Bricasti M1 - where is the music

I had a chance to audition the highly-praised Bricasti M1 at my dealer. The associated gear include ATC 100 passive floor stander, ML pre and mono block. We used playback designs MPS5 for comparison and as the transport. I auditied this DAC hoping to use it as a secondary source to my Klimax.

We used primarily Diana Krell's CDs, including Live in Paris, and violin solo and concertos.

The positive:

M1 is technically excellent. The highs are extended without harshness. Mids are fairly transparent. Bass hits deep with power and definition. M1 reminds me of DAC1 and dare I say it's a souped up DAC1 in every respect (could be a good or bad thing)

The negative:

I would say the biggest weakness and ultimately my dismissal of this otherwise technically proficient DAC is its ulter lack of musicality. For example, human voice do not sound real and organic when compared with MPS-5. When Diana sings, I did not get the imagery of her singing. Like the mids, the highs on M1 leave much to be desired. For example, symbols in Living in Paris and violin solos lack the real life quality associated with those instrument. M1 sounded just like another digital DAC, displaying all the negative aspect of digital music. On the very high notes of violin, all I heard was a monotone sound, without the usual harmonics and woodiness I am used to with Klimax and what I heard on MPS-5. Soundstage of M1 feels contrived and not realistic. I did not hear the complex layering as with he MPS-5, nor did I hear as deep of a soundstage.

I believe if you like how DAC-1 sounds and wants a more refined and upgraded version of that sound, M1 may be a great choice. However, if you value real-life organic sound with music unfolding in a natural way, you may want to look elsewher

Overall I was very disappointed in the M1 when I had very high expectations after reading the latest review in an audio magazine.
I`m very familiar with the sound of the Playback Designs(your reference) good choice. I know exactly what you mean concerning other digital players that present a sterile,clinical and non-involving sound(lacks emotion and 'soul').

Three excellent examples of natural/organic-very involving players are the Modwright modfied OPPO CD/SACD,Yamamoto YDA-01 DAC and the Concert Fidelity 040 DAC. All 3 of them produce honest realism of voice and instruments with humsnity and the 'breath of life' engagement. IOW music and not 'hifi'.
i had the same feeling with the m1

on the same day i compared it to the zodiac gold voltikus. this dac had great tone and outstanding detail. but its surgical character destroyed the rythm and flow in the music.
I think one needs to be very careful about assigning blame for lack of musicality to the DAC; I run a Zodiac Gold + Voltikus directly into a Wavac EC-300b and find that musicality is much more a function of the server settings than any thing else: depending on how set the mach2music server running Purevinyl, in terms of upsampling, hog mode, memory preaassign, toggle for less-is-more and phase I get to a range of results from absolute state of the art to atrocious and in all scenarios the DAC beats my Audio Aero Capitole SE by lengths, the latter usually being acclaimed as one of the most musical DACs. And beyond that the choice of USB or Sp/DIF cables (in my case USB by Most Beautiful Sound and SP/DIF by Acoustic Revive) adds yet another important dimension. Unfortunately most digital product reviews assign all results to one of the components and that is clearly nonsense.
You make some valid points.Once those factors have been accounted for and if the DAC is the 'only' change(varible)in a system then differences become apparent compared to other units.
I agree with Chesebert some DACs/CD players are just better musically than others.What one prefers is of course subjective as always.

There are a number of filters and some of those have been "switched around" so I am not sure whether that dealer had it on the right setting. I would recommend you take the Bricasti out for a home audition.
Funny enough, I spent an afternoon last week auditioning the M1, compared with the Alpha DAC series 2. Both are excellent, natural and well extended into both frequency extremes. The Alpha however has an edge with pace and rhythm. Felt more enjoyable to listen to, but can not pin point to what element that may have caused this as they seemed to be on par when you focus on individual strengths. All other equipments are the same.
So you compared the $13K PD with the $8K Bricasti and preferred the more expensive component. Why should that surprise anyone? I thought that was the way things were supposed to work. I know people are fond of saying that spending more doesn't always get you better sound and sometimes that's true, but many times it isn't the case.
I've been using the M1 in our reference system since August. It is a replacement to the Accustic Arts DAC1 Mk. IV.

IMO, its not the type of DAC that you can spend a little bit of time with in a showroom. The filter settings sound radically different. When I first put it into my system I had to find the filter setting that worked best with my system. Once I found the filter I preferred it really locked in with the system.

The M1 makes you put a little bit of work into it but when you do I think you will find it rewarding. Its the best digital I've ever heard in our system - and the musical by far.
I've been listening to the M1 for several months and I find it an advantage that I have 7 filters to choose from. It takes a bit of listening to settle on one. IMO the dynamics, transparency and musicality without any listener fatigue are amazing. I am using an Esoteric x-03 as a transport, so it's CD based....BTW, in the above post the #4 filter mentioned is not the same as the #4 filter John Marks used in his Stereophile review of the M1.
It appears that filter 4 that I used may not be the most optimal. I may go for another listen when I get some time.

So are the filters numbers on every DAC different? Or just the ones sent in for review? Why the discrepancy?

I am not so certain that more filters is a good thing. There is exactly one filter for Klimax and it makes beautiful music no matter what type of music played (even the less-well recorded ones).


It's great to hear BADA2 is matching Bricasti M1 technically while adding the much needed musicality


I think that you point out perhaps the biggest problem with selecting audio equipment. You just need time to really determine if you love the sound or not. Does it move you, is it involving, is it satisfying?

It appears that Bricasiti has changed the filters so that the one that you were listening to was not the one that John Marks loved. Filter ! is now what was filter 4.

As a dealer for Bricasti I have to say that I have always hated listening in shops or even the CES show rooms. Everything is new, every piece of equipment in the chain. All new, all unfamiliar. I hate it..... I would say take the gear home and spend at least 8 hours listening to it.

The best
In the manufacturers' comments following the Bricasti M1 review in the latest Stereophile, the M1 designer explains the filter update.
Filters have been added. The sequence has changed a bit. Don't go by what a reviewer used. You need to spend time with the M1 and experiment with it in your system.

For example, I found that I preferred a different filter for hi rez to the one I settled on for Redbook. Sometimes I like a different filter for 24/96 vs 24/192. Lots of flexibility lets you fine tune for a specific recording.

I bet if you take it home and live with it a bit you will develop a different impression of the M1.
From my (limited) experience, different filters affect presence, decay and naturalness of the instruments, but not so much about pace and rhythm.

I've only heard the Berkeley DAC on a very limited basis at Goodwin's so I can't comment on it. I'm sure its reputation exists for a reason and the new version is even better. You raised the issue of PRAT. CDs are our business. I operate 4 different labels plus an extensive distribution service. I take digital very seriously and I've had some excellent DACs in our reference system over the years. I specifically remember one night of listening after I had the M1 "locked in". I actually laughed out loud because it was the first time I ever found myself tapping my foot along to the music. Considering our raison d'etre is progressive isn't easily done!! YMMV.
In the current filter set (firmware ver 0.06), in my system I found the best sound for 44khz material is #2. The best sound for everything else, i.e. 48/88/96khz is filter #1

John Marks in his March issue of Stereophile said he still prefers #1 in the updated filter set, I guess may be because he used 48khz material for comparison. For CD material, you should really try #2 before formulate your opinion on the dac.
I think #0 is a safe start as no body really hate #0.

Filter #1-#5 are "special" low delay filters. "Special" means somebody like, somebody don't. Out of these special filter, as i said, I prefer #1 for everything except 44khz. For redbook, I use #2 instead.
I think that having a plethora of filters is nothing other than the designer's abrogation of the responsibility to listen. In the old days having sound filters (albeit in the analogue domain) was seriously snickered upon by serious audiophiles
Currently have the m1 and PBD mpd3 in my home doing an ab comparison and found them so close in sound..I stayed so far with only one filter setting on the m1 since the mod doesn't have any. However found one anomaly in the m1 favor, there appears to be a comparability issue with the PhD piece in my system since when not playing music and connected via xlr there is hissing and electronic noise coming from the pbd .I have simaudio 350p and 400m Mono s so and I've tried several other dads all dead quite except the Playback, so in my shootout the m1 is the best each I've heard, others were weiss202,zodiac gold,Bel canto 2.5 (wish I had the 3.5 ) esoteric k5 ,Hegel, and 300d sim
It just needs a low-jitter source and it will sound good, as most DACs will. See the Stereophile review:

The digital source master clock is actually more important than the DAC itself. This is what delivers the realizm in the vocals. Read the reviews and you will see lots of evidence for this.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
at the rsik of generalizing, i would say that my experience has uncovered the following:

a solid state device is generally not preferable to a tubed device. obviously, there are poorly designed tubed components and lousy tubes.

what i am saying is that in general, take the best solid state device and you will find a tubed device that sounds better.

i have heard decent dacs, in the past, forsell and older wadias, e.g., but i have found that there was always a preferable tubed dac or player.

considering components in production today, solid state digital hardware is inferior , in my opinion to older less resolving players and dacs, and of the digital gear i have owned, i have always preferred a tube in the circuit.

when i heard the bricasti i too was underwhelmed. i'd rather own the original minmax with a brimar 12at7 or 12au7.

i suppose, in all fairness, the subject of this thread recalls the essence of the argument among audiophiles, tubes vs solid state.
i fully agree with Audioengr: compared to jittery servers and bad clocks which are clearly digital issues, sound differences between converters are small in my experience. There is an argument for analogue attenuation, whether passive or via preamp. In my eperience on digital devices, insertion of a preamp is generally less productive than that of a passive attenuator. While I am a great fan of tubes for amplification, to wit: I use a Wavac EC300B, I don't see their benefit in conversion or attenuation
Antigrunge - what kind of passive attenuator do you use with the Wavacs?

I have found that transformer-based is the best. I have a pure silver cryo-treated Music First myself, but I'm developing a transformer buffer stage using the latest Finemet transformer technology from Japan. Now that sounds amazing.

If you are using balanced to your amps and not using a transformer in the line somewhere, you are losing out on a major improvement in SQ IME. All balanced to amp situations should use transformers, and the best you can acquire. Two reasons: First, it is the only way to achieve truly balanced situation. Solid-state balanced is never really balanced. Second, it can isolate the grounds from amps to other components, elminating ground-loops which typically pick-up HF noise and sometimes hum.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Hi Audioengr,

while i have used Modsquad passives before, I am currently set up via my Antelope Zodiac Gold with its built-in attenuator. The Wavac EC 300B is an SET and as such doesn't have balanced connections. I also own a Graaf GM 20 which does but cannot find a benefit for the short cable lengths I use ( less than a metre). I use a rather rare Step-up from Bobsdevices based on Altec TTB 103s on vinyl which through the Zodiac works great on analogue or through Purevinyl on digitized
Hi Audioengr,

while i have used Modsquad passives before, I am currently set up via my Antelope Zodiac Gold with its built-in attenuator. The Wavac EC 300B is an SET and as such doesn't have balanced connections. I also own a Graaf GM 20 which does but cannot find a benefit for the short cable lengths I use ( less than a metre). I use a rather rare Step-up from Bobsdevices based on Altec TTB 103s on vinyl which through the Zodiac works great on analogue or through Purevinyl on digitized
No Panic.
A view into History of Digital Playback delivers the impression that even the
worst sounding units had a huge Fan-group at their time. Why should it be
different today?
Each his own :-)
The single-ended connections are not a problem for the transformer buffers and linestages. They have both RCA and XLR in and RCA and XLR out. This give the advantage that you can drive balanced from the DAC and then Single-ended from the transformer.

Still a HUGE benefit in SQ using transformers rather than resistor passives or active volume control.

If I had Wavac amps, I would do it. Once you hear the difference, you never want to go back.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Lula, Perhaps you would ask your question from 7/13 again to get this thread back on track. I also am interested in the answer.
Yes, we would appreciate Zugisland, or anyone else, to inform us as to what DACs the Bricasti was put up against. Also preferred filter(s) would be also be helpful.
Don't you think that a new DAC should come with all the latest inputs and possible supported sample rates?

I haven't heard the M1 yet, but know their other Outboard gear (M7 reverb) which many swear by and is very good.

The Briscati M1 has no USB, no FW, no thunderbolt, a single ASEBU input, no DSD support, no clock in or out, (maybe it doent need it) and no volume control.

So after you blow $8k, you still have to buy an aditional interface for a computer plus the relevant cabling, preamps etc.

Don't you start to feel its a lot of cash for an algorithm and a nice box? Surely the age of expensive DACs, unless it is utterly cutting edge, is over?

It's great to see a lovely Mark Levinson esque product, but I seem to remember they used to come with every conceivable input and output for their generation.

Sorry to be a moaning old lady but where is its value? There are many great sounding DACs these days... As I understand it in a saturated market it's got slightly better bass than the small DCS and the DAC 202. What's the point?
CHad you are misinformed the M1 does come with usb aes and coax inputs as well as a volume control ..I think you are looking at the specs from the original M1 ..which didnt have these things. Also it as auto select which selects the input automatically as it detects a signal . Didnt see any other product with that feature., So in answer to your ? it does have state of the art funactionality ( also with sample rate shown on led ) to go along with its suberb sound ..

thanks for the info. When did these features change?

I am looking at one now and it definetly has no USB! Just 4 inputs. I assume it is still limited to 192k?

I cannot plug it in where I am but maybe I can borrow it and have a play. I will have to use my DAC to feed it AESEBU by the looks of it.
also a remote is in the works..too..should be available as an option soon...yes the one you are looking at is an earlier version. I think they should add like M1 ver2 or M1x or something to delieneate the 2 versions. look at their website its on
Zugisland, no you are mistaken. No volume control. No USB. You would need an additional interface.

I do understand why it is this way as it is really for a studio which would mean it would be wired differently. My above post is still correct.
Sorry to disappoint you Chadeffect but I demoed an updated Bricasti M1 with USB and new filters six weeks ago no volume control with that unit but it was definitely in the works $8600 MSRP.
I am a Bricasti dealer so I can set the record straight:
The M1 has absolutely been updated to include new filters (including multiple Minimum Phase); a volume control; and an exceptional async USB input. Other inputs are AES, SPDIF (RCA), Toslink. Yes, a remote is coming soon.
Thanks. I'm glad we got that straight. Very confusing. shouldn't it have as mentioned a version number? Mrk2 or whatever?

So this unit can be updated or is it like mark levinson where another $5k for the update without the front plate number updated, or for $8k the update and the new face plate? Anyone remember those days?

Having said that I did love the ML 31.5/30.6 which worked for many years without fault.
im pretty sure the upgrade cost from the original cost is only like 600 or so.. but I do agree that the 2nd gen should be called M1A..after the Abrhams tank or order to differentiate itself from the original non usb ver
As disclosed above- I am a Bricasti dealer:

The USB upgrade from earlier versions is $600.00. This includes a new processing board and rear panel, so it must be returned to the factory for the upgrade.

However- the other updates, including new filters, phase invert and level control are free for owners. Contact the factory and they will send you a flash upgrade chip.

The current firmware version is 1.05 although 1.04 has all the same features. You can view your version through the status menu.