Part-Time Audiophile

Newport 2016: Bryston mixes high-end sound, Canadian practicality

Bryston may be best known for two things: its fine-sounding, high-power amplifiers and its unmatched 20-year product warranty. But a trip to its room at T.H.E. Show in Newport proved the company has much more going for it these days than just that.

Ontario, Canada-based Bryston filled its exhibit with a host of products, some of them brand new. When I walked in, a representative was playing “West Memphis,” a twangy, slow-burn country blues track by the redoubtable Lucinda Williams.

The all-Bryston system captured the texture of the swampy guitar of Tony Joe White, as well as Williams’ slurred, all-day-bender vocals. The harmonica on this song practically jumped out of the speakers and the throbbing bass was rounded and tuneful.

Making all this happen was Bryston’s smallest premium speaker, the two-foot-tall, 40-pount Mini T ($3,370 a pair). They were driven by a Bryston rack that included the classic 600-watt 7B monoblocks, now in series three or “cubed” form ($5,695 each), BP26 preamp ($3,295), MPS2 power supply ($1,865), BDA3 DAC ($3,495) and BDP 2 digital player ($3,295). The huge amount of power flowing from the 7B/3 seemed to make Williams’ rough, roadhouse music sound both authentic and effortless.

Also shown, but not playing when I was there, was the new BryFi BW1 table radio (tentatively to be priced at $1,600), a sleek, wood-trimmed unit with a slightly curved front. The BryFi is the company’s first wireless, portable multi-room music system. It contains a pair of Bryston Mini A speakers, a 75-watt-per-channel amp and an on-board Raspberry Pi computer.

One of the advantages of the BryFi, according to a rep, is that it allows a buyer to play hi-rez files without compression. Sources can include a computer, music server, USB drive or streaming web radio stations. All can be controlled by a wireless interface such as a smart phone, tablet or laptop.

I’ve always felt Bryston equipment, while not cheap, offered good bang for the buck. It’s nice to see the company continue such reasonable pricing in its new units. Combined with its history of building reliable equipment — a point not to be overlooked considering the plethora of twitchy products in the high end — a listener could feel pretty safe about his or her investment.