BLP-1 Turntable + BTP-1 TT Power Supply
Imagine this: it’s mid-morning at Bryston’s HQ in Peterborough Ontario. James Tanner, VP of Sales, sits at his desk answering emails. He’s surrounded by boxes filled with cash- CDN dollars, US dollars, and Euros. There’s so much money piled up that his office is—literally—buried in cash. A bouncy secretary bounds into his office and, in a bored voice—as if it’s become expected and normal—calmly says: “More money Mister Tanner.” A Fed-Ex delivery guy wheels a 6 foot high stack of boxes brimming with cash into the office. In a panic-stricken voice, J.T. yelps back: “Jumpin’ Jesus on a Kawasaki… get it outta here!!” His secretary yawns and then asks: “What would you like us to do with it Sir?” Rising up with his arms waving frantically, an adrenalized J.T. barks back: “Burn it! Smoke it! Throw it out the window of a car onto the 401!! I don’t care. Just get rid of it! The storage costs of all this money are gonna bankrupt us!”
Ok… back to reality. Contrary to what some people might think, James Tanner isn’t hoarding money. Gold Bullion… maybe(?). But not cash currency. The fact is this: Bryston are a very successful consumer audio company. And this success means they can invest their profits into new products and attempt things which smaller companies simply can’t. Examples…? Bryston have released a new turntable called the BLP-1.
DESIGN & FEATURES
This is Bryston’s first turntable. As such, they’ve relied upon the expertise of more experienced TT manufacturers to bring their ‘table to life. Built to Bryston’s specifications, the plinth, drive mechanism, motor, and platter are all sourced from Gold Note in Italy. GRW of Germany supplies the B7 titanium tonearm. The 3cm thick plinth is made from non- resonant MDF and comes in one colour: black. The BLP-1 combines a belt-drive mechanism with a 3.5cm thick Delrin platter, a 5mm diameter polished-bronze main bearing, and an 8cm long carbon-rectified hardened steel spindle.
The ‘table uses a 12 volt synchronous low speed / high torque motor. It features Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) power conversion that changes voltage in an A/C to D/C and then back again to A/C fashion. 33 RPM and 45 RPM rotational speeds are both supported and can be fine-tuned using the power supply’s speed buttons. The stock BLP-1 comes with a 4-pin DIN female output plug, an entry-level OFC phono IC, a platter weight, and basic cylindrical feet. On a TT of this caliber, all of these items need to be upgraded. Fortunately, they can be.
The BTP-1 is the turntable’s power supply. It’s linear; not switching. Bryston designed and built the one-third sized outboard unit
entirely in Canada. I had a professional bench-tech measure it. He said it’s the second best power supply for a TT that he’s seen in over 20 years. The quietest and most accurate one came with a ‘table sporting a $25K price tag. In practice, the BPT-1 runs silent and delivers ultra-clean power to the motor. The BTP-1 comes equipped with a Gold Note B7 9-inch long, pivoting tonearm. To reduce vibration, the B7’s wand is made out of 7 different diameter titanium sections. The arm uses four sealed tungsten micro ballbearings: two for the vertical plain and two for the horizontal axis. The counterweight is machined out of 303-grade aluminum and can handle cartridges up to 15 grams.
The internal wiring is an AWG 36 Hyper Litz shielded 99.9999% Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) cable. The Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA) can be adjusted via 2 set screws on the arm’s base and the cartridge’s azimuth can also be fine-tuned by a micro-sized screw.
Overall, the B7 is a superbly engineered tonearm with an impressive level of micro adjustability.
I let the review ‘table run constantly with a pre-installed Benz-Micro M0.8 M/C cart and a custom-made Audio Sensibility 4-pin DIN Statement phono cable for a few weeks to burn it in. During my listening sessions, I also tried several higher-echelon $3K to $6K level M/C cartridges and my reference Stealth Hyperphono IC.
I had Gold Note’s Giglio TT with a B7 arm in for review at the same time as the Bryston ‘table. The BLP-1’s plinth, motor, spindle mechanism, and platter are all made in Italy by Gold Note. Not surprisingly, these two ‘tables created remarkably similar sonics. Both offered an incredibly full, coherent, and musical sound with excellent PRaT, timbral accuracy, and soundstaging.
With higher-end cartridges and phono cables, though, the BLP-1 extracted more information from the records’ grooves than the Giglio rig. Depending on the cartridge and the phono ICs, the BLP-1 offered 10% to 15% more sound across the frequency spectrum than the Giglio.
With the sickening news that Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer, for several months now I’ve been going through a strong renaissance with the Tragically Hip’s music. 1996’s Trouble at the Henhouse is a fascinatingly introspective album that sounds like the band was painting with sonic textures.
Pace, Rhythm, and Timing (PRaT) accounts for a lot of what distinguishes the sound of a ‘reference’ caliber TT from a mediocre ‘table. If the PRaT is even slightly off or the timbre of the various instruments sounds unnatural, music loses its focus, intensity, and purity.
On songs like ‘Gift Shop’, ‘Springtime in Vienna’, ‘Don’t Wake Daddy’, and ‘700ft Ceiling’, the BLP-1 reproduced the amazing sonics on this album with superb PRaT and chilling timbral accuracy. At the front end of the song ‘Sherpa’, for example, the pitch and decay of the odd high-mountain guitar sounds echoing around the soundstage was as clear, accurate, and haunting as I’ve ever heard it; which made listening to the track a soul-moving experience.
As I wanted to hear if the BLP-1 could handle faster and heavier music, I needed something… eh hem… harder. British doom-metal band Cathedral’s Endtyme is a cement-mixer heavy album that swings with an infectious rhythm and groove. If you like Black Sabbath, you’ll (probably) enjoy Cathedral’s vibe. Accurately recreating the sternum belting low-end slam contained on this record will challenge any TT.
With Endtyme, the BLP-1 rig presented the complex time signatures, dynamic shifts in energy, and the positive / negative mood swings (i.e. the ‘feel’) of this heavy record with precision and bravado. This is the way that doom metal is supposed to sound.
Whatever type of music I tried, the result with the BLP-1 was the same. Jazz recordings sounded so realistic that I could close my eyes and imagine being at live club shows. Classical records brought me spine-chilling memories of live orchestras I’ve heard in concert halls all over the world. Harder-edged rock and punk records had me on my feet playing air guitar. With good quality vinyl, this ‘table consistently made goose-bump inducing music.
Combined with their phenomenal BTP-1 power supply, Bryston’s first TT sounds like one of Gold Note’s $6K-level turntables on steroids. Priced at $3,995 US, the BLP-1 is a reference calibre ‘table with, by audiophile standards, an affordable price tag.
Caveats…? The BLP-1’s stock phono cable and cylindrical feet need to be improved. Fortunately, Audio Sensibility offers several superb plug ’n’ play 4-pin DIN phono cable upgrades. And various after-market feet, spikes, or tuning devices can be installed fairly easily.
Have I heard better sounding ‘tables? Yes… but all of them have price tags in the mid 5-figure range. If you’ve been searching for your “forever” ‘table and thought you had to spend $25K or more to get it, listen to Bryston’s TT with a reference calibre M/C cartridge and top-shelf phono cable. This may just be the last turntable you’ll ever buy.