Sugg. Retail: $1795 (CAN)($2695 w/MC Phono)
Manufacturer: Bryston Limited
P.O. Box 2170, 677 Neal Drive
Peterborough, Ont. K9J 7Y4
(705) 742-5325 FAX 742-0882
(Reprinted from the Winter
96 Audio Ideas Guide)
Since the new BP-25 preamplifier is in many respects identical to the BP-20 (Smr 94), this will be a quite short review. The new version differs mainly in its provision of a remote control, and comes in both phono and non-phono versions. The BP-20 was originally introduced as a line stage, but can now also incorporate an internal phono stage. Both also provide an integral moving coil transformer as a further option.
In addition to inputs labelled Disc, Video, Tuner, CD, and, of course, Phono, we find a pair of balanced inputs, Bal 1, and Bal 2, making this preamp as versatile in terms of inputs as I’ve seen, and ready for a system with lots of sources. Its output options are also very complete, with a pair of parallel unbalanced outputs, and a single balanced one. The former is non-inverting in terms of polarity, while the balanced is + on pin 2.
Normally, Bryston phono sections have inverted polarity, but here it is maintained (and recordings, LP or CD, may have random or multiple polarity because of microphone techniques, knowing which are correct, that is, pushing when the original sound wave did instead of pulling) for the same polarity as the line stage. For those who wish to experiment, the BP-25 offers a front panel absolute phase toggle switch, which is also provided as a button on the remote, so you can experiment at the listening position. I must confess that I have been on Chris Russell’s case for years on this one, since I believe that polarity is even more important in the age of CD, and some recordings simply sound more natural when you flip the switch.
The other toggles on the front panel are, at right as well, Mute, and at left, Tape/Source and Mono/Stereo. Another pet peeve I’ve had with previous Bryston preamplifiers has been the combination of the Mute and Mono functions, so that you have to crank the level way up to play something in mono. This is now history.
If the toggle count has gone up, the knobs are getting scarcer. Like the BP-20, the BP-25 has only three, Source, Balance, and Volume. I do miss the separate Record selector, which allows recording one source while listening to another.
The remote control is not one you’ll flip across the room to somebody else, since it might be construed as a hostile act. Of the same steel construction as the preamp itself, the small remote weighs almost half a pound, and has rather sharp edges; you won’t want to drop it on a coffee table, either, especially a glass one. For all its weight, however, the control functions provided are rather sparse, consisting of the aforementioned Phase, Mute, and Volume up/down. It can be assumed that remote input switching would have entailed a whole bunch of relays (especially with so many inputs, 7 in all), and driven the cost up sharply (But Audiolab manages it in a less expensive preamp; see ahead).
As a final detail, the same kind of LED as found on the amplifiers is used to show Mute and Phase Status, glowing green when both are in normal position, red when Mute is on, and yellow when phase is inverted. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to use this preamplifier, its elegant simplicity evident to anyone.
Well, I guess this review isn’t quite as short as I thought it would be, but in commenting on the sound of the BP-25, I can simply say that it is extremely close to being a straight wire with gain, a true high end product, just like the BP-20, which has been praised in all quarters.
The addition of remote control is very nice, as long as you don’t drop it on your foot (remember the “judgin’ and coal minin’” sketch in Beyond The Fringe? “Oy didn’t ‘ave the Latin for the judgin’…oh, oy dropped a lump of coal on your foot!”). I’ve suggested to Bryston that they supply it with a Rebound remote control protector (Wtr 95) around it to avoid lawsuits, or consider a plastic housing. But somehow, I think the solid steel one actually does suit the Bryston corporate sensibility, and sense of humour.