Bryston BHA-1

Bryston is an electronscs and speaker manufacturer based in Canada. Although they do not have a large presence in the personal audio space, both their Digital - Analog convertors and the BHA (Balanced Headphone Amp have built solid reputations.

The BHA-1 is a fully discrete balanced, solid state class A amplifier rated to produce 2 watts into 32 ohms. It has one pair each balanced and single ended inputs as well as a stereo 3.5mm input jack. There is also a pair of balanced outputs.

(Image from Bryston.com)

The front panel has an input selector, a high /low gain switch, volume, balance, single ended 1/4", dual 3 pin balanced and4 pin balnced outputs, and a power light and switch.

Ful details are available at https://bryston.com/amplifiers/bha1/

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Disclaimer: I am coming to this with a gap of a few days between having a Magnius / Modius stack and the BHA-1 arriving. During that gap I was mostly listening to a pair of Hifiman Anandas driven off the 4.4 pentaconn output of a Matrix Mini-i 3, which has a higher impedence than ideal for planars.

First impressions:

Everything is in its right place. The headphones are singing instead of just making noise. The bass is back, and better than before.

It wil be difficult to do a review due to a complete lack of comparable gear, but if anyone wants to know anything, I’ll do my best to get you an answer, an opinion, or an “I don’t know.”

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I own this headamp. Does a nice job on pretty much every headphone I’ve tried. To improve your experience, use the dual XLR’s or the Stereo XLR.

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That is a beautiful stack of gear.

I know it is an older amp, but if you felt like posting some impressions that would be great.

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I find the BHA-1 to be clean, dynamic, neutral and a high build quality. I like it with HD600, HD650, HD800s, LCD2, LCD3, LCD4, Clears, I tried it with HiFiMan 1000 which worked,. And it sound really nice with my friends Diana Phi’s.

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In retrospect I realized I was listening to a lot of indie folk and small combo jazz on the Matrix. Nothing too demanding in the PRAT section, and nothing very extended on the bottom end.

Well, that’s over with the Bryston. It’s the difference between being in a band with a couple of weekend amateurs in the rhythm section, and a sitting in on a set with an ice cold set of professionals holding the beat. The entire foundation is just, taken care of. It’s just there. It’s not spectacular, it doesn’t call attention to itself, but it lets everything else be better. Big band, big orchestra, big rock, speed, drive, and toe tapping are all back on the menu.

There is far more power here than I need as well. While I was waiting for it, my inner spec junkie got the best of me and I started worrying it wouldn’t be enough compared to the Flux Lab or Jot 2 level of available power. I can’t turn the volume past 9. Apparently you can have it modded into a high or low gain version of itself, while retaining the high / low gain switch for finer adjustment. I may need to look into that.

Highly recommended.

(It also fixed the 6xx. Now I get why people like them.)

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Link to comparison with Burson Soloist 3xp:

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Thanks for the comparison impressions @mfadio!
At some point I need to get my crap together and do my own impression post on this beast, well more like my random stream of consciousness impressions on the BHA-1.

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The bal outputs put out a lot more power than the single. And that’s per Bryston. The big advantage of using the balanced outputs on the BHA1 is the doubling in output voltage, as you have two class A amplifiers driving the output rather than one. This doubling in voltage actually results in a 4 times increase in power, since power is proportional to voltage squared.

This applies to both the 3-pin XLR connectors and the 4-pin XLR connect

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