Bryston is releasing to dealers in Q4 its BR-20 preamplifier ($5,995), which combines in a single chassis a new analog preamplifier with the company’s flagship digital-to-analog conversion (DAC) platform and a streaming music player.
The BR-20 enables the connection of up to 14 analog and digital source components as well as enabling built-in high-resolution streaming from Qobuz, Tidal, and access to owners’ own music collections.
Initially called the BP-18, the BR-20 nomenclature was chosen to honor Bryston President Brian Russell, who devoted his life to the Bryston brand, and who passed away in September 2020. “Our new BR-20 preamplifier offers a never-before experienced degree of audio clarity, transparency and detail, along with tremendous flexibility in handling every kind of audio signal; analog or digital. I know my brother Brian was very proud and excited about the things we have been able to accomplish with the BR-20, and we are also proud to name it in his honor,” said Chris Russell, Bryston CEO and technical supervisor, in the announcement statement.
The BR-20’s analog preamplifier is a byproduct of years of R&D that resulted in the development of an optimized discrete buffer amplifier capable of delivering a low THD+N measurement at or below 0.0006%. The analog signal path is a fully balanced design, using an array of tightly matched components and a compact circuit design to achieve the lowest-possible noise and common mode rejection. A ring of small LEDs are located on the perimeter of the volume knob, indicating output level. The BR-20 also supports up to 15 sources and a wide variety of inputs, for added flexibility.
The BR-20 features Bryston’s most advanced DAC and digital player/streaming platforms. Users can access high-resolution content from up to seven external sources plus the internal digital music player that offers TIDAL and Qobuz streaming capability. Connectivity for an additional four HDMI sources becomes accessible when using the optional HDMI card. The internal DAC can decode PCM up to 384 kHz/24 bit and DSD 256 (DSD x4), and it has the unusual capability to decode DSD over HDMI. With the BR-20’s optional HDMI card, audiophiles can connect a compatible SACD player over HDMI to achieve pure signal reproduction and quality using the player’s onboard decoders. Furthermore, if the hi-fi shares living space with a video system, users can connect 4K and HDR sources such as Apple TV, Blu-ray players and more to the BR-20, while passing the high-resolution video through to their monitor or projector. The digital music player inside the BR-20 ensures a smooth user experience along with the ability to manage large music libraries thanks to gigabit Ethernet, more RAM and the addition of USB 3.0 connectivity for external music storage. The BR-20’s built-in music player will natively pass PCM up to 384 kHz and DSD128 to the DAC.
The BR-20 also features Bryston’s most powerful onboard headphone amplifier ever offered, the company says, providing the high-output and critical low-output impedance to drive even inefficient headphone models. Bryston adds that the new Low Z headphone amp utilized in the BR-20 delivers clarity and dynamic capability second only to Bryston’s own BHA-1 outboard headphone amp.
The BR-20 includes front-panel controls plus Bryston’s BR-4 hand-held remote. With so many inputs available on the BR-20, control options have been expanded beyond the front-panel buttons. The BR-4 remote control can be configured by each user to command each source component, and a web-enabled phone or tablet can be used to adjust volume and change sources. Users can rename inputs and hide those not in use. For those who prefer enjoying their music in a darkened listening space, the front-panel LEDs and display can be dimmed or disabled. Smart home integrators will appreciate features such as control over IP, RS232 and trigger input/output options.
A premium quality moving magnet (MM) phono stage equivalent to Bryston’s outboard BP-2 can be added for $1,000, and an HDMI card can be added for $1,200.