By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Peterborough, Ontario — High-end audio supplier Bryston is diversifying from electronics to speakers in a big way with plans to offer eight models.
The lineup includes two floor standing speakers, a stand-mount speaker, an active subwoofer, two center-channel speakers, an in-wall speaker and an on-wall speaker.
Three models are already shipping and will be followed by additional models in May and in the third quarter.
Despite encountering skepticism about the need for another speaker brand, VP James Tanner called the time right to enter the market for two reasons. One is a changing attitude by high-end consumers who are more willing to buy electronics and speakers from the same company rather than mix and match brands. These consumers “want the comfort of predictable performance,” or the knowledge that all of the products can be integrated to deliver optimum performance, he explained. “Bryston dealers will be able to sell a complete system and know all the products will work together optimally.”
Second was the need for a high-end speaker that combines “real-world dynamics” with flat on- and off-axis frequency response and flat in-room power response, Tanner said. “Most high-quality speakers don’t deliver real-world dynamics with low distortion,” he claimed, defining real-world performance as a combination of fast transient response and wide dynamic range. Both qualities are important in home-theater systems, he said.
In-room power response is a measure of total acoustic energy in a room, including reflected sound, and flat power response at many points in a room “adds spaciousness to sound,” Tanner said.
“You can spend more money, but you can’t buy better performance if linearity is what you’re after,” he added.
To avoid the cost pitfalls encountered by other speaker startups, Bryston teamed with 30-year speaker company Axiom, a nearby Canadian company that builds and sells speakers direct to consumers.
As a result, Tanner said, most people have commented on how affordable the speakers are given their performance, he said. “Affordable excellence is what I call it.”
Like Bryston’s electronics, the speakers are positioned between esoteric brands and build-to-price-point brands with a design goal focused on “performance first,” Tanner said. The cosmetics of the speakers and electronics, he admitted, “are not furniture.”
Some of the first speakers were demonstrated at a Canadian hi-fi show last October and lauded by dealers and consumers, he said.
Bryston sells through 150 North American dealers, so its distribution doesn’t conflict with Axiom’s, Tanner noted. Bryston sells its brand in a total of 60 countries worldwide.
Bryston distributed other-brand speakers throughout the years up until eight years ago with the end of an eight-year agreement to distribute PMC speakers in the U.S. and Canada.
The four Bryson-brand speakers already shipping include the floorstanding Model T, which is available in three versions: the $6,495/pair Model T with onboard passive crossovers,; a step-up version called the Model T Signature with outboard passive crossover at $7,495/pair; and the $9,495/pair Model T Active, a version designed for use with a six-channel amplifier to enable tri-amplification. The amp is not included in the price.
Also shipping are the Mini T stand-mount speaker at $2,695/pair, the TC1 Center at $3,200 each, and the Active T Sub at $4,195 each.
In May, the company will ship the $4,600/pair Middle T floorstanding speaker and the $2,200 TC1 Mini Center.
In the third quarter, the company plans to ship the $560-each T IW in-wall and $560-each T OW on-wall.
In all three of its versions, the Model T is a 52.5-inch-tall three-way floorstanding speaker with three 8-inch woofers, two 5.25-inch midranges and two 1-inch titanium dome tweeters. The Model T Active comes with a Bryston 24-bit digital electronic crossover.
The Middle T is a smaller floorstanding three-way loudspeaker with two bass drivers, a midrange and a tweeter. The Mini T is a smaller version of the Middle T with a single bass driver also in a three-way configuration. The TC1 and TC1 Mini center-channel speakers are also three-way speakers. The T Sub utilizes three 8-inch woofers powered by an internal 600-watt amplifier.
The T IW and the T OW architectural speakers are three-way sealed-enclosure speakers.
All speakers come in three vinyl-wrapped standard finishes — Black Ash, Natural Cherry and Boston Cherry. Optional hardwood veneers and high-gloss painted finishes are available at additional costs.
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