August 2, 2009

Save the Best for Last - Bryston's BCD-1 CD Player

This is an old post of ours in the blog we previously contributed to.

Wow, write-ups on Bryston sure come fast and furious on this blog. :-) Well, with this BCD-1 cd player, I am now on my last iteration of Bryston's gears.

I got a of deja vu listening to the Bryston BCD-1 CD Player that Panzer passed to me for a few weeks. Its sonic virtues were so similar to my experience with Bryston's own BP-26 preamp that on occasions I could not differentiate whether I had the pre-amp or the cd player in my system. I did not have the chance to try out a complete Bryston system though, the Bryston pre-power combo went back to Panzer when the cd player arrived. That pleasure is now all Panzer's, let's await his report on this. :-)

The BCD-1 was a slim cd player, in both width and depth, which made positioning easy and straightforward. The display window was a little too small for me, which made reading difficult from, say, more than 3-4m away. The disc tray moved fast but a little noisily, a departure from the slow-motion and relatively quiet operations that I was used to from other makes, though that, of course, would have no effect on the final sound quality. The remote control though was a chunky affair, I loved the feel and the thoughtful back lit feature which made its usage in the dark easy.

Again, the BCD-1 gave the impression of a well engineered and sturdily built piece of gear, pretty much in line with the exemplary build quality of the BP-26 pre-amp and the 4BSST2 power amp from the same stable. They did not feel fragile or delicate, one really did not have to treat them with kid's gloves.

The BCD-1 had what I would call a modern sound. The BCD-1 impressed not just with what it did, but also with what it did not do. The part that immediately gotten my attention was the bass. The BCD-1's bass was all about solidity and impact, there was no added warmth and definitely no flabbiness. Bass notes were well defined and nicely delineated from one another rather than meshing together. Moving further up, the midrange was true and clear, again, the BCD-1 did not add anything to it, there was no hints of romantic tint for example. At the top, the highs were extended, open and crystal clear, it did not sound 'sweet' nor was it smoothened out. Overall, the BCD-1 conjured up terms such as 'accuracy', 'neutrality', 'honesty' in my head again and again throughout my listening sessions.

Coincidentally, like Panzer with the BP-26 pre-amp, I also experimented with a trio of finite elemente ceraballs under the cd player, they expanded the soundstage in all dimensions and at the same time improved the image focus, so it was a worthy addition.

I could not resist comparing the BCD-1 to the memory of the E.A.R. Yoshino Acute cd player I listened to a while ago. These twp players were operating on the opposite end of each other. The Acute did its darnedest to make every cd as enjoyable as it could, regardless of the music and the recording quality, and in the process probably told a few white lies. The BCD-1, on the other hand, did its darnedest to tell you the complete sonic picture without holding anything back, you got the beauties and the blemishes too! Which one you would go for depends on your priority - whether you like sweet talk or straight talk.

I am glad to have made Bryston's acquaintance over the last few months. It has taught me much about truthfulness in music reproduction. Bryston is a marque that pretty much has my high respect.

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