In use, that impression continued. The cluster of six buttons plus rotary selector made navigation perfectly intuitive. From auto input switching—it senses the live input but won't work with simultaneous signal on multiple inputs to then mandate manual selection—to remembering the last volume after standby to briefly reawakening a blacked-out display when changing a setting to being able to set a brief mute with sample-rate changes to having a super legible display to begin with... everything made perfect sense. Rapid loading of the various filters encourages busy trials on the fly to be another nod at well-considered user friendliness.


Only two small items betrayed professional not consumer thinking: calling Toslink EIAJ; and organizing volume by attenuation whereby 00 equals full blast. Most home users expect higher numbers to get louder and 00 to mean 'mute'. As to listening in the pitch-black dark, forget it. Whilst 'display off' nicely limits the frontal pixels to just one dot for 'on', a dozen bright red LED on the PCB spill forth through the casing's side and top grates. This backlight remains active during standby. Unless you power off fully, you'll always have a visitor from Mars: not men in green but one hi-tech machine in martial red. Given Bricasti's decision to use Stillpoint footers, I decided not to bypass or alter their mechanical tuning. So the M1 parked on a shelf rather than the Artesania Audio Exoteryc rack's otherwise preferred own Nylon/neoprene decouplers.


For maximal resolution, I followed the M1 with Esoteric's C03 preamp set to 0dB voltage gain. In that capacity it acts as an actively buffered passive of fixed impedance pre/post attenuator. This fed the Pass Labs XA30.8 class A push/pull stereo amp. The entire cable path was balanced. Thinking on which speakers to use, I considered Bricasti's professional roots to decide on a quasi studio monitor in-house at the moment. This Mark & Daniel Maximus Monitor MkII mates a 5-octave AMT wideband tweeter with a 700Hz crossover to an ultra Xmax 6.5" mid/woofer plus an upfiring lens-dispersed 360° AMT 'super' tweeter (3kHz high-pass). Set into a bonded synthetic marble cabinet with two small-diameter rear ports, this ambitious box claims and delivers 32-35'000Hz bandwidth with a concomitantly low 85dB efficiency. Whilst passive where most studio monitors are active, it otherwise seems a shoo-in for recording work that relies on high SPL stability, linear response without deliberate voicing plus high resolution from top drivers and an ultra-rigid enclosure. All signal wiring was silver for more support of speed and precision.


For context and my digital world view, the best DAC I'd hosted until then had been the €20'000 Gryphon Kalliope. My in-house baby Gryphon is the €6'700 Fore Audio DAISy1. It follows the exact same aural aesthetic of dynamic intensity and tone density, albeit at a slightly milder dose. My alternate more PRaT-centred flavour is the zero-sampling R2R Aqua Hifi LaScala MkII. Other converters from Meitner to Nagra, Rockna to TotalDAC had played in this same residential league even where costing decisively more or resampling all PCM to DSD. This had me think that either what's achievable had mostly been handled by my own converters already; or that tapping whatever extra existed beyond them required far more exotic ancillaries than I have. If so, that'd make it a purely theoretical hence irrelevant concern for anyone in my fiscal comfort zone or below it. Given my perspective, I didn't expect the Bricasti to reshuffle that deck. If it played 'on the level' although with its own discrete flavour—what in conversations is called a sideways move—it'd join a list of pedigreed competitors.


As an aside, my music iMac identified the M1 as generic XMOS USB 2.0 Audio Out. Only when one USB-connects multiple DACs to switch between them with player software or OS sound windows does this become an irritant. It's why Aqua Hifi and Gryphon write the few lines of code necessary to identify theirs by company name. Even if they run on the same XMOS or Amanero transceiver chips as the competition, now one can easily tell them apart. With a deck of Bricasti's ambition, seeing it show up as 'Bricasti' or 'M1' wouldn't hurt.


As to digital filter selection, past experience had called it an exercise in mostly gossamer subtlety. Here the M1 followed suit, albeit with slightly more differentiation. I ended up favouring the highest 'minimal' filter but your mileage will inevitably vary as it could based on music choices. Suffice to say that this machine makes those musical chairs an easily accessible game not buried multiple menu layers deep. Just hit the 'filter' button on the fascia or remote, turn the knob and hit enter or use the up/down buttons and presto.
 

With all the housekeeping chores handled, I was ready to get critical. Incidentally that's not the proper mind set for musical enjoyment. It's simply what reviewers are expected to do to render any form of judgment. Hopefully that listening mode doesn't delete the knack for reverting back to normal consumption when the work is done; and remembering what 'normal' is in the first place. For proper contrast, my first A/B subject—and as it turned out, only one—was the fully balanced Fore Audio DAISy1 from South Korea, another ΔΣ modulator but with a hybrid valve buffer.


Here we look at the powered very practical infrared receiver box and a fraction of the all-metal wand whose buttons duplicate this machine's gold plating. Either device sports four tiny protective rubber nubs at the bottom to not mar your furniture.