Bricasti M1 DAC vs PS Audio Direct Stream DAC

I own a PS Audio Direct Stream DAC that I like a lot but heard my friends system with the Bricasti M1 and I am strongly thinking of changing my DAC and would love your feedback from other members that have heard either or both. I know they are both great but really thinking of changing my Dac from PS Audio Direct Stream to the Bricasti M1 DAC. I use a HP Desk top computer as source with Jplay and JRiver Media 19 and the outstanding Tellurium Q BLACK DIAMOND Reference USB Cable. The rest of my system is below. I listen to Classic Rock, jazz, vocal, some modern music and the usual audiophile stuff.


My system for reference.

Ascendo C-8 Renaissance Speakers (Germany) Monitor
Purist Audio Design Corvus Praesto Revision 2.5m Bi-Wire Speaker cable
Cardas Clear Interconnect 1 Meter RCA Interconnect
Darwin TRUTH Pure Silver Reference 1 Meter RCA Interconnect
Darwin TRUTH Pure Silver Reference 1 Meter RCA Interconnect
Audio Research REFERENCE 1 w/Rhodium IEC/NOS Tubes Tube preamp
Decware ZSTAGE External Triode Output StageTelefunken ECC801S
PS Audio Direct Stream DSD DAC w/ Bridge DA converter
Tellurium Q BLACK DIAMOND Reference USB Cable
PS Audio PerfectWave PowerBase Vibration Cancelation/AC Condtioner
Conrad Johnson Premier 12 Mono's 140 Watts Tung-Sol KT120's amps
PS Audio PowerPlant Premier AC Regenerator
BMI Shark Pure Jeweler Grade Platinum AC Power Cable
Sablon Audio Petite Corona 2.0M AC Power Cable
Mad Scientist PC-NEO with Power Purifier AC Power Cable
JPS Labs The Power AC+ 2M AC Power Cable
Synergistic Research Labs Tesla Series SE T1 AC Power Cable
Synergistic Research Labs Tesla Series T1 AC Power Cable
PS Audio Noise Harvester (5) Converts noise to light
OYAIDE RI Beryllium Power Outlets (2)
Hubbell Outlet 5362/5262 Deep Cryo Process
Blue Circle Audio The Yalu Balula Industrial Surge/Spike Protection
JPLAY v5.2 hi-end audio player turns PC into a digital transport.
JRiver Media Center 19 Music Software
128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xfsmithjack
Interesting post, as I own the Bricasti M1 and am intrigued by all the raves I'm hearing about the PS DirectStream. Have you installed the latest Pikes Peak OS firmware for the DS that was just released? It's supposed to be another significant step forward and it's free to try. I think that the only way to really know how these two great DACs compare would be to try them out simultaneously in your own system. Otherwise it's all simply speculation. Maybe someone out there has compared them side by side and could share their thoughts on the outcome.
Owning a DS running Pikes Peak and having previously owned a Ref 1, which was replaced by a MUCH better pre, which was outdone by running the DS direct to my amps, I have to ask you if you have tried your DS direct? To obtain the full potential of the DS it also demands that you re-dial in your system.
I have a PS Audio Direct Stream and love it. Prior to purchasing it a good friend told me to get the Bricasti M1. He said it sounds better than the Direct Stream. The M1 was simply out of my price range.
Our love of music and obsession with always trying to get just a little better sound is expensive. I believe the M1 is 9K and though price doesn't always indicate better sound, in this case my friend said it does.
No I have not tried that upgrade yet! I am going to try it now. Its tough so many love the DirectStream and I really like it but a few people that I have read about say the M1 is much better so its tough. Would love to do a side by side but for now some feedback from the folks on here would be great and def helpful and I know its just opinions but I find them helpful for sure from this great site. Would love to hear from anyone that has any feedback.
Hi Mrderrick,

Honestly I have had a bunch of pre's and trust me the REF 1 is only a decent pre but nothing crazy. The Rhodium IEC that allowed the use of the excellent over achieving Mad Scientist PC-NEO with Power Purifier AC Power Cable and NOS tubes really has helped this pre out and made it much better. I traded a CAT SL-1 Sig MK III for it in my system with the mods/tweeks I find it better for sure but with either there was no comparison. Really not even close. I tried no pre just the other day for the heck of it. Such better controlled and tighter bass and much more solid imaging with the Ref 1. I was astounded and quite surprised when I put my pre back in just last night how much better with the pre. One of the reasons that made think of the DAC change that a decent but not all world pre would offer such an improvement made me think what would happen if I upgraded my source but also this is without the new update so that could make a big change. I also use the PS Audio base for vibration control and plug the DAC into a PS Audio Power Plant Premier so I have been pretty invested in PS Audio gear. I have read before people like these without a pre better and I just can't see how anyone could over think that but each system and preference is different but it was very obvious in my system. Thank so much for the feedback though I really do appreciate it.
Had them both. Not close. M1 kills it. I had two DS, thought first one a lemon. So bought another one with latest updates. Little better. Both made a lot of noise. Measure bad. I don't get the hype. Running in 50k system.
Its good to hear that you did give the DS a go direct. I also use a PS Power Base. Are you using a footer to couple the DS to the Base, or is the DS resting on its own feet? I found that a " bearing " type footer brings out the best of the DS with the Power Base. My Power Base is connected to a PS P300 with the DS connected to the Base.
This is a great post...I am struggling with the same decision. Right now I have the DS on loan from my local audio store.

The DAC's I am considering:

PS Audio DS
Aesthetix Pandora
Bicasti M1
Playback Designs 3

I am hoping to get the Aesthetix in on trial, but the others are not in my area. These are hard items to audition!
I had an audiophile friend over for a music session this past Saturday. he has very good ears and when I mentioned that I had considered the Bricasti, he said he preferred the PS Audio DSD & that was before I installed the Pikes peak upgrade.
To be fair, the Bricasti has had several upgrades since its introduction that each made significant improvements to its level of performance. So when comparisons are being made it would be helpful to know whether it was against the latest version. Units with firmware v1.22 have all of the latest software and hardware upgrades which include DSD128 support.
Oh nice thanks. What footers are you using? I run my cj mono's through the base as it is passive and plug my ds into my ppp. I use a sablon corona petite ac cable for ds and jps ac+ ac cable for the base to drive my mono's with a bmi shark ac cable to run my ppp. I actually use a decware external triode output stage after my ds before my ref 1. this maybe why my ref 1 sounds so nice. I have tried again and again so many times to get rid of this external triode output stage with hopes that it would not be needed with new equipment but i just can't its impossible. Tons and tons of A/B comparisons. Had it with my wfs dac2, Ayre qb-9, ps audio pw mkII and now the ds and it just adds so much and really no downside or trade off so to speak that I can detect. Just deeper, wider, more vibrant and colorful 3d sound as triodes always seem to ad. This sound is fuller and deeper and more palatable and I think it may compensate for those that call the ARC's semi bleached sound. Really it is like having the ds dac modded with a real nice triode output stage except it has benefit of noise isolation in its own robust enclose.
With it I use a fantastic pure silver darwin truth interconnect and nos tele ECC801S and another Sablon cable. All in Its about a $3k mod that as much as I have tried can't seem to not use. At max it adds 5v of gain but i run it at about 3.2 volts and it really makes the vocals standout against the rest of the image. The images are rounder and fuller and more natual and feel realer. It almost feels like cheating it adds so much but I mention this in detail only because I think it really adds to a decent tube pre and makes it much much better than the pre would be by itself. I know many people say simpler is better and all that but what is great is you can always unplug if you don't want to use but that was my thought before I starting using it and just can't get it out. Would love to hear more about the Bricasti is anyone has info. Thanks so much...
PS Audio just up grade the direct stream with new firm ware check it out its better than the last upgrade. and its free.
The best DAC I have heard for under $10K was the Bricasti M1. It has great extension and creates a big soundstage. The PS Direct Stream sounded good when I heard a demo, but overall it seemed a little edgy/fatiguing. So I still prefer the Bricasti. Is there any possible way to demo the Bricasti before buying it. If not, look to buy used if possible.

Also, Bricasti seldom comes up for sale used, a good sign to me, but the used market in the last 4 years was constantly flooded with used PS Audio Perfect Wave DACs, the last PS Audio DAC that supposedly broke the mold and later ended up looking like a former "Flavor ot the month" that had passed its sell by date. I doubt the Direct Stream will hold its value either, especially since it seems to get somewhat mixed reviews from people who have heard it or own it. It seems to need 1000 hours of break-in to sound its best, and even then it is not universally loved by owners. Reviewers are another story.

Whish PSA DSD upgrade are you referring to? When did it come out?

Thanks. I am a huge fan of this DAC.

Neal - The Pikes Peak OS upgrade was just released from PS Audio about two days ago.
The PS DSD DAC is interesting because it is FPGA based and not chip based. Not sure about M1. Has anyone compared the PS with Chord DSD DACs? They are both FPGA based. Wonder how Chord DAC compares to Bricasti.
Hey Mcondon,

Great info! Thanks so much that is super helpful info... Thank you... I can tell you I just did the Pikes Peak OS Upgrade and it is fantastic. I guess you have give PS Audio some credit when you can go onto their website download a software upgrade and in many ways it totally changes the DAC. If I had done this before I got the Bricasti stuck in my brain I probably never would have been thinking about the change but we all know how that goes... Its that good! Everyone that owns one of these needs to do it and ASAP. That said I am still all about the M1 so any other feedback would be very much appreciated. Thanks
My advice would be to upgrade the Transport before looking to change Dacs.

Perhaps the Sonore Sig Rendu doing i2s to the DS Dac...or a CAPs server with Win2012 Audiophile Optimiser with HQ Player upsampling to high rate DSD....or using a SoTM-100 as a Network audio player in-between?

To be economical, you could also get an Auralic Aries streamer and eventually mod it for even higher performance. Their firmware update yesterday apparently lifetd it up a notch.
My advice would be to upgrade the Transport before looking to change Dacs.
Thanks Ricred1 and Bill_K,

I have ordered a few 2gb SD cards and will download and upgrade. as what I am reading says it is an audible improvement. Will report after this is done.

I guess changing transport would be a good idea if I knew more about it prob would have been better. Any advice you guys have please share - please. I work a ton and went with a i5 new computer. I also have a MacMini I7 but Jplay in computer is way better than the Mac IMO. JRiver Media Center 19 and Jplay 5.2 and a super great USB Cable and that was about my depth level on that end. Guess I should look at the transport. Guess it would help with the DS or the M1 but good point and if you know of any tips please share. Thanks
I ordered the SD card from PS Audio. It only took three minutes to upload, but I haven't had time to listen. Hopefully, I will get an opportunity tomorrow.

Thank so much for the info? Do you guys think this SoTM-100 would improve the sound over regular computer usb? They are $450 and i will buy one now to try it if you guys think it will be an upgrade? Thanks
Wisnon is right, upgrade the transport first. If you want to keep what you have, you can try a reclocker like the Synchro-Mesh.

BTW, both of these DACs were in shootout and recent review of Empirical Audio Overdrive SE DAC. The Overdrive beat them both.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Your best source would be an Antipodes Linux-based server driving an Off-Ramp USB converter powered by a Dynamo Hynes-based power supply and then S/PDIF to your DAC using my BNC-BNC cable. Replaces the built-in USB interface with a really good one. The source is really more important than the DAC.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Yes I have heard the Overdrive SE DAC is a very nice DAC indeed. Not sure it is quite there yet in the uber competitive lower upper class of to name just a few Lampi, Berkeley, Meitner, Bricasti, MSB, dCS and it looks as if the DirectStream has poked its heard into there as well into this prestigious group. I know there are others this is small list but listed it to name the main charterers imo. Good to see your grass routes approach to the brands development which is meant as a compliment. I wish I knew more about the transport side of things. Looks like I have some work to do for sure. I very much appreciate the feedback. Correct me if I am wrong but I would assume any improvement I make in the transport area will provide benefits to any / all of the above mentioned DACS. With this group mentioned above do you really think their USB implementation is not good enough and really needs an off ramp? I have no doubt the off ramp will offer improvement but these are some pretty serious, engineering driven companies that seem to have paid decent attention to their USB's inputs but I am happy to always learn more from those that know much more than I. The transport/computer side of things is sort of a blur for me as evidence by my just using JPlay, a killer USB cable and JRiver in a plain old HP i5 Desktop. Would love to hear and learn more...Thanks
This is probably a really dum question but as you can see the transport / computer side of this stuff has me at a loss like I had mentioned earlier but could I still use JRiver and the JRemote on my iPhone with a " Antipodes Linux-based server driving an Off-Ramp USB converter powered by a Dynamo Hynes-based power supply and then S/PDIF to your DAC using my BNC-BNC cable ". Thanks. Could I use a " Antipodes Linux-based server driving the USB in my DAC and then maybe also use a Dynamo Hynes-based power supply? Thanks
Hello 02-14-15: Audioengr,

I just read about the Synchro-Mesh and was excited about the idea of it and then when reading about it I noticed it has no USB in? How do I go from my computer to it and then to my DAC with only Inputs of Toslink, RCA, BNC. you had said i could keep things the same and try this but I don't see how? It is stuff like this I am not familiar with so maybe there is a way I am just not seeing??
Just spent the day with a pre-production Dartzeel LHC-208 Integrated amp/ethernet streamer/Dac. It is da bomb. 200wpc and costs circa $13K.

Will be ready in about a month or 2. only downside is that its already backordered.
Fsmith wrote:
"Not sure it is quite there yet in the uber competitive lower upper class of to name just a few Lampi, Berkeley, Meitner, Bricasti, MSB, dCS and it looks as if the DirectStream has poked its heard into there as well into this prestigious group."

It is there. It has beaten all of these in reviews and shootouts.

Read these:

"Correct me if I am wrong but I would assume any improvement I make in the transport area will provide benefits to any / all of the above mentioned DACS. With this group mentioned above do you really think their USB implementation is not good enough and really needs an off ramp?"

Yes and Yes.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
"Could I use a " Antipodes Linux-based server driving the USB in my DAC and then maybe also use a Dynamo Hynes-based power supply?"

The Dynamo is only for powering the Off-Ramp or Synchro-Mesh.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
"I just read about the Synchro-Mesh and was excited about the idea of it and then when reading about it I noticed it has no USB in?"

The SM is for reclocking Sonos, apple-TV, transports, Squeezebox, computer S/PDIF etc...

The Off-Ramp is for USB to S/PDIF, I2S, AES/EBU

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Thanks for all the info and Time Steve. Can the The Short Block USB Filter be used with the Bricasti and will it be a helpful addition? Thanks
If the Bricasti does not need the +5V in the USB cable, it will work. Ask them or refer to the specs.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Thanks for all of the info. I have made the deal and am trading my PS Audio DirectStream DAC and its matching powerbase and cash of course for a Brand New Bricasti M1 USB DAC and should have by Thursday so I will share my thoughts on the difference DACS with you guys.

As I stated I was very impressed with the Pikes Peak OS Upgrade and really enjoyed my DirectStream DAC a lot. It was the best DAC I have ever owned by far and I have owned other PS Audio DACs as well. The MKI and the MK II and used the Bridge with the DirectStream as well. I think I have a pretty good feel for the DAC using it with a decent amount of different speakers, preamp's and amps as well so I think the time I spent with it really allowed me to get a real good feel for it and an idea of the DAC how it works with the different equipment listed below. Here is the equipment that I owned and was fortunate to spend extended time using with my DirectStream DAC:

Martinlogan Spire
Audio Physic Virgo
Kharma CRM 3.2 FE
Wilson Sophia 2
Merlin TSM-MMI
Sonus Faber Cremona Audior
Ascendo C8 Renaissance, my current speakers which are so much better than anything else I have listed above and by far.

Decware CSP2+ with V-Caps
Sonic Euphoria PLC
Manley Jumbo Shrimp
JE Audio VL19 Balanced Pre
CAT SL-1 Signature MK III w/Phono
Audio Research Reference 1 MKII my current pre.

Manley Snappers
Premialuna Prologue 1 Integrated
BAT VK-600
Premialuna Prologue 6 Mono Blocks
Pass Labs Aleph 5
Conrad Johnson Premier 12 Monoblocks (KT120's) Current

I have used some different power cables, interconnects and USB cables as well. I REALLY REALLY like the Darwin TRUTH interconnects with this DAC. I think they go amazing with this DAC and I liked the Cardas Clear as well but the TRUTH better, actually a lot better. They are special with this DAC a perfect synergy match imo. I also used a PS Audio PowerBase for Isolation and vibration control and used the PS Audio Power Plant Premier to clean the up the AC and I used the outstanding Tellurium Q BLACK DIAMOND Reference USB Cable that was by the best I ever used and much better than Audioquest Coffee and Diamond and Wireworld platinum usb cable and Darwin USB. For power cables I used:

PS Audio AC5 amd AC12
Nordost Blue Haven
Synergistic Research Labs Master Coupler
Sablon Audio Petite Corona AC Power Cable
Mad Scientist PC-NEO with Power Purifier AC Power Cable
JPS Labs The Power AC+ AC Power Cable
Synergistic Research Labs Tesla Series SE T1 AC Cable
Synergistic Research Labs Tesla Series T1 AC Cable
BMI Shark AC Power Cable

I will give you guys my thought on the Bricasti M1 but please anyone else that can provide some feedback on either of these DAC's would be appreciated for sure. Thanks
This is very interesting. The PP upgrade was just released a week ago and though you seem impressed by it, you are going for the Bricasti M1 now. The Bricasti M1 has had great reviews but I am just curious - did you bring back a demo unit for audition in your home system before making that decision? Or is it that the PP firmware did not synergise well with your system? At other forums, those who don't like it have rolled back to the previous version.
Hello and thanks. I liked it a lot. I have them both on a little thumb cards so super easy to use either at any time. I think the pp upgrade is a big improvement but each persons system and preference is different.

My changing DACs is not because anything the DS did wrong or doesn't do in my system but more to do with my new speakers I think.

What I mean by that is that they are so much better and so superior to anything else I have ever had and they resolve and image so incredibly well that every little upgrade change has provided such clear and discernible improvements that it is this I think that has propelled me to try and really dial the rest of my system in and focus on the so important source.

This thread has been great because I now have a better understanding of my need to improve my transport after I change my DAC. My new speakers have really improved my knowledge and understanding of recorded music that I am looking to really nail down eve everything best I can.

I have heard the Bricasti M1 DAC multiple time at Fidelis in NH the Harbeth US Distributor and local Wilson dealer and it really struck me. It not only sounds "right" it really had a presence that wasn't analogue per say but made the music feel closer and more alive. I had that pop and drive that was special and it was so smooth and so resolving it seems to be on another level than what I have been accustomed to. It reached out and grabbed me and it remains to be seen if I can get that same type of presence in my system but my hope is with this DAC and an improved transport solution combined with what I think are great speakers will get me the sound i'm driving for but you never know and part of me is nervous because I know what I have now and that is a very special and outstanding DAC so we'll see...

As I said the Transport is half the equation here and the DS is compatible with the SS Rendu via i2s HDMI cable.

This is a superb link as it has a ethernet to i2S conversion board (with clean/isolated power distribution network) inside it that galvanically isolates the crud from packetized data streams like Ethernet and USB. THEN to avoid recontamination, it uses the Low voltage diffential signalling (LVDS) to stream i2S DIRECTLY to the DS Dac...stopping all the upstream crud from contaminating the Dac. Ultra elegant solution. The SSR is also benefitting from clean power inside it, as no switchers are used throughout.

Only like 7 Dac brands are compatible and the DS is one, so an almost tailor made solution, emulating the tightest possible integration between dac and Transport.

A reclocker here would be a waste of money as Ted Smith guaranteed an elaborate reclocking scheme for all input into the DS, as all incoming data goes thru the same preparation process into the same buffer.

On another note, the soon to be released dartzeel LHC-208 has a 2 clock system and the 2nd master clock in not in any PLL circuit and he says that is the special secret sauce he has for that sweet/fast analog sound
Yes I am really glad to now better understand the importance of the transport. I kind of wish I knew about that streaming transport before I mentally committed to the M1 but I am thinking my next move after the M1 is to go with a Auralic Aries streamer transport. It will allow me to still use my beloved Tellurium Q Black Diamond USB cable and keep using my JRiver. I m not a computer pro for sure. I tried combining all my music on one drive and now I have three of the same songs in a row on every album and have no idea how to fix it. The computer stuff is a little over my head so to buy a ready made transport seems like a good idea and I hope it add nice sq improvement.

I hear yah.

If you do the Aries, get the more expensive one with the double clocks (one dedicated to the USB) and the LPSU. Also, get the soon to be released Regen USB unit from Uptone Audio. It can be found via the Computeraudiophile program as of March 15 or so. It treats the USB in a similar but less elaborate way compared to the SSR mentioned by me above.

Regarding song duplication, i guess you can go about this a few ways…the easiest being in Windows or Mac where you go and arrange the music folder contents by name. The identical one will line up together in a bunch and you use your delete key with abandon….just be careful that they are true duplicates and not different formats of the same music, ie rbcd/mp3/dsd/iso files/PCM hires at different rates/flac/wav/aiff, etc. Besure of what you want to keep.

For identical albums with diffent names/metadata….that will be harder to find and sort, and will take real stickitoitivity to get thru.
Thanks - what is a Regen USB unit from Uptone Audio and what does it do? Would it help using it just with my computer or does it need to go with a streamer transport. Thx
It would help with any USB terminal of any Dac. There is a sizable thread about it at ComputerAudiophile forum. Do a search.
Check out this thread:

If what one of the guys says is true then spending 8K on a DAC without listening to this about to be released $2300 DAC might be foolish
Ric - I'm also very intrigued by the Yggdrasil DAC. I just contacted Schiit for an update on its expected availability, and they responded "End Q1". Stay tuned for additional user feedback and reviews at that point.
It does not do DSD (a must for me) and as I own a Lampi Big7, I assure you there is no Dac out there that can give me any regrets and I have heard plenty, like the Trinity, EMM Labs, Rowland, CH, TotalDac, Devialet, Metrum, dCS, Zanden, Audio Note, MSB platinum, Diresct Stream, Hugo, etc.

Lampi is a tonality king...
Them there are some mighty fine big boy - big pants DACs. Them there former Theta folks at Schiit never intended to play with these fella's regardless of what their marketing folks may be pushing. They make mighty fine stuff in their price points and wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being the DAC to beat in that $2k to $3k range these DACs on this list are the tip of the spear in the Vanguard. Each company is a price no object approach and keeps tweaking and dialing these beasts in with updates that no $2k DAC could ever compete with. The parts quality required just cost too much regardless how a great a design...
Wow, that is practically a who's who list of dac's. I wish I could audition the Lampi7 but no such luck where I live. When you have heard them all and settled on the Lampi7, it's got to be something very special. :)
Wisnon. Have you compared any different levels of the Lampis? Unfortunately I could only afford a level 4 (used), but have been curious how that compares to other options (like the PWD and DSD). Unfortunately, I need need four remote switchable digital inputs, so that limits the options somewhat. Like you, I'm most interested in tonality.
Ricevs - every manufacturer seems to claim their next DAC is the ultimate giant killer and has zero jitter as well (impossible). I have seen many flops recently. I would listen before buying.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio