Bryston's premium BR-20 music streamer connects up to 14 sources

Bryston BR-20
(Image credit: Bryston)

Bryston has launched the BR-20 preamplifier, DAC and streamer. It's described as a "front end solution that combines the best of Bryston’s technologies into one ultra high-performance audiophile hub".

To clarify, the BR-20 allows connection of up to 14 analogue and digital sources and combines this with its flagship DAC and built-in high-resolution music streaming.

The high-end separate is named in honour of Bryston’s president, Brian Russell, who sadly passed away in September 2020. The company says that the BR-20 is the most advanced combination of analogue and digital functionality in the 50-plus year history of the Ontario-based brand.

Chris Russell, Bryston CEO and technical supervisor said, “I know my brother Brian was very proud and excited about the things we have been able to accomplish with the BR-20, and we are also proud to name it in his honour.”

The Canadian audio specialist says the BR-20’s analogue preamplifier is the culmination of years of R&D, delivering an amplifier capable of delivering a total harmonic distortion measurement below 0.0006%. The analogue signal path is a fully balanced design, promising the lowest possible noise and superior common mode rejection.

You also get Bryston’s most advanced DAC and digital player/streaming platform inbuilt. Users can access high-resolution content from up to seven external digital sources, plus Tidal and Qobuz from the internal digital music player. The DAC can decode PCM up to 384 kHz/24 bit and DSD 256 – and it can even decode DSD over HDMI thanks to an optional four input plug-in HDMI card.

With that optional HDMI card, you can connect a compatible SACD player and utilise the BR-20's onboard decoders for optimal sound quality. Naturally, you can also connect 4K and HDR sources such as Apple TV and 4K Blu-ray players to the BR-20, while passing the high-resolution video through to the monitor or projector.

Bryston BR-20 streaming DAC/preamp hub

(Image credit: Bryston)

The digital music player inside the BR-20 can manage large music libraries thanks to gigabit Ethernet, more RAM and the addition of USB 3.0 connectivity for external music storage. The BR-20’s built-in music player will natively pass PCM up to 384 kHz and DSD128 to the DAC.

In addition, the BR-20 also features Bryston’s new Low Z headphone amp, which the firm says is the "most powerful onboard headphone amplifier ever offered", providing the high-output and critical low-output impedance to drive even inefficient headphone models.

Completing the multitude of connection options is a premium Moving Magnet (MM) phono stage, which the firm says is equivalent to Bryston’s outboard BP-2.

Looks-wise, you can choose between a silver or black faceplate, with front panel controls and a ring of small LEDs that grace the perimeter of the volume knob to elegantly indicate your output level – but if you're worried about noise, the display can be dimmed or disabled.

Control options have been expanded beyond the front panel, too. The included BR-4 remote can be configured by each user in your household to command source components or rename inputs, and a web-enabled phone or tablet can be used to adjust volume and change sources.

The BR-20 can be integrated into your smart home too, using IP, RS232 and trigger input/output options.

Get ready for the topic of coin. The BR-20 will be available in November 2020, at a UK RRP of £7500 inclusive of VAT. The optional HDMI card will cost £1200 – oh, and the phono stage can be added for £950.


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Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds.