Everything You Need to know about the Bryston BP-17 Cubed Preamp

Meet the Bryston BP-17 Cubed

Gary Dayton (Bryston) and Drew Baird (Moon Audio) go over the features and specifications of the BP-17 Cubed preamplifier from Bryston.

Highlights

0:0000:00 Introducing the BP-17 preamp
00:38 Cubed Series technology
01:20 New Technology and features
02:43 Front panel controls
05:18 Back panel connections
06:47 Phono cards
07:23 DAC Resolution

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Transcript

Hey, Drew Baird here with Gary from Bryston, VP of Operations, and we're here to talk about the new BP-17 preamp which is taking advantage of the new Cubed technology that Bryston's using on a lot of their new products and updating some of the older products, so he's gonna walk us through and explain to us what's going on with this preamp. So this is the brand new Bryston BP-17 Cubed Two- Channel Preamplifier. Last year we introduced our Cubed Series amplifiers but the BP-17 Cubed is the first line level product that we've developed that has our Cubed Series technology from input all the way to output. So let's first talk about what that Cubed Series technology does. This is a brand new operational amplifier that we developed that has vanishingly low distortion. At the first gain stage there's less than one thousandth of 1% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion). All the way through this preamplifier you can expect THD levels below point zero zero one five percent (.0015%) from input to output. This is vanishingly low distortion. The whole purpose of this preamplifier is to take your source components, pass that signal along to the amplifier with the lowest distortion possible. So if you want to pick source components that have a certain sound or a certain color the BP-17 Cubed will preserve that. If the goal of your system is to have the cleanest and most linear path possible the BP-17 Cubed will preserve that as well. So let's talk a little bit about how exactly we do that. Unlike Bryston's preamplifier circuits in the past, we use a very special feedback loop in the Cubed Series technology that filters out specific distortion inducing mechanisms within the unit itself. So we can identify certain areas of distortion in the preamp and literally drop those out in the gain stage of the preamp. Now compared to the older BP-17 these operational amplifiers because they have so many more active elements take up a lot more physical space. The old BP-17 Cubed had the entire audio circuitry contained on the back panel. The new BP-17 Cubed uses much more of the real estate available in the chassis, so you've got all of the input panels connected to the back panel PCB while all of the audio circuitry itself is contained on a separate unit directly underneath that. The power supply and the control circuitry is all located at the front of the unit so it's kept far away from the audio circuitry. It induces very little noise into the circuit and all of this performance is available at $3,995 which is significantly less than even our larger preamplifier: the BP- 26. Okay, so we're going to take a look at some of the inputs and outputs now. So the BP-17 Cubed has a full-featured front panel that gives you discrete access to any of the inputs just from the push of a button. You've got an IR sensor, a nice big volume control, balanced left and right - which i think is an unusual feature on on many preamps these days - mute switch and of course a power switch on the front panel as well. Now the options installed, simply pressing the 'select' button when you've got an input selected will toggle between a standard analog input or the DA if you're using the DA inputs; so they're a pretty handy feature as well. Said in another way, when you have the DA card installed as well you can still access all of the analog inputs. Unusual for a preamplifier is not so much the fact that it has a headphone jack but that the headphone jack on our pre is driven by a completely separate discrete operational amplifier. Lots of products will give you a headphone output that's simply a tap off of the normal preamp outs that are on the back of the unit itself, but Bryston gives you a high-quality operational amplifier that will drive your headphones with extreme precision. Does it sound as good? Is it as powerful as Bryston's flagship BHA-1? No. Will it still drive high quality headphones with precision, low noise and wide dynamic range? Absolutely. And the nice feature about the balance control is if you've got some hearing damage in one ear and you need to basically adjust the volume to equalize out the hearing loss in your ear, the balance control is going to become very important. And that's very rare on most headphone amps these days, so that's a good feature. Yeah and also take notice of the fact that not every listening room is perfectly symmetrical. You know sometimes you need a DB or two of balance adjustment, one way or another, to equalize anomalies in a listening room. We can't all have dedicated listening rooms unfortunately, so some features that add to the domestic harmony of our products I think is nice to have. Now make note of the volume control as well. So the volume control on the BP-17 Cubed has stops at five o'clock and seven o'clock. It's a fully analog volume control that's microprocessor controlled. This particular volume control is exceptional because it has superb left-to-right channel tracking even at very low positions on the knob. So if you've got to listen quietly sometime at night or if you have exceptionally high sensitivity loudspeakers, you can still expect superb channel tracking on this volume control, and very very low distortion. Let's take a look at the back panel at some of the features there. The BP-17 Cubed has a wide array of two channel inputs and outputs. Turning first to the inputs, we see that there's five RCA input pairs available that you can use with a wide variety of source components. If you have the Moving Magnet phono option installed, one pair is converted to a Moving Magnet phono input and you can use the ground lug. If you've got the DA version installed, then a pair is useful for 2 SPDIF inputs and then also the Toslink inputs are activated as well. Unusual for this style of preamp is the four output pairs that are available. You've got a pair of single ended outputs and a pair of balanced outputs. Now this is great especially for the balanced outputs because you can not only configure the balanced outs for variable output, post volume control, so that you can use a pair of power subwoofers for instance with your two channel audio system, but you can flip a switch inside and use this as a fixed output so that you can run a balanced processor loop or a tape loop as well. Also on the back panel we've got a wide variety of control options: there's two-way RS232's so the BP-17 Cubed works very well in the context of a home automation system. There's trigger outputs so when you power on the BP-17 Cubed you can also power your amplifier on concurrently and if you've got the BP- 17 Cubed tucked away in a cabinet, an external IR receiver can be installed as well so that you can still control the unit with Bryston's optional BR2 remote control. Now with the phono cards, I'm assuming there's one for Moving Magnet , one for Moving Coil or is there also a combo one? We've basically exhausted all of our available real estate at the BP-17 Cubed with our new Cubed Series operational amplifiers, so the phono card is Moving Magnet only. if you've got a high quality turntable with a low output Moving Coil or a medium output Moving Coil, you can use Bryston's TF2 step-up transformer in between the output of that turntable and the Moving Magnet input of the BP-17 Cubed to get the right amount of gain for your analog setup. And then on the DAC section, what's the resolution it's capable of? The DAC section can take up to 96kHz / 24bit PCM native through either the RCA SPDIF inputs or the Toslink inputs. But at some point within the next few months you should expect to see an announcement from Bryston with a new DAC card that will be available for this pre. Excellent. Thank you!

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