I covered Bricasti and Tidal last fall during the Capital Audiofest, so this was another case of walking into a room at AXPONA 2019 and thinking that I knew what was going to happen and then being totally wrong. The combination of Bricasti components and Tidal speakers is, almost by definition, a primer in resolution and authority. Or, as I put it last November, “I’m not a music lover who necessarily needs this level of resolution to be happy, but when it’s surrounded by such a natural and musical whole, I find it positively intoxicating.” After seeing these two brands together in Chicago, I learned a couple of new things about these two fascinating companies and their impressive products.
First of all, I should discuss the exhibit rooms at AXPONA 2019. I’m not talking about the big ballrooms downstairs, but the “reg’lar” rooms upstairs, the ones where folks sleep when the high-end audio shows aren’t in town. I found the rooms at the Renaissance to be nicely proportioned for set-up. When I was an exhibitor, I can always remember that gut feeling when you walked into your empty exhibit room for the first time and you had a reaction, either “Okay, I see where everything is going to go” or “Oh crap, how am I going to make this work?” With one exception, I heard good to excellent sound in every room at AXPONA, and I’m sure the room dimensions had something to do with it. I’m bringing this up because the Bricasti and Tidal system at CAF was a big set-up in a big room that yielded BIG sound.
Here, at AXPONA, a slightly smaller system was placed in a much smaller room, and it sounded just as big as at CAF. I thought that was amazing just on its own.
Staying Big While Scaling Down
Bricasti was a bit more selective about its components–instead of bringing everything, they focused on using the M28 monoblock amplifiers ($30,000/pair), the M12 controller ($16,000) and several DACs, including the brand new M3 D/A converter (starting at $5000), which even comes with a headphone amp and a network player option. The M3 is considered the beginning of a new direction for Bricasti, a direction that includes native DSD and analog attenuation, and the ability to create a complete system with just a pair of active speakers. Tidal was represented by its “entry-level” speakers, the $39,000/pair Piano G2s, probably the one Tidal speaker I haven’t heard until now.
In essence, this is a much simpler Bricasti and Tidal system than I heard last fall, in a much smaller room, and yet my impressions were almost identical–a clearly mapped-out soundstage, astonishing levels of detail, stupendous dynamic range and the ability to reproduce almost any type of music in a realistic way. I’ve experienced this type of flexibility with a number of excellent brands, this ability to choose the right product for the right room and maintain consistent results. It’s a trait that’s far from common.
Before now, I always thought of Bricasti and Tidal as the kind of brands you’d want to consider if you have a huge listening room and the funds to do it right. Now I realize that while these components are still not quite affordable–although the M3 comes close for what it does–they do fit into a wide variety of lifestyles and spaces without any sacrifice in performance.