I thought I would start a new thread discussing the Bryston ‘Digital Player’ as the Music Server thread as some people have suggested is a little misdirected.
This Bryston Digital Player (BDP-1) is being designed first and foremost to connect to and augment our BDA-1 External DAC. Below is the literature so far and as things move forward I will add to it as we go.
Bryston BDP-1 (Bryston Digital Player)
We are entering a new age for music enjoyment. We have an ability to reproduce recorded music with more accuracy and faithfulness than ever before. This has been enabled by the recent developments on recording and distributing music in ‘high resolution’ computer readable formats. Until recently any new format required an extensive infrastructure to get launched and need the cooperation of a complete chain of contributors and well as major investments to get underway. But with the continually increasing power of the personal computer and media like the internet and recordable DVD’s it is now possible to distribute the highest resolution audio to anyone with the desire to play it.
However this has also lead to a proliferation of different ways of “consuming” this new content. The pioneers started by building and re-purposing the Digital Audio Workstations that were originally developed to edit the new high resolution files. Those have proven very clumsy for simply playing some music. And they compromise the potential audio performance with many additional and redundant features that contribute little to quality playback of audio. There have been several programs written that enable standard PC’s to become very complex Jukeboxes with endless play lists and user interfaces that resemble computer spreadsheets. These have been mated to premium professional sound cards to make decent playback systems, but they are complex with many components to master and lots of details to confront before actually playing music. Others have taken the fundamental ability of a computer to do almost anything and have built dedicated systems that can do all of the identified tasks of playing digital audio, including ripping content, managing storage, cleaver user interfaces in the same box that is struggling to play the audio files faithfully.
Many digital playback systems incorporate an ‘all in one’ approach to digital playback where the computer has the operating system (Windows or MAC), the video interface, the CD ripper/player, the mother board, the soundcard and the DAC’s contained in one chassis. (Think of this approach more as an audio ‘receiver’ rather than the more performance oriented approach of independent tuner, preamplifier and power amplifier in order to optimize performance in each specific area.) This receiver approach is fine for what it is as it allows for a very easy solution for someone who is looking for ease of use. The problem is the performance suffers due to issues of noise and distortion created by this all in one approach. The computer is a great tool for searching and downloading content, but it becomes a cumbersome tool for playback of quality content. The Bryston Player is much easier to use in practice than a typical multipurpose desktop interface.
We addressed this process differently. We broke the different tasks apart and dedicated our efforts on the stages that we can bring the most value and performance to. We also felt (in the tradition of component audio) that a dedicated one-function device can do a task much better than the “Swiss Army Knife” personal computer approach.
The Bryston BDP-1 Digital Player single function is to stream digital music files from a storage source. To do this most efficiently, we use a Linux operating system optimized in ways only possible in Linux to provide the highest quality audio performance. Its motherboard is of industrial quality that uses only about 20% of its computing power. The soundcard is one of the finest available and the AES-EBU Balanced output section provides for the highest possible performance when connected to the AES-EBU input on the Bryston BDA-1 external DAC. We also incorporate electronic isolation of audio components from computer components and use galvanic isolation to isolate and avoid charge-carrying particles moving from one section to another.
WHAT IT “DOES”: The Bryston BDP-1 Player focuses on playing high resolution files and will support 16 bit and 24 bit files with the following sample rates: 44.1KHz, 48KHz, 88.2KHz, 96KHz, 176.4KHz& 192KHz. It brings in the digital files from a USB device (the CD of the 21’st century) or an external hard drive or (NAS) drive over a hardwired Ethernet cable. The BDP-1 Digital Player allows for all resolutions from 44.1 to 192/24bit files to be played back with superb performance. It reproduces the digital content in its native sample rate and bit depth and outputs the data stream to the Bryston BDA-1 external DAC through a high performance dedicated AES-EBU balanced output. It processes digital music files at a performance level unattainable with other approaches.
Externally, the BDP-1 is a technically sophisticated component incorporating state of the art solid-state electronics which links up to your home network and may be controlled by a variety of graphic interface devices (eg, lap-top, PC, PDA, iPhone etc.). The BDP-1’s graphic interface operates under "open source" software protocols, ensuring long term future proofing and compatibility with the widest possible range of other digital devices as they are developed.
Internally, the Bryston BDP-1 music player employs a fan-less motherboard with an integrated processor. It runs an extremely pared down embedded version of the “Linux” operating system (as opposed to Windows or MAC OS). It boots in read-only mode so you cannot accidentally or purposely cause a system failure. Hardwired connections using either a USB drive or an Ethernet connection is utilized to ensure no drop-outs when listening to high-resolution files. All it takes is your iPod or iPhone* plus a router on your local network to show and manage your play lists. You also can monitor and control your BDP-1 through an internet network control using a router and web based interface (EX: Firefox and Minion).
As we have stated above the Bryston BDP-1 Digital Music Player uses any direct coupled USB (thumb drive)) ‘storage source’ or our dedicated network connected enhanced storage system and can play all high resolution AIFF, FLAC and WAV files up to and including native 192/24 bit files. Music must be ripped using a different computer running any operating system and any ripping program the end user is comfortable with. Playback can be controlled via numerous methods. A popular option will be the iPod Touch or iPhone.
WHAT IT “DOES NOT DO”: The BDP-1 Digital Player doesn’t rip content, doesn’t clean up your data, doesn’t display its playlists on a built in screen, and doesn’t rip files. This is because it has no fancy display screen, no hard drive, and no CD drawer or Ripper, and no Wireless Streaming. It boots from flash memory with a read only file system.
PLAYING MUSIC FILES:
In conclusion, the easiest way to understand the Bryston Digital Music Player is to think of it as an 21st century updated CD player. Instead of CD’s as the music source, it utilizes your USB thumb drives or USB hard-drives as the music source or a dedicated file server through hardwired Ethernet using your computers browser as your interface. The Bryston BDP-1 is designed to interface between your ‘music library’ and a high quality external DAC (Bryston BDA-1). The “component” chain works out as follows- The Bryston BDP-1 Player brings in the digital files from a USB device or a network hard drive (via an Ethernet cable) to stream digital music content in its native sample rate and bit depth (currently 44.1Khz/16bit to 192KHz/24Bit). It outputs the data stream to the Bryston BDA-1 external DAC through a high performance dedicated AES-EBU balanced output.
An important point to reinforce here is the ‘home network’ is only utilized to allow you to view, manage and control your playlist using a variety of graphic interface devices (eg, lap-top, PC, PDA, iPhone etc.). In other words the ‘graphic interface’ attached to the home network allows you to ‘see’ what music files are located on the BDP-1 Digital Player. The BDP-1’s graphic interface operates under "open source" software protocols, ensuring long term future proofing and compatibility with the widest possible range of other digital devices as they are developed.
The Bryston DAC continues this focus on function specific design, again concentrating on doing the specific task well. This combination of BDP-1 Digital Player and BDA-1 External DAC will provide you with a state of the art high-resolution digital music playback system.