Bricasti’s M5 is Roon Ready!

I see from some of the show reports coming out of Axpona 2017, that Bricasti is now showing a small external network render module called the M5 to allow their M1 DAC and M12 products to receive audio over the network – and they claim it’s Roon Ready!! This is great news. I am a little confused however by the limitation of 192K and DSD 64. I presume that the connection from the M5 to the M1 is over USB, and I see no reason why the M5 wouldn’t support 384K and DSD 128 as the DAC does. Any thoughts?

MSB’s analog DAC’s network module supports these higher rates, so I presume that it isn’t a limitation with Ethernet.

If correct, I think it’s a limitation of the bridge hardware. PS Audio’s Network Bridge II is similarly limited.

By the bridge HW I presume you mean the M5?

I guess that is probably the case, but then my question is why release a new product intended to allow their flagship DACs to stream that limits the bandwidth available to input to those DACs? As MSB and others operate with the higher resolution files, it would seem not to be a limit of Ethernet.

Yes, whatever the actual bridge module that’s used in the M5 (which could be the same as what’s used in the PS Audio Bridge II, but that’s a guess on my part). Note that the DirectStream DAC can accept 352.8 PCM and DSD128, but if you add in the Bridge II card, it’s limited to 192 PCM and DSD64 via Ethernet, so it’s the same unfathomable design decision by both companies.

Interesting… given that it’s a solved problem as evidenced by MSB, it’s unfortunate that Bricasti would use slower & older tech (probably a cost issue?).

I could see standing still on input resolution at some point, DxD and DSD128 or DSD512 perhaps, but not at 192K/DSD64. There is too much happening in available content above those points.

Per the link below, MSB’s network render card is ~$2K, so similar price point as the Bricasti.

Maybe it’s a cost issue, but I read that the M5 is supposed to cost around $2,000, and the Bridge II goes for $899 (though PS Audio has a very good trade-in deal). My $2,000 streamer does DXD and DSD256 with no problems, and the Sonore $298 Sonicorbiter SE and $640 microRendu both do up to 768 PCM and DSD512 with supported DACs. Perhaps both Bricasti and PS Audio are thinking of Ethernet connectivity strictly as a convenience feature, but that seems wrongheaded to me, especially given that both of the devices are Roon Ready.

Agreed. Likely just a poor design choice. All too common that old-line HW makers don’t really get digital audio yet - particularly when it comes to understanding the full ecosystem and how/where we distribute and store our music files. As a Roon adopter, Bricasti should know better.

One thing to keep in mind here is that very few manufacturers develop their own streaming hardware. By that I mean the small computer that lives inside the box, interfaces with the network, and speaks all of the appropriate protocols. Most companies buy this as a card from one of two suppliers and in some cases source an interface board from yet another supplier. They take these components and interface them with their own hardware to create the actual product that’s sold to the consumer.

AFAIK, one of these companies has a board that’s generally easier to work with (and less expensive), but it’s limited in terms of supported formats. I know that this is the board that PS Audio uses and I’m willing to bet that it’s the same one used by Bricasti. The alternative (from another manufacturer) which supports higher sample rates is much more difficult to integrate and is only used by a couple of manufacturers (and only one of those is using a Roon Ready version of the firmware).

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You make an excellent point. I have no doubt that your thoughts about the limited number of commercial off-the-shelf components are spot on. Having said that, a question for all of us is at what point should we reasonably expect an audiophile device to be more than an assembly of easy-to-source off-the-shelf components placed into a nifty branded enclosure?

In the case of Bricasti, most people getting into one of their DACs will be spending over $10K for their DAC – and now an additional $2K for the M5. I would like to think that at this price point the manufacturer is adding a little more value than base-level systems integration and that new components, when they are released, are close to state-of-the-art. Obviously Bricasti made a choice here and it’s probably a well thought out business decision on their part. (I suspect it’s a rush-to-market move as they were lagging in having a networked offering – the M5 is a quick way to plant a flag in that market.) I am a fan of Bricasti, and am therefore disappointed that their first entry into the network connectivity space is this far behind.

If one wanted an external-box solution to connect their M1, I see little reason to consider the M5 over the well-reviewed MicroRendu – which even with all the upgrades would be less expensive than the M5 and also Roon Ready and open up all of the resolutions of which the M1 is capable.

Perhaps their next product release in this space will be more satisfying?

The issue facing most manufacturers is that the skills required to develop and support this type of component are way outside what’s typically found at the average high-end audio company. These boards are computers in their own right and are typically running an embedded version of Linux. In order for this development to be brought in-house the manufacturer would need to hire on an engineer capable of doing the design and layout of a single-board computer along with what would likely be a separate engineer to design and implement the software solution. Then there are the costs associated with manufacturing the cards, dealing with defects, regulatory approvals, etc.

For a typical audio company the costs associated with bringing something like this in-house are staggering given the overall sales volumes. By partnering with a 3rd party those costs are spread among a larger number of manufacturers and the bulk of the risk rests on the shoulders of the card manufacturer.

Keep in mind that there are a number of things that the manufacturer still needs to do in order to make these cards do something useful. This includes designing a proper power supply, clocking mechanism, output driver circuit, DSP etc.

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I am in agreement with your assessment. Building and delivering a network connected audio device expands the set of skills needed to design and build such a device – both hardware and software (at least at the device driver level).

Hardware manufacturers must decide what core competencies need in-house talent and which are the things that can be outsourced or purchased off the shelf and integrated. I am a proponent of partnering wherever possible (Why would a HW manufacturer invest in the considerable SW development and maintenance expense to build a library management/player system when partnering with a company like Roon makes so much more sense?), however, when partnerships or commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions limit core functionality of the flagship product – there is hardly a stronger case for internal investment, especially for a premium brand.

I would argue that given the obvious and fast moving trends in the marketplace, network connectivity should be on top of the priority list. The fact pattern is hard to miss: the fast rise and prominence of solutions like Roon, declining CD numbers, bloggers and show reporters widely rejoicing at a near term network connected future. Can you imagine a customer buying a new DAC today that didn’t have a network connection option? To me at least this seems like table stakes these days. Collectively, my read of this is that in relatively short order, Ethernet (wired & wireless) will be the predominate way to move music to (or beside) the DAC. Hence, there is a strong argument for top-end manufacturers to invest in this element of the signal delivery chain – at least until such time as it becomes commoditized to the level that COTS components can be purchased that don’t hobble the functionality of the DAC.

As an interesting aside, we have seen in many industries the effects of entering the computer age. Too many traditional HW manufactures (autos, telecom, etc.) fail to understand that when their market becomes digitally (computer) driven, product cycles shorten dramatically (blame Moore). The net effect of this is that manufactures can find their fortunes in the market turn quickly if they miss critical inflection points wherein the consumers’ expectation for base level functionality shifts. How long did it take after the introduction of the iPhone for sales of non-touch screen phones to tank? Not very long at all. One of the qualities I expect from manufacturers in the upscale/luxury segment of any product category is vision – I want to see them leading, not being an untimely follower – Bricasti.

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Indeed, and if you take a look at the offerings from across the industry and factor in the time of release / product age there’s a division forming between those who are truly innovating and anticipating trends vs those who are simply trying to check off a feature on their spec sheets. I doubt that we’ll see too many of the truly premium brands bringing all of this engineering in-house due to expense, but the ones who are ahead of the curve are being very careful in the partnerships that they form so that they have the ability to quickly adapt as technology changes.

A good case in point is the dCS Vivaldi Upsampler. When the product was introduced in 2012 it’s streaming hardware was state-of-the-art. Of course over the life of the product that changed and the streaming solution started to show its age. Fortunately, this inevitable fact was taken into account in the design stage and the product was completely modular. Fast-forward to this time in 2016 and an upgrade to the streaming hardware was offered at a very reasonable cost through a swap of a couple of boards along with a software update.

In my opinion, there’s no reason why a product introduced today shouldn’t have support for network streaming of at least DXD and DSD128. The appropriate hardware and software exists out there and although it may be a bit more expensive or have a longer integration cycle those are business factors that can be planned for and taken into account.

What concerns me is that many manufacturers are being very short-sighted today in an effort to catch up with their competitors. In some cases these choices make total sense in the grand scheme, but in others (most others) it’s an indication of being out of touch with the market. As a dealer this is a constant source of frustration as the vast majority of manufacturers simply don’t get it.

Hello John,

Currently the M5 supports DSD 128 over USB and we are working toward a release for DSD 256 over USB. The preliminary data sheet has been updated to reflect the current spec.

Damon Gramont
Bricasti Design


Thank you for replying here. Is the data sheet different than the website? I have reviewed the updated info on your website which leaves many questions unanswered.

What kind of Wifi?

Ethernet? what speed?

“With wide support for DNLA and other popular network protocols” - What does this mean? what other protocols? You don’t mentioned RAAT except a claim later that you are Roon Ready - but you are not listed in the Partners section of the Roon website - they have always listed both currently shipping and coming soon partners, Bricasti doesn’t show at all.

No support for DxD?

What makes the M5 special? The site speaks of specs, but as mentioned above this seem to be another “me too” product. Is the M5 superior to say the Microrendu? I would hope so given that it bears the Bricasti name – but I’m not sure I see how or why. I’m sure there are many of us that would love to hear about this.

This isn’t meant to be confrontational, just a request for more information and for Bricasti to make the case for the M5 so we can all consider it as a possible purchase.

I too look forward to more information about the M5 network player. I am always on the look out for a replacement for my MRendu. It does need to be a fully supported Roon Endpoint though.

At the moment the main benefit I see of the M5 is related to its use of a traditional Linear Power Supply built within its chassis. This allows it to be plugged in just like any other piece of audio equipment in the equipment rack using a standard AC cord without worry of having a $10 SMPS power brick from China sitting a few feet away from your 5 figure Preamp/DAC setup. Also having that same power brick plugged into your shared power conditioner polluting everything else connected to the same device is no better either.

Personally I am not concerned with the M5 “only” supporting up to DSD64 via DOP on certain interfaces. Once most people realize that unless their favorite Artists/Albums are re-recorded natively in the DSD “1 MILLION” format they seem to crave then its just up/over sampled, over compressed reissue garbage in most cases anyway. I can count on 1 hand how many good DSD albums I own that dont fall into that category. REDBOOK is still king IMO!

Anyway…My main complaint of the MicroRendu is the fact that one needs to use/find a suitable power supply for it in order to hear what it can really do for your system. Sure, one can just buy LPS or battery supply device like the one offered by Uptone or similar but even that uses/requires the same $10 China sourced SMPS to keep its batteries charged. I use a laboratory grade DC supply for my MRendu but its so damn noisy I need to keep in my basement so I dont hear it from the listening room. In doing so, I need to run cables up thru the floor to the audio rack. It summary, its a big PITA just to get streaming capability and I would love nothing more to do away with it.

The Bricasti M5 allows one to do just that. Get rid of all the other doodad’s involved in making up a good streaming setup. But with that said, there is clearly a lack of detailed information at this time about how the M5 accomplishes its task.

Some questions I have are:

  1. How is the M5 configured on the network? I’ll assume its a DHCP client but what if I want to assign it a perm IP instead? I see some vague wording in the Manual about a webpage but it only appears to mention it in relation to using the USB WiFi Dongle.

  2. How is the M5 software kept updated?

  3. Does the ROON Ready capability of this device use the RAAT protocol or is it just a DNLA box?

  4. I see mention that the audio rendering is done at the M5 itself. Can you clarify what that means exactly? In my and most others setup using ROON, there is a separate server running ROON Core that does all the heavy lifting of the audio processing which is then sent to a NAA/Roon Endpoint for handoff to the DAC. Does the M5 act as a “dumb” Endpoint or is it attempting to process the Audio data like the ROON Core does?

  5. Does the use of this device require a driver if using its USB Output on a none Bricasti DAC? My existing DAC does not require a driver when using a Linux based NAA/Endpoint like the MRendu as an FYI.

  6. Is the USB interface Galvanic Isolated like the one in the M1 DAC?

Thats all I have for now

c2c2c2: I love you guys that tear apart the reasoning (or lack thereof) of digital audio/streaming products !

I, a dinosaur (who, although one who took the “leap” into the CD -age in/around the turn-of-the-century (lol)), I remain and enjoy the silver disc, and even FM radio --don’t be fooled, this can sound wonderful.

Anyway, my brother, also new to "Streaming " (and Roon) can no doubt benefit from the smart chaps her on this site.

I look forward to learning more.

Any recommendations regarding “How to get the most -sound quality ( from Streaming), services, software” etc. would be most appreciated.


peter jasz


Good to hear you chime in here. No specific recommendations, just enjoy the journey. Roon is a great place to start as you need something to act as a central hub and control mechanism and Roon is hard to beat in this area. I don’t stream from the services much though Roon has a great integration with Tidal, I did go through the task of converting all my CDs to Lossless FLAC and putting them on a NAS. A good step if you haven’t taken it. I also recommend DBPowerAMP and Tag and Rename for ripping and tagging respectively.


Did you ever get a reply from Bricasti on these. Great questions and I would love to hear the answers.

Hi John: Excellent. Thank you.

I am a "premium audio buff’ (lol), and so the purest, most direct (streaming) signal would be preferred.

Would the sofware program AudiRvana be recommended ?

I have nothing but physical CD’s --and continue to purchase the format.

I’ve never dowloaded anything, ever (and do not plan to either. The point being, I do not have a vast catalogue of music, here, there and everywhere that requires ‘organizing’.

Not sure if that helps to direct me in the right direction ?

Many thanks,

peter jasz


No unfortunately no reply has been given as of yet. It seems Bricasti only popped their head in here for a min as a tease. Then again maybe all the questions have scared them off. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I do have interest in the product and would have probably bought it already but certainly not if they wont answer posted questions. I guess I could email them but owning one isn’t high enough on my priority list at the moment to need to chase them down to answer questions. Its a shame really :confused: