Frequently Asked Questions
- General Questions
- How did Bryston start?
- Why should buyers come to Bryston instead of the competition?
- Why does Bryston do most of its manufacturing in-house?
- Why does Bryston offer such a long warranty?
- How does Bryston bridge the gap between studio and home equipment?
- What are Bryston´s plans for the future?
- James Tanner
- Who is James Tanner?
- What does James Tanner do?
- What does James Tanner do?
- Technology and Design
- How do you suppress mechanical vibrations in your products?
- What is jitter and how do you cope with it in your products?
- What is the difference between over-sampling and up-sampling?
- What is phase inversion?
- What is damping factor and how is it expressed in Bryston Amplifiers?
- What are the different bit rates in audio and video and what do they mean?
- Product Questions
- BDA-1/BDA-2 Digital Analog Converter
- What DAC (Digital Analog Converter) chip do you use?
- BDP-2 Digital Player
- Model T Loudspeakers
- What is the warranty?
- What size room do you recommend for these speakers?
- What is the recommended amplification?
- Why did you choose to use a base veneer rather than real wood?
- What is the cost of the optional real wood veneer?
- Are the outriggers optional?
- What is your relationship with Axiom?
- Why did you have Axiom create the driver design and how did the Model T come to be?
- How is the cabinet constructed?
- How is the bass driver constructed?
- How is the midrange driver constructed?
- How is the tweeter driver constructed?
- Why use multiple drivers?
- Tell us about the crossovers.
- Are the crossovers built in house?
- Is there anything unique about the porting technology?
- Model T Subwoofer
- How do you obtain accurate measurements?
- Why use a tower over burying the subwoofer?
- SST² Amplifiers
- What is the design philosophy behind the SST² Amplifiers?
- What is the difference in capacitance between the 7B SST² and the 14B SST²?
Bryston was originally a manufacturer of high tech blood analyzers that began business in 1962. In 1976 James Tanner purchased a pair of Dayton Wright electrostatic speakers which his current amplifiers were having a heck of a time driving. So, using high-tech and sophisticated parts, we modified the amplifier and boy it sounded terrific! We then decided to build an amplifier with no holds barred, from scratch, using medical grade parts. Bryston was born!
We believe our customers appreciate our high performance standards, where the cost behind the product design is "no object" but the prices are not beyond the costumers reach. Our motto is “you can spend more money but you can't buy better performance, if ‘linearity of signal’ is what you’re after.”
We have looked into shifting manufacturing to other countries (countries which offer cheaper manufacturing) and for reasons both business and ethical, we decided against it. Given our hands-on approach and commitment to old world craftsmanship, we choose to maintain all production and design in-house.
We used to offer a 3-year warranty, but we realized that our products were still performing well within specifications, even after 18 years. So, in 1990 we decided to extend the analog warranty to 20 years (as an aside, from 1976 to 1990 we never charged for a repair even though the equipment was well outside the then stated 3 year warranty). The 20-year warranty was retroactive to all our previous customers as well.
With digital products we are currently limiting the warranty to 5 years because we do not have a long history with the technology. This will probably be extended, if all goes as planned.
Many times we get asked how Bryston has been able to bridge the gap between what is perceived to be two distinct and different markets, the Professional and the Audiophile. Bryston has been fortunate enough over the years to be well accepted in both of these demanding and sometimes different marketplaces. Our experience on both ends of the reproduction chain (studio vs. home) has allowed us some insights into the differences and similarities between these two areas, which few manufacturers get to observe.
The equipment choices for a system in a recording studio are the same as the requirements in a "state-of-the-art" playback system in your home, namely; reproduce the input as accurately as possible. Professional recording engineers are attempting to record sounds as accurately as they can. They may have different methods (equipment choices, microphone techniques, microphone placement, or microphone types) but the purpose is the same; capture a space and moment in time and allow the listener to experience that moment in their home environment. We do not think that the recording end of the chain is at odds with the playback end, if accuracy of this "moment in space and time" is the ultimate goal.
It is true that professional users demand playback monitoring systems which do not break when being played at realistic levels, do not color the sound or voice it in a specific manner, or reduce their ability to assess what exactly is recorded on the master. We do not see this parameter as being contrary with the audiophile attempting to playback, in their home, the "intent" of the engineer. Maybe in the past, systems that where capable of playing reliably at realistic levels without dynamic compression necessitated the use of large systems. These systems somehow did not deliver the kind of staging, imaging and micro-dynamics that audiophiles have hungered for, but "the times, they are a changing".
The fact that Bryston amplifiers, for example, have achieved acceptance from both the professional studio engineer and the audiophile is predicated on the assumption that accuracy remains the foremost concern. An accurate amplifier is an accurate amplifier no matter where it is being utilized. Same for the loudspeaker etc. The success of a given product in both the studio and home listening environment is a direct result of recording engineers and audiophiles alike being able to agree on the merits of accuracy in the playback chain. James had a very prominent engineer say to him "wouldn't it be nice to know that the amplifiers and loudspeakers I am using as recording equipment where in fact the same amplifiers and loudspeakers the listener were using in his home environment".
This ability to "Close the Loop" between the recording and playback side of the industry is certainly a desirable goal. If you consider the film industry and companies such as DTS, THX, Dolby Digital etc. you recognize that they are attempting to provide systems which in fact will playback the film in your home in a manner that serves the "intent" of all the people involved in the film (director, sound engineers, actors etc.). We feel music should be the same. We want to know what we hear in our homes is as close a rendition as possible to the intent of the producer.
In closing, we would like to point out that we perceive the difference in audio equipment as the difference between "Production and Reproduction". If your goal is to reproduce the input, then your choices of equipment will be different than someone who desires to produce a particular sound or result because they may personally prefer it.
To continue to do what we do best: provide our customers with as transparent an audio signal path as possible, given current technology.
James is Brystons resident audiophile and part owner. He has been involved in audio since his teens. Originally, he wished to be a professional saxophone player, spending his life in small smoky rooms, but he settled for his current position. He loves what he does and enjoys every minute of it, being involved in a business that brings pleasure to others is, in his view, without pier.
James prefers not to reveal what he does, feeling that if his superiors don't know his responsibilities they can’t fire him. Joking aside, James is the Vice President of Bryston and responsible for marketing and all its aspects.
James prefers not to reveal what he does, feeling that if his superiors don't know his responsibilities they can’t fire him. Joking aside, James is the Vice President of Bryston and responsible for marketing and all its aspects.
There aren't many issues with well designed solid state gear and vibration (as opposed to tube gear), so it is not something we dwell on. Obviously, making sure everything is solid and well attached is important while making certain all solder points and mechanical connections are sturdy.
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 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 isn't any data available.
Using the BDA-1 DAC as an example, we re-sample and re-clock the digital input in order to reduce jitter. The result is a significant reduction in jitter (1/1000 of a nanosecond). 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 incoming digital signal contains data at over 1 million bits per second, requiring 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 Bryston BDA-1 DAC 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.
Over-sampling is when the samples are re-read (2x, 4x, 8x, etc.) to create a new sampling frequency. The new samples are then run through an interpolation filter to create a more analog-like waveform.
Up-sampling converts the digital signal from one sample rate and bit depth to another. For example: In the BDA-1, the sample rate is increased from the input sample frequency (32K, 48K, or 96K up-samples to 192K and 44.1K or 88.2K up-samples to 176.4K). The 16 bits of depth (the CD standard) is increased to 24 bits.
Phase inversion refers to reversing the polarity 180 degrees on the signal. Some electronics invert phase (depending on the number of amplifying circuits) and some do not. Bryston products do NOT invert phase, this is sometimes refered to as maintaining ‘Absolute Phase’.
Once upon a time a few record companies would make sure that their recordings maintained Absolute Phase throughout the recording chain, stating this on their product (Ex. Sheffield Records, simple single microphone recording techniques).
When you record an instrument (lets say a drum) the pressure wave striking the microphone is positive pressure. When you play back the recording, you want the woofer in your speaker to move forward and create that same positive pressure in your system. Depending on the audio system and the number of inverting or non inverting components it has a 50/50 shot. So, knowing what each component is doing and whether or not it inverts absolute phase is something that may be important given specific recordings.
The problem with multi-mic recordings is, depending on the microphone and amplification stages used in a specific recording, you may get some instruments with inverted polarity and others in absolute polarity. In James Tanner's experiments, maintaining absolute polarity can sometimes be heard on instruments that have very well defined transient behaviour.
Listen to a rim shot or a trumpet blast and see if you can detect a difference using the polarity switch on the BP26, you can use the BR2 remote and do it from your listening seat. Also, listen to voice and see if the singer moves forward or back in the soundstage. The problem sometimes is that the chances of a recording engineer maintaining absolute polarity with any given recording and any particular instrument in a recording is a 50/50 shot and many times there is no detectable difference at all.
Damping factor is a measure of the amplifier's ability to control the woofer, and is measured by dividing the speaker impedance (normally 8 ohms) into the amplifier's output impedance (usually in the range of 0.02 ohms). The lower the amplifier's output impedance, the less the amplifier's output level is affected by variations in the speaker impedance. Also, since the woofer's voice-coil can act as a generator, within its magnet structure, the amplifier needs a low output impedance to act as a method of damping the woofer's tendency to keep moving after the signal has stopped. In the example above, the damping factor would be 8/.02 = 400.
Bryston amplifiers have output impedance slightly below 0.01 ohms, and therefore have a calculated damping factor of over 800, (though we conservatively rate them at 500). This parameter is affected by the speaker cable resistance. Even heavy 12 gauge wire has a resistance of about 0.0016 ohms per foot. (Remember we need to double that for twin-lead speaker cable). Thus, it would require only 6.25 feet of 12 gauge per speaker to have a total resistance of 0.02 ohms, (.0016 X 2 X 6.25 = 0.02), cutting a damping factor of 400 in half, to 200. Bryston recommends keeping speaker lead length to a minimum for this reason.
Keep in mind that damping factor is also affected by other real-world impedances, including the speaker-cable resistance, and the varying resistance of the speaker's own voice-coil. The voice-coil of a typical 8-ohm loudspeaker has a DC resistance of between 4 and 6 ohms. This resistance increases with temperature by 0.4%/Deg. C. It would thus require only a 25-degree rise in voice-coil temperature to increase its impedance by 10%. If it started with a DC resistance of 4 ohms, the extra 10%, (0.4 ohms), would reduce the actual damping factor to twenty, (8/0.4=20)!
It is worth noting that it would probably take only about 5-10 Watts to raise the voice-coil temperature by that amount. Add in the likely speaker-cable resistance of about 0.1 ohms, (10 feet of 16 gauge. cable), and it is obvious that the amplifier's contribution to the overall, real-world damping factor of the system is close to nil.
Whether the amp measures 300 or 3,000,000 under ideal conditions, the actual damping factor of the system will almost never exceed 100 anyway.
32 kbit/s – MW (AM) quality
96 kbit/s – FM quality
128–160 kbit/s – Standard Bitrate quality; difference can sometimes be obvious (e.g. bass quality)
192 kbit/s – DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) quality.
224 – 320 kbit/s – Near CD quality.
800 bit/s – minimum necessary for recognizable speech (using special-purpose FS-1015 speech codecs)
8 kbit/s – Telephone quality (using speech codecs)
32 - 500 kbit/s - lossy audio as used in Ogg Vorbis
500 kbit/s – 1 Mbit/s – lossless audio as used in formats such as FLAC, WavPack or Monkey's Audio
1411.2 kbit/s – PCM sound format of CD Digital Audio
16 kbit/s – videophone quality (minimum necessary for a consumer-acceptable "talking head" picture)
128 – 384 kbit/s – business-oriented videoconferencing system quality
1.25 Mbit/s – VCD quality
5 Mbit/s – DVD quality
15 Mbit/s – HDTV quality
36 Mbit/s – HD DVD quality
54 Mbit/s – Blu-ray Disc quality
We use the Crystal DACs in all our digital gear. The DACs that are available today are within a hairs breath of equality when it comes to performance. How they are implemented is the important part.
We have found that independent power supplies for the analog and digital stages, independent circuit routing for analog and digital sections, fully discrete analog output stages, and transformer coupled inputs have much more to do with pushing the performance envelope of digital audio rather than the specific DAC chosen.
Speakers carry a 10 year warranty.
Because of the excellent dispersion the Model T is suitable in rooms as small as 13'x17'x8' and as large as 25'x36'x10' with good results.
Given the high efficiency (91dB anechoic) the model T can be driven with moderate power and various types of amplifiers (transistor, Class D, Tubes etc.) Power amplifiers between 100 to 900 watts can be employed depending on room size and listening levels required. The Model T has a benign impedance curve as well so nothing exotic is required.
First and foremost we wanted to build an accurate loudspeaker, not a piece of furniture (not that there’s anything wrong with that). We also wanted to offer our customers an accurate product incorporating state of the art technology at the most competitive price possible. Vinyls are quite cosmetically exceptional and it is tough to tell the difference between real woods and vinyl. An added bonus is that vinyl will typically wear better over time and deal better with spills, etc.
If you want real wood veneers or exotic finishes we can do it at additional cost but it does not provide better performance than the base models. Please contact us for a quote.
Outriggers are optional, the speakers comes standard with spikes and furniture feet.
James Tanner (Vice President of Bryston Sales and Marketing) had known Ian Colquhoun (owner of Axiom) casually for years. Their relationship stretched back to the days of Floyd Toole and the National Research council in Ottawa, where most of the Canadian companies got their start developing their philosophies of speaker design.
James Tanner (Vice President of Bryston Sales and Marketing) was aware that speaker engineer Andrew Welker had moved to Axiom after Canadian speaker company API was purchased. He contacted both Andrew Welker and Ian Colquhoun (owner of Axiom) to see if they would be interested in building a reference loudspeaker for James' personal use to evaluate Bryston electronics. James was aware that Axiom was one of the few companies with an anechoic chamber on site and had sophisticated equipment capable of facilitating complex speaker measurement techniques.
James' initial request was for a fully Active system with no performance compromises. He and Axiom then spent almost 2 years with a variety of versions until James was happy with the results, installing a finished Active system in his personal sound room. Long story short - distributors, dealers and friends heard them and convinced James to offer them commercially. Given the complexity of Active systems we set about to develop Passive versions of the Model T which came very close to the performance level of the Active version.
At that point the project just took on a life of its own as our dealers and distributors said they wanted Centers and Surrounds and Subs to match – so here we are with a complete line of Bryston loudspeakers available to our customers and a way to acquire ‘Predictable Performance' for Bryston customers all the way from the source to the speaker.
The cabinet has a 1.5 inch thick front baffle, a vertical brace from top to bottom in the centre of the cabinet, and 12 interlocking braces front and back of the vertical brace. All the braces are uniquely spaced so as to have no dominant resonance mode.
The woofers use a ceramic-coated composite aluminum cone, large diameter voice coil on a high temperature fibreglass former, die cast aluminum frames, and FEA optimized motor system.
The midranges use a ceramic-coated composite aluminum cone, die cast aluminum frames, and FEA optimized motor system.
The tweeters use a 1 inch pure titanium dome, Ferro-fluid damping/cooling, temperature stable ferrite magnets, and FEA optimized motor system.
The dominant advantage to multiple drivers is the increased power handling and sheer SPL achievable before compression occurs; this is a big deal as even at modest levels the dynamic peaks can be very demanding. There is also an advantage that can be achieved in the soundstage presentation if the design is done carefully. The disadvantage would be it is much more complex to design as the interaction between all the drivers means many more on and off axis listening window and power response curves need to be looked at and worked with.
The crossover points for the Model T are 160 Hz and 2.3 kHz. All of the components used have been carefully selected for ultra-low distortion and the high power handling requirements of the Model T. The Model T Signature provides an outboard ‘Passive’ crossover to allow for tri-wiring applications as well as an easy transition to a fully Active system using an external active crossover in the future.
Yes, all the crossovers are built in house.
The air in a port is traveling faster in the center, relative to the sides due to friction. All ports have some level of noise. The concave/convex port walls add surface area to the port wall, thereby minimizing friction thereby reducing port noise. The ports also have curved edges at both the entrance and exit of the port, further reducing port noise.
One of the limitations of an anechoic chamber comes from measuring very low frequencies. Even very large anechoic chambers have limited accuracy below approximately 85 Hz. In order to obtain completely accurate measurements of the very long sound waves that come from low notes, we utilize a 90 foot tower upon which we hoist subwoofer prototypes. To obtain 4-pi 360-degree measurements, the tower must be used in early morning or evening, when the wind is still.
We could bury the subwoofer in the ground and get a true 2-pi measurement or we could use the more widely utilized gated near-field technique. However, we don’t because we ‘have the ability’ to make a true 4-pi measurement. It is the 'purest' and most direct and correct way. It is also very consistent, something that cannot be said for ground plane or near-field methods, unless an identical environment is used and the subwoofer position is not changed.
We also need this 4-pi ability to make the appropriate low frequency correction curves for our anechoic chamber and this must be done for each subwoofer model. Finally, near-field computer techniques are fine for response at low volume levels, but impossible when trying to characterize subwoofer performance at high levels. It’s simply a matter of microphone overload levels when measuring near-field. We also use the tower to confirm the low frequency response of our larger speakers like the Model T and Middle T.
A significant part of the design criteria for the new SST² was to develop
amplifiers that would maintain an ideal power curve through the 'first and last watt'. Most
amplifiers exhibit a power curve whereby the best noise floor, drive capability and
distortion are maintained from about 1/3 power and up. The new Bryston SST²
series maintain their ideal power curve right from the first watt to the last watt.
Think of it like a torque curve in a car. The sweet spot or the torque curve has been
Achieving this 'First-to-last-Watt' fidelity and clarity has to do with a number of design approaches:
First is complete freedom from low-level crossover, or zero-crossing, artifacts. This is not as easy as it sounds. Most class-AB amplifiers have sufficient bias to prevent primary crossover distortion, but there is another type of crossover artifact called 'secondary crossover distortion', caused by insufficient speed in the driver transistors. We use very fast drivers to prevent this, but more important is Bryston's proprietary Quad Complementary Output design vastly reduces the capacitance 'seen' by the driver transistors, virtually eliminating storage delay in the output stage that could contribute to nonlinearities in the zero-crossing region.
Second is Bryston's continuing efforts to reduce low-level noise. The clarity of Bryston's designs is enhanced at low listening levels by pushing the noise floor far below the signal level, improving the 'silence between the notes' and enhancing the clarity of the music at low power levels.
Third is Bryston's concentration on reducing distortion at all levels, and most especially at high frequencies. Bryston amplifiers are perhaps the only designs to concentrate as much effort at reducing HF distortion artifacts as we do, and the results are remarkably 'flat' THD-with-frequency curves, showing almost no tendency to increase distortion as frequency rises. This has the effect of reducing overall 'haze', helping to pull the quietest passages out of the background.
There are other small contributors to this low-level clarity, some having to do with power supply design for extreme stability, (and in Stereo or multi-channel amps, separated for each channel), which very notably improves the placement-in-space and focus of the sonic 'image'. We think the overall result is an unprecedented degree of clarity and freedom from artificiality, especially noticeable at lower levels in comparison with other designs, but continuing to even the highest outputs.
The 7B SST² has eight 10,000uF capacitors per module, for a total of 160,000uF per channel. The 14B has four 22,000uF capacitors per channel, for a total of 88,000uF per channel.