Bryston Model A3 Floor-standing Speakers Review Highlights
The Model A3 is the smallest floor-standing speaker in the new A series from Bryston. It is well suited for a two-channel system that requires a compact floor-standing speaker. It is capable on its own of full range music playback without a subwoofer. The Model A3’s sound is neutral and it can be driven to high SPLs without sounding strained. The Model A3 is detailed and accurate. Its sound quality will satisfy regardless of listening preferences.
The A series of speakers includes two larger floor-standing speakers, a bookshelf speaker, and a center channel speaker. The design of the A series complements the larger and more expensive T series of speakers. The driver configurations and cabinet designs are similar throughout both lines.
Bryston Model A3 Floor-standing Speaker Highlights Summary
- Compact size and aesthetically pleasing design allow for the Model A3 to blend into a variety of environments
- Complements other A series speakers making it easy to assemble a home theater system
- Neutral sound; excellent clarity and accuracy
- Will satisfy a wide variety of musical tastes
- Backed by Bryston’s 20 year product warranty
Introduction to Bryston Model A3 Floor-standing Speakers Review
Bryston is known for producing great sounding amplifiers and pre-amplifiers and the 20-year warranties those carry. The robustness of their products is legendary in the world of audio. It is common to see their amplifiers used in professional audio and in showcasing the equipment of other manufacturers. In 2012, they ventured into the speaker market with the T series. This line of speakers was born from a personal quest by company president James Tanner to build the ultimate speaker for personal use. The success of the project led Bryston to produce and sell them under their brand.
BRYSTON MODEL A3 FLOOR-STANDING SPEAKERs REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
- Design: 3-Way, Ported Enclosure
- Drivers: One 1″ Dome Tweeter, One 5.25″ Midrange, Two 6.5″ Woofers
- MFR: 40 Hz – 20 kHz ± 3 dB
- Nominal Impedance: 6 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 86 dB (2.38V/1m – Anechoic)
- Recommended Power: 10 Watts to 250 Watts RMS
- Max SPL @ 1M: 111dB
- Dimensions: 37.5” H x 9.25” W x 15” D
- Weight: 53 Pounds/each
- MSRP: $2,390/pair USD
- SECRETS Tags: Bryston, Bryston Model A3 Floor-standing Speakers, Floorstanding Speaker Reviews 2014, Model A3, Bryston A Series
Bryston created the A series of speakers to give the consumer a high performance option in a smaller footprint than their T series speakers. Bryston leveraged the design principles used on the A series of speakers from the T series and it is apparent. All the A series and T series have a similar cabinet shape and driver configuration.
For speaker development, Bryston partners with fellow Canadian company Axiom. As a result, Bryston speakers are similar in appearance to Axiom speakers. In particular, the Model A3 is similar to the High-Powered version of the Axiom M60. Axiom produces the M60 in two versions; a Standard version and a High-Powered version. The High-Powered version is designed for increased power handling and higher playback levels. Although similar to the High-Powered version of the M60, there is additional bracing in the cabinet of the Model A3. Bryston and Axiom also have different distribution strategies. Axiom sells its speakers direct from the manufacturer while Bryston speakers are available for auditioning at local dealers. As is typical with Bryston products, there is a 20 year warranty. Bryston has always impressed me by backing its electronics and amplifiers with a 20 year warranty and I’m even more impressed they are doing it with speakers.
Design and Setup of the Bryston Model A3 Floor-standing Speakers
The Model A3 is a small floor-standing speaker at 37.5” in height with a 9.25” x 15” footprint. I describe it as a small floor-standing speaker due to its height, but it is quite deep at 15”. While small in stature, the considerable depth makes it heavier than expected at 53lbs. The Model A3 has a cabinet constructed of ¾” MDF and is available in three vinyl finishes along with custom veneers at an additional cost. They include adjustable rubber feet and metal spikes for use on carpet. The front vertical edges of the cabinet are beveled and the sides taper back to a narrower rear baffle. There are three ports on this speaker; one on the front and two on the back. They have a unique, fluted shape that Bryston claims eliminates vent noise even at extreme pressures. I didn’t hear any port noise during the review. There are a dual set of five-way binding posts on the rear for single wiring or bi-wiring/bi-amping by removing the jumpers. The front grilles are held in place by magnets for a clean design.
The Model A3 is a three-way design with a 1” tweeter, 5.25” mid-range driver, and dual 6.5” woofers. The larger floor-standing speakers in the A series use the same drivers but more of them. While I had the Model A3, Bryston announced they had developed a new tweeter for A series and T series speakers. My review pair has this new tweeter and all A series speakers come with it. Owners of the T series speakers can retrofit with the new tweeter if they desire to do so. The nominal impedance of 6 Ohms is higher than the other A series floor-standing speakers. This should make the Model A3 easier to drive with a receiver or integrated amp.
The design of the Model A3 is aesthetically pleasing but due to its small stature it does not draw a significant amount of attention to itself. I prefer the way they blend into my living room over the larger floor-standing speakers that typically reside there (and draw comments due to their size). As an editor said to me once: I’m paying for your opinion, not your wife’s. I’m also unconcerned with how it matches your living room. You can talk about it looking nice, but you can do it in a way that isn’t specific to your room.
The pair I received for review has a Boston Cherry vinyl finish. The finish is nice for vinyl but my preference is for real wood. I feel there is no substitute for the beauty of real wood.
I set the Model A3 speakers up in my living room two-channel system for this review. In this system, the speakers run full range without the use of a subwoofer or any type of correction system.
I placed the Model A3-s seven feet apart and slightly toed-in to my listening position eleven feet away. I placed them a little over one foot from the rear wall. One speaker is a foot from a corner fireplace that extends a foot from the wall the Model A3-s are against. This does not generate boomy bass, as one may expect. For the most part they are not sensitive to placement in my living room. Dispersion is excellent and the sound fills the open main floor.
The source component for the majority of the review is the Oppo BDP-93. It connects to an Anthem Pre-2L pre-amp and an Anthem MCA 20 amplifier provides the power. The Anthem MCA 20 is a 200w/channel amplifier with sufficient power to drive the Model A3 without strain. I’ve used the MCA 20 with speakers smaller than the Model A3 in the past and was happy with how its power brought out the best in the speaker. I expected a similar result with the Model A3. Interconnects and speaker cables are from Audioquest. I removed the jumpers on the backs of the speakers for use with bi-wire speaker cables.
The Bryston Model A3 Floor-standing Speakers In Use
Overall, I find the sound of the Model A3 to be neutral. They have excellent clarity and accuracy with all types of music I listen to. High-frequency sounds are clear without sounding harsh or fatiguing. The bass is full but well controlled and the Model A3 is not overly sensitive to placement. They may not be able to match the bass output of larger floor-standing speakers but it should not be expected from a passive speaker as compact as the Model A3. Driving the Model A3 to high levels is possible without them sounding strained. Only when sound levels get to unbearable levels does distortion start to become a problem. The Model A3-s really rock for a compact speaker.
One of my favorite albums is David Gray’s White Ladder and I started my listening experience with it. The album has an intimate and emotional feel to it and the Model A3 conveys this well. David Gray’s music is laid back and his vocals draw you in. His nasally vocals and acoustic guitar sound natural and detailed on the Model A3.
I enjoy the way that the Model A3 produces vocals so I gave 24/96 version of The World’s Greatest Audiophile Vocal Recordings from Chesky Records a listen. It may seem a little pretentious to label an album “The World’s Greatest” but the vocals on this album are excellent and the Model A3 handles them superbly. Rebecca Pidgeon’s voice on “Spanish Harlem” is as pure as the driven snow; absolutely pristine. Valerie Joyce’s rendition of “Fever” is as good as it gets; her voice luscious and sensual.
Next, I want something a little harder with a faster pace so I put on the SACD version of The Police: Every Breath You Take – The Classics. On “Roxanne”, the drums are fast, with a strong punch and the Model A3 exhibits good control. The cymbals are clear and crisp and cut right through the music. I am able to push the Model A3s to high levels without degrading the sound quality while listening to this album. The Model A3 speakers do not strain at high levels – they just get louder.
Conclusions about the Bryston Model A3 Floor-standing Speakers
I have few complaints about the Model A3. The vinyl finish on the cabinet is nice, but I wish the Model A3 came in a wood veneer at this price. Wood veneer is available for additional cost; however this changes the value proposition slightly. The good news is you can visit your local dealer and decide what is right for you.
I am impressed with the sound quality of the Model A3-s and based on that I recommend auditioning them. They have a neutral sound, present music with tremendous accuracy and are capable of full range music playback. I can imagine that seven Bryston A series speakers and a subwoofer will make for a phenomenal home theater system.