Bryston Headphone Interface

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DaveNote

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Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #600 on: 17 Jan 2012, 09:36 pm »

Dave, read this and found it interesting.  Though I have a decent pair of cans i.e. Grado SR80's, they would only be mid-head-fi level, at best.  This has always left me wondering how much more could be got by moving to something twice the price or so?  For me, stereo imaging, both depth and bredth is an essential part of my attraction to critical listening through in-room speakers...I've never had a realistic / believeable room space from my headphones and wondered if that was primarily limited by my cans and/or headphone amp.  This article suggests that there are clear limits based on the inherent nature of headphones.  Interesting.

SoundGame, the enjoyment in listening to headphones is not to ask or expect them to have the same sound as speakers. They do not and cannot give you the sense of room space as do speakers. It is a bit like reading a great 19th century Emglish novel vs a great 20th century American one. They will have very different syntax, for example. Each has to be read in its own terms. Same with jazz. You can't enjoy swing expecting and wanting it to sound like bop.

I have owned Grado SR80s for years, but I've never found them particularly enjoyable to listen to, nor RS-1s, which I gave away. I also gave away my Sennheiser HD800s, which I found much better than the Grados. They were outstanding in terms of accuracy and a wide soundstage, but not enjoyable. My Audeze LCD-2s are altogether different. First time I've ever used headphones over extended listening periods. They, too, are accurate, with a very deep but authentic bass; engaging midrange and increasingly pleasing high end (not as bright as the HD800).

In short, SoundGame, if you can listen to headphones in their own terms, setting aside speaker expectations, it is well worth buying a pair of very good ones. And since there is a booming market in headphones, the selection never has been better. And I would be remiss in not recommending that you try planar headphones.

Dave

ashtarul

Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #601 on: 22 Jan 2012, 07:20 pm »
Please excuse my ignorance, but how do I know that I need to get the BHA-1? Why not use the headphones socket on the BP26?

Ash

DaveNote

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Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #602 on: 22 Jan 2012, 08:02 pm »
Please excuse my ignorance, but how do I know that I need to get the BHA-1? Why not use the headphones socket on the BP26?

Ash

Like regular systems (speakers, amps, preamps, etc.) headphones come in different flavours and different sounds. Wilson and PMC speakers have different sounds to them, as do Bryston amps vs. MacInntosh amps. Grado headphones sound very different than Sennheiser headphones.

When in comes to headphone amps, they generally sound very different than the sound you get out of a headphone jack, and people have different tastes in both headphones and amps. Generally, headphone enthusiasts prefer headphone amps, which usually have greater power than do headphone jacks, which are especially important when driving planar headphones, which are increasingly popular. Most very serious headphone enthusiasts seem to prefer tube amps.

But sometimes, as I have discovered just this week, there are some headphone jacks that are can sound better for your preferences than a headphone amp. It turns out that receivers and integrated amps from the 1970s and 80s, because they were built differently then, can have outstanding headphone jack performance. I am now using a Pioneer SX980 receiver built in the 80s that gives me the sound I've been looking for with my Audeze LCD-2 planar headphones. Great detail, transparency and slam, while bringing out their high end. I find that does not have the dry and analytical sound that can come out of solid state headphone amps, but is not as dark as the hybrid tube amp I have used.

Or to put it another way, the headphone hobby is kind of like a parallel universe to the standard audio system, with many different strokes for different folks.

Bryston is new to this very different universe with the imminent introduction of its BHA-1 headphone amplifier. No doubt it will be excellent. But the question will be whether it will be welcomed by headphone enthusiasts, and if not, what other potential customers will embrace it.

Dave

James Tanner

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Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #603 on: 22 Jan 2012, 08:30 pm »
Please excuse my ignorance, but how do I know that I need to get the BHA-1? Why not use the headphones socket on the BP26?

Ash

Hi Ash

Yes headphones come in many flavours and the difficulty in driving the more difficult loads (low sensitivity and low impedances) can be problematic for the headphone jack on a typical preamp. With Receivers and some Integrated amps they drive the headphone jack with the built in amplifier section rather than the preamp section. As with all amplifiers the quality of those preamp sections or amplifier stages are important and recognize that distortion rises rapidly as the load gets more difficult. For instance on the BHA we have developed a circuit with vanishingly low distortion and find it sounds exceptional on most of the headphones we have tried including the very difficult loads that the orthodynamic phones present - which are currently all the rage.
 
Headphone listening is a very different presentation than speaker listening so I think you would have to be a very serious listener to buy the BHA rather than a casual listener where the typical headphone jack (BP-26) would be more than enough.

Hope this helps

James

DaveNote

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Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #604 on: 22 Jan 2012, 11:09 pm »
Hi Ash

Yes headphones come in many flavours and the difficulty in driving the more difficult loads (low sensitivity and low impedances) can be problematic for the headphone jack on a typical preamp. With Receivers and some Integrated amps they drive the headphone jack with the built in amplifier section rather than the preamp section. As with all amplifiers the quality of those preamp sections or amplifier stages are important and recognize that distortion rises rapidly as the load gets more difficult. For instance on the BHA we have developed a circuit with vanishingly low distortion and find it sounds exceptional on most of the headphones we have tried including the very difficult loads that the orthodynamic phones present - which are currently all the rage.
 
Headphone listening is a very different presentation than speaker listening so I think you would have to be a very serious listener to buy the BHA rather than a casual listener where the typical headphone jack (BP-26) would be more than enough.

Hope this helps

James

James, I am very pleased to learn that the BHA-1 sounds so good with planar headphones. But the assessments you are making about how the BHA-1 performs comparing how various headphones sound on the BHA-1 might prove to be interesting, but not telling when it is reviewed by headphone people. Basically, these comparisons are a little like assessing a BMW against a Mercedes by driving only the BMW but with different sets of tires. Headphone enthusiasts, and reviewers, are going to compare the BHA-1 against other amps using the same headphone. For example, they will want to know how LCD-2s sound when it as compared to a Burson, a Woo, etc., and then taking another headphone like and HD800 and again compare amp to amp.

Dave

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Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #605 on: 22 Jan 2012, 11:22 pm »
James, I am very pleased to learn that the BHA-1 sounds so good with planar headphones. But the assessments you are making about how the BHA-1 performs comparing how various headphones sound on the BHA-1 might prove to be interesting, but not telling when it is reviewed by headphone people. Basically, these comparisons are a little like assessing a BMW against a Mercedes by driving only the BMW but with different sets of tires. Headphone enthusiasts, and reviewers, are going to compare the BHA-1 against other amps using the same headphone. For example, they will want to know how LCD-2s sound when it as compared to a Burson, a Woo, etc., and then taking another headphone like and HD800 and again compare amp to amp.

Dave

Hi Dave,

Yes true - but that is no different then when reviewers compare our amplifiers against other amplifiers.  You either agree with Brystons philosophy of very low distortion, low noise, linear amplification or you do not.

james

DaveNote

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Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #606 on: 22 Jan 2012, 11:52 pm »
Hi Dave,

Yes true - but that is no different then when reviewers compare our amplifiers against other amplifiers.  You either agree with Brystons philosophy of a very low distortion, low noise, linear amplification or you do not.

james

As a customer of yours for more than 30 years, it is patently clear that I have confidence in Bryston products, but, with respect, my buying decisions ultimately have not been a matter of agreeing or not agreeing with the Bryston philosophy, however important that philosophy may be to Bryston. Ulitmately, I buy Bryston because I like the sound it has produced using the various speakers I have owned - Mission, Hales, and PMC. Headphone amp buyers won't be buying a philosophy, they will be comparing sound, just as they do with regular amps, and buying the amp that gives them the sound, not philosophy, they prefer.

I know that there a those who have audio philosophies, and I for one, have followed some. But getting more into headphones, I discovered that a philosophy that applies well to speakers does not necessarily give me the sound I prefer when listening to headphones. It is a good lesson. It has helped to remind me that as an audio consumer, what I enjoy trumps everything else, including any audio philosophies.

I'm hoping, as I suppose you are, that in applying the Bryston philosophy in this very different market that it will produce the kind of sound that serious headphone enthusiasts prefer.

Dave
« Last Edit: 23 Jan 2012, 01:22 am by DaveNote »

James Tanner

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Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #607 on: 23 Jan 2012, 12:21 am »
As a customer of yours for more than 30 years, it is patently clear that I have confidence in Bryston products, but, with respect, my buying decisions ultimately have not been a matter of agreeing or not agreeing with the Bryston philosophy, however important that philosophy may be to Bryston. Ulitmately, I buy Bryston because I like the sound it has produced using the various speakers I have owned - Mission, Hales, and PMC. Headphone amp buyers won't be buying a philosophy, they will be comparing sound, just as they do with regular amps, and buying the amp that gives them the sound, not philosophy, they prefer.

I know that there a those who have audio philosophies, and I for one, have followed some. But getting more into headphones, I discovered that a philosophy that applies well to speakers does not necessarily give me the sound I prefer when listening to headphones. It is a good lesson. It has helped to remind me that as an audio consumer, what I enjoy trumps everything else, including any audio philosophies.

I'm hoping, as I suppose you are, that in applying the Bryston philosophy in this very different markets that it will produce the kind of sound that serious headphone enthusiasts prefer.

Dave

I disagree Dave - linearity of signal input vs output has always been our goal at Bryston. Over the years I have found that the more we can reduce the known distortions and the lower we can get the noise floor the better or more accurate the amplifiers sound.

Waveform accuracy is repeatable and demonstrable. I agree people buy for reasons other than accuracy but 'voicing' a product to sound a specific way is not something Bryston will pursue.

james

DaveNote

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Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #608 on: 23 Jan 2012, 12:48 am »
I disagree Dave - linearity of signal input vs output has always been our goal at Bryston. Over the years I have found that the more we can reduce the known distortions and the lower we can get the noise floor the better or more accurate the amplifiers sound.

Waveform accuracy is repeatable and demonstrable. I agree people buy for reasons other than accuracy but 'voicing' a product to sound a specific way is not something Bryston will pursue.

james

James, I wonder what it is that your disagree with about my message. Do you disagree with the main point which was my observation that audio consumers should buy the products that give them the sound they prefer?

Somehow, it seems, you are suggesting that I am challenging Bryston's determination to follow a design and engineering goal and philosophy. Read my message carefully, and you will find not such challenge. Indeed, I applaud Bryston's consistency. But what Bryston does and wants is, obviously, not what all consumers want - otherwise you would have no competitors who follow different approaches.

It is one thing to pursue a laudable design goal and philosophy. By the tone of your messages, which seem to be highly defensive for reasons I can't fathom, it seems you're moving from philosophy to theology - hinting that the Bryston Philosophy has something to do with Absolute Truth. I saw theology of this kind once before when years ago a Bose rep claimed that Bose speakers were scientifically perfect, the implication being that nobody else need to bother to design any other speakers. I didn't buy that message then, and I don't buy it now.

Dave

James Tanner

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Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #609 on: 23 Jan 2012, 01:27 am »
James, I wonder what it is that your disagree with about my message. Do you disagree with the main point which was my observation that audio consumers should buy the products that give them the sound they prefer?

Somehow, it seems, you are suggesting that I am challenging Bryston's determination to follow a design and engineering goal and philosophy. Read my message carefully, and you will find not such challenge. Indeed, I applaud Bryston's consistency. But what Bryston does and wants is, obviously, not what all consumers want - otherwise you would have no competitors who follow different approaches.

It is one thing to pursue a laudable design goal and philosophy. By the tone of your messages, which seem to be highly defensive for reasons I can't fathom, it seems you're moving from philosophy to theology - hinting that the Bryston Philosophy has something to do with Absolute Truth. I saw theology of this kind once before when years ago a Bose rep claimed that Bose speakers were scientifically perfect, the implication being that nobody else need to bother to design any other speakers. I didn't buy that message then, and I don't buy it now.

Dave

Hi Dave,

No- I hope I am not coming off or trying to be too defensive just making it known that our design philosophies are tied to the 'science' of amplification. I thought you were saying we should try to design and build products that fit a specific sonic mind set and I just wanted to make it clear that was not a direction we would feel comfortable with.  Anyway as you say customers will either appreciate our efforts or not and I guess the market will decide.

james

DaveNote

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Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #610 on: 23 Jan 2012, 01:58 am »
Hi Dave,

No- I hope I am not coming off or trying to be too defensive just making it known that our design philosophies are tied to the 'science' of amplification. I thought you were saying we should try to design and build products that fit a specific sonic mind set and I just wanted to make it clear that was not a direction we would feel comfortable with.  Anyway as you say customers will either appreciate our efforts or not and I guess the market will decide.

james

James, as one who has literally spent many thousands of dollars on products based on the Bryston philosophy that have given me the sound I have preferred  (albeit the Bryston 20 year warranty and unsurpassed service are added reasons to buy Bryston), I would be the last to suggest that you change it. And because I am a long-time Bryston supporter (I always recommend Bryston) I am hoping that the Bryston philosophy will result in a headphone amp that will encourage the headphone market to decide in its favour. If I have any doubts, it is not about Bryston, but rather that the high end headphone market seems to prefer tubed amps, and, therefore, it seems amps with certain sonic signatures.

But, I also readily confess that I am a lousy prognosticator when it comes to Bryston's new products. You will recall I had serious doubts about the reception of the BDP-1, but ended up preordering one (serial no. 13), and am wildly satisfied with it, as are most high end reviewers. So while I have my doubts about the market reception of the BHA-1, I readily accept that you are a far better judge of audio markets than I.

So, after all, on the basics it looks as if we have come to something of an agreement.

Dave

James Tanner

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Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #611 on: 23 Jan 2012, 04:11 am »
James, as one who has literally spent many thousands of dollars on products based on the Bryston philosophy that have given me the sound I have preferred  (albeit the Bryston 20 year warranty and unsurpassed service are added reasons to buy Bryston), I would be the last to suggest that you change it. And because I am a long-time Bryston supporter (I always recommend Bryston) I am hoping that the Bryston philosophy will result in a headphone amp that will encourage the headphone market to decide in its favour. If I have any doubts, it is not about Bryston, but rather that the high end headphone market seems to prefer tubed amps, and, therefore, it seems amps with certain sonic signatures.

But, I also readily confess that I am a lousy prognosticator when it comes to Bryston's new products. You will recall I had serious doubts about the reception of the BDP-1, but ended up preordering one (serial no. 13), and am wildly satisfied with it, as are most high end reviewers. So while I have my doubts about the market reception of the BHA-1, I readily accept that you are a far better judge of audio markets than I.

So, after all, on the basics it looks as if we have come to something of an agreement.

Dave

 :thumb: :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:

ashtarul

Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #612 on: 23 Jan 2012, 04:50 am »
Quote
Headphone listening is a very different presentation than speaker listening so I think you would have to be a very serious listener to buy the BHA rather than a casual listener where the typical headphone jack (BP-26) would be more than enough.

Hi James,

Can I simplify "serious listener" by the price of headphones? Say anything below $500, stick to the BP26?

Ash

Vipers

Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #613 on: 23 Jan 2012, 08:50 am »
Well after nearly a year of research and listening to many different pairs of headphones and in preparation for the BHA-1 I just bought my first pair of high quality headphones, thought I would do a little unboxing :roll: it's good to know that Grado don't waste any money on the packaging although the tart in me would have liked a nice wooden case to protect them in when not in use.

I have to say I know quite a few so called audiophiles friends who don't use headphones which I don't understand tbh as I've been extremely impressed with these, yes they don't have the soundstage and range of a good floorstander but the detail retrieval and the ability to get lost in the music is second to none. I haven't had much time to listen, but I've got this week off from work so I intend to change that, but I've listened to some Tom Mcrae, Radiohead and Damien Rice and I know it is the biggest cliche in the HiFi book 'I'm hearing stuff I've never heard before' but with these it's so true, makes you wonder how much detail there is left in these recording really.

To me it makes so much sense if you are into your music to have a pair of headphones not as an way to listen to music late at night or to keep the piece but as an alternative to using your main speakers as you get such a different and immersive experience, I've found them particularly great with vocals led music.

I've found that the SP3 has no problems whatsoever driving these so it will be interesting to see if the BHA-1 sounds any different, I can see me really getting into the headphone way of listening to music, I'd love to hear the Audeze LCD-3's and Stax SR-009.

So the million dollar question James, how close is the BHA-1 to release?














James Tanner

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Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #614 on: 23 Jan 2012, 12:30 pm »
Hi Vipers

I hope end of Feb and I am trying to get a pair to  PMC for the upcoming audio show.

James

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Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #615 on: 23 Jan 2012, 12:31 pm »
Hi James,

Can I simplify "serious listener" by the price of headphones? Say anything below $500, stick to the BP26?

Ash

Hi Ash

It really depends on the load and efficiently of the hearphones.

James

MellowVelo

Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #616 on: 23 Jan 2012, 02:45 pm »
For instance on the BHA we have developed a circuit with vanishingly low distortion and find it sounds exceptional on most of the headphones we have tried including the very difficult loads that the orthodynamic phones present - which are currently all the rage.

James,

In addition to the statement from Alexander at Audeze that you provided earlier in the thread, it sounds like your own experience confirms that the BHA-1 does a good job of driving the LCD-2. Have you had the opportunity to test the Audeze LCD-2 yourself? Thanks!

Vipers

Re: Bryston Headphone Interface
« Reply #617 on: 23 Jan 2012, 10:52 pm »
Hi Vipers

I hope end of Feb and I am trying to get a pair to  PMC for the upcoming audio show.

James

Excellent, thanks James, I spoke to Tom at PMC last week and he mentioned that we'll hopefully have a BHA-1 available for our open day which will be great as I've just opened a Grado account so it will nice to have something a bit special to demo them on :)