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Bricasti M1 > M5 > M12: Network Player - Member REVIEW w/OEM Response from Brian Zolner President/Owner Bricasti below s Hey Guys - I have been going back and forth between what to go with for a Ethernet Network Media Player - either Innuos, SOtM, Sonore, Uptone, Bricasti M1 Network Player or M5, etc. I have a thread dedicated to working toward this decision and got some fantastic help from many CA members. I learned so much and in such a short time. This forum is Fantastic - so many people are so helpful and I appreciate it very much. I am including the link below to anyone interested in that very educational journey. Great stuff if you are interested in Innuos, SOtM, Sonore, Uptone, Bricasti Network Player or M5 I purchased a bunch of these product to try and learn for myself to be sure. I did not want to question my decision with any what if's and wanted the best sounding option for me and my system. I ended up going with the Network Player Option installed in my Bricasti M1SE DAC and I wrote this feedback to one of the best people in all of Hi-End Audio, Brian Zolner President/Owner/Designer Bricasti Design. His digital and analogue products sound absolutely fantastic and the build quality is second to none and the support is as good as it is anywhere. All made by hand right here in good old Massachusetts, USA. I asked Brian if it would be OK if I share my thoughts with the super helpful crew - the CA members that were so important in helping me get to this decision. He said no problem I also asked if he wanted to respond and comment and he provided some great insight below my feedback on his thoughts on the M1, M12, M5 network players and USB audio. I am glad to be able to share this with you guys. I will send Brian this link and I am sure if any of you have any questions or feedback or thought that would be fantastic. We will get you all the info you need. This is some seriously good sounding gear and its a lot less money than the Aurender and Lumin and it blows their doors off! Also, I would love some idea's and feedback and any idea's really now that I am all in with Ethernet audio what is my next step? One member told me to buy The Linear Solution OCXO Audiophile Switch. (link at bottom of the page). This is supposed to provide a great bump in SQ and it is $679 and comes with a dedicated purpose built Linear Power Supply. Please share you thoughts on this or any other upgrade that can help me get the most out of my Bricasti M1SE Ethernet Network Media Player. Subject: Re: Feedback Send to Brian Zolner and Joe at Bricasti Hey Brian and Joe, I wanted to reach out and thank you both for the very kind and outstanding service installing the Bricasti M1SE Ethernet Network Player option in my M1SE DAC. Guys, it is absolutely fantastic! It needed about 40 to 60 hours of burn-in to get to where it was going and honestly the upgrade over that time was substantial. I get that some people don't believe in burn-in and others like me clearly hear it but I am just telling you guys this Bricasti M1SE Ethernet Network Player option is absolutely fantastic. At first I was strongly considering the M5 just because I already own all of the premium - supporting USB Gear and thought it might be great and I am sure it is but honestly guys in all fairness I didn't think the Bricasti M1SE Ethernet Network Player option would end up being this good? Man is it good! I thought it would be good and/or even great but it surpassed even those expectations and that's not an easy thing to do. I am looking for an awful lot out of my gar and I had some premium gear it needed to stand up against. I can speak from first hand experience about this Network Player option and how it compared to all the similar other gear listed below. All my thoughts are in comparison to the gear listed below. I was able to do a/b verse some really good Ethernet / USB options that are some of the hottest, best selling products going and I assumed from an a/b it would be close and/or maybe I couldn't even tell the difference but this is where my non-audiophile wifey serves as a sort of blind test. Yes her ear has evolved but she is not an audiophile. What the Bricasti Network Player option does that is so much better than everything else is actually something you never even knew was missing until you hear it and then remove it. It jumps off the page during A/B's. Sometimes A/B's can be tough but here it stands out as clear as day it was simple. To test myself I asked my wifey for her help and what she thinks. I set up the Sonore/Uptone Combo and then the SOtM/Uptone power supply combo and the Bricasti Network Player and mixed them up and she picked it out each time. She actually picked out the SOtM over Sonore also so maybe her ear is getting better than I think but she heard it and picked it out clearly and simply so that reinforced what I already knew but wanted to check it. Bricasti Network Player is so much more direct and decisive. It's immediacy and directness just can't be missed. I was like "yes, yes, oh man yes"! "Thats what I am talking about" and you know what - those are far and few between these days so when it happens you REALLY appreciate it. Thank you It not like it is a little warmer and a little clearer or it widens or deepens the stage or something like that which by the way it does all these things but that's not my point. It is immediate, decisive and startlingly quick. Its got jump and you are just much closer to the event. It was a combo of heightened transparency with just layers removed and more information magnified and exposed in all its greatness. Also, I want to make sure to note that I am not talking about being more upfront either because it offered a deeper stage and the voices are actually pushed further back which normally I don't prefer. I actually like that dynamic and sort of upfront sound as a rule but that is not what this is. This does it totally different! It does it the only fashioned way. It earns it. This is no designers voicing choice, this is simply a much more robust and substantial component. It performs at a much higher level and it is shows on so many levels. Vastly better separation and delineation in that more direct package. The stage opens and the walls expand and out comes a richer and more layered and more natural presentation. Man that separation is just fantastic! I just can't get over that open space it puts around everything and the air and the extension go on and on. It's just that every item is so sharp and precise and magnified in 3D space. Everything is tighter and wider and deeper and it all just holds together so well and is so confident and that heightened image precision is such an enjoyable effect. I don't want to touch anything - this the best sound I've ever had and I'm ecstatic! Better than analogue IMO. I am sure there are some uber turntables that will out do it but pound for pound I doubt it IMO. I was impressed at this much closer to the event effect. It's kind of hard to articulate but I think this might shed a little more light. Sort of that same effect you get when you have a great DAC or CD player and then you remove the preamp. The only thing with removing a great preamp is you gain that great immediate directness but then lose all that greatness that a great preamps provides but that increased directness is such a desirable effect so many people do it. I did it but then you get a great preamp and you say man I love the directness but I am giving up so much to get it. Some big time trade off's and many go back and forth. I know I did for a while. So this new Network Player upgrade was like keeping your amazing preamp and all the great benefits the pre provides while still getting that great directness a preless set up gives you. Best of both worlds! How often do you get to have your cake and eat it too? Well that is what happened here IMO with this so I think you can see why I am so happy about it and hope this does a little better job of explaining the main effect of this Ethernet Network Player option I added to my system. This preless type directness while keeping all the greatness of a preamp is worth the price of admission all by itself but there is more. All that directness has a great effect on the bass which is tighter, cleaner and more nuanced with much better separation. There isn't any more slam or power. It is not rounder or warmer which some may prefer but it is different. It is more nimble and lighter on its toes with more precision and definition. I don't think its any less powerful but it's different sort of like my Magico speakers are. People think or feel with Magico's sealed Aluminum cabinets there is less bass when in actuality there isn't any less but it is faster and more defined but some interrupt this as less bass but I don't agree but also each to their own. I find it to be a nice improvement and upgrade but I can see someone that likes to listen to a lot pop or rap music they may refer a thicker or rounder sound but everyone else will love this IMO. I will take quality and precision over quantity every time but that's just me and everyone is different. I want take a moment to thank you and your company again for your approach to supporting the folks that purchase your gear. Premium Hi-End Audiophile gear is quite expensive and so many of the top Hi-Fi companies come out with a new model every few years and that kills us. We need to sell our old one to get the new one and that makes expensive gear insanely expensive to own. Many people like me want the most recent and best gear they can afford. You guys make this possible and care more about your customers than any of the other OEM's and we appreciate it very much! You guys are totally different from the Vast Majority of high ends OEM's. Also, this feedback was not made in a vacuum. Here are the items I had in my system that I did an A/B with that allowed me great insight into how your Ethernet Network Player option worked verse the others. Some of these I only owned a for a short while because I knew there was no contest. Most have either been sold or are in process of being sold on Audiogon because your Network Player made them obsolete. I am keeping the JS-2 and P10 for my new system set up. Tellurium Q Black Diamond USB Cable Curious Regenlink USB Cables (2) Uptone Audio USPCB Connectors Uptown Audio ISO Regen USB Uptown Audio LPS-1 UltraCap Power Supply Uptown Audio LPS-1 UltraCap Power Supply Breeze Audio 12v Linear Power Supplies Breeze Audio 12v Linear Power Supplies Uptown Audio Amber Regen USB Uptown Audio JS-2 Linear Power Supply Sonore mircoRendu 2.5 Ethernet / USB Player Ghent customer DC power Cables PS Audio P10 Regenerator SOtM tX-USBultra w/50 ohm connector SOtM sms-200 Ultra w/50 ohm connector I honestly thought in my heart of hearts USB might be the way to go just because it has come so far in not that long of a time. Sonore, SOtM and Uptone Audio in my opinion changed the world in regards to the USB landscape and in a huge way. There are a few others as well. They brought, real world price upgrades to USB that made semi-inexpensive gear better than super expensive legacy products from just a few years back (CD and SACD Players) and this changed the game. Now it appears you have changed the game on the Ethernet side. I call tell anyone out there that doesn't own a Bricasti M1 is to buy the M5. I am not sure how the M5 sounds because I have not heard it but if it sounds anything like the M1 Ethernet Network Player then there is nothing that can touch it. Great job and thank you guys. With your permission I would like to share this personal email on my forum post and if you are ok with it any of your responses as well. People are waiting to hear my thoughts so I thought I could email you and inform them at the same time. Thanks Frank Fsmithjack Subject: Re: Response / Feedback from Brian Zolner Bricasti President/Owner/Designer to Frank Smith / Fsmithjack Frank, Thanks for all that commentary, and well guess only thing I can say or add is once we got the LAN working in the M12, and then the M1 ( it’s the same streamer used in all products) I never went back to USB, clearly better even just connecting with 50’ cat5 from my server to the M1. We do all shows with the LAN and try to convince users this is the way. I feel that regardless of the cables and power supplies and clockers etc for USB that seem to make some differences, one might say they create differences and subjective to if its better or not, but I feel USB is fundamentally flawed and when the player or renderer is installed directly in the M1 it eliminates all the issues of USB, it removes it from the computer, and places it in the M1. We made our own player, running on a linux core on an ARM processor, runs off the linear supply in the M1 too. so no extra processors running as with a PC where the computer is doing all kinds of other co processing, switch mode power regulation on the PC mother board etc. But in the end of all that stuff, this approach eliminates it. For the sound of USB, People are fooled by things and as you point out someone might like the effect of the USB, but I think what we get with the streamer is true sound reproduction with no jitter and noise added to make the sound dance a bit, I hear it clearly on my Tidals, and our M28s, no loss of bass at all for me, but tight clear and excellent extension, no bloating. The M5 was made so that a user could run off the network or PC without using USB, I feel the AES is the best as removes these issues. But installed in the M1 or M12 is the best, direct I2S to the DSP and then to the DAC. The M5 with AES is darn close to what you have, I have done a lot of listening and that was the idea of that product to offer great playback and no USB for anyone and any DAC. Enjoy it, I know it changed my life, my server PC is in another part of the house and I run it all from Jremote, there is just no other way to play, besides the sound there is the convenience factor and I play tracks from my phone or stream from it to the M1, or the server, or the NAS or any PC in my home, all the computer stuff goes in another room away from the listening room. It’s a network and that is what starts becoming interesting and you don’t get that with USB or any other point to point interface. Go ahead and share the story, its what we hope others will find out too. Brian Subject: Re: Response / Feedback from Joe at Bricasti to Frank Smith / Fsmithjack Hi Frank, thank you for great write-up! Enjoy your M1, if you ever need anything just let me know. Thank you again, joe http://www.bricasti.com/en/consumer/m1se.php http://thelinearsolution.com/ocxo_switch.html
Not a new thing at all but I wanted to make this approach more... approachable and moreover I am hoping to hear from someone experienced/knowledgeable with this approach for our general consumer use cases. Yeah and also just to start a discussion Caveat: I haven't tried this. The goal: Multi-channel The uses: Active speaker crossovers, Software Room Correction, Software Bass Management oh yeah and also the occasional original surround content The problem: Your favorite DAC is not multichannel/multichannel DACs are too expensive/consumer mch DACs could be counted on one hand/you are bored/etc The approach: Multi-Channel AES Interfaces Solution Ingredients: 1. A Computer (luckily this is the CA forum!) 2. A multichannel AES Interface, such as Lynx AES16e ($699) or miniDSP U-DIO8 ($275) - OR - 4. Your favorite AES/EBU or S/PDIF enabled stereo DACs Description: The OS and players will recognize the multichannel digital-to-digital interface as a single multichannel audio device which would allow mapping of the channels and would in turn use whatever downstream DAC is connected to each channel pair as the digital-to-analog interfaces. Example #1 - Value 8ch: 1x miniDSP U-DIO8 S/PDIF Edition - $275 4x Topping D30 - $480 4x BNC to RCA - $14 Total: $769 Example #2 - Multi Channel Yggdrasil: 1x miniDSP U-DIO8 AES/EBU - $275 4x Schiit Yggdrasil - $9,600 Total: $9,875 Example #3 - Mixed high end 2ch with value surrounds for 5.1ch: 1x miniDSP U-DIO8 S/PDIF - $275 1x Benchmark DAC3 - $2,195 2x Topping D30 - $240 4x BNC to RCA - $14 Total: $2,724 Example #4 - 2x 3Way Active Crossover: 1x Lynx AES16e - $699 3x Benchmark DAC2 DX - $5,985 Total: $6,684 You get the picture. Currently mapped notes/pitfalls: 1. Mind the difference between AES/EBU and SPDIF and pick units and cables accordingly (Could potentially use converters like the M-Audio CO3) 2. Volume control is only in software. I'm not sure if the miniDSP or Lynx map to the normal OS volume control which could then be used with PC remotes and keyboards with volume buttons. 3. Both miniDSP and the Lynx only supports 192kHz/24bit. 4. Not sure if the miniDSP or Lynx could be used as standard Windows audio devices and set as default or if they only support ASIO enabled players. If only ASIO is supported then I guess a virtual sound card (like Virtual Audio Cable) might be helpful. 5. DACs with volumes should be set at the same level 6. Mixing different DAC models should be accompanied by volume leveling on the channels (no different than speakers actually so this is usually recommended anyway) 7. Only PCM is supported 8. Clock drift - Good consumer DACs perform re-clocking on some/all of their inputs (not sure what is common with AES inputs) which is generally a good thing done to prevent Jitter. In this case though it is actually preferable to use the pro AES interface's clock which is build to function as professional grade low-jitter master clock for connected device, as per the original standard. Leaving each DAC to his own internal clock might result in clock drift between them. I have no real insight into this issue, if it's a problem and if/how is it avoidable. Re-clocking behavior should be evaluated per input type of a DAC model and I *think* we should prefer DACs with no reclocking on the AES XLR inputs. I might also be completely wrong on this whole thing Anybody with experience in these sort of setups? Insight? Tips? Corrections? Limitations? Other pitfalls? Jokes on the OP? Thoughts? Thanks to @Kal Rubinson for helping to map some of the pitfalls.