Considering Bricasti and Lampizator

I'm looking for a new DAC in the sub 10k range (used). After reading about several options here and elsewhere, the ones I find most intriguing are the Bricasti M1 and the Lampizator Big 7.

Has anyone directly compared these two great DACs? If you have: any thoughts about the differences, and which you preferred?

Just to throw a few talking points out there, here are a few things which make me a bit shaky about each option:

Bricasti M1:

Introduced in late 2011, so it's 3.5 years into its life cycle. Can it really hang with more recent offerings? Is a newer model coming soon?

Lampizator Big 7:

A dizzying array of options (caps, DSD, tube rolling, ...). Is this really the way off the merry-go-round?

Lack of stability in their product line, with new models and options coming out continuously. How does this affect resale value?
You talk about getting off the merry-go-round and first thing you question is resale value??

You also say you want to buy used, so why still talk about resale value. If one has higher perceived depreciation, then that works in FAVOUR of buying used, as long as you get the features you want/need.

To find out what you like, you will have to first try though.

Bricasti and Lampi seem to be polar opposites in design and likely in sound. Dizzing array? For used? You get what the seller on the used market has, nothing more, nothing less. If you need Balanced, you wont be loooking to buy a SE lampi, for example.

This propaganda about new models is just that. When the announce a Gucci version, a lite version and a balanced version of the Big 7, its is still the same ciruit, the same model in different trim levels. Imagine if thiss was a Honda Accord...there is the basic, the SE, the EX, the sport version, the hatchback and perhaps the off road version. is that a dizzing array, or just catering to each niche that needs different requirements and does not want to pay for options not needed. We are all familiar with this with cars and I dont hear a deluge of complaints.

To do otherwise is to freeze the "all-singing-all dancing" version for several years and then you get your complaint against Bricasti in saying its 3.5 years old and now long in the tooth! Dac manufacturers just cant win! LoL
Wisnon, all good points regarding customization vs. one-size-fits-all.

I also probably should not have raised points that have nothing to do with sound. That's what is most important to me, and is the driving force for my upgrade in the first place.

Any perspective folks have in comparing these two DACs on sonics alone, would be a big help.
The Bricasti M1 has had some upgrades along the way, including DSD64 and DSD128 capability, among other improvements. A realistic evaluation should be done with a current unit. Other reviews, including by publications that reviewed the earlier version, are coming.
Two great DACS and two totally different DACS. Two totally different companies and totally different approaches that both sound fantastic!

One is SS and one is Tubes.

One is USA made in the biotech/high Tech rich area of Massachusetts and the other from a former USSR soviet union eastern block partner in Poland.

The Bricasti M1 is not long in the tooth at all not even remotely close its just a different model and one based on the owner / purchaser. There is a big difference and one that should be clearly noted especially to a potential buyer. Bricasti chooses to constantly upgrade and improve their current model DACs rather than releasing new ones. It would be very easy for such a gifted company that owns their own multi-million dollar CNC milling machinery to come out with new models. Heck, from an ability standpoint just look at their other product offering. The Model 7 Reverb Processor. They flat out make the worlds best Reverb Processor. Well at least that's what those who know more than I say. I make this note because everything else written here is my opinion so I want footnote that as its based on what I have heard / read others say. I am sure the DAC in this unit has a lot to do with what makes this unit so incredible. Bricasti has chosen to do something different. Rather than just coming out with new models to make more money they support and evolve their current unit and offers these improvements to their owners for dirt cheap. That is why you only see one pop up used every now and again because it is always getting such fantastic sound quality improvements people keep them. When he not that long ago released the addition of the minimum phase filters and the upgraded digital liner power supply it changed the DAC entirely. Heck they could have tweaked some parts,specs re-milled a new case and popped a new name on it and bam sold a ton. Not what they are trying to. They offered the digital linear power supply upgrade to owners for $150.00. You couldn't buy the parts for that but he could because he bought in bulk. Who else is doing that??
I considered both DACs you are considering. Either way you go you are going to get a terrific sounding DAC.

FSmith, what is all tbis USSR stuff?

Ploand ALWAYS hated the USSR and that is why Lech Walensa could lead the Solidarity free trade union to wrest Poland from Soviet domination. Poland STILl does not get along with Russia. They suffered at the hands of the Nazis and later the Soviets and so want no part of either.
FSmith, If you are also going to go by what the "experts" say, then listebn to Bruce Brown of Puget Sound who recoirds exclusively in DSD. It is the best DSD playback he has heard and he only heard the L4 DSD only Dac.

Lukasz does not need to upgrade power supply as every Lampi has an outrageously overspeed Linear Power supply. it is his hallmark and a main ingredient of the lampi sound. What gets upgraded is feature set like DSD256 (which not many dacs have). DSD128 is already standard from lampi and was from the start.

Quite frankly, you have not heard the potential of a Big7 as you would have to own one for a while and do extensive tube roll to achieve perfect sysnergy with the rest of your system. I see you are changing amps, as you old ones are too warm. With a Big 7, you would likely just have to roll in a pair of the white ceramic 101ds DHTs and use a GZ34 metal base rectifier. Lampi with volume control is a world class preamp.

Me personally, I have 10 pairs of DHTs and 11 rectifiers to play with (I am lucky to have a tube guy close by that sells vintage tubes at bargain basement prices). I have 6A3, 2A3, 6b4g, 101d WE and Psvane, 45 triodes (ST and Globes), CX301, but no 300b nor VT52. For rectis I have 5U4g, 5R4, gz37, GZ34, U52, 5Y3, 5V4g, type 80 and 83v. Immense permutations here and loads of fun.

The end game though is to find combinations that fit music genres best, while maintaining maximum system synergy.
Briscasti sounds like a good product, so I will not make any comments on it and if someone chooses that route, they will likely be contented too.
Typos galore. Sorry

overspecced power supply...

I hate aggresive autocorrect. loL
From another forum

"I've heard three different Lampis (4, and two Big 5s I believe) via a variety of Schiit or EC amps, and they seem to be all over the place. None of them sounded exactly the same. It irks me that there are so many models, making straight comparisons impossible, i.e. "which Lampi?" Then there's the issue of tube rolling - there are a lot of options and tubes to roll inside.

Supposedly the OR5 helps tremendously, but I have not heard a Lampi with an OR5. One thing I feel pretty confident saying is that the analog tube section is fantastic: resolving, clear, immediate without bloat or tooby-ness. Unfortunately, this puts on spotlight on the USB receiver and DAC circuitry which sounded mediocre or pretty darn good but with showstopper type warts (slight treble digititus or grating stridency.)

As things stand, I can not recommend the 4 or the Big 5 to friends, unless they are the type that wouldn't mind spending an additional X amount of tubes, tweaking with caps, etc. You could be just as well off buying a cheapo DCX2496, wiring in a boutique clock board, and connecting the output directly from the DAC chips to a tube amp like the BA. There have been four Lampis on sale (4, 5, 6, and 7) for quite a while now on the 'gon.

Ears I trust say the Big 7 is good, but we are getting into five figures now. "
I don't think you could go wrong with either. I heard the M1 at an audio store that utilized my speakers. It was very good. Thereafter, I bought a Big 7 and it is providing the best digital that I've ever had in my system.

Unfortunately, I didn't hear the M1 and Big 7 together in my room, with my other ancillary equipment. However even if I did, my results compared to yours and your system may be incomparable.

Suffice it to say that based on several other very satisfying buying decisions and equipment acquisitions, my purchasing leanings are towards the small boutique type manufacturers like Lampizator.

Since 2005 I've only owned tubed DAC's, and having over 40 tubes in the rest of my equipment, I enjoy having the ability to roll tubes. The Big 7 does nothing but reinforce that conclusion.

Digital is in a state of much more flux than other components, and although I've never put much weight in buying for resale, it even makes less sense to do so for digital components. Buy what you prefer today and hope you will be around or even care about resale when it comes time to upgrade. Of course if you're on the latest and greatest bandwagon and consider ROI to be of more importance than I etc., your mileage will substantially vary....

Putting Purrin's comments here? I cant take him seriously when he says a PSA PW2 and a Audio GD Master 7 sounds better than a Level 4 Lampi (much less a Level 5). Hell, the Amber will likely beat those Dacs he touts.

From Headfi you can read what AL says. AL has had 7 Lampis pass thru his hands and owns 2 Big7s currently. He also owns the D-Stream, Master7, Mytek, Hugo, MSB Platinum Stack, iDSD micro and a coup,e more I have forgotten. Why not ask him what HE thinks as he has owned them for months/years?

In any case, taste is a personal thing and I guess people have to try for themselves. However, if we are to use opinions of others, better to see what the heavyweights say, like Elberoth and Bruce Brown and the 2 reviewers at PFO Online who awarded Lampi with TWO editors awards in 2014.
Anyone else happen to compare these two great DACs?
PS Audio Directstream is actually pretty good and at a good price, make sure you feed it low jitter input though.
Haven't heard either but will offer another DAC for you to checkout Modwright Elyse tube rectified and 6992 tubes. I use a NOS Mullard 5AR4 and Siemens A frame gold pins, excellent to my ears.
If you like lots of color and excitement, the M1 is probably not your DAC.

The Bricasti is an example of engineering excellence rather than artistic expression.

Take a look at the analogue stages and you'll see that fast AD op-amps are employed to convert differential currents from the dac to balanced and unbalanced voltage sources.
This approach is technically sound and will result in good measured performance but is unlikely to please those with preconceptions that op-amps are bad, or those who prefer something more lush or warm, or conversely, hyper detailed. 

On the + side, the op-amps chosen are neutral in character, and particularly well spec'd for high speed integration applications.

On the minus side, the op-amps used are 8 pin DIL so there's never going to be future plug in replacement upgrades, because future op-amps with notably better specs (and unity gain stability) will likely be SMD packaged. Of course it is still possible that Bricasti will offer complete DAC module upgrades in the future, but also likely at a high cost.

 As it stands, the AD843 is probably the best op-amp available for the critical I to V conversion, but  that said, and fwiw, I have actually already experimented and replaced the unbalanced (2nd) stage AD843 op-amps with LME49710's, which are arguably better for this duty, and yes there was an immediate change in character; The the top end opened up and mids and treble became more detailed with just a hint of lushness and mid treble sweetness that made older and grainy recordings more approachable.  In my system it's really worked in a good way so I've left those op-amps in situ. 

Other op-amps would undoubtedly give differing results but  further experimentation isn't something I'm inclined to do in a hurry since I like the DAC the way it is, and in any case, even with a pro vacuum desoldering tool there's still a risk of damage to the pcb's when op-amps are changed, and without such a tool and requisite skills I would never have contemplated it in the first place.  

As many people, have advised me many times, you should listen for yourself to decide.   The above comments are useful and making a decision on what DAC to buy is not easy.   This process gets worse if you are unable to audition these DAC's in your system.  Fortunately, I was able to borrow a Bricasti M1 DAC for listening in my system and liked it very much.   Please note that my friend borrow the same M1 DAC and did not like it in his system.  Everyone hears differently and the systems are different. 

In my opinion, the sound quality produced by my Bricasti M1 SE DAC is outstanding.   My system now offers breathtaking detail, transparency, lack of noise, and excellent dynamics.  I had the original M1 DAC and upgraded it to the M1 SE edition based on listening at an audio show.  I am running my Bricasti M1 SE DAC DIRECT into my Hypex NCore NC400 Bridged mono block class D power amplifiers (no pre-amplifier).  I am using Sonus Faber Olympica II Speakers.

After conversations with Bricasti, Hypex & James (James Romeyn Music and Audio, LLC), we decided to remove the R141 (circuit) from my Hypex NCore NC400 bridged mono blocks, thus lowering gain by 14 dB, requiring 14 dB higher M1 volume setting for same playback level.  Bricasti says the goal is to have the M1 CLOSE to 0db front panel attenuation. If you reduce the volume on the M1 DAC, you cause more bit reduction meaning you lose sound quality.  When you connect the Bricasti M1 DAC to a power amplifier, you should balance the M1 DAC to the power amplifier to achieve your M1 volume settings CLOSE to 0db.

I urge you to continue your research and listen to these DAC's before you make your final decision.   Of course, everyone has a different opinion on this subject. You never know “how it really sounds”, until you listen in your room and system.

I've never heard the Bricasti but always intrigued by it. Anyone who would like to send me one for a 10 year review.... :D :D

I would strongly recommend you listen to the current Mytek DACs, with support for DSD256 (yeay!!), PCM 384 and MQA (meh!)


Couple of years ago I had the Meitner MA 1 a very good dac, but sold it because it was truly outclass by my vinyl setup. Recently purchased the Gustard X20 with Ric Schultz latest mods and upgraded USB Regen and LPS 1 power supply. To make a long story short I believe this dac is really capable of walking on water. Extreme analog sound with amazing detail, and it plays DSD 256. I believe this dac would make anyone smile and its priced right. Enjoy the Holidays