BryFi BW-1 Wireless Amplified Loudspeaker
has been a revered name in the audiophile and professional community for over 35 years. From the onset their products have been considered upper echelon for their superb sound quality, top notch engineering, and bulletproof reliability. Many of their amplifiers have outlived their extraordinary 20 year warranty by wide margin and are still going strong in the harshest 24/7 environments. Over the years their range of offerings has continually expanded from their original amplifier lines into the realms of digital, analog turntables, and speakers to name a few. They have kept themselves fresh and relevant by both following and leading the changing needs of the marketplace. continues Bryston’s successful collaborative effort with Axiom Audio, mining fresh territory in the current popular field of compact single box stereo loudspeakers. It aims to prove that state of the art technology and aesthetic sophistication can come as a single package. This sleek amplified loudspeaker is extremely décor friendly, breaking out of the conventional box mold by utilizing elegant curved surfaces with quality accents, and is available in a full assortment of wood finishes from their regular speaker line as well as a custom black or silver aluminum top with the Bryston logo embossed into it. Custom colours are also available on request. It looks and displays like an interior decorator’s dream, but what can it do?
In our modern file based universe of digital music this ambitious little all-in-one entry can pretty much do it all. The BW-1 has WiFi connectivity, allowing you access to network music files, internet radio and streaming services plus accessibility to portable storage. In the absence of a WiFi network you can switch it to be a hot spot, creating your own WiFi network. It’s also AirPlay and UPnP compatible for streaming. While WiFi offers ease of use and both superior range and sound quality, Bluetooth fans also get support with firmware currently in the works. Tucked behind the small front pop down Bryston panel, is an Ethernet port and two 3.5mm miniplug analog inputs, as well as 4 USB 2.0 inputs, power button, volume control for analog sources and 3 status LEDs. Essentially, if you’ve got music, there’s a way to get it there. Want to break free from the confines of the room? Optional internal battery packs let you take the music anywhere you want to go. Yes, there’s even
a carry handle built into the back of the unit. Want multi room capability with more than one BW-1? That’s here too. Need more bass? There’s a miniplug subwoofer output on the rear to shake things up.
Functionality is one thing. Sound can often be a different matter, and certainly the standards applied to single box solutions generally don’t pass muster with the ears of audiophile listeners. Well, that’s not the case here. Bryston has entered the lifestyle game with serious aspirations that will surprise and satisfy the toughest critic. Underneath that stylish exterior there’s a whole lot of sophisticated technology. The heart is Bryston’s BDP-Pi digital player based on the Raspberry Pi platform which supports the playback of most digital file formats up to a native resolution of 192/24. For the computer knowledgeable audiophile that will earn a big thumbs up. For the computer challenged music lover it just means you’ve got one of the best little computer engines in existence dedicated to delivering music from point A to B, with the appropriate technological might to unravel the beauty of higher resolution files and let you hear them in all their glory. On the muscle end of the equation are two powerful Bryston 75 watt amplifiers driving a pair of 3 way speakers sourced from their acclaimed Mini A loudspeakers. They can impress with delicate finesse or play the party animal at loudness levels up to 115 db. How loud is that? A jet airplane engine on takeoff is only 5 db louder. The BryFi BW-1 has the looks and the technological refinement, but is it simple to operate?
Set up is quick and easy for all popular platforms including iOS and Andriod devices, as well as PCs. Downloading the dedicated BryFi app gives you remote access from a smartphone or tablet, and any other compatible UPnP music program should work nicely. As with anything computer based, there are minimal operating systems requirements, but nothing unusual. Setup instructions are short “follow the bouncing ball” illustrated style for all formats. If you run into a snag there’s always support available, or simply ask any 14 year old video gamer for help. It should be that easy. With that out of the way comes the big question.
How did it sound?
When I fired up the BW-1 for the first time, I was quite surprised at the quality of the sound. I shouldn’t have been. After all, it is a Bryston. While some people may assume from the svelte, elliptical styling and compact proportions that this would be merely a glorified table radio, the BW-1 quickly belied that assumption by flexing major musical muscle. I turned to my Wyred 4 Sound music server for high resolution file sources and Tidal streaming via a host of the available delivery methods to see how the BryFi would react. Whether hard wired, direct WiFi accessed, through network or AirPlay, all delivered music without a problem. In terms of audio quality, challenging the BW-1 with the musical gamut, from high resolution recordings like the classic audiophile chestnut La Folia de la Spagna, or bouncy big band jazz pieces from Reference Recordings, to uncompressed Tidal streaming fare like Tia Guo’s heavy metal cello material for Wonder Woman, proved the little box quite capable of unleashing audiophile caliber detail with dynamic passion. Bass was powerful and convincing beyond its conservative 60 Hz spec (useable to 35 cycles in my room), even without subwoofer augmentation. Midrange was clean and expressive, giving vocals an uncluttered honesty, and high frequencies showed their Mini A heritage, playing articulate, nuanced, and without strain.
The little Bryston could play the part of the demure little background accessory when required, but it was capable of far more. The BryFi shone when taking on the role of a full fledged main audio system. When I was seated further back in the room, the BW-1 produced a wide stereo image, well delineated and with a decent caliber of depth information. How did the integrated single box solution compare against my regular, full range ribbon system, with it’s phalanx of big box hardware? The answer was, disconcertingly well. The BW-1 proved so adept at playing the part of the serious audiophile component that visitors made the mistaken assumption they were listening to my massive, big rig Apogee system. I had to prove them wrong, but that assumption was a tremendous compliment to the little one box wonder, and a testament to the sheer excellence of the sound.
Bryston has a potential hit on its hands with their BryFi BW-1. It appeals to both the seasoned audiophile and the lifestyle conscious seeking out a wealth of technical sophistication backed with solid musical talent. The battery option even offers the added twist of a true portable high-end device that can kick out the jams in the back yard or the cottage. Established, hardcore audiophiles making a downsize move won’t feel musically compromised, and urban dwellers eyeing the convenience and smaller footprint of a one box solution will find that the slightly higher price tag of the BW-1 buys legitimate upscale sound. The BryFi BW-1 is a high quality product that should provide tremendous fun and versatility, and expand Bryston’s stellar musical heritage into the homes of a whole new audience.