Bryston – RMAF 2018

By Eric Shook

Bryston is a Canadian company with a proven history of offering products that famously stand the test of time. The team from Bryston assembled one of their newest six-channel, actively-driven, and DSP-controlled stereo speaker systems. That may sound confusing at first, but to relax and listen to this all-Bryston offering is to live in a field of sound that is comfortably measured and precise.

Active speakers are not what they used to be, and honestly this is a good thing. These days, we are in the era of DSP, Class-D amplifiers, Servo Subwoofers, and outboard amplification. On display here at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest are the Mini T Active stand-mount speakers by Bryston which contain no amplifiers, crossovers, or connections between drivers. Around the rear of the speaker you’ll find three pairs of five-way binding posts, each coupled to a driver independently. From there leading back to the amplifier are color-coded wires — numbering six total — that power all three channels (three per speaker). Do I still have your attention?

The Bryston Active loudspeakers are still only in stereo, however each speaker handles six channels of amplification. All of this is provided by a pair of three-channel mono-blocks.

Wait, wait, hold up… did I just say three-channel mono-blocks? YES, I did. Here’s why. It is a single chassis, single channel amplifier, that just happens to contain three amplifiers to drive each driver of a three way speaker.

The Bryston 21B Cubed is a single-chassis three-channel (2 x 300w + 1 x 600w) amplifier dedicated to driving just one, and only one speaker. Along with only one channel (right or left) of stereo separation. These amplifiers are made to power the T-Series of Active loudspeakers, the Mini-T, the smallest of the series, being the one on display here at RMAF.

Going further up the chain away from the speakers we find the Bryston BAX-1 digital crossover, coming between the amplifiers and preamplifier. The BAX-1 contains software needed to actively provide crossover DSP for each loudspeaker in the Active model line-up. The crossover receives a fully analog signal from the preamplifier and actively contours driver crossover slopes for each channel, including customizable bass filters. From there you are delievered on a more usual path, the preamplification from the BP17 Cubed Preamp, BDA-3 DAC, and BDP-3 Digital Music Player.

Making system upgrades in a Bryston Active System only require buying ala carte for your specific needs. For example, upgrading the speakers in the system do not require you to purchase crossovers or amplifiers, upgrading the amplifier(s) in the system do not require you to purchase a crossover or speakers. Upgrading the crossover does not require you to purchase speakers or amplifiers. You can see where this is going.

In a Bryston Active System each system duty compartmentalized and given a dedicated task. Passive loudspeakers house the crossover, rely on one full-range amplified signal to power all three drivers. The Bryston Active System is near-perfect in isolating each driver from differing signals in the amplification chain. This is more than just a one-brand system of made-for-each-other components, the Bryston active system works to bring your room into the fold of that harmonious synergy.

Having a bank of almost limitless digital on hand, we rang our hands free of the usual audiophile hum-drum and went full boar into tracks from popular EDM artists and ‘90s alternative rock standards. Tracks were powerful and clear. Despite the separation of amplification and signal much further up the chain, the sound from the speakers was as coherent as ever.

The speakers did bass exceedingly well, and as I can imagine, are tailorable with new DSP curves as they become available. Meaning that if you like the treble and mid-range, but see the bass needing improvement, you can adjust one without sacrificing another. Brilliant stuff!

The System

Bryston The Mini T Loudspeakers – $3,700 USD

Bryston 21B Cubed (2 x 300 + 1 x 600w) Amplifier – $11,995 ea USD

Bryston BAX-1 Active Speaker Crossover – $3,495 USD

Bryston BP-17 Cubed Preamplifier – $4,495 USD

Bryston BDA-3 Digital-to-Analog Converter – $3,795 USD

Bryston BDP-3 Digital Player – $3,995 USD

All racks and stands by Target Audio

All cables provided by Straight Wire