BAlabo BD-1 DAC, BC-1 MK-II Control Amp, & BP-1 MK-II Power Amp

When I profiled the incredible Transmission Audio Ultimate speaker system last year, I mentioned that the $2,000,000 package includes power amps and a preamp from Bridge Audio Laboratory, otherwise known by the odd contraction BAlabo. Here, I concentrate on these two beauties by themselves, along with BAlabo's new 2-channel DAC.

After a digital source device, the typical signal path starts with the DAC (digital-to-analog converter). Introduced at CES last January, the BD-1 provides XLR, BNC, and RCA digital inputs as well as two channels of balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA outputs. Users can manually select a sampling rate of 32, 44.1, 48, 96, or 192kHz, or the device can automatically select the rate based on the input signal. Also, the signal can be upsampled by 2x or 4x.

The BC-1 MK-II 2-channel, linestage preamp—often called a "control amp" in Japan—provides three balanced XLR and two unbalanced RCA analog inputs as well as balanced and unbalanced outputs and a balanced record loop. A unique post-attenuation architecture amplifies the input signal before it hits the volume control, preserving dynamic range and low-level linearity.

From the preamp, the signal reaches the BP-1 MK-II power amp, which provides both balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA inputs and an independent stepped attenuator for each channel. This 165-pound beast generates 500Wpc into 8Ω with a frequency response that varies by no more than –0.1dB from 20Hz to 20kHz and –1.0dB from 5Hz to 100kHz.

The BC-1 and BP-1 have received raves from the audiophile press, and I'm sure the BD-1 is no slouch, either. But I would expect no less for this kind of scratch—the BD-1 lists for $37,500, the BC-1 MK-II goes for $59,500, and the BP-1 MK-II costs $77,500. That's a grand total of $174,500 for all three—hardly chump change, but an investment that is likely to transport you to 2-channel nirvana.