AXPONA 2016: Bricasti Design dials it to 12


axponaBrian Zolner has been a fellow TIDAL Audio fan for several years, and I’m pretty sure he still owns the very first pair of Contriva Diacera SE loudspeakers — speakers that he’s used to help voice his fantastic line of audio electronics.

I’ve used his M1 DAC ($8,595) for months — and it’s outstanding — along with his M28 monoblock amplifiers ($30k/pair) that I raved about last year and gave an award to.

In the meantime, Team Bricasti has done some tweaking, and as a result, we now have the M1 Special Edition ($10k) DAC and the gold-plated M1 Limited Edition ($15k), both of which feature some sonically significant upgrades over the “base” model.

AXPONA coverage brought to you by Underwood HiFi, Exogal and Emerald Physics

On the What’s New front, however, is something rather different.

Here at AXPONA, we got to see and hear the M12 Dual Mono Source Controller ($15,995).

The M12 is, in short, a preamplifier. Like the old-school pre, the M12 is more than just a linestage. I mean, yes, it is one — it’s a fully buffered “active” linestage, using a rather slick fully-analog 256-step ladder-based attenuator, on the output section. Neat feature — being able to set a “reference volume” and then reset to it via a single button. You thinking a/b comparisons? I am! Anyway, just to be clear: on the input section, there’s the DAC along one path, and analog inputs along another. That is, if you have an analog rig (either vinyl or tape), you’re able to use the M12 as your hub. That’s important — and completely removes the requirement to have an extra external device in your signal chain. Think: purity. Think: sweetness and light. Think: awesomesauce, with a side helping of dry-aged red meat, bone-in, and served au jus. Nom nom nom.


But that’s not all.

Where things get wacky — there’s another path through the M12. If you happen to be a DSD file, you get to bypass the DAC.

Yes. Bypass the DAC.

award-sighting-smThe M12 has a new, fully-separate, pathway just for DSD (with support for 2x DSD over USB and 1x DSD over the new Network feature), which is fully analog. There will be more on this in the future as I’m getting one when they’re ready to ship this summer. In the demo, Brian flipped the bit during a live DSD stream (yes — this thing is fully networked, bitches — oh yeahhhh!), from “normal” processing via the ΔΣ processor to the analog path, and bliiiiiip my mind stopped working. Okay, that’s too strong, but a sense of space just leaped backwards.

I want I want I want I want.

Again, the M12 is pre-pro at this point, so there will be some topology changes as the circuit layout and rear panel get finalized. Stay tuned for more.

But for those of you wondering, I did ask about the network module and the DSD module — and the good news is that they are modules. Modules that very well might find their way into the next version of the M1 — or your old one. And that could happen soon. Stay tuned.

Shown here with TIDAL Audio Piano Diacera loudspeakers (which fit the room swimmingly, creating an effortlessly powerful sound stage), with Oyaide Cables, a full Stillpoints setup, and power conditioning from a monster Tchaik 6 from Silver Circle.

One of the best sounds on offer this year at AXPONA!

About Scot Hull 1063 Articles
Scot started all this back in 2009. He is currently the Publisher here at PTA, the Publisher at The Occasional Magazine, and the Executive Producer at The Occasional Podcast. There are way too many words about him over on the Contributors page.