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Review and Measurements of Bryston BDA-2 DAC

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of Bryston BDA-2 DAC. I believe it retails for around $2,700. I had access to a loaned unit during the time I was testing the Schiit Yggdrasil and Berkeley Alpha DACs.
Byrston BDA-2 DAC.jpg


Unfortunately I did not have time to run full suite of measurements on it but there is enough data here to draw a decent conclusion on its performance.

All my testing was done using its S/PDIF input.

As always if you have a question about my measurements, please read about the setup and what they mean here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/understanding-audio-measurements.2351/. And if you want to know if I am qualified to make such evaluations, see my background here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/a-bit-about-your-host.1906/

Measurements
Let's start with looking at jitter and noise and compare the BDA-2 to Schiit Yggdrasil DAC and that of Berkeley Alpha:

Bryston BDA-2 DAC Jitter Measurement.png


As we see the Bryston BDA-2 DAC has a lower noise floor than the other two DACs. There is no mains related leakage as we see in Schiit Yggdrasil either. There is however a peak around 1.7 kHz or so. It is audibly benign though at such low amplitude.

Next let's look at linearity:

Bryston BDA-2 DAC Linearity Measurement.png


Linearity is very good with 17 bits of clean output before 0.1 dB of error. Importantly even going past that, the degree of error remains small unlike the Schiit Yggdrasil which goes wild.

Last test I had time to run was the SMPTE intermodulation test:

Bryston BDA-2 DAC Intermodulation Distortion Measurement.png


The Exasound E32 continues to be the king here but the Bryston does a good job of coming second. It outperforms both Berkeley and Schiit Yggdrasil.

Conclusions
There is no question that the Bryston BDA-2 DAC is a competently designed DAC. It has no warts and no anomalies that stand out. That is to be expected from Byrston which is a "proper engineering company" with significant resources in audio design.

The price is a bit high but is fitting in the market segment they are after and luxury audio dealer distribution channel.

I see no reason to not recommend the Bryston BDA-2 other than the cost.

Special thanks to our audiophile society member who loaned the unit to me for testing.

As always, questions, comments, corrections, etc. are welcome.

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stunta

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#2
Thanks. Why is there an up-sample button? Manual says its for optimal performance, so why is it optional?

Remote is optional. No volume control. Hefty price for a straight up DAC.

There is however a peak around 1.7 kHz or so
I am curious why you called this out versus the peak at 2kHz. Can you please explain?
 
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#6
From a quick comparison of the measurements it seems the Topping DX7S is a superior DAC at a fraction of the price, @amirm is there anything about this DAC that would make you recommend it over the Topping?
 
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#9
lol. It definitely is bigger and heavier. The BDA-2 also lacks DSD support so the DX7s has a feature advantage over the Bryston.

Bryston is an interesting company. I purchased Bryston stuff in the past and have nothing but good things to say about my purchasing experiences. When I ordered the BHA-1, I had various options to customize the product. I was able to specify if I wanted to customize the gain voltage, output connector types, pre-amp output impedance and various other things. After the build was completed, they put my amp on the audio analyzer and printed off a few of the measurements to be included. Never had this type of service from any audio company before.
 

DonH56

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#11
I have immense respect for Bryston and would love to own some of the their gear. They always seemed more engineering-oriented and very approachable. And of course solid design and execution. The scary thing is that compared to a lot of high-end gear they are a relative bargain though still out of my price range.
 
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#12
I have immense respect for Bryston and would love to own some of the their gear. They always seemed more engineering-oriented and very approachable. And of course solid design and execution. The scary thing is that compared to a lot of high-end gear they are a relative bargain though still out of my price range.
With a 20 year warranty and very reasonable servicing costs Bryston are pretty reasonable bought used, especially in the US where supply is more plentiful than here in the UK.

Anything from the -ST era and upwards is excellent and starts at around $700 (eg. for a Bryston 4B-ST - an excellent two channel amp).
 

Sal1950

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#13
There is no question that the Bryston BDA-2 DAC is a competently designed DAC. It has no warts and no anomalies that stand out. That is to be expected from Byrston which is a "proper engineering company" with significant resources in audio design.

The price is a bit high but is fitting in the market segment they are after and luxury audio dealer distribution channel.

I see no reason to not recommend the Bryston BDA-2 other than the cost.
Expected but by no means a guarantee. We see too much high rep/ high cost gear that misses the mark by quite a bit when the ruler comes to bear.
Although out of my price range, I am very glad to see Bryston living up to the reputation and image I had of them.
 

mindbomb

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#15
One of the unusual things about this is that it uses a dac with voltage output. A lot of other high end dacs pride themselves on their I-V conversion. Does this result in performance deficits relative to other dacs? Is it related to why the exasound does so much better in the smpte imd test?

Another thing I noticed is how much dac architecture is playing into the linearity test. ESS and Chord I believe are using 1 bit dacs, whereas AKM and TI use multibit delta sigma dacs, and they struggle more in the linearity test.
 
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DonH56

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#16
It is often easier to design a current-mode output stage but both I and V outputs have their issues. Better control of load, often better PSRR and easier matching/trimming, and typically greater output bandwidth comes from current-mode operation but at the end the final output to the next component is voltage either way.

I did not think there are any purely one-bit DS DACs these days? Have not really looked, but the oversampling rate has to be much higher, and digital compensation of the multibit stages has come a long way, so I thought essentially all audio DS DACs included multibit stages. I may be thinking more of ADCs. It could be that, at very low levels, the discontinuities show up more with multibit approaches (and R2R designs).
 

Sal1950

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#17
Agreed with "trust but verify." :)
I anxiously await your shining light being shone on a Benchmark DAC-3.
They do seen to set the "benchmark" :cool: in the industry for a stellar reputation and glowing image,
Do they really live up to it?
 

Blumlein 88

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#18
Nearly all current delta sigma dacs are multi-bit. Usually at least 5 bits.

Chord says they use Pulse Array DACs. Not an off the shelf DAC chip.
 

RayDunzl

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#19
I anxiously await your shining light being shone on a Benchmark DAC-3.
JA measured one:

https://www.stereophile.com/content...preamplifier-headphone-amplifier-measurements

The Vendor supplies similar measurements:

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0321/7609/files/DAC3_Series_Manual_Rev_B.pdf?9982830537634228604

I have a DAC2.

It works, obsolete as it is.

There's nothing fancy to play around with on them. Can't pick filters or whatever. Can't really choose Sample Rates, it turns everything into 211khz internally.

So, it's not even bit-perfect.

Can't pick output voltages in software, you gotta move a jumper if you don't like the default.

In fact, there is no "software" to play with. You plug it in it works and you forget about it.

Where's the fun in that?

No MQA.

And so on.
 
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