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Berkeley Alpha DAC MK II opinions please..... NOW the Bricasti M1 experience. - Page 2

post #16 of 87

Thanks MM59!  I knew that M 1 was going to kill it!  Keep us posted!

post #17 of 87
I have a Wadia 581iSE and had the Ayre QB9. I have the Alpha DAC2 and the Alpha USB, simple put the Alpha out performs them all. It is extremely neutral and has no colorations, it will not make bad recordings good but it will make great recordings shine. The biggest surprise are HDCD encoded files or CD's they sound as good as most high res discs or files.
post #18 of 87
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyTunes View Post

I have a Wadia 581iSE and had the Ayre QB9. I have the Alpha DAC2 and the Alpha USB, simple put the Alpha out performs them all. It is extremely neutral and has no colorations, it will not make bad recordings good but it will make great recordings shine. The biggest surprise are HDCD encoded files or CD's they sound as good as most high res discs or files.

Yes I was considering the Alpha DAC and USB but I personally liked better the one piece instead of two, the fit & finish of the case and the communication and service of Bricasti. Both are great performers and at the top tier of all the DACs according to TAS and Stereophile. In my case the M1 exceeded my expectations in looks, quality and performance.
post #19 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicman59 View Post

I got my Bricasti yesterday as promised by Brian. I let is sit for 24 hours to get to room temperature in order to avoid any condensation issues (it is cold up here!).

I installed it today and made a quick comparison with me PWD MkII with the Upgrade Company Statement mods. The M1 blew the PWD MkII out of the water so easy...

Yes it is double the price but it is worth it. I thought the PWD sounded very good but in comparison it sounded lean with a lot less body and with a defused soundstage. The M1 sounds real and with a very focus soundstage. You can pin point every instrument and voice in its own space. It just sounds a lot more analog and natural.

 

It is so good that I am going to sell my Wadia 27 and PWD MkII to buy a second unit for my other system.

 

In addition to the beautiful design and great performance dealing with Brian Zolner was a total pleasure. He was so quick in responding all my questions and a total gentleman. 

 

congratulations!

 

can you share any thoughts on how the wadia 27 compares with the bricasti for red book?

post #20 of 87
Thread Starter 
I think both are excellent but IMO the Bircasti is a tad more natural and warmer sounding. I need to let the Bricasti burn-in more before more definitive conclusions.
post #21 of 87

I just love the look of the Briscati.  I loved my Levinson gear look too.  Black with the white control knob.  Solid build didn't even cover it.  Incredible build.

post #22 of 87
Thread Starter 

The more I listen to the M1 the more I like it and amazes me. I can't wait until it has 200 hours or so to see how it will settle and open up. I just listen to Stevie Nicks "For what is worth" from her latest CD and I have never hear that acoustic guitar and Stevie sounding so good and natural. I also listen to the CD from Civil Wars and it also sounded awesome. The level of detail without being analytical is amazing.

Those 2 Stereophile reviews are spot on, this is a great sounding DAC. Tomorrow is going to be Hi-Rez Fleetwood Mac day atsmile.gif

post #23 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicman59 View Post

The more I listen to the M1 the more I like it and amazes me. I can't wait until it has 200 hours or so to see how it will settle and open up. I just listen to Stevie Nicks "For what is worth" from her latest CD and I have never hear that acoustic guitar and Stevie sounding so good and natural. I also listen to the CD from Civil Wars and it also sounded awesome. The level of detail without being analytical is amazing.

Those 2 Stereophile reviews are spot on, this is a great sounding DAC. Tomorrow is going to be Hi-Rez Fleetwood Mac day atsmile.gif

Plus it's got to look great in black next to that WA5LE of yours!

post #24 of 87

After a little break-in, do you think the Bricasti a significant upgrade over the Wadia 27 for 44kb red book CDs?
 

post #25 of 87
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cat6man View Post

After a little break-in, do you think the Bricasti a significant upgrade over the Wadia 27 for 44kb red book CDs?
 

That is a difficult question because the term "significant" is very relative. What could be significant to me could not be to you.

The Wadia 27 is an excellent DAC for Red Book CDs. Do I think the Bricasti is better? To me it is. IMO it is more natural or real sounding and with more soundstage layers. Are the differences significant? I rather answer saying they are noticeable and to me worth the money but again that is just my opinion.

post #26 of 87

Well, for whatever it's worth, here are my 2c on the M1. Below is my post on Audiogon from almost a year ago when I first auditioned the DAC. I believe Bricasti has upgraded M1's filters since the time I first auditioned it back in Feb of last year. I last heard the DAC in late summer last year, and my opinion of M1 didn't change dramatically. One thing I should note is that to my ears, Klimax and MPS-5 are cut from the same cloth, and M1 is not. I may simply prefer the way Klimax and MPS-5 present music. 

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I had a chance to audition the highly-praised Bricasti M1 at my dealer. The associated gear include ATC 100 passive floor stander, ML pre and mono block. We used playback designs MPS5 for comparison and as the transport. I auditied this DAC hoping to use it as a secondary source to my Klimax.

We used primarily Diana Krell's CDs, including Live in Paris, and violin solo and concertos.

The positive:

M1 is technically excellent. The highs are extended without harshness. Mids are fairly transparent. Bass hits deep with power and definition. M1 reminds me of DAC1 and dare I say it's a souped up DAC1 in every respect (could be a good or bad thing)

The negative:

I would say the biggest weakness and ultimately my dismissal of this otherwise technically proficient DAC is its ulter lack of musicality. For example, human voice do not sound real and organic when compared with MPS-5. When Diana sings, I did not get the imagery of her singing. Like the mids, the highs on M1 leave much to be desired. For example, symbols in Living in Paris and violin solos lack the real life quality associated with those instrument. M1 sounded just like another digital DAC, displaying all the negative aspect of digital music. On the very high notes of violin, all I heard was a monotone sound, without the usual harmonics and woodiness I am used to with Klimax and what I heard on MPS-5. Soundstage of M1 feels contrived and not realistic. I did not hear the complex layering as with he MPS-5, nor did I hear as deep of a soundstage.

I believe if you like how DAC-1 sounds and wants a more refined and upgraded version of that sound, M1 may be a great choice. However, if you value real-life organic sound with music unfolding in a natural way, you may want to look elsewhere.

Overall I was very disappointed in the M1 when I had very high expectations after reading the latest review in an audio magazine.


Edited by chesebert - 1/5/13 at 6:22am
post #27 of 87
Thread Starter 

Yes, the filters have changed. Now it has 5 "Minimum" filters and 8 "Linear" filters. I have not hear the MPS-5 and most likely I will never consider it due to its price of around $15,000 being outside my budget. I probably have not hear more than 10 different DACs and all of them in the $1000 to $9000 range but from all of them I take the Bricasti. Would it be a better sounding DAC? Maybe, but again it is all relative and based on taste of sound and perception. I do believe there is not a right answer or perfect equipment and/or sound in this hobby of ours, it is all very subjective. IMO what matters is that you like what you hear and the enjoyment you are getting back from it.

post #28 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicman59 View Post

That is a difficult question because the term "significant" is very relative. What could be significant to me could not be to you.

The Wadia 27 is an excellent DAC for Red Book CDs. Do I think the Bricasti is better? To me it is. IMO it is more natural or real sounding and with more soundstage layers. Are the differences significant? I rather answer saying they are noticeable and to me worth the money but again that is just my opinion.

 

thanks.  significant to you is clearly the only aspect you can respond to, and your last sentence indicates that it is for you.

 

i'm  hoping to do some comparisons in the next few weeks/months among the bricasti, meitner, emm labs and maybe a few others.

post #29 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by cat6man View Post

thanks.  significant to you is clearly the only aspect you can respond to, and your last sentence indicates that it is for you.

i'm  hoping to do some comparisons in the next few weeks/months among the bricasti, meitner, emm labs and maybe a few others.
This will be looked forward to with interest.
post #30 of 87
Thread Starter 

This is a follow up of my initial impressions of the Bricasti M1 DAC.

 

I moved the Bricasti to my bedroom system where I have my Stax 727II/SR-009 combo and my Woo WA-5LE. The Bricasti sound was excellent since the beginning but for some time to my ears it showed a small energy peak at the top of the midrange frequencies.

 

With good recordings this peak was not really noticeable but with older recordings like the ones of some Classic Rock albums I listen it was clearly there and sometimes depending of the recording creating a little bit of fatiguing effect. Basically the M1 is unmercifully transparent and it will show exactly the quality of the recording.

 

Now the M1 has over 400 hours of burn-in and the HiFi Tuning fuses I put in have also over 250 hours. About the 400 hours mark I noticed a nice change in the sound. That slight peak of energy at the top midrange disappeared, the bass got even tighter and the whole presentation of the sound got very musical.

 

Over the weekend I finished a project setting up a Mac Mini as a dedicated music server. I bought a used Mac Mini from late 2009 server version. It has a dual Core 2 processor with 2.5 GHz speed, it came with a dual 500 GB hard drive (1T total) and I upgraded the memory to 8GB. I went with this Mini because it is the last model with an external power supply so later I can get a linear power supply to replace the stock one. I performed all the OS mods recommended by Mojo Audio and bought an iUSB form iFi to clean the USB power out of the Mini.

 

I the bedroom system in addition to my two headphones systems there I also have a Threshold S550e amplifier, a Threshold T2 Pre-amp, a pair of B&W N803 and a Rel Q401 Sub.

 

The Mac Mini is the dedicated source of the system. It has all the iTunes library (WAV) in one of the internal hard drives and all the Hi-Res files are in the other internal drive. I am using iTunes for file management and I am using Audirvana Plus with iTunes integration for playback. The Mac Mini is feeding the iUSB and from there to the Bricasti M1 which is feeding the 727II, WA5-LE and T2.

This is my first experience with a dedicated music serves connected via USB before I was using my iMac streaming music via a Squeezebox.

 

So first I started with my speaker system using my modified Teac VRDS-10 to feed the M1 via SPDIF coax (WW Gold Starlight 6). I put in a CD from a blues player that I just discovered. She is a sensational guitar player that remains me Steve Ray Vaughn and with one of the sultriest voices I have ever heard. Her name is Joanne Shaw Taylor.

 

As soon as the CD started playing my jaw dropped down to the floor. Her voice was so real, so textured, so clean. It was like she was there in front of me. I could hear her fingers going up and down her guitar strings and the bass oh my! It was fast, it was deep and it was impactful. The whole presentation was so not digital that I could not believe it even my wife (who does not care about this hobby) was amazed of the sound.

 

After that fabulous experience I then switched to the Mac Mini via the M1 USB input.

The first thing I can say is that I did not notice any change in sound quality. What I heard from the CD transport was the same than from the Mac Mini. I went through several other songs and types of music and I could find no fault in the sound at all.

 

After done with the speaker system then went to a tougher test going to the Stax rig. The SR-009 are so transparent that I am going to be able to hear any little detail for good or bad. The result was exceptional. The music was gorgeous. There was no peak at the top midrange whatsoever. The music was just like through the speakers, very smooth, very neutral, very analog. To put it in two words, very beautiful.

 

Following the Stax rig I switched the WA-5LE with the HD800 using the Zeus cable. This time I switched out Audirvana Plus from iTunes integration and loaded some Fleetwood Mac high resolution files from HDTracks. Who said the HD800 had no bass??? The bass on “Dreams” was deep, tight, fast and with great impact. Every single song was a glorious Mac Attack (they are coming out on tour later this year.. yeah!) at its best. A total delightful experience like I have never had before with those same song and HiRes files.

 

I have not listened to the Meitner MA-1 or the AMR DP-777 or the Berkeley Alpha MkII so I cannot make a comparison to those but I know the Bricasti M1 blew away my PS Audio PerfectWave MkII (with upgrades from The Upgrade Company) and sounds significantly better than my old Wadia 27 and so far my systems have not sound this good ever!

 

I want to thank Brian Zolner from Bricasti for all his advice, help and patience. He is an exceptional guy and the master mind of an exceptional product. Thanks Brian!

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