Link: reviewed by Killain Jones on *SoundStage! Solo* on April 15, 2024

**General information**

All measurements taken using an Audio Precision APx555 B Series analyzer.

The Bryston BHA-1 was conditioned for 30 minutes at 2Vrms at the output into 300 ohms before any measurements were taken. All measurements were taken with both channels driven.

The BHA-1 offers one set of unbalanced (RCA) inputs, one set of balanced inputs (XLR), and one mini stereo input (1/8″ TRS), which can be selected with a front panel switch. Outputs include one unbalanced headphone output (1/4″ female TRS) and two balanced headphone outputs over left/right three-pin XLR and a single stereo four-pin XLR. In addition, there are line-level balanced outputs on the rear panel so that the BHA-1 can be used as a conventional analog preamp. The front panel is adorned with a power switch, a volume control, a gain switch (high or low), an input selector and a balance control. Unless otherwise stated, measurements were made with the balanced inputs and outputs (four-pin XLR), gain set to high, with a 2Vrms output into a 300-ohm load.

**Volume-control accuracy (measured at XLR outputs): left-right channel tracking**

Based on the accuracy of the left/right volume channel matching (see table below), the BHA-1 volume control is likely a potentiometer operating in the analog domain.

Volume position | Channel deviation |

Just above minimum | 0.8dB |

7.5 o'clock | 0.129dB |

9 o'clock | 0.258dB |

10.5 o'clock | 0.008dB |

12 o'clock | 0.027dB |

1.5 o'clock | 0.012dB |

3 o'clock | 0.162dB |

4.5 o'clock | 0.305dB |

maximum | 0.082dB |

**Published specifications vs. our primary measurements**

The table below summarizes the measurements published by Bryston for the BHA-1 compared directly against our own. The published specifications are sourced from Bryston’s website, either directly or from the manual available for download, or a combination thereof. With the exception of frequency response, where the Audio Precision bandwidth was set at its maximum (DC to 1MHz), assume, unless otherwise stated, a 1kHz sinewave, 2Vrms input and 2Vrms output into a 300-ohm load, 10Hz to 22.4kHz bandwidth, gain set to 0dB, and the worst-case measured result between the left and right channels.

Parameter | Manufacturer | SoundStage! Lab |

Output power (32 ohm, 1% THD) | 2W | 6.8W |

THD (32 ohm, 500mW, 1kHz) | 0.005% | <0.0002% |

Frequency response (20Hz to 20kHz) | ±0.1dB | ±0.02dB |

THD+N (300 ohm, 2Vrms, 20Hz - 20kHz) | <0.005% | <0.0034% |

IMD SMPTE (60Hz+7kHz, 4:1, 300 ohm, 2Vrms) | <0.001% | <0.0008% |

Noise (relative to 1Vrms) | <-103dB | <-100dB |

Gain (low/high) | 14/20dB | 8.3/14.3dB |

Input impedance (balanced) | 15k ohms | 12.2k ohms |

Input impedance (unbalanced) | 10k ohms | 17.3k ohms |

Our primary measurements revealed the following using the balanced line-level inputs (unless otherwise specified, assume a 1kHz sinewave, 2Vrms input and 2Vrms output into a 300-ohm load, 10Hz to 22.4kHz bandwidth, gain set to high):

Parameter | Left channel | Right channel |

Crosstalk, once channel driven (10kHz) | -67.3dB | -57.6dB |

DC offset | <3mV | <3mV |

Gain (low/high) | 8.26/14.27dB | 8.34/14.36dB |

IMD ratio (CCIF, 18kHz + 19kHz stimulus tones, 1:1) | <-100dB | <-100dB |

IMD ratio (SMPTE, 60Hz + 7kHz stimulus tones, 4:1 ) | <-92dB | <-92dB |

Input impedance (balanced) | 12.2k ohms | 12.3k ohms |

Input impedance (unbalanced) | 17.3k ohms | 17.2k ohms |

Maximum output voltage (1% THD, 200k ohm load, low gain) | 18.8Vrms | 18.6Vrms |

Maximum output voltage (1% THD, 200k ohm load, high gain) | 28.8Vrms | 28.8Vrms |

Maximum output power into 600 ohms (1% THD, low gain) | 580mW | 590mW |

Maximum output power into 300 ohms (1% THD, low gain) | 1.14W | 1.17W |

Maximum output power into 32 ohms (1% THD, low gain) | 5.8W | 5.9W |

Maximum output power into 600 ohms (1% THD, high gain) | 1.36W | 1.36W |

Maximum output power into 300 ohms (1% THD, high gain) | 2.64W | 2.64W |

Maximum output power into 32 ohms (1% THD, high gain) | 6.8W | 6.8W |

Noise level (with signal, A-weighted, volume at 75%, high gain) | <12.6uVrms | <11.3uVrms |

Noise level (with signal, unweighted, volume at 75%, high gain) | <42uVrms | <21uVrms |

Noise level (no signal, A-weighted, volume at 0%, high gain) | <8.1uVrms | <7.6uVrms |

Noise level (no signal, 20Hz-20kHz, volume at 0%, high gain) | <11.8uVrms | <12.8uVrms |

Noise level (no signal, A-weighted, volume at 0%, low gain) | <6.9uVrms | <5.6uVrms |

Noise level (no signal, 20Hz-20kHz, volume at 0%, low gain) | <9.6uVrms | <11.5uVrms |

Output impedance (balanced) | 4.3 ohms | 4.3 ohms |

Output impedance (unbalanced) | 2.15 ohms | 2.15 ohms |

Output impedance (balanced - preouts) | 103 ohms | 104 ohms |

Signal-to-noise ratio (A-weighted, ref 18.8Vrms, low gain, volume at max) | 116.7dB | 126.7dB |

Signal-to-noise ratio (20Hz-20kHz, ref 18.8Vrms, low gain, volume at max) | 105.4dB | 119.6dB |

Signal-to-noise ratio (A-weighted, ref 28.8Vrms, high gain, volume at max) | 114.8dB | 125.1dB |

Signal-to-noise ratio (20Hz-20kHz, ref 28.8Vrms, high gain, volume at max) | 102.5dB | 117.3dB |

THD (unweighted) | <0.00052% | <0.00052% |

THD+N (A-weighted) | <0.00083% | <0.00083% |

THD+N (unweighted) | <0.0021% | <0.0012% |

**Frequency response**

In our frequency response (relative to 1kHz) plots above, measured into a 300-ohm load, the BHA-1 is perfectly flat within the audioband (20Hz to 20kHz). At the extremes, the BHA-1 is less than -0.1dB at 5Hz (an indication that it is AC-coupled) and about -0.3dB at 80kHz. In the graph above and most of the graphs below, only a single trace may be visible. This is because the left channel (blue or purple trace) is performing identically to the right channel (red or green trace), and so they perfectly overlap, indicating that the two channels are ideally matched.

**Phase response**

Above is the phase response plot from 20Hz to 20kHz. The BHA-1 does not invert polarity, and it yielded a worst-case 5 degrees or so of phase shift at 20kHz.

**Frequency response (600-, 300-, 32-ohm loads)**

In the frequency-response (RMS level relative to 0dBrA or 2Vrms at 1kHz) plots above, the blue trace is into a 600-ohm load, purple into 300 ohms, and pink into 32 ohms. Between the 600-ohms and 32-ohm loads, we find about 0.5dB of variation, an indication that the BHA-1 has a low (but not exceptionally low) output impedance.

**THD ratio (unweighted) vs. frequency vs. load**

The plot above shows THD ratios at the output as a function of frequency (20Hz to 20kHz) for a sinewave input stimulus and 2Vrms at the output. The blue and red plots are for left and right channels into 600 ohms, purple/green (L/R) are into 300 ohms, and pink/orange (L/R) are into 32 ohms. THD values are very low and virtually identical into all three loads. At low frequencies, THD values were slightly higher (0.002% at 20Hz for the left channel), although this may be due to the analyzer’s confounding of signal harmonics with power-supply-related noise harmonics. The evidence for this is that the left channel yielded much higher noise at the power-supply second harmonic (120Hz) than the right channel, and it’s the left channel that yielded the higher low frequency THD in the plots above. Above 100Hz, THD ratios are flat and consistent for both channels up to 20kHz, hovering at a very low 0.0005%.

**THD ratio (unweighted) vs. output power vs. load (low gain)**

The plots above show THD ratios measured at the output of the BHA-1 as a function of output power for a 1kHz input sinewave using the low gain setting. The blue and red plots are for left and right channels into 600 ohms, purple/green (L/R) are into 300 ohms, and pink/orange (L/R) are into 32 ohms. The 600-ohm data yielded THD ratios from about 0.005% at 1uW, down to as low as 0.00008% (left channel) at 10mW, then up to 0.0005/0.001% (left/right) at the “knee” at about 300mW, then up to the 1% THD mark at 580mW. The 300-ohm data yielded THD ratios from 0.007% at 1uW, down to as low as 0.0001% at 20mW (left channel), then up to 0.0005/0.001% (left/right) at the “knee” at about 700mW, then up to the 1% THD mark at 1.14W. The 32-ohm data yielded higher THD ratios from about 0.02% at 1uW, down to as low as 0.00005% (left channel) at 500mW, then up to 0.0005% at the “knee” at about 3W, then up to the 1% THD mark at 5.8W.

**THD+N ratio (A-weighted) vs. output power vs. load (low gain)**

The plots above show THD+N ratios (A-weighted) measured at the output of the BHA-1 as a function of output power for a 1kHz input sinewave with the low gain setting. The blue and red plots are for left and right channels into 600 ohms, purple/green (L/R) are into 300 ohms, and pink/orange (L/R) are into 32 ohms. The left channel consistently yielded higher THD+N ratios (by about 5dB) due to the increased noise (see FFTs below). The 600-ohm right channel data yielded THD+N ratios from 0.03% at 1uW, down to as low as 0.0003% at 20mW. The 300-ohm right channel data yielded THD+N ratios from 0.04% at 1uW, down to as low as 0.0004% at 200mW. The 32-ohm right channel data yielded higher THD+N ratios of about 0.1% at 1uW, down to as low as 0.0004% at 300mW.

**THD ratio (unweighted) vs. output power (high gain into 32 ohms)**

The plots above show THD ratios measured at the output of the BHA-1 as a function of output power for a 1kHz input sinewave into a 32-ohm load for the high gain setting. The right channel outperformed the left by about 5dB. THD ratios for the right channel range from 0.03% at 1uW, down to as low as 0.0001% at 200mW, then up to 0.0005% at the “knee” at about 3W, then up to the 1% THD mark at 6.8W.

**THD+N ratio (A-weighted) vs. output power (high gain into 32 ohms)**

The plots above show THD+N (A-weighted) ratios measured at the output of the BHA-1 as a function of output power for a 1kHz input sinewave into a 32-ohm load for the high gain setting. The right channel outperformed the left by about 10dB. THD+N ratios for the right channel range from 0.3% at 1uW, down to as low as 0.0004% at 1-2W, then up to 0.001% at the “knee” at about 3W.

**FFT spectrum – 1kHz (balanced in, balanced out, high gain)**

Shown above is the fast Fourier transform (FFT) for a 1kHz input sinewave stimulus, measured at the output into a 300-ohm load at 2Vrms (0dBrA), for the balanced-in/balanced-out/high-gain configuration (default for these measurements). We see that the signal’s second harmonic, at 2kHz, is at around -120/110dBrA (left/right), or 0.0001/0.0003%, while the third harmonic, at 3kHz, is higher at around -105dBrA, or 0.0006%. On the right side of the signal peak, the power-supply fundamental (60Hz) noise peak is seen at around -120dBrA, or 0.0001%, while the second harmonic (120Hz) dominates at -95/110dBrA (left/right), or 0.002/0.0003%. Higher-order power-supply-related harmonics can also be seen throughout most of the spectrum at -120dBrA, or 0.001%, and below. There is also a broad unknown peak at 20kHz at -125dBrA, or 0.00006%.

**FFT spectrum – 1kHz (balanced in, balanced out, low gain)**

Shown above is the fast Fourier transform (FFT) for a 1kHz input sinewave stimulus, measured at the output into a 300-ohm load at 2Vrms (0dBrA) for the balanced-in/balanced-out/low-gain configuration. The volume-control position was maintained at the same level, with the input signal on the analyzer increased to compensate. The main differences compared to the default configuration FFT are predictably, slightly lower noise with the left channel 120Hz peak down to -100dBrA, or 0.001%, and higher signal harmonics, with the 3kHz peak dominating at -95dBrA, or 0.002%.

**FFT spectrum – 1kHz (balanced in, unbalanced out, high gain)**

Shown above is the fast Fourier transform (FFT) for a 1kHz input sinewave stimulus, measured at the output into a 300-ohm load at 2Vrms (0dBrA) for the balanced-in/unbalanced-out/high-gain configuration. The volume-control position was maintained at the same level, with the input signal on the analyzer increased to compensate. The main differences compared to the default configuration FFT are lower noise with the right channel 120Hz peak down to -130dBrA, or 0.00003%, and higher signal harmonics, with the 3kHz peak dominating at -95dBrA, or 0.002%.

**FFT spectrum – 1kHz (unbalanced in, unbalanced out, high gain)**

Shown above is the fast Fourier transform (FFT) for a 1kHz input sinewave stimulus, measured at the output into a 300-ohm load at 2Vrms (0dBrA) for the unbalanced in/unbalanced out/high gain configuration. The volume control position was maintained at the same level, with the input signal on the analyzer increased to compensate. The main differences compared to the default configuration FFT are lower noise with the right channel 120Hz peak down to -125dBrA, or 0.00006%, and higher signal harmonics, with the 3kHz peak dominating at -90dBrA, or 0.003%, and the right channel 2kHz peak not far behind at -95dBrA, or 0.002%.

**FFT spectrum – 1kHz (unbalanced in, balanced out, high gain)**

Shown above is the fast Fourier transform (FFT) for a 1kHz input sinewave stimulus, measured at the output into a 300-ohm load at 2Vrms (0dBrA) for the unbalanced-in/balanced-out/high-gain configuration. The volume-control position was maintained at the same level, with the input signal on the analyzer increased to compensate. The main differences compared to the default configuration FFT are slightly higher signal harmonics, with the 3kHz peak dominating at -100dBrA, or 0.001%, and the 2kHz peak at -110/100dBrA, or 0.0003/0.001%.

**FFT spectrum – 50Hz**

Shown above is the FFT for a 50Hz input sinewave stimulus measured at the output into a 300-ohm load. The X axis is zoomed in from 40Hz to 1kHz, so that peaks from noise artifacts can be directly compared against peaks from the harmonics of the signal. The most predominant non-signal peak is from the power supply’s second harmonic (120Hz) at -95/110dBrA (left/right), or 0.002/0.0003%. The signal’s second harmonic (100Hz) is at -115dBrA, or 0.0002%, while the third harmonic (150Hz) is at -105dBrA, or 0.0006%.

**Intermodulation distortion FFT (18kHz + 19kHz summed stimulus)**

Shown above is an FFT of the intermodulation distortion (IMD) products for an 18kHz + 19kHz summed sinewave stimulus tone measured at the output into a 300-ohm load. The input RMS values are set at -6.02dBrA so that, if summed for a mean frequency of 18.5kHz, would yield 2Vrms (0dBrA) at the output. We find that the second-order modulation product (i.e., the difference signal of 1kHz) is just above the noise floor for the left channel at -140dBrA, or 0.00001%, while the right channel is at -130dBrA, or 0.00003%. The second-order modulation products are buried amongst power-supply-related upper harmonics at the -120 to -140dBrA level, especially in the left channel. The third-order modulation products, at 17kHz and 20kHz, are at -115dBrA, or 0.0002%.

**Intermodulation distortion FFT (APx 32 tone)**

Shown above is the FFT of the output of the BHA-1 with the APx 32-tone signal applied to the input. The combined amplitude of the 32 tones is the 0dBrA reference, and corresponds to 2Vrms into 300 ohms. The intermodulation products—i.e., the “grass” between the test tones—are distortion products from the amplifier. In this case, most of the visible peaks in the spectrum are due to power-supply noise harmonics (60/120/180/240Hz, etc.). The grassy noise floor where the IMD products would lie are at -130dB, or 0.00003%, and below the reference level.

**Square-wave response (10kHz)**

Above is the 10kHz squarewave response at the output into 300 ohms. Due to limitations inherent to the Audio Precision APx555 B Series analyzer, this graph should not be used to infer or extrapolate the BHA-1’s slew-rate performance. Rather, it should be seen as a qualitative representation of its high bandwidth. An ideal squarewave can be represented as the sum of a sinewave and an infinite series of its odd-order harmonics (e.g., 10kHz + 30kHz + 50kHz + 70kHz . . .). A limited bandwidth will show only the sum of the lower-order harmonics, which may result in noticeable undershoot and/or overshoot, and softening of the edges. The BHA-1’s reproduction of the 10kHz squarewave is very clean, with no ringing or overshoot in the corners.

**Output impedance vs. frequency (unbalanced output, 20Hz to 20kHz)**

The final chart above is the output impedance as a function of frequency. Both channels show a nearly constant and identical low output impedance across the audioband, between 2.22 and 2.15 ohms. The balanced outputs have the same output impedance as seen above but on each of the positive and negative portions, combining for a summed output impedance of 4.3.

*Diego Estan*

Electronics Measurement Specialist