Bricasti M1 vs new M3

I've been using and loving an original Bricasti M1 (not SE) for awhile and have been offered a fair price for it. Is it worth selling and getting a new M3? Anyone have any 1st hand experience comparing each unit?
Helloooo out there.....anyone have thoughts on M3?
The Bricasti M1 is a dual mono DAC in the analog section. The M3 is a smaller box and has just 2 power supplies (one for digital and one for both analog channels). 

I believe the Bricasti M1 DAC is going to sound better than the M3. The M3 offers an incredible array of performance in a more affordable price class. 

I suggest you consider upgrading your M1 to the Bricasti M1SE upgrade. 

I own the Bricasti M21 DAC and like it very much.
The Bricasti web site says:

“The Special Edition Bricasti M1 builds on the success of the Classic M1 and adds some of the improvements offered in the new flagship Limited Edition Gold M1. Presented in the classic anodized black and aluminum finish, the M1 Special Edition incorporates Stillpoints feet that are engineered and optimized exclusively for the design. The added stability improves isolation from vibration which translates to a more transparent sonic presentation. Point-to-point wiring, a labor intensive process, improves signal flow by eliminating various connectors which can degrade a signals performance. Finally, the next generation power improvements have been incorporated in this edition to further improve filtering of unwanted noise and power ripple”. 

I previously owned the Bricasti M1 DAC and upgraded it to the M1SE version. The SE version substantially upgraded the sound quality of the M1 DAC.

Thanks @hgeifman I have a friend that has the M1SE and within a few weeks will bring it over to compare.
How did it turn out? And does anyone know what the price of the upgrade is? 
@draaglah, I think the cost to upgrade the Bricasti M1 DAC to the Bricasti M1SE DAC is $1,000.   Please call Bricasti or your Bricasti retailer and ask.

@rsf507,  I am also interested in hearing what you decided.  Did you purchase the Bricasti M1SE DAC?  Please keep us posted.  Thank.

Hey rsf507,

My review on the M3 was submitted to Stereo Times website and hopefully will be up shortly. It's a superlative music maker. The M3 has the new and latest upgraded board and is a significant improvement over what you have in your M1. 
Sorry for the late response dealing with some personal issues.. Yes I have now listened to an M3 vs a M1SE 1.51 software version. The M3 is better at a mix of different music venues has better bass but not by much. The M1 seems to be slightly more airy / transparent and you adjust the sound with all the different filters although this to me doesn't make the M1 better just a bit more flexible if you listen to different types of music. If you listen to mostly 60's 70's 80's rock the M3 would be the dac to go with IMO.
If you listen to mostly classical then the M1SE. 
Now just need to get back working before I can pull the trigger. 
Hey Gentlemen,

My review on the M3 was just posted on the Stereo Times website. Congrats to the people who own it, and hopefully the details I share on it's performance will lead more music lovers to audition it.
I have been using a SimAudio 380DSD DAC for the last few years and am happy with it (I preferred it over the Berkeley Alpha Dac 2 at the time of purchase).  But, I've been tempted to upgrade and either a used M1SE or a M3 have been on my list. 

After all of the good comments/reviews on the M3 I just pulled the trigger on an M3 and hope to get it mid-week.  Hopefully it is a step up on my current 380DSD :)   I didn't get the Ethernet streamer but if beats my current DAC (I stream Roon and connect with SPDIF) I'll get the Ethernet option.

I'm also tempted to try the DAC direct to my Pass X250.8.   I tried the Berkeley direct to the Amp years ago and although the sound was extremely clean and transparent, I ended up much preferring having a preamp in the chain (Sim 740P) as the soundstage exploded and everything sounded more like music.   It won't hurt to try direct again though...
@ddafoe,  Great decision and congratulations. I also sold my SimAudio 380D Network Player / DAC and purchased the Bricasti M3 DAC.  Excellent sound quality.  Enjoy.  
@ddafoe Please do post a review once the dust has settled...
My M3 is a few months old and I’m going to purchase the MDx upgrade to get better performance, better sound, and the ability to play DSD256 files
@sfseay can you explain what the MDx upgrade is and it’s cost?

From Bricasti:

"The MDx processor is our latest enhancement to the product line, this upgrade will provide for DSD256 with USB, and overall improvement over the previous revisions of the processors used in our products for digital timing. The MDx processor is used in all new production so upgrading to it will bring the product up to current production spec. In particular with the MDx there is a noted improvement when using the network interface over the previous type processors, this change is for better sync to the incoming master clock. The M3 has had the improved Master clock timing, as about a year ago at the time we introduced the M3 we made changes in all product with the previous versions of the processor ( Rev 8 ) to yield better performance. But the MDx provides even better performance than the first processor the M3 was shipped with, so there will be an overall improvement with the M3 running the MDx on all inputs. The Rev8 processor board used in the first generation M3 has excellent performance, the MDx is just a bit better in all aspects and especially when using the interface for the network.

Whether or not this is worthwhile is up to the listener.   Users report that it is, but of course this becomes subjective opinion of the listener. One might describe the sound effect is of greater accuracy of transients and presentation of the imaging to be more accurate. This can be perceived as slight or profound, depends on the playback chain and source. This is like changing the sync setting in the M3 from fine ( most accurate timing ) to wide ( less accurate). With the MDX we go to super fine mode."

Thanks @sfseay I didn't see that on the Bricasti site.
Do the current m3s come with the upgade, or is it always an upgrade
@sfseay,  Thanks for the information on the MDx processor update to the Bricasti M3 DAC.  

Where did this information come from?  I do not see it posted on the Bricasti Web Site.

What is the cost of the Bricasti MDx processor upgrade?   Does the M3 DAC need to be returned to Bricasti for the Mdx upgrade or is it a local software upgrade?   Thanks...

I emailed Bricasti about what features and functions the MDx upgrade offered, and they replied with what I posted above.

My understanding is as of March 2020 all new M3s have the MDx upgrade. The cost of the MDx hardware was $720.00 shipped to me. I will install it in my M3 next week. The hardware upgrade was shipped by Bricasti and Fedex is supposed to deliver them on Monday, June 22nd. I will post what is replaced with the MDx kit when I receive it.
@sfseay,  What is involved in installing the Bricasti Mdx upgrade kit?   Is the install something the the average person can install or is it more complicated?  Thanks for the update.  
Bricasti reports "MDx Upgrades are performed at the shop in Boston. The new processor will offer improved accuracy and performance so its a worthwhile investment but you can do it anytime. It is a little less money at the moment since we have an introductory price of $700 and then they will sell for $1,000".   Please see:  

Post removed 
@hgeifman just replace the old M3 board (the one on the left with the digital inputs) with the new one. Remove some cables and screws, install the new board and reassemble.

I will swap out the board on Monday when it arrives.
@sfseay, Thanks for the information.  Please let me know how the MDx install goes.  It sounds very easy but is it really?   
Anyone know just how much trickle down tech the M3 receives compared to M1 SE? Is it the same circuity minus 1 power supply or are there other differences? I would imagine Bricasti keeps some design exclusive to M1 otherwise M3 would cannibalize sales, but that's just speculation. Any thoughts or knowledge there?
The M3 I just purchased was shipped from the factory Mar 2020 and the manual doesn't mention anything about MDx but if I select the version using the Status button it shows MDx 1.01.   Just curious, those that have older M3s, what does the version show?

I didn't realize the Ethernet streaming option was $1500 to add (I had it in my head it was a $1000 for some reason), so you have to factor that into the price of the M3 vs a used M1SE if you find one with the streamer already added.   On the same hand purchasing a used M1SE will add the cost of the MDx upgrade if comparing it with a newer M3.    

So, $5500 new M3 + $1500 Streamer vs ~ $6K (I've seen $5750 to $6250 recently on used sites) for a used M1SE with streamer + $1000 (assume you don't get the intro price) MDx upgrade creates pretty much even cost.   If the M1SE + MDx beats the M3 with MDx then it seems like the better value.

I've never heard the M1SE so I can't say; I'm happy with the M3 performance in my system although I will say it just barely beats my 5 year old SimAudio 380DSD in overall sound quality in my system with my ears.   The 380DSD is a great sounding DAC though and had an MSRP close to the Bricasti has now, but 5 to 6 years ago so maybe that isn't a big surprise it is very competitive.     For my system I definitely think I'm at the point of diminishing returns for a digital source...   

The funny part is my streamer is a Raspberry Pi with SPDIF out feeding a Shunyata Anaconda ZTRON cable (MSRP of 10x the PI system) into the DAC.    Maybe that is where I should spend more money, although I must admit I'm not expecting the $1500 streamer to blow away my Pi system, but I've never heard an expensive streamer so I can't say one way or the other.

@sfseay3 you don't need firmware upgrade along the MDx board installation?
I installed the MDx board yesterday and didn't need to perform and firmware upgrade.  The firmware version shows MDx 1.02.

Bricasti shipped the board to me ($720.00) and it was about a 20 minute task to replace the current board.
@sfseay what sonic improvements did you hear after the upgrade?
 Thanks @sfseay.  Interesting you don't need a software installation and the hardware upgrade will show newest firmware after upgrading.  How do you like it sound after this?
Any SQ improvements with MDx board using Ethernet? Or more so for USB users?
Ddafoe: please do try a higher performance streamer.  I think you might be very pleasantly surprised.  My own experience showed me that I got a bigger improvement in performance from a better streamer than from a better DAC.  I Also know I’m not the only in these forums to have that experience.  

It could be that your source was limiting the ability to distinguish between the Bricasti and Simaudio units.  I auditioned  the 390 - and it’s quite good.  I ran several streamers to it and the differences were pronounced.

Of course, YMMV, but if you’re looking for an upgrade path, you might find a new world of performance from both the 380 (if you still have it) or the M3.


121 posts
06-26-2020 8:03am
Ddafoe: please do try a higher performance streamer.  I think you might be very pleasantly surprised.

This is indeed very sound advice. A streamer can be just as important as the DAC
Another friend installed the MDx upgrade in her Bricasti M21 DAC. She sent me the instructions from Bricasti and walked me thru the process. It takes about 30 minutes and is not complicated (maybe).

I ordered the MDx board and will install it. She said her audio system sounds better, more natural and detailed. The Mdx Board Cost is $700.

Bricasti reports the list price is $1,000 and the current cost is $700. This is a special MDx upgrade board offer GOOD until July 15th and after that the price goes up. Tools needed are:

a) Torx #8 driver for the top cover or #1 Philips

b) ¼ nut driver for the stand offs

c) #1 Philips driver for the internal screws.

d) 5/8” Nut driver socket wrench to remove the nut on the SPDIF RCA, it is not too tight and may come off with your hand.

I have an M1SE and ordered the MDx board.  It arrived next day.  Installation was easy.  The improvements are readily heard, larger soundstage and faster deeper bass.  Textures are also more interesting.  Aside4 from DSD256 it also is able to play direct DSD which I think alone is worth the cost.  More refinement over DoP.