Within half an hour, I had the A2s positioned so that I heard a 3-dimensional soundstage with decent width and depth. Their wide dispersion characteristic offers superb stereo imaging and relatively easy set-up.
I drove the A2s with the following amplifiers: A), an Assemblage ST-40 tube amp; B), bi-amped with two Sonic Frontiers Power-1 tube amps; C), a Modwright KWA-150 solid state amp; and D), a pair of Wyetech Labs “Ruby” XR 300B S.E.T. monoblocks.
The A2s are one of the most neutral pairs of speakers I’ve ever heard. These speakers will tell you exactly what your source components and amplifiers sound like. Neutrality is their strongest sonic characteristic.
I started my listening tests with Valerie Joyce’s New York Blue (Chesky JD316). Produced by David Chesky, this collection of classic jazz songs and pop covers has phenomenal sonics.
Accompanied by pianist Andy Ezrin, Laurence Feldman on saxophone, and several bassists, the album has Joyce singing tunes by Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart, Miles Davis, and even the Beatles.
On tracks like Fever, Blue in Green, Every Time, Moon and Sand, and Little Wing, the A2s produced a phenomenal, walk-through soundstage that made her voice sound intoxicatingly smoky and sexual. Most speakers that I’ve auditioned in this price range don’t reveal the subtle nuances in Joyce’s smouldering voice. The Model A2 delivered a stunning rendition of her haunting and unnerving vocals.
With Joyce’s sultry voice, I clearly heard how spacious, open, and articulate the Model A2 is. Enveloped in a breathtaking 3-dimensional soundstage, the superb mid-bass articulation and phenomenal low end slam that the A2s created was a tactile pleasure to listen to. I closed my eyes, imagined myself seated in a cozy jazz club, and sank right into the music on a deeply emotional level.
As I wanted to hear if the A2s could handle far heavier and faster bass, I next tried Sepultura’s head-thrashing album Roots (RoadRunner RR8900-2). This disc has superb sonics that showcase mid-bass and low bass percussion played at neck-snapping speeds. The A2s firmly—and accurately—reproduced the texture and timbre of all of the low-frequency instruments used on the album.
With punishingly heavy songs like Roots Bloody Roots, Cut-Throat, Look Away, Dusted, Born Stubborn, and Ambush, the A2s created the thundering dynamics, white knuckle death-grip anger, and hell-hammer inspired low-end slam of the Brazilian death-metal band’s roaring songs with jaw-rattling finesse.
Most floorstanding speakers under the $10K retail mark make a muddled mess of the lower frequencies on Roots. The A2s energized my listening room and provided a bass foundation that was remarkably taut and accurate.
It’s the air and space around and within bass instruments that let a listener know whether a speaker’s recreating low frequencies accurately. The A2s produced bass notes with a palpable sense of the instrument’s size, weight, and tone. The low end was precise and had superb timbral accuracy.
Finally I cued-up The Firm’s first self-titled album The Firm (RCA VDP-1016). Released in 1985 and featuring Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) on guitar and Paul Rodgers (Bad Company) on vocals, the sonics on this disc are excellent.
Songs like Closure, Make or Break, Radioactive, Satisfaction Guaranteed, and Money Can’t Buy, all showcase Page’s mid-1980s musical creativity. And the A2s delivered every note of his inspired guitar lines in all of their majesty.
With most floorstanding speakers in the $3K price range, turning the volume up usually results in a horrific loss of control in the lower registers. The woofers often emit unexpected noises. Unlike this, the Model A2 loves to be played loud. They maintain their PRaT and timbral accuracy at deafening volume levels. Bryston explains: “We also use multiple drive units in parallel so that the system can play louder with less effort than a single driver solution.”
Do you want to push the moon back a few feet with concert-level SPLs, but still need to hear excellent sound quality – especially in the lower octaves? The A2 is the speaker to do it.
All that Bryston learned from designing, building, and tweaking the Model T has clearly trickled down to their Model A2 floorstanders.
The A2s image like an $8,000 dollar pair of bookshelf monitors. Midrange PRaT and timbral purity is about 90% of what the best electrostatic speakers offer. They also have better mid-bass timbral accuracy and superior low frequency extension than many pairs of floorstanding speakers that cost 3 to 4 times as much.
If a pair of A2s had a sticker price of $12K, I wouldn’t be very excited about them. With an MSRP of $2,790, they are a true ‘giant killer’. Nothing – I repeat… nothing – I have yet heard under the $6K retail price point even comes close to delivering the low end slam, mid-bass articulation, and midrange purity of these speakers.
Bryston Model A2 Loudspeakers
Price: $2,790/pair CAD
Outriggers (optional): $280 CAD