• Bryston BDA-1 DAC

    Bryston is now shipping its highly anticipated BDA-1 DAC. This DAC has a plethora of inputs including USB and just about every other input you may need. The BDA-1 will please many "purists" who don't care for upsamping. This DAC includes the ability to disengage the upsampling feature. The BDA-1 could be the best of both worlds for those looking to upsample on some material and let other material pass through untouched. Read more for all the information straight from James Tanner of Bryston.

    One thing to note about this information is that it is very complete. Bryston is not burying any specs on some hidden page. The USB input handles 16Bit 32K-48K for now. Some manufacturersmake it very confusing and difficult to figure out the resolution of their USB input. Not Bryston, these guys are very confident in the BDA-1's performance and fell they have nothing to hide. It the BDA-1 performs like the BCD-1 we are all in for a real treat.



    The Bryston BDA-1 is a state-of-the-art external Stereo DAC (digital to analog converter) using fully discrete Class-A proprietary Bryston analog circuits, two independent linear power supplies and dual Crystal CS-4398 DAC chips. The BDA-1 features an impressive array of inputs for USB, COAX, OPTICAL, AES-EBU and BNC equipped digital devices. For audio outputs, the BDA-1 offers both balanced XLR as well as unbalanced
    RCA stereo connectors on the rear panel. The BDA-1 is RS-232 software upgradeable, making it the most flexible high performance DAC on the market.

    • Dual 192K/24Bit Crystal DAC’s
    • Independent dual power supplies
    • Discrete Class A analog output stage
    • Oversampling
    • Synchronous upsampling (176.4K/192K)
    • Selectable upsampling feature
    • Independent analog and digital signal paths
    • Inputs: USB (1), COAX (2), OPTICAL (2), AES-EBU (1) BNC (2)
    • 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176, 192K sampling
    • 16-24Bit PCM, 16Bit 32K-48K USB
    • Fully differential balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA stereo outputs
    • Transformer-coupled SPDIF and AES EBU digital inputs
    • SPDIF COAX bypass loop output
    • RS-232 software upgrade
    • Optional remote control
    • Remote 12-volt trigger
    • Compatible with CD drives, sound cards, computers, music servers
    • Cosmetically matches Bryston C-Series BP26/MPS2/BCD-1

    Jitter is a mistiming of data being moved from point A to point B in any synchronous digital system. Think of jitter as individual ticks on a clock—however each tick is not occurring at exact one-second intervals. Some are slightly less than a second and some are slightly longer, and they average out so that no actual time is being gained or lost over a large number of seconds. Jitter is the difference between the shortest and the longest second, and in digital audio systems this specification is usually measured in nanoseconds. Both the frequency and the jitter characteristics of the system’s digital clock will affect the accuracy of reproduction. The frequency, if not accurate, can cause the pitch and speed of the music to change, and in some systems cause drop-outs if there is no data available.

    Bryston delivers superb sonic performance by re-sampling and re-clocking the digital input in order to reduce jitter. The result, a significant reduction in jitter (1/1000 of a nanosecond). But it isn’t enough to just get the bits right; those bits have to be converted back into music with the same timing reference as when the music was first digitized. The input signal of the BDA-1 is re-clocked and re-sampled to reduce any possibility of jitter affecting the sound quality. Even the input receiver and the sample rate converter serve to further reduce jitter.

    The best way to understand the Bryston BDA-1 External DAC is to follow the flow of a signal from when it first arrives at the BDA-1 in digital form to when it leaves to drive an external analog input. The digital signal first arrives at the BDA-1 via either the SPDIF COAX, OPTICAL OR AES EBU inputs or the USB interface input. These are the standard digital outputs from a CD Drive, Sound Card, Computer, Music Server etc. There are 6 digital inputs, which are easily selected using a front panel switch. This digital signal contains data at over 1 million bits per second that 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-1 provides for this termination in the best possible manner using 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, causing increased jitter.

    After the input stage, the signal goes to the SYNCHRONOUS upsampling circuit (sample rate converter). This circuit converts the digital signal from one sample rate and bit depth to another. In the BDA-1, the sample rate is increased from the input sample frequency (32K, 48K, or 96K upsamples to 192K and 44.1K or 88.2K upsamples to 176.4K). The 16 bits of depth (the CD standard) is increased to 24 bits. The added 8 bits are filled with placeholder information. This upsampling process provides a digital signal for later conversion to analog by the Crystal 4398 DAC chip. The upsampling process doesn’t add any new, but does put the data in a form which can better be translated by the DAC as described below. The advantage of this synchronous upsampling process is improved processing of the upsampled signal by the DAC chip, which was designed for higher sample rates and bit depths. There is also a noise shaping process implemented where “noise” within the audible spectrum is shifted up to frequencies above audible limits. An added advantage of this upsampling process is that a totally new clock signal is applied, which results in significant jitter reduction.

    A very unique feature of the Bryston BDA-1 External DAC is the ability to disengage the upsampling feature. You can compare an upsampled signal with a non-upsampled signal simply by engaging a switch on the front panel. This feature is functional when using sample rates of 44.1K,
    88.2K, 48K, and 96K.

    The DAC integrated circuit (chip) provides the conversion of the digital signal to the analog domain. The two independent DAC chip’s used in the BDA-1 are the Crystal CS-4398. Due to the requirements of the conversion process, every DAC chip employs a digital filter to the signal in the digital domain and an analog filter after the conversion process has been
    applied. Without this upsampling technology, these filters would likely effect frequencies at or near the audible range, accompanied by unwanted level and phase changes. The CS-4398 is a hybrid multi-bit delta-sigma DAC. This is an advanced generation chip, which uses several methods
    to optimize the conversion process. This DAC uses a process similar to the previously detailed upsampling process where it oversamples the incoming signal. The CS-4398 operates 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 again allows for filtering that is safely out of the audible range. The output of this process is a sensitive analog signal. The timing of this process must be very closely controlled by a low-jitter clock.

    The stability of power in any audiophile equipment is imperative to superb performance. The BDA-1 uses two independent power transformers for the initial stages of filtering and regulation. In the BDA-1, each stage in the digital chain (input receiver > sample rate converter > digital audio converter) is independently regulated to prevent any interactions and to provide a rock solid supply of power for any up-sampling/over-sampling process. The Crystal DAC chip also requires a very clean digital power supply if it is to function at its optimum level. Noise on the digital supply could cause added jitter and various forms of distortion.
    Incorrect circuit board routing of the digital power supply or related ground may also introduce digital noise into the analog circuits. The BDA-1’s digital power supply is provided from a separate closely regulated and filtered source. The DAC also requires a high quality analog power source. The analog signal is at its lowest magnitude within the DAC and as it exits the chip, so any induced noise or distortion will
    be greatly amplified by circuitry upstream from the DAC. Bryston engineers have employed a separate, heavily regulated and filtered power supply with carefully routed grounds that is critical to the superior sound of BDA-1. Careful trace routing eliminates the risk of noise via capacitive coupling and provides the extra dB’s of noise and distortion reduction which separate truly great audio equipment.

    The most critical part of the circuit design in the Bryston BDA-1 is the DAC’s analog outputs—connected directly to a pair of proprietary Bryston Class A discrete operational amplifiers rather than the typical IC chips employed in most other products. These exotic amplifiers make a huge difference in transparency, resolution and dynamic performance. The use of discrete devices allows the design of a circuit that exactly matches the needs of the DAC, whereas the use of general-purpose integrated circuits always involves compromises. Discrete devices allow engineers to generate more output power since the heat from the output driver transistors is physically separated from other sensitive components. Discrete devices also allow specific matching of important characteristics such as input and output impedances based on the specific in-circuit requirements. Discrete operational amplifiers can also be designed to more closely match their power source leading to additional reduced distortion and noise. Bryston consistently utilizes discrete devices in our product designs because our circuits are engineered to require closely matched devices for optimum performance. Bryston does ultra-fine sorting and grading of discrete devices, which leads to superior sound quality.

    Bryston hand assembles and individually tests each and every product we manufacture. We exclusively use only the finest components, 1% metal-film resistors, 1% polystyrene capacitors, and hand selected and matched transistors in order to reduce noise and distortion to the absolute minimum. Bryston applies techniques and employs custom materials in our everyday construction of electronic equipment that are typically utilized by military and aerospace industries. Our traditional adherence to the use of proprietary parts, sophisticated construction, and refined testing techniques guarantees that the Bryston BDA-1 DAC will perform superbly for many years.

    Bryston has always maintained that the final arbiter of this exercise is to provide products that are as transparent and accurate to the original recorded performance. The BDA-1 DAC is the ultimate representation of this design goal.

    • Frequency response - 20 Hz - 20 KHz -.1dB
    • Signal to noise – Audio Precision AP2700 analyzer FFT digital measurement 140 dB unweighted
    • THD plus noise - .002%
    • IMD - .002%
    Jitter – below the measurement capability of the AP2700 analyzer
    • Output Level - 2.3V unbalanced - 4.6V balanced
    • Shipping weight - 18 Lbs / 8.2 Kg
    • Dimensions - 17 or 19 w / 11.25 d / 1.75 h inches
    • 43.2 or 48.3 w / 28.6 d / 4.4 h cm

    Bryston Ltd. P.O. Box 2170, 677 Neal Drive, Peterborough,
    Ontario Canada K9J 7Y4 1-800-632-8217 bryston.ca


    Link to complete PDF with photos.
    Comments 13 Comments
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      That's correct Jimi. Looking at the big picture one shouldn't be discouraged from buying a DAC because it doesn't so 24/06 via USB. In fact the BDA-1 USB input is an I2S input and not the typical SPDIF input. Bryston put some serious time and engineering into this DAC and it shows. A well implemented 16/44.1 USB DAC is much better than a poor 24/96 USB DAC. Plus if someone doesn't have any 24/96 material it doesn't really matter.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks for bringing this one up Jimi :-)
    1. borderdog's Avatar
      borderdog -
      Chris, <br />
      Are you going to test drive this new DAC?<br />
      What is the MSRP on this unit.<br />
      Aaron H.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi borderdog - The MSRP is $1995. <br />
      <br />
      I hope to test drive the BDA-1 very soon and provide a full report.
    1. billyzand's Avatar
      billyzand -
      Hi, <br />
      <br />
      I'm just wondering about power supply configuration with this new DAC. Does it come with a ps of its own? <br />
      I already own a Bryston MPS2 power supply unit - can i use this to power the new dac?<br />
      <br />
      Thanks<br />
      <br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Billy - Welcome to Computer Audiophile. I talked to Bryston this morning and they said the DAC has two internal independent power supplies (and ground planes) - one for the Digital circuitry and one for the analog circuitry.<br />
      <br />
      Hope this helps.
    1. Eric2's Avatar
      Eric2 -
      Hi Chris,<br />
      <br />
      Fantastic website you have here. It’s been bookmarked for a while.<br />
      <br />
      I was just wondering if you got chance to test drive the Bryston DAC? Looking forward to hearing your views on the DAC.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Eric - Thanks for the comments on the site. I am first in line to review the BDA-1. Bryston is filling backorders first though. The DAC is selling like crazy.
    1. jimim's Avatar
      jimim -
      Chris,<br />
      <br />
      You going to be doing a review on this unit anytime soon?<br />
      <br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hey Jimi - Yes, in fact I am the first reviewer of the BDA-1. I talked to Bryston again last week and I should have one shortly.
    1. catastrofe's Avatar
      catastrofe -
      Any updates on this review?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Yes! I am getting really close. I've spent many many hours listening to the DAC and compared it to a few other DACs I have here at Computer Audiophile. I have a few more things I want to test and some additional listening time to put in. After that I'll be ready to complete the review and get it published. <br />
      <br />
      So far so good!
    1. vinlikesred's Avatar
      vinlikesred -
      Thanks for the informative review. i read the review and it looks like this dac does a lot of computation with the bitstream from the source.<br />
      <br />
      i'm planning to purchase this one and hook it up with all my video source - PS3, my TV (which has digital output), DVD player, etc...and this unit will, in turn, be hooked up to my two-channel integrated amp. (i don't do multi-channel)<br />
      <br />
      will i have lip-sync problem, that is, will the audio be properly in sync with the video? i'm worried this unit will delay the signal cuz of the time it takes to do upsampling and all that, which will cause the audio and video out of sync.<br />
      <br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi - I don't have any video in my systems, but I'll take a guess and say you won't have any sync problems here. Plus, if you're worried about upsampling you can always elect to hit the bypass button on this DAC. Very nice feature indeed.