As for USB vs. Ethernet, it should be very easy for you to try: ZENith USB out to M3. Voila!
Currently I’m running it directly from the Zenith’s network streamer output. The EtherREGEN is out for now; I want to get a clean perspective on it for a week this way;
I did some initial testing, and preferred the Ethernet connection but it was done in very short order so not a conclusive test.
Ill try the EtherREGEN in different spots too.
one thing is for certain, though, this M3 is fantastic and a significant step above the Chord TT2 in my system which surprised me because the TT2 is pretty darn good as is ( I had M scaler with it and did not like it);
My Ayre Codex DAC was excellent, but the unit was getting old and I wanted to try something else. At that time Bricasti, just announced the M3 DAC. After several phone calls with my retailer, and Bricasti, I purchased the M3 DAC in January 2020. It took time for the M3 to break in BUT it was light years BETTER than the Ayre Codex DAC.
Please note this is a 2-channel home theatre system. My LG OLED TV connects to the M3 DAC and then balanced XLR cables to my SimAudio 340i integrated amplifier that connects to my PMC Twenty5.21 speakers.
I like this system very much and highly recommend you consider the Bricasti M3 DAC. The addition of the Bricasti M3 DAC substantially improved the sound quality of this system.
I used the DH Labs Glass Master Toslink Cable from my LG OLED TV to my Bricasti M3 DAC.
The M3 is a game changer for me;
I compared extensively USB to ETH; Result:
No more USB; In general, I have been up and down the USB link for 2 years. I dislike USB as an interface for high end digital audio--way too much involved to make it sound right; Just my opinion, please don’t shoot me, lol;
Bricasti’s Ethernet renderer implementation is superb. Not one dropout or issue as a Roon endpoint, or via its native UPnP streamer option (which I have been using a ton for direct streaming from Qobuz);
I have it down stream on the "B" side of an EtherREGEN and the rest of the network on the "A" side;
I ran a test and with a live Qobuz stream (44.1/16bit): I disconnected the Ethernet cable and music played for 43 seconds perfectly. Makes for nice network elasticity to buffer this deep; Also renders upstream buffers that may be in other servers and streamers a bit overkill.
The DAC is very enchanting and has immense musicality- the top end detail, extension, and sheer refinement is exceptional; I am hearing new information. Amazing amount of musical sophistication and performance in one very compact and beautiful chassis. Case work is topnotch, milled from AL stock for very low vibration. The mounting feet they deployed are quite substantial too;
Coming off the Chord TT2 the M3 portrays a noticeably wider soundstage, and significantly more space to the musical "throw"; It seems spherically bigger, IOW. The inner dynamics and subtle shadings are incredible. It is very natural and real sounding. Voices are pure and transparent. I could go on and on but i’m cutting it short. I’m just head over heels for this thing.
Mega respect to the Bricasti team on this product!
I tried a few different power cords with it, and wound up with an Audience AU24SE-HP; Just a wonderful synergy. Other cables: Triode Wire Labs American Digital, Nordost Brahma, IsoTek Optimum, Shunyata Venom NC-10;
Preamplifier: Luxman C-900
Power amplifier: Luxman M-900
Loudspeakers: Dynaudio Confidence 50
Speaker cables: Triode Wire Labs American
Power cord amp: TWL Obsession
Power cord pre: Nordost Brahma
I have in-house the M3 for review for the Stereo Times and find it superlative in its performance. The one sent to me has the latest board, I'm assuming that dpac996 also purchased one with this upgrade, it's a great combination of terrific pure timbres/tonality and overall dynamics that make the music become more lifelike as it flows into the room with an ease very much like analog displays in a system. Bricasti Design's build quality is beyond reproach and another killer part of the M3 is it's analog volume control which comes very, very close to the performance of my $6,500 preamplifier.
To answer rsf507 question regarding how close the M3 with the new board comes to M21's performance, its pretty/pretty close. This DAC is not expensive, but how much more you would have to spend to out perform it, would be an extreme %, indeed.
@rsf507 thanks for the kind words. I was told by the dealer it has the latest upgrade to the main board; He also said that the M3 with revision surpasses the M1se and comes extremely close to M21, But I have not heard any other Bricasti DACs so I’ll take his word for it; Honestly, I can’t imagine whatever gains there are left to render that would allow me to appreciate the music more than this piece does now. I’m equally blown away by the sound quality and being able to leave USB behind.
I see that Bricasti M3 page now says DSD 256 over DoP. Does this mean they've updated their digital input board? I also don't get how DSD 256 can be supported over DoP.
Also, does anyone know whether M3 volume control is active or passive?
Two days ago I submitted my review on the M3 to my editor at Stereo Times. I don't know exactly when it will go up on the website, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks. I'm sure you M3 owners will enjoy what I have to say about the M3 and readers will be able to understand why this is a very special DAC, indeed.
@teajay I sure am looking forward to that review!
I love this DAC. I’m pretty sure it’s settled now, day 25 or so; During this time, I have continuously re-confirmed what I first heard on the early days; First impressions matter, and when we hear greatness it’s obvious.
I am astounded by the reliability of the network connection. I have not had a single freeze, dropout, or hang that was the fault of the M3; I have tested the internal buffer of the data stream a few times. It will play music when I pull the ETH cable for ~40 seconds; Since I am using the M3 with direct ethernet (and not USB) the following notes apply:
I have discovered that when streaming Tidal or Qobuz the best possible sound quality comes from playing the stream direct to the M3-renderer. There is an app called M-connect that reminds me of my time with the Auralic Aries and it’s native app; (loved the Aries, btw fabulous SQ). More recently my experimentation over 12 months of InnuOs Zen mkiii and Zenith mkiii has also shown that the best possible sound was obtained when using native apps (no Roon). I have found that there was always some eventual (sometimes slight, sometimes obvious) degradation when using Roon; I absolutely LOVE the Roon user interface and experience and i’m sure it will continue to improve; I still use it often, but when I am looking for that last gram of fidelity I switch to M3-direct.
During my lengthy experimentation of the Zenith /Ethernet/ M3 stream I discovered the Zenith did not improve my sonic experience and actually sounded slightly less good than the M3 direct. I also discovered that I can simply run Roon in an i7 Intel NUC attached to the A-side of the EtherREGEN network switch (M-3 on the "B-side", which is the double secret probation isolation side, because as we know, ethernet is by definition fully isolated by virtue of the magnetics in the RJ-45 connector--this is another story I won’t detail here) and the results were excellent; So it’s very simple to switch modes of streaming Qobuz or Tidal; It only depends on the app I open up in my iPad;
If this DAC were USB only I would say the best USB solution I have found yet would involve something at least as good as the Innuos Zenith or Aurender N-10 (had that for a while) plus the Phoenix USB reclocker.
Warning: USB Rant
*That so much hardware is needed to purify the USB data stream makes it clear to me that USB is not an ideal (although, sadly, widely accepted) interface for streaming audio. USB was designed from the get go for computers to communicate to peripherals in a reliable and cheap method; the requirement by the USB standard of the +5V on the supply line (ie 5V DC is required from USB HOST IC to USB DEVICE IC 100% of the time to achieve bus enumeration) is the first and major strike against why this interface is sub-optimal from a noise perspective. Take a look at the history of USB in high end audio and you find endless bandaids and tweaks to get the most from this interface;
Async helped but the problem of the 5V / GND is still there and has to be dealt with. USB needs to disappear forever from high end audio. It’s perfect for simple cheap electronic peripherals because that was the ecosystem USB was designed for.
Perhaps a silly analogy; the various ways to attach DACs to the source (USB/Aes/Spdif/Coax/Eth) are like stylus changes in the analog domain. There is variation in all these transport layer bits; Digital is not purely digital because analog is always in the way-- not really a blocker, but meaning everything comes down to voltages and currents changing in our world and these things are purely analog.
So back to the M3; I love this thing and i’m amazed by the sound quality; Can’t wait to read your review!
Hi @pdreher I did try that (running direct) and it is excellent— very transparent and such but I prefer the body and tone better using my Luxman C900u; I might revisit this experiment a few more times with other XLR cables though; I have had experience with the C900 since late last year and have grown to really love this preamp; I find it faultless in the service of the music. The C900 has the additional and magnificent feature of tone control which expands the enjoyment factor across otherwise flat and nasty recording balances that exist. After having this I can’t live without it;
Skerdi; I love the M3; it’s fabulous; I’ve had some pieces since 2006,btw; in my main rig I’ve been on a quest to keep what I find favor with. I believe this dac is a game changer for what can be had for the ask. Cheers all!