is that it is currently one of the only DAC's that can decode the DSD layer from SACD discs over HDMI. I'm a fan of DSD and have a collection of SACD's from over the last 12 plus years. The sound of the BDA-3 was an improvement over the sound of the SACD's played in my Sony SCD 777, my Cary 306 SACD, and my Oppo BP 105. It of course only decodes the stereo layer. I used the HDMI 2 output of the Oppo BP105 to drive the BDA-3 for decoding SACD's. The sound is more detailed, stronger bottom end than the Oppo, and a wider and deeper soundstage. Although I purchased the BDA-3 for it's SACD capability, the biggest revelation was the way it improved Redbook CD's. Many of my Redbook CD's have an improved sound, narrowing the gap between high resolution recordings and regular CD's. And more of my well recorded CD's now sound better than many of the poorly recorded/mastered SACD's in my collection. The BDA3 does need a break-in period, and sounds somewhat flat coming out of the box. It wasn't until the second of week of playing that it began to shine. Although it can only decode SACD's over HDMI, it has the broadest format capabilities and I believe the best sound over USB. Sound over S/PDIF coaxial, BNC, and balanced also sound better than that over HDMI. I recently bought the Oppo UDP 205, curious how the more advanced ESS PRO 9038 DAC's it contained would match up to the BDA-3. The Oppo UDP 205 is a nice sounding unit, with a stronger low end than the BP 105 it is replacing. However, the two channel CD and SACD performance is still a few notches below that of the BDA-3. Bryston is also very responsive to customers, with emails often answered by individuals at the Vice Presidential level.
|- Randy T, CA|