The Bricasti DAC

After having been at the show for some time, I received an email from John Marks, fellow Stereophile scribe, urging me—and Art Dudley, who got the same email—to try to listen to the Bricasti DAC that John Atkinson reviewed in February, which he said was adding five minimum-phase filters, as well as offering an optional asynchronous USB input. As it happened, I read the email just as I was walking by the Bricasti room, and I took this to be a sign that I should follow JM's recommendation.

Casey Dowdell (shown in the picture), the "CAS" in BriCASti, was on hand, and he confirmed that, indeed, their new DAC has a choice of five minimum-phase filters. He also gave me a mini-lecture on digital filters, and said that whatever filter is selected, it always involves tradeoffs and compromises. He then gave me a demonstration, comparing Minimum Phase Filter 1, Filter 2, and Filter 5, the system using Zellaton speakers and Lavardin integrated amp. Filter 1 sounded the sharpest, most detailed, but perhaps ever-so-slightly fatiguing. Filter 5 was the softest, but, for me, seemed to lose too much detail. Filter 2, Dowdell's own preference, seemed to offer the best compromise. However, the differences were quite subtle, much more so than the difference between the "Measure" and "Listen" filter alternatives of my Ayre CX-7eMP player.