- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 18 June 2014
The Bryston Middle T Speakers In Use
I tested the Middle T's with an OPPO BDP-105 universal Blu-ray player, networked through a USB hard drive and iPad app, Pass Labs Xs preamplifier, and Pass Labs Xs-300 monoblock power amplifiers. Cables were Wireworld.
I started out with the speakers 8 feet apart, sitting at a slight toe-in towards my chair, which was 10 feet away.
Now, I'm not going to get into hackneyed statements, like, "It sounded as if a veil was lifted," or, "They sounded like speakers costing much more." Those wore out in the 20th century.
Straight and simple: The Middle T's had a very neutral sound, surprisingly more so when I faced them straight into the room instead of toeing them in (see Bench Tests), with amazingly low distortion at loud levels, and shockingly low bass that I never would have expected from a full-range speaker 40" high. The sound is also highly detailed, with a very wide soundstage, probably due to the wide dispersion and its increased reflection from walls (a room can enhance the sound; it isn't always a detraction).
Let's start out with some music that I downloaded from 2L in Norway. It's 24/192, and I downloaded both the stereo version and the multi-channel version. For this test, obviously I used the stereo version. It's called "Hymn to the Virgin", 2L-095.
This is a gorgeous album, recorded in DXD (Digital eXtreme Definition), which is 24/352.8 PCM, and then transcoded to several formats for download, including 24/96 PCM, 24/192 PCM, DSD64 (standard SACD format), and DSD128. I preferred the 24/192 over the DSD128, but it's not a fair comparison, because the DSD128 was not native DSD. It was converted from the DXD PCM master. It's difficult to know which SACDs that we purchase are native DSD, and were not PCM to start with, nor converted to PCM for editing, or if they were native DSD, but converted to PCM for editing, and then converted back to DSD for disc mastering.
Here is a spectrum of the first track, by Benjamin Britten, "A Hymn to the Virgin". You can see that there is musical signal well into the 40 kHz region. Although the Bryston speakers didn't reproduce those high frequencies, 24/192 does more than just extend the frequency response. It improves the sound in the audible spectrum. The Brystons reproduced the choir as if it were in my listening room. Just breathtaking.
J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, played by the Dunedin Consort, conducted by John Butt, is another 24/192 download. The dynamics were marvelous through the Brystons, and the stringed instruments were as clear as a fine glass of chenin blanc.
There has been some discussion on the web about whether this album started out as 24/96 and then was up-converted to 24/192. The spectrum of the first movement of Concerto No. 1, shown below, indicates to me, that it is native 24/192. Notice that there is musical signal at 50 kHz (the peaks are electrical noise, but the slope indicates signal, and I saw this region moving while playing the music through the analyzer). This would not be the case if the original recording were 24/96.
Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man is my go-to music track to test just about any component I have in the lab that would show problems at the lowest octave, as well as some loud gong crashes that stress tweeters. This version, on Telarc, is an SACD conversion from the original 16/50 PCM master, and is one of Telarc's first digital recordings. It set the stage for Telarc's reputation for producing CDs with no compression. So, their recordings are very dynamic, and have deep bass when it's in the musical score. The album is Telarc SACD-60648.
The Bryston's held their own with the huge bass drum that is used in this piece. That was one of the six requirments for Bryston, as listed at the beginning of this review. The Middle T's are one of the only speakers I have ever tested that really don't require a subwoofer. Amazing. Absolutely.