MSB Discrete vs. Bricasti M1 SE

I started a previous thread asking for comparisons of a few $5k DACs and after many helpful responses and a bit more reflection have decided to skip the mid level and move to the top of my front end budget.  Maybe I’m mistaken, but I have found over the years that sometimes it’s less costly in the long run to just bite the bullet up front and pay once, rather than trading up in several moves.  For my system, this would be the ultimate front end.  
I know MSB costs a bit more with an additional power supply, but price is not the only factor between these two.   Because digital device improvements are coming so fast, I’m also looking at ease/quality of future firmware or hardware updates.  The Discrete is  entry level in the MSB line, which has a much higher top end than Bricasti.  Is there anything to the trickle down theory of product lines?  Thanks for any thoughts!
MSB is all discrete R2R ladder dacs, perfect for doing PCM, RedBook 16/44, 24/96 or DXD
The Bricasti has an old 2002 vintage AD1955 hybrid chip, (not discrete) part delta sigma part multibit, designed for sacd primarily in the day.
If your going to do RedBook PCM then go for the MSB.

Cheers George

@cosmic_charlie, I answered your question in your previous Audiogon post and will provide some additional comments.

The Bricasti M1 uses a twin DAC design, the dynamic range for each channel is optimized by using the stereo ADI 1955 D/A converter in a MONO configuration. I heard the M1 at the LA Audio Show and was very impressed. I obtained a demo unit and really liked it in my home system, so I purchased it. I eventually upgraded it to the M1SE version and there was another sound quality improvement.

My next search was to look at R2R DAC’s. I was very interested in MSB Discrete DAC but got very frustrated when I discovered the XLR Balanced Input Module, USB and AES/EBU features I needed were extra cost options. The Discrete comes with one external power supply and the 2nd one is an extra cost option. I reviewed this with MBS and, after some discussion, they recommended their Reference Powerbase for ever better performance. I cannot remember the exact total price, but it was around $18,000+. Unfortunately, I was never able to audition the MSB Discrete DAC, but its total price was more than I wanted to spend.

I contacted Bricasti and discussed their M21 DAC. With the M21’s advanced architecture it offers THREE independent digital to analog converter signal paths: 24 bit delta sigma, 20 bit ladder DAC and true 1 bit DSD for DSD content. To make a long story short, I purchased the Bricasti M21 DAC, and it is truly excellent. I use the laddered DAC option (most of the time) and use an AES/EBU cable from my Aurender N20 to the DAC.

In summary, the Bricasti M21 DAC is excellent, and I recommend it. The addition of the M21 substantially improved the sound quality of my audio system. To my ears, everything sounds truly outstanding. The M21 is a world class DAC and is highly recommended. Bricasti supports its products and offered the MDx board upgrade. I installed the Bricasti MDx digital in my M21 DAC and the sound quality substantially improved. The MDx board is an outstanding upgrade and is included with all current models.

Since I never heard the MSB Discrete DAC, I cannot really answer your question. I own 2 Bricasti DAC’s and like them very much.

I suggest you audition both models (M21 w/ MDx and M3) and make your decision. I hope this helps.

hi @hgeifman : Just curious how M21 is different or better than your M1se?  I own M1se with MDx too and is wondering if M21 is something to consider in my upgrade path.

@rogerhifi, My Bricasti M1SE DAC sounded very, very good and I was happy. I heard the Bricasti M21 DAC and felt its R2R setting sounded clearer and more musical. I listened and listened and was very impressed. I brought the M21 DAC home and listened back and forth between using the USB and the AES/EBU connections. For me, after much listening, I felt the AES/EBU sounded clearer and more musical.

I also switched back and forth between the 24-bit delta sigma and the 20-bit ladder DAC. After several weeks, I found myself using the 20-bit ladder DAC setting most of the time. I felt the sound quality was more musical, with better bass and more open. Please note I did not rush this decision and actually listened for at least a month, back and forth, before I decided.

Bricasti then announced the MDx board upgrade so I installed the Bricasti MDx digital board in my M21 DAC and the sound quality substantially improved. The MDx board is an outstanding upgrade and is included with all current models. BTW, Bricasti supports its customer and this was a great upgrade.

In summary, I felt upgrading from the M1SE DAC to the M21 DAC resulted in a much better sound quality. Obviously, the M1SE DAC use in an audio system results in outstanding sound quality. The Bricasti M21 MDx DAC takes it to the next level. I hope this helps. Do you have any more questions?

@hgeifman thanks for your input!  I am pretty satisfied with my M1se especially after the MDx upgrade.  Just wanted to run by you for your take on the M21 since you are the only person that I am aware to upgrade from an M1 to M21 and I am very interested to see if R2R makes any difference.  Glad to hear it is more musical to your ear from the update to M21.  Appreciate your insightful feedback on this.

@lesmarshall, the Bricasti MDX board cost is $1,000. Please contact Bricasti for more details and how to order.