My Hi-Fi Life: Report On Bryson T-Series Loudspeakers

When James Tanner (Bryston V.P. of Sales and Marketing) first envisioned a  -designed loudspeaker in 2009 his ambitions were modest. Since the release of the Model T loudspeaker in 2012, however, the project has grown exponentially, and has been received with overwhelming success by the consumer audio community. Dealers, customers and reviewers alike have been unanimous in their praise of numerous Bryston model loudspeakers, and demand has far exceeded expectations.

I have particular insight into the process that led to the introduction of Bryston’s first loudspeaker line because I was lucky enough to witness and, to a lesser extent, participate in its evolution. A number of factors contributed to Bryston’s positive venture into the loudspeaker industry, and each can be traced back to Tanner, the man at the heart of the project.

I’ve known James Tanner a long time. We met in the bar of the Hotel Intercontinental during the Canadian Music & Multimedia Show in 1996 when Ernie Fisher, editor-in-chief of The Inner Ear Report introduced us. If I recall correctly, the three of us shared some cognac (this would have been Ernie’s doing) and a few hours of audio and music chatter. Over the close-to-twenty years that we’ve known each other, Tanner and I have developed a mutual respect that is borne out of an appreciation for each other’s work and commitment to good audio.

While Bryston amplifiers and digital electronics have been the focal point of any demonstration of Bryston equipment that Tanner invited me to attend, there was, naturally, always a pair of loudspeakers involved. As a result, I have seen him champion a large number of speaker brands alongside Bryston equipment.  ,QuadJBLTannoy and Sanders Sound Systems are just a few of the memorable brands I’ve heard presented with Bryston electronics.

picture 017
When James Tanner (Bryston V.P. of Sales and Marketing) first envisioned a Bryston-designed loudspeaker in 2009 his ambitions were modest. Since the release of the Model T loudspeaker in 2012, however, the project has grown exponentially, and has been received with overwhelming success by the consumer audio community. Dealers, customers and reviewers alike have been unanimous in their praise of numerous Bryston model loudspeakers, and demand has far exceeded expectations.

I have particular insight into the process that led to the introduction of Bryston’s first loudspeaker line because I was lucky enough to witness and, to a lesser extent, participate in its evolution. A number of factors contributed to Bryston’s positive venture into the loudspeaker industry, and each can be traced back to Tanner, the man at the heart of the project.

I’ve known James Tanner a long time. We met in the bar of the Hotel Intercontinental during the Canadian Music & Multimedia Show in 1996 when Ernie Fisher, editor-in-chief of The Inner Ear Report introduced us. If I recall correctly, the three of us shared some cognac (this would have been Ernie’s doing) and a few hours of audio and music chatter. Over the close-to-twenty years that we’ve known each other, Tanner and I have developed a mutual respect that is borne out of an appreciation for each other’s work and commitment to good audio.

While Bryston amplifiers and digital electronics have been the focal point of any demonstration of Bryston equipment that Tanner invited me to attend, there was, naturally, always a pair of loudspeakers involved. As a result, I have seen him champion a large number of speaker brands alongside Bryston equipment. Thiel, Quad, Dynaudio, Magnapan, Martin Logan, JBL, KEF, Tannoy and Sanders Sound Systems are just a few of the memorable brands I’ve heard presented with Bryston electronics.

 

33

 

In 1995 Bryston established a formal relationship with British Loudspeaker manufacturer PMC, in which Bryston managed the distribution of PMC loudspeakers in Canada and the United States. Following this strategic partnership, for a number of years Bryston was synonymous with PMC within the consumer and professional audio industries here in North America. During this period, when I ran into Tanner at various Hi-Fi events and professional audio conventions, I saw first-hand that his commitment to PMC was as strong as his commitment to Bryston.

In the mid-2000’s PMC ended the North American distribution agreement with Bryston (PMC still manages Bryston in the U.K.). While the relationship between the two companies was a successful one, (Bryston & PMC still co-exist within a large number of professional sound studios), the end of the partnership brought a sort of liberation for Tanner. As V.P. of Sales and Marketing, Tanner is at the front of the line in terms of Bryston’s public image, and during the PMC years the British manufacturer dominated any conversation about Bryston electronics and loudspeakers. But with the break from PMC, suddenly Tanner was free again to present Bryston equipment with any loudspeaker manufacturer he chose.

Shortly after the split, I recall Tanner mentioning that he was excited to be able to pair Bryston equipment with other speaker brands. He felt that the best way to remain educated, and to offer his customers first-hand experience as to how Bryston equipment performed with different loudspeakers, was to listen to Bryston electronics with as many speaker brands as possible.

The mid-to-late-2000s saw a number of loudspeakers find a place alongside Bryston equipment at Tanner’s home in Whitby, Ontario. The three most memorable set-ups that I recall included a Bryston-Quad 2905 combination, a pair of Sanders Sound Systems Model 10 Active Hybrid ESL loudspeakers with dual 14Bsst2 amplifiers, and an elaborate Thiel system that incorporated a pair of 3.7 loudspeakers, two SS1 subwoofers and two Bryston 28bsst2 amplifiers. All three systems sounded wonderful in their own way (more on these later).

It was in July of 2010 that I first heard mention of the idea of a Bryston-built loudspeaker. A month earlier Tanner had asked if I would consider writing a report on Bryston’s upcoming BDP1 digital music player. He knew I had already been experimenting with high-resolution audio at home and that I also had professional knowledge of computer-based audio playback. While at my house with what was then a proto-type of the BDP1 (I’ve written reports on both the BDP1 and BDP2 for The Inner Ear and The High Fidelity Report), as we sat listening to music via my pro-like ATC SCM40 floor standing speakers, Tanner asked my thoughts on professional loudspeaker manufacturers. We discussed ATC, PMC, Dynaudio, Focal, Meyer and a smaller, lesser-known Canadian speaker-maker, Axiom Audio. He explained that he was looking to collaborate on a personal speaker project, wanting to design an active loudspeaker system that would incorporate Bryston electronics, the main goal being a ready-made, predictable sounding, active speaker system that Tanner could use for demonstration purposes alongside Bryston amplification. At the time he described it as a sort of vanity project, small in scale and mostly for his own private use.

A few months later Tanner indicated that he had made progress on the speaker project with Axiom Audio, and their owner & chief engineer, Ian Colquhoun. According to Tanner, his relationship with Colquhoun has deep roots. They met in the early 1980’s during an acoustics research project being conduced by the National Research Council Lab in Ottawa, Canada. Tanner said he was happy that Colquhoun was receptive to collaborating with him on his speaker project as he’s always been impressed with the high price-performance ratio of Axiom loudspeakers, with Colquhoun’s continued work with the NRC lab, and with his collaboration with Dr. Floyd Toole on acoustical research and loudspeaker design. In addition to Colquhoun, acoustician and speaker designer Andrew Welker is part of Axiom’s loudspeaker design team. After a series of planning conversations between Tanner, Colquhoun and Welker the Bryston Model T loudspeaker project began.

While the engineering and design process was new to Tanner, his years of pairing different loudspeakers with Bryston amplifiers gave him a strong foundation of listening experience that allowed him to define the technical parameters and performance goals for the speaker-in-progress. His lack of design experience was more than compensated for by Colquhoun and Welker’s decades of knowledge and acoustical expertise.

They started working together by listening to a pair of Axiom M80 loudspeakers with various Bryston amplifiers at Tanner’s house. At under $2k a pair, the M80’s are a relatively modest loudspeaker, however they boast outstanding technical specifications, and possess two audible characteristics that Tanner found appealing, namely their wide dynamic range and excellent off-axis response. With the M80’s as the starting point, Tanner, Colquhoun and Welker began looking at all the components within the loudspeaker, searching for a combination that would lead them to an ‘ideal’ Bryston loudspeaker.

Tanner was ultimately looking for a high performance speaker that would boast strong power handling capabilities as well as the ability to reach high SPL levels before reaching any level of audible distortion or dynamic compression. He knew he wanted a three-way design with separate bass, midrange and tweeter drivers. He was also steadfast in the concept of providing an active power amplification version. After a period of time it was clear to all three of them that they would need both larger and more robust components than those employed by Axiom within their own loudspeaker line..

Continue reading this article over at: www.myhifilife.com

 

Comments are closed.