I thought I would share my experience with the BDP-3. It was just over two weeks ago that I got my player in the early evening. In preparation, I’d ripped all my music to FLAC (uncompressed) on solid state drives. I’d also made two backups of the music on other drives. The space where my BCD-1 had been was clear, and the AES/EBU cable was ready for its new connection.
I left the dealer with my new Bryston piece. It was a slow drive home through snow- and ice-covered streets. Once inside, I removed the player from its box, connected the antennas for the internal Wi-Fi (does anyone else have a BDP-3 with internal Wi-Fi?), connected the power cord, connected the drives to USB 3.0 ports, turned on the player, and fired up a laptop to access the player’s interface.
Nothing happened. I wasn’t able to connect to the player. I started a thread on the Bryston Circle, and on the next day, Chris (“unincognito”) resolved my problem–I wasn’t using the correct password.
With the password matter out of the way, everything was ready to go. It had been around a month since I’d had listened to any music. It was now time to listen.
The sound was terrible.
I checked settings and connections. The sound was still terrible. I listened to numerous pieces, and it was all terrible. I couldn’t believe it. What I was hearing was at odds with everything I’d read about the BDP-3. My heart sank.
I wrote James to tell him about the bad sound I was hearing. Everything with the digital player was identical to what it had been with the BCD-1. The equipment and cables, the furniture, the listening position . . . . it was all identical. I didn’t suspect bad CD ripping. I thought maybe James would have an idea of what could be going on. He said he couldn’t think of anything, but suggested I try using the S/PDIF connection.
I ordered a new cable with BNC connectors. It arrived a few days later. With the new cable, everything was still bad. In the meantime, I’d written James to say that one good thing I’d noticed was that the presentation of voices and instruments seemed more precise, as if I could point to where performers were seated or standing. But the overall sound was awful.
I’d written James that it seemed as if there were tone controls on the preamp (BP-26) that someone had used to turn down the treble and midrange. I’d written also that the sound seemed to have collapsed, as if I’d gone from a concert hall to a room with sound padding all around–walls, ceiling, and floor. I mentioned that I didn’t see myself keeping the digital player.
I have an old DVD player (Pioneer DV-410V-K) with a digital output. I connected it to the DAC (BDA-1) with a short digital cable, and there it was: the sound I knew and remembered from the BCD-1. The three-dimensional sound had returned, the treble was back, and everything was good again. I ordered a longer cable to reach to where I normally keep the DVD player. After the new cable arrived, I’d confirm the superiority of the sound from the DVD player through the DAC to that of the digital player. I’d also rip a CD from a FLAC file to confirm that the sound from the newly created CD was also superior to that of the file as played through the digital player. After that, I’d write James to ask that my digital player be tested for malfunction. I was absolutely convinced that something was wrong with the BDP-3.
The new cable arrived. I had the digital player and DVD player ready to play the same music (I still had CDs I’d ripped). I hit play to listen to music from a CD sent from the DVD player, then I switched to the digital player to listen to the same piece (both units were playing simultaneously), *knowing* that the sound would suddenly be radically different and bad.
But it wasn’t.
I couldn’t believe it. I was hearing the same thing from the player that I was hearing from CDs. I played multiple pieces from multiple CDs. I took breaks and repeated the exercise. Still no difference–aside from the more precise imaging from the digital player (mentioned earlier). I was completely relieved, but also surprised.
The “bad sound” had all been in my head. It was unsettling. I’d been certain that the sound was different, and I would have sworn to it in a court of law. Really, I would have. I continued my listening for a few more hours. Then I continued listening over subsequent days. After that, I listened some more.
It was confirmed. *I* had been the problem. It wasn’t the cables, it wasn’t the digital player, it wasn’t the ripped files, nor was it anything else of a technical nature. It was psychoacoustics. I still find it curious how my memory of music heard over years could have been so awry.
I now hear everything as I’ve heard it before–even a little better in terms of imaging. I’m a happy owner of Bryston’s BDP-3, and I retract my “blasphemy”. I’ll add that I’m impressed more than ever with James. He was amazingly polite in his response to my message to him. I’d have been thinking something like “Ugh, who is this clown writing me? He’s off the rails.”
I’m not sure anyone will find my experience interesting, but I thought I’d share it nonetheless. The factor one’s perception can have in music listening and sound judgement (pun intended) is not to be underestimated.
Happy listening, everyone, and as Laundrew says,
Be well . . .