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!
I few weeks ago I switched from the minimum phase filter to linear phase; It definitely did something; hard to describe but on most material I prefer the linear phase; overall just presents as slightly more organic and pure, the diff of which is most noticeable in the mids.
Owners of M1 or m3 please let us know your experience if you played around with the filters.
Listening lately has mostly been hifi streams from Tidal or Qobuz; Roon Radio seems to be growing into a better DJ; Lovin it! I can’t say enough about the performance boost of running Roon core in Rock; with digital sounding like this, I have given up on my desire to build an analog front end. Have a nice day!
I just upgraded my M3 by replacing the digital board with the MDx board. $720.00 shipped to my home from Bricasti. A noticeable improvement and a great upgrade if your M3 doesn’t already have it installed when purchased new.
A 20 minute board swap out and as I said, a noticeable improvement in sound stage, clarity, and in the midrange.
I also ordered the MDx board for my Bricasti M21 DAC, they emailed me the invoice and I paid using Zelle. They received the funds in 3 seconds. The technology works. The MDx board is expected next week (I hope). And, yes, I asked Bricasti to confirm they received the funds and they did.
FYI: Zelle is a fast, safe, easy and contact-free way to send and receive money with friends, family and others you trust. You can receive money directly into your bank account in minutes. The setup is easy, you enter the person, or company name, and the phone number (or email address) and you are ready to go. The cost per transaction is zero (0). The funds transfer from you to the company you are paying and the transaction takes place in seconds. Please see list below of banks that support Zelle:
I had someone install the MDx board in my Bricasti M21 DAC and it is working perfectly. It was an easy install and took about 30 minutes. After the install, we tested the M21 DAC using his equipment (Bricasti M28 power amplifiers). My M21 worked great.
It is now playing in my system. I need to give it time to break-in but it does sound clearer, smoother with more musical details.
I’ve had an M3 for a month plus, but since I’ve been doing an acoustic treatment redo of the room to something more permanent —and better— I can’t quite respond about the unit just yet... But since wanting to use the M3 direct for certain listening, as well as through a preamp, the remote was a must for me. And its a nice one! I can’t stand cheap remotes at some of these price points we play within.
@mrkoven i have run the m3 direct to both a luxman m900u and pass labs x350.8; it’s quite good. The only Linestage preamp I have on hand is the exceptional Luxman c900u; When I have the c900 in the chain ( setting the m3 to ‘0’ puts the volume ctrl into bypass mode) I hear expanded soundstage, slightly fuller sound, more depth and a touch more liquidity; the c900 is a masterpiece preamp though and at msrp 15k it better bring something to the table
It was not easy, but I finally placed my SimAudio 700i integrated amp in bypass mode. It was not an easy process.
I am using the volume control on the Bricasti M21 DAC to control the volume. The sound is good but NOT light-years better than using the preamp. My ’gut reaction’ is it might not be as clear. The music does not seem as smooth. The Preamp might add more air. I am still doing more listening. Please stay tuned.
So, an hour later, as I stated above, when going direct, I felt the music was missing something. The music was not as open or engaging when going direct to my SimAudio amplifier. The music felt more closed in.
I switched back to preamp mode and everything was sounding right. The air and engaging factor were returned. The music sounded much better.
For my application, and setup, I believe the preamp is needed to help the music sound natural, clearer and engaging. My experiment is done, and I am keeping my SimAudio 700i integrated amp. Case closed.
I know that other people prefer going direct from a DAC to a power amplifier. Based on my audition, my decision is dependent on my equipment, my environment and how I listen to music. There is no right or wrong answer since it just depends on the individual.So, the bottom line is you have to test Going from the DAC to your power amp in your system and then decide. I prefer using a preamp for the best quality sound. To me, the sound is flat, lifeless without a good preamp. In my system, the preamp overall sound is dynamic, engaging, clearer, smoother and fuller.
Please test and post your results. Everyone has different results and opinions on going direct to an amp using a preamp.
@hgeifman just curious why you bought the M21 if you are using your intergrated? Isn’t the M21 like 16K? Wouldn’t it have been a better option to either get the Bricasti M1SE or M3? Curious minds would like to know and yes it’s been my experience a preamp brings something to the equation, I’ve always preferred not using a DAC straight into amps myself. Others like it straight in, no right or wrong way to do it.
@rsf507, I like the Bricasti M21 DAC, including the MDx board upgrade, because it has the delta sigma and ladder DAC for PCM conversion. I like it fully differential design and its 'awesome' sound quality in my system.
Perviously, I owned the Bricasti M1SE DAC and I believe the M21 sounds substantially better. I use the ladder DAC setting but do switch back and forth. I have both the Audience Au24 SE+ USB Cable and the Kubala-Sosna Emotion AES/EBU cable, Balanced XLR connected to my M21 DAC from my Aurender N10 Server but use the K-S AES/EBU cable most of the time. It sounds slightly better to my ears.
I also have the Bricasti M3 DAC in my home theatre 2-channel system and it is also excellent.
@hgeifman, did you ever compare the M3 to the M21 delta sigma? I thought I heard somewhere the M3 (with MDx) was pretty much the same as what is in the M21 delta sigma, but I don't know if that is true or not. I've heard the M21 ladder DAC sounds really really good.
I just sold my 3 month old M3 (had MDx) to try a few other things. I really liked it and might buy it again, but it didn't blow away my much older SimAudio 380DSD and so I guess I'm still looking...
I'm now going to try a few lower priced DACs that have a lot of recent buzz to see how they compare. I've got both a Topping D90 MQA and RME ADI 2 DACFS in shipment to play with. My M3 remote cost $500 and the D90 MQA $800, so this should be an interesting comparison :)
@ddafoe, No. My Bricasti M21 DAC is in my main audio system and the Bricasti M3 DAC is in my home theatre system that uses the LG OLED TV as the source. My home theatre system was using the Ayre Codex DAC that I thought was excellent. I then purchased the M21 DAC (main system) and moved my SimAudio 380 DAC from my main system to the home theatre system. It was okay so I auditioned the Bricasti M3 DAC (no remote) and sold the SimAudio.
The Bricasti M3 DAC is excellent and I felt sounded much better than my SimAudio 380 DAC. As you know, everyone has a different opinion on what sounds good. Audio is very strange hobby. I agree with you that it is fun to "try a few other things".
You might want to look at the Ayre CODEX DAC since it has excellent sound. Its list price is about $1,800 and I have seen them on Audiogon for sale around $1,000. I am not familiar with the other DAC's you mentioned.
You had a 380D too... that is funny. Yea, we all hear differently and like/emphasize different things in our listening. I've had a few folks tell me I should upgrade my streamer before I seriously compare my DACs or really hear what the M3 can do. I'm using a RaspberyPi with S/PDIF output running Roon streaming over a Shunyata Anaconda digital cable. If I buy the M3 again I'll be sure to get the Ethernet streamer.
I'm just hesitant to spend big bucks on a standalone streamer when the Pi works so well running Roon and at least without comparison still sounds amazing. The little Pi just sits quietly running Roon 24/7 with no issue. I maybe should have just paid to get the Mind2 card for the 380D and kept it another 5 years...
The RME is a German made DAC (based on their pro gear) and the latest version uses the AK4493. I've enjoyed AKM DACs in the past.
The Topping uses the AK4499 and for $800 includes PCM32bit / 768 kHz, DSD512 Native, and MQA; how do you go wrong with all of that :)
Anyhow, I'll report back after I spend some time with each; will I miss my M3 ?
@ddafoe, Since your RaspberyPi with the S/PDIF output running Roon is sounding great, I seen no reason to replace it. It is cost effective and is doing the job.
As you posted, your goal is to "try a few new things". I encourage you to try the RME DAC and also the Topping DAC. You need to hear these DAC's in your system to determine how they sound.
If possible, I suggest you give the Ayre CODEX DAC a listen. I temporarily used it in my main audio system and it sounded excellent. It gets warm so it does need ventilation. I suggest you use it balanced output to your amplifier since it will sound better with balanced outputs.
@ddafoe Looking forward to hearing about the dacs.
I did a dac shootout this fall, and comparing a lot of different chips/approaches was quite informative. I ended up with an audio mirror, and people wanted to tell me that my ears were wrong because you're "supposed" to like Lampizators better. Different systems and different ears = different preferences.
Do report back to add some data points. Good luck.
Hello All, I wanted to see how everyone who's owned the M3 for awhile now feels about it. I've been using a Sonore Signature Rendu SE System Optique Bridge/Streamer feeding a Aqua Audio La Scala MKII Optologic DAC via USB for about a year. I stream FLAC and DSD files stored on my NAS to the Sonore using Roon. The combination sounds very good and I'm pretty happy with the setup but I'd love to get the USB link out of the system. I'd love to have a streaming DAC that sounds as good, or better, than the Sonore/Aqua pairing. I owned a PS Audio DSD with the Bridge 2 but was not happy with the sound. I also owned a Lampizator Amber 3 before upgrading to the Aqua Audio La Scala MKII Optologic DAC. Anyway, I'm very curious about the M3. Please let me know you're impressions of the M3 and, if you would, the other DACs you've compared it to. Thx.