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Review Bryston BDA-3.14 Renderer – DAC

Pros

  • DAC, streamer and preamp in one housing
  • The best streaming solution imaginable
  • Extremely many inputs
  • 2 USB inputs

Cons

  • Price is still a bit high
  • No volume buttons on the front
  • No permanent level indication
  • Price: € 4840

    Build quality
    Usability
    Sound
    Price
    Bryston BDP-3-14

    Functionality

    Contents

    When you know that the Bryston BDA-3.14 contains both the contents of the BDA-3 DAC and the BDP-Pi, you can guess what inspired the model number… Indeed, it is the mathematical constant Pi! Engineers also have a sense of humour. The advantage of two devices in one, is the possibility of a considerable cost saving. For example, the BDA-3.14 costs only 430 euro more than the BDA-3.

    The streaming functionality has been implemented internally via I2S in the best possible way. Besides the RJ-45 streaming input, the DAC has an unprecedented number of inputs including 2 USB ports, 4 HDMI ports, AES / EBU, SPDIF coax and BNC and TOSLink.

    The built-in firmware has improved tremendously since the last time we used a Bryston streamer. The new Manic Moose interface works intuitively, looks modern and sleek and offers a wealth of configurable options. This interface can be accessed via any web browser and on any PC, Mac, phone or Tablet via my.bryston.com. You can then access literally all the features of the front panel, as well as a very wide range of other functions, including volume control.

    As with Antipodes music servers, the Bryston BDA-3.14 offers a whole range of directly selectable protocols for network functionality such as MPD, RoonReady, Shairport-Sync, Squeezelite, DLNA / UPnP and access to a Samba share. By the way, the BDA-3.14 can handle both PCM and DSD over the network as well as via USB sticks and drives.

    Because of its simplicity and stability, the built-in Bryston Media Player will be the ideal interface for many users. Although this player works intuitively, quickly and very well, your editor still prefers the Roon interface. With Roon, the BDA-3.14 has also proven to be 100% stable. In addition to local sources, the device also offers an Internet radio station overview called bRadio and works perfectly with Tidal and Qobuz.

    System context

    The BDA-3.14 was rated in a system that consists of the CH Precision L1 preamp and A1.5 power amplifier with Martin Logan ESL15A and Magico S1 MkII speakers. The digital source is the Antipodes CX + EX music server and renderer. For further comparisons we also have the Aqua Formula xHD and the Denafrips Venus DAC’s and the Aqua La Diva CD transport at hand.

    The interlinks used are Vermouth Reference XLR between the DAC’s and preamplifier and CH Precision Balanced Link between preamplifier and power amplifier. Finally, the speaker cables are the Jorma Design Trinity and all power cables Belden with Bals schuko and Oyaide C-004 IEC connectors.

    The copy of the Bryston BDA-3.14 was a demo model that had been in use for some time, but we gave it plenty of time to warm up before subjecting it to a listening test. By the way, this was more a case of “just to be sure” than a real necessity because we generally feel that Bryston products need little or no warm-up time.

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