No, you can’t swap out DAC chips or upgrade software via the Internet. But, as previously mentioned, Bryston thoughtfully included a high-grade digital output. This seemingly-minor feature has a huge benefit: It allows the player to serve as a pure transport driving an outboard DAC. Thus, if it makes sense to do so at some point in the future, you can front a new DAC with this Bryston, with the two units communicating via SPDIF or AES/EBU.
Once I understood Bryston’s future-proofing strategy, I immediately loved it—in principle. But before extolling it to you, I needed to ensure that the theory worked well in practice. Therefore, I set up a test whereby I fed the BCD-3’s digital output into first-rate DACs from dCS and CH Precision. In both cases I was floored by the results. The BCD-3 turns out to be a fantastic CD transport. In that mode, it delivers perfect pace, pinpoint attacks, high detail resolution, and, well, just about everything else you could wish for. Bottom line: This upgrade path is real. As a transport, the BCD-3 will do full justice to any future DAC with which you mate it.
I began this review process wondering if a player like the BCD-3 is even relevant in today’s digital world. I discovered, to my surprise, that it is. My next discovery was just how good the BCD-3 sounds, and how much of an improvement it represents over even excellent last-generation CD players. Then, the Bryston went toe-to-toe with one of the best CD players available—without embarrassing itself in the least. Lastly, I discovered that the BCD-3’s upgrade path, which consists of turning itself into a transport to work with future or more expensive DACs, really works.
Put this together and you really do have what could be your last CD player. The BCD-3’s single-minded design and functionality delivers CD performance that doesn’t come along every day. And, as we’ve seen with the BCD-1, there’s no guarantee such a player will be here tomorrow. If I were choosing a CD player that wouldn’t break the bank but was unflinching in its musical and sonic generosity, the BCD-3 would be at the top of my list.
Specs & Pricing
Outputs: RCA single-ended analog, XLR balanced analog, SPDIF RCA, AES/EBU XLR
Control: Ethernet, USB-A, IR, DC, RS-232
Dimensions: 19" x 3.3" x 11.5"
Weight: 8.8 lbs.
677 Neal Drive
Peterborough, Ontario K9J 7Y4