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  1. #1
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    Mark visits Bryston

    So business took me to Peterborough - it was an early afternoon appointment and I arrived about 10 AM. I called the day before and arranged a factory tour of Bryston.

    They were very, very accommodating. The person I called did not arrange for someone to bring me around but in about 5 minutes the company president himself, Brian Russel, showed yours truly around. He even allowed photos.

    Unfortuately it took me a while to realize the permission he gave me to take photos could be used in conjunction with this electronic gadget called a camera I had in my hand and I missed a shot of the assembly line. There were about 5 people, mostly women, in white coats hand-soldering every component. So yes, every Bryston is hand-made. No wave soldering or parts pickers here.

    We moved through various other assembly and testing areas before we encountered the famous Bryston burn-in bench. It ran along the wall of the plant. Yes, every amplifier there was under load - I could feel the heat rising off the heatsinks. I asked Brian about the rather controversial subject of burn-in and why Bryston did it. Without me really prompting him, he said what I thought was quite sensible from an engineering standpoint - that they do this to weed out "infant mortality" components. I asked him about their impressions of burn-in regarding audible improvements and he said "When customers say that to us, we say: 'That's nice. Glad you like it.'"

    Next is a shot of the interior of their new 28B SST, a 1200 W monoblock! Lots and lots of capacitance in there and a toroidal transformer almost as big as a soccer ball. Attached is also a shot of the faceplate.

    Sitting farther down the burn-in bench is a testament to Bryston's warranty. This 23 year-old veteran has obviously seen a lot of service and only needed its mute button replaced.

    On a bench just behind us was another 28B SST with a stunning machined aluminum faceplace. This was thick, solid machined aluminum.

    Continued...
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  2. #2
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    Next up is what Brian informed me was a world exclusive - the first shot of the interior of their new CD player!

    I have also attached shots of the interior of what I believe is the B100 SST, their integrated amp, and the SP 2, their surround sound pre-pro. I asked Brian about the ever-changing surround sound formats and how they keep up. His response: "we don't. We settle on a standard and build to it. It's impossible to keep up."

    We moved past walls of awards and out into the lobby, where there was Bryston's very first amp, built back in 1974, serial number 0001. Below it you can just see another one of their early amps with the white power button. The white was chosen to compliment the new white Bryston logo. Some time later they switched to a black button which caused the logo to be even more prominent and they got about 5 calls - "What did you do? You improved the sound so much, it's like night and day!" They were honest enough to admit that no circuit changes had been made and that the only change was cosmetic - but another amusing anecdote regarding psychoacoustics.

    Finally I left, grabbing a shot of the entrance.

    I would like to thank Brian for taking time out of his day on really short notice to show me around. He was obviously very proud of his company and its achievements. There were many, many indications that the company does what it takes to get things right and Brian was more than happy to show it all to me - a guy literally off the street.
    Current: SB2, Transporter, Boom (PQP3 - late beta, PQP1 - early beta), SBC (early beta), Squeezebox Radio (PB1 - early beta), Squeezebox Touch (late beta)
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  3. #3
    Senior Member mswlogo's Avatar
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    Awesome, thanks for sharing.

    Interesting comments on "Burn in", I'm glad you asked him.

    Regarding no parts pickers/wave solder. I'll bet, as most companies do they run a mix of automation and hand work. You need to do hand work for large parts and cables and amps obviously have a lot of large parts. But many chips and parts are have such fine pitch pins or are so small that you DON'T want to hand solder them !! And looking at the pics they have some high denisty parts and small parts there. They may get boards partially stuffed with the small high denisty parts from an outside source too. That what we do.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mswlogo View Post
    Regarding no parts pickers/wave solder. I'll bet, as most companies do they run a mix of automation and hand work. You need to do hand work for large parts and cables and amps obviously have a lot of large parts. But many chips and parts are have such fine pitch pins or are so small that you DON'T want to hand solder them !! And looking at the pics they have some high denisty parts and small parts there. They may get boards partially stuffed with the small high denisty parts from an outside source too. That what we do.
    I certainly didn't see that. I wish I had taken some shots of the assembly area now because I assure you all there was at the start of the line were bare boards in plastic bags. Person 1 did some work, passing it to person 2, etc. etc.

    However there are some truly small surface-mount components at the analog output section of their CDP (lower left corner of the photo), so you have a point. Also I don't think you could hand-solder the DSP in the SP 2.

    There is no automation in-house, at least nothing Brian showed me. He also made the distinction between what they do and what they have others do for them. He was very adamant that all circuit work is done by them but that ancillary things like chassis machining is done outside (I asked him this when I saw that stunning aluminum faceplate on the 28B SST - there was no equipment in-house that could produce this.)

    He also made a special point of showing the only piece of automation in the factory. I forget what it was for, sorry, but it looked like a small drill press and it was behind the silk-screening bench.
    Last edited by Mark Lanctot; 2007-05-24 at 08:34.
    Current: SB2, Transporter, Boom (PQP3 - late beta, PQP1 - early beta), SBC (early beta), Squeezebox Radio (PB1 - early beta), Squeezebox Touch (late beta)
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Anne's Avatar
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    Very nice Mark !
    And yes, that is the inside of the Bryston B100-DA SST you see there. Here is the test from Stereophile : http://www.bryston.ca/pdfs/07/34628_eprint.pdf
    An amp can hardly get better praise....
    Those interested in Bryston can see here also : http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/index.php?board=57.0
    Even James Tanner, VP of Bryston uses this forum.
    Squeezebox 3 > Bryston B100-DA SST > Martin Logan Aeon I

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anne View Post
    And yes, that is the inside of the Bryston B100-DA SST you see there.
    Thanks. I had to guess at what it was because the front panel wasn't complete, but based on the locations of components that's what I guessed.

    Sigh! More stuff to get when I'm rich! I keep waiting and waiting for that day. ;-)

    Even if a Bryston amp was in my budget, I don't have speakers that can do it justice. I have Energy Connoisseurs. If I upgraded to the Energy Veritas then definitely - those are apparently hungry speakers that need solid amplification.
    Current: SB2, Transporter, Boom (PQP3 - late beta, PQP1 - early beta), SBC (early beta), Squeezebox Radio (PB1 - early beta), Squeezebox Touch (late beta)
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Anne's Avatar
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    "When you get rich" ? Do you know that Bryston costs twice as much here in Europe than in the States !!
    Its a bargain in the States.....
    Know what you mean though....
    Squeezebox 3 > Bryston B100-DA SST > Martin Logan Aeon I

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anne View Post
    "When you get rich" ? Do you know that Bryston costs twice as much here in Europe than in the States !!
    Actually pricing is even better here (Canada) than in the U.S. because it's made here - Peterborough, Ontario, which is a very nice small city. Also the Canadian dollar is very high at the moment and Bryston stuff is almost certainly priced in $US and converted, as is everything.

    The stuff is still pricey though, but this equipment isn't built to a price point.
    Current: SB2, Transporter, Boom (PQP3 - late beta, PQP1 - early beta), SBC (early beta), Squeezebox Radio (PB1 - early beta), Squeezebox Touch (late beta)
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Skunk's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing Mark. Those were interesting pictures, but the fact that they let you in to take them on such short notice, guided by the president no less, _really_ says a lot about the company. Plus I adore the fact that they employ locals to build electronic devices :-)

    Should I ever need tons more wattage, Bryston will be very high on my short list.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skunk View Post
    Plus I adore the fact that they employ locals to build electronic devices :-)
    I had heard a rumour that they employed "old women weavers" (?) because of their manual dexterity but they can't be that old if they're still working. They certainly didn't appear older than other members of the general workforce.

    I can't tell a weaver from a non-weaver by looking ;-) but I suspect that this is an urban legend. However, it is true that most of their workers are female - probably 80%. This seems to be the case in electronics manufacturing in general though, look at the photos of plants in Asia.
    Current: SB2, Transporter, Boom (PQP3 - late beta, PQP1 - early beta), SBC (early beta), Squeezebox Radio (PB1 - early beta), Squeezebox Touch (late beta)
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