Bryston brings to us a recent update to their line of digital components, the BDA-3 external DAC. “What, another DAC” you say.

True, we appear to have been tripping over them lately with all the scads of DACs that seem to have been released by every brand under the sun. So, what distinguishes the BDA-3 from the rest of the pack? Well, first it has a total of 10 separate digital inputs. Not bad, sounds pretty flexible, right? Next, the BDA-3 is one of a handful of standalone DACs that has HDMI inputs. Not just one, mind you, but four! Is your curiosity piqued yet? No, not quite? Did I happen to mention that those HDMI inputs can accept and decode a native DSD bitstream, from a suitable player, without converting it to PCM first? Do I have your undivided attention now? Excellent!

Bryston BDA-3 Front View

The BDA-3 is very much in keeping with Bryston’s traditional design ethos: Clean functional design, robust build quality and borderline laboratory grade performance. The unit features a pair of flagship AKM4490 DAC chips arranged in a balanced, dual-mono configuration. Any input signal (PCM) that is fed to the DACs will have had its clocking information stripped and subsequently re-synchronized to the Bryston’s internal master clock. The resultant decoding is finally fed through Bryston’s traditionally excellent fully discrete class-A balanced output stage.

Bryston BDA-3 Back View

Besides the showcased multiple HDMI inputs, the BDA-3 also features two asynchronous USB inputs (I’ve never seen more than one on a DAC) which can handle the widest range of bit depths and sampling rates from among the other inputs (up to 32 bit/384 PCM and DSD-256). Toslink, SPDIF, BNC and AES/EBU connections round off the rest of the inputs while a pair of balanced and unbalanced connections cover the output choices.

Bryston BDA-3 Installed

The BDA-3 is strictly a fixed-level device so a pre-amp stage will be necessary to control volume.

Brief, preliminary listening with the BDA-3 in my system shows it to be typical of the Bryston family line. Clean, resolving and very neutral.

MSRP for the Bryston BDA-3 DAC is $3495.00 and expect a complete review, with measurements, on our website in the near future.