Bryston BR-20: a preamplifier and then some

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Bryston BR-20: a preamplifier and then some
Thursday, October 8, 2020

Bryston BR-20 preamplifier, DAC and streamer is available in the UK courtesy of PMC Distribution. It combines the best of Bryston’s technologies in one “ultra high-performance” audiophile hub, allowing connection of up to 14 analogue and digital sources and combining this with built-in high-resolution music streaming. Named in honour of Bryston’s president, Brian Russell, who passed away in September 2020, the BR-20 (£7,500) is the most advanced combination of analogue and digital functionality in the 50-plus year history of the Bryston brand. 

The BR-20’s analogue preamplifier has a new discreet buffer amplifier capable of delivering a staggeringly low total harmonic distortion measurement below 0.0006%. The analogue signal path is a fully balanced design, using an array of very tightly matched components and a compact circuit design to achieve the lowest possible noise and superior common mode rejection. For the music enthusiast, this level of circuit sophistication means more lifelike performances, more detail and more dimensionality from their recordings. 

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Users can access high-resolution content from up to seven external digital sources, plus Tidal and Qobuz streaming services with the digital music player. The DAC can decode PCM up to 384 kHz/24 bit and DSD 256 (natively to DSD128) to and it has the unusual capability to decode DSD over HDMI thanks to an optional four input plug-in HDMI card (£1,200). The latter allows a digital connection to a compatible SACD player which is a rare feature. AV enthusiasts can decode the audio from 4K and HDR sources such as Apple TV and Blu-Ray players. 

The BR-20 also features Bryston’s new Low Z headphone amp, the most powerful onboard headphone amplifier ever offered by the company, it provides the high-output and low-output impedance to drive even inefficient headphone models with startling clarity and dynamic capability. Completing the input roster is an optional moving magnet (MM) phono stage (£950), which is equivalent to Bryston’s outboard BP-2.

The user-friendly 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 a darkened listening space, the front panel LEDs and display can be dimmed or disabled. Smart home integrators can implement control of the BR-20 using IP, RS232 and trigger input/output options.