The Bricasti Design M30 monoblock audiophile amplifier is a rack-friendly version of the company’s beloved M28 amplifier, which is also a mono amplifier. The difference between the two is their form factor. The M30 carries the same award-winning differential amplification as the M28, however its shorter, wider, and deeper proportions make it more akin to the look of a traditional amplifier. The M28 and the M30 both carry the same price tag. Ultimately it is up to the end user which configuration of this amplifier works best for them.
Performance is truly is an exponential curve in this hobby where the last ten percent is more expensive to design, develop, and own, than the first 90 percent. Listening, with a rather astute 19-year-old in the room, was eye-opening to the fact that human perception is keener and more complex than we give ourselves credit for. This young lad’s reaction to the capability of the M30 was that of someone fulfilling their dream of riding in a Ferrari for the first time, not on the streets, but more on the closed-circuit course that hosts 24 Heures du Mans in France.
Before jumping to price-shame the Bricasti M30 amplifier, it’s important to remember that—as with custom mountain bikes, Formula 1 cars, or astrophotography telescopes, and any number of other works of engineering—the finest products require quality of materials and an attention to detail that is increasingly precise. Precision is difficult to accomplish and always costly. The narrative to the story is really that simple, even if the ending is complex. It’s unfortunate when products like the Bricasti M30 get lumped in with snake oil products that are ultimately a rip off. The Bricasti M30 is no audiophile voodoo product, but it can compete with estate audio–level products.
Anyone interested in what makes a world class amplifier should enthusiastically read on. As with all other Bricasti Design products, the M30 delivers advantages both measurable and audible. Let’s get moving, there is a lot to cover.
What Makes the Bricasti Design M30 Amplifier Special?
- The M30 Amplifier delivers a very respectable 200 watts into 8 Ohms. Mind you, no component can be summed up by a single specification, but unlike many mass market amps, the M30 actual doubles its output with each halving of impedance, all the way down to a massive 800 watts at 2 ohms. My Parasound A 21+ is not 2-ohm stable, nor are most amps at its price point.
- The distortion (THD+N) of the M30 is less than 0.005 percent, where the distortion of the A21+ is orders of magnitude higher at 0.1 percent and Parasound’s specification does not include noise (that is the +N in the THD+N). In short, the M30’s power is as clean and stable as it gets, all the way to its full rated output, driving the heaviest loads that big loudspeakers can represent. The Parasound A 21+ costs nearly eight times less than the M30, so this comparison is clearly not apples to apples. What this comparison shows is the difference in performance between an extremely good amplifier value (the A 21+) and a top-tier performer like the Bricasti M30.
- In my experience with the Parasound A21+, I never got it to run out of power. It drives every speaker that I’ve ever thrown at it with ease. However, the Bricasti M30 is simply indifferent to any loudspeaker it is driving. The dynamics of the M30 are uncapped, the speed is remarkable, and every last detail in even the most complex music is preserved in the exact manner the artist/recording engineer intended, at any volume up to intolerable levels.
- The Bricasti M30 is fully differential, keeping the signal fully balanced all the way to the loudspeaker as long as you’re using a balanced input.
- A special power supply provides ultra-clean power to the Bricasti M30 monoblocks. The massive, high voltage power supply touts nearly 250,000uF of capacitive energy storage/filtering. That means nearly 500,000uF per pair of M30s, where an amplifier like the Parasound A21+ has 108,000 total for both channels.
- Painstaking craftsmanship goes into every detail of this audiophile power amplifier. From aligning the massive transformer’s magnetic fields for the lowest noise possible, to the solid billet aluminum chassis seated on anti-vibratory feet to lower intrusive noise, all 105 pounds of the M30 has a thought and purpose. The loudspeaker binding posts are made from solid copper billet in-house, which is then gold plated. Every electrical component down to the connectors and wire have been hand-selected for optimal performance, and the M30 is built in Shirley, Massachusetts.
Why Should You Care About the Bricasti M30 Audiophile Amplifier?
Standards have to be set somehow, and the M30 is blazing the path. There are top-end amplifiers out there that sell for as much as a small home, yet they do not necessarily perform better than the M30. Akin to the way Schiit Audio keeps the entry-level honest, Bricasti is doing it at the high-end, making flawless power far more accessible to those who have saved their pennies (dimes in this case) and desire the best musical experience their money can buy instead of that Corvette ZR-1. Like the top-end Corvettes, The Bricasti M30 will provide everything about the high-end sports car experience that an owner desires, while still being financially accessible.
Some Things You Might Not Like About the Bricasti M30 Amplifier
- The M30 amplifier is physically massive and extremely heavy. Per OSHA, the M30 is a two-man lift coming in at just over 100 pounds. The M30 is certainly rack-friendly at 17 inches wide, but you need a beast of a rack to put it on without doing potential damage.
- The Bricasti M30 amps consume a non-trivial amount of power in standby: 60 watts each or 120 watts per pair. The M30 can be put in idle, which only consumes two watts of power; however, due to the significant amount of aluminum in the chassis that needs to heat up when placed back into standby from idle, it is best to keep the M30 in standby at all times and try to offset your contributions to climate change elsewhere.
- The micro-print on the rear panel is difficult to read. Perhaps this is grasping at straws to make the editor happy, but the fine print does make setup challenging. The M30s are on amplifier stands in my evaluation system, however if they were in a rack it would be difficult to get the ins and outs correct if the rack was placed near a wall. Moving a rack with over 200 pounds of amplifiers in it does not sound like much fun.
Listening to the Bricasti M30 Amplifier…
The M30 was run through its paces on several loudspeakers of all shapes and sizes. Before we get to its astounding musical performance, here is the loudspeaker list:
- Focal Chora 806
- Polk Audio R200 50th anniversary edition (review pending)
- Sonus faber Lumina V
- Sonus faber Sonetto III
- Tekton Design Pendragon (review pending)
- Custom 4-way towers with dual 10-inch woofers
Running the gamut of loudspeakers allowed for the opportunity to expose anything the Bricasti M30 may be hiding. The results, unsurprisingly, were that the M30 simply did not care how loaded down it was by any loudspeaker. The musical experiences and highlights are consistent regardless of the loudspeaker used, however the Tekton Pendragon truly showed the imaging, fine resolution, and impact the M30 is capable of the best out of all the loudspeakers used.
While I try not to go too obscure with music, I need to pull in one of my favorite dynamic pieces for discussion. Bruce Katz’s Three Feet Off the Ground (buy at Amazon) is a massive attack of instrumental blues released in 2000. “Way Down Time” is a super laid-back track with dynamic jumps of drums, guitar, bass, and Bruce’s famous Hammond B3 organ playing. This recording has very little apparent compression, and great timbres that preserves the distinctive character of the instruments. Rounding off “Way Down Time” is a huge soundstage and a fair enough panning of the Hammond to simulate the Leslie speaker the B3 is known for.
From the first dynamic hit of the song, the M30 just explodes the music into the room regardless of the loudspeakers used. Even on the $660 Focal Chora 806, there was a level of dynamics that other amplifiers just do not have. The scary part was: regardless of the volume I played the music, the Bricasti M30 always felt like it was just idling along effortlessly. The precision of the M30 pair in relationship to each other do not exhibit the typical soundstage creep of lesser monoblock pairs due to minor component quality variations between each separate amplifier. In this sense, the M30s ooze meticulousness sonic detail.
No matter how complex the music gets, the Bricasti M30 amps do not flinch. While evaluating them, I noticed something about this recording for the first time. As the music becomes more dynamic, I was able to hear the instruments’ character change. It certainly was shocking to hear on a piece I have used as a reference track since the early 2000s and I thought I have heard it all. The M30s did not fail to keep surprising, however, as I found out on the next track.
Twenty One Pilots is an eclectic mix of rock, hip-hop, pop, and just about everything except the kitchen sink (and maybe black metal). “Car Radio,” off their album Vessel (buy at Amazon),starts with melodic piano that sets up like a melancholy lost-ya-girl song that is bound to be insufferable. Just when you think it’s time to get off the thick piano that is bound to be follow by whiny lyrics, Tyler Joseph, the founder of the (now) duo, rips through the music with massive lyrical presence. The M30s’ separation here was the best I have heard in my system. Every small vocal inflection and word formation spitting from Joseph’s lips was captured in a manner that brought life to the meaning of the song.
Soon after, Josh Dun, the second half of the duo, comes in with powerful drums and a smooth bass line that picks up the pace of the whole song. The M30s produced the kick of the drums at punch-in-your-chest volumes while keeping the bass line separated out with controlled timbre. The layers keep adding to where “Car Radio” becomes a techno/dance track of explosive proportions, then crashes back down to where it began. With the M30s, the music never stopped growing, and the layers were separated and in the completely three-dimensional soundstage where they should be. This track was lit!
Do you know what else is audiophile lit? Rimsky-Korsakov’s famous ballet, Scheherazade. Every revelation from the other two tracks holds true, but there were two stand-out moments in “Festival in Bagdad” (buy at Amazon) also worth mentioning: First, there is a solo trumpet that flutters along during one of the refrains. The resolved texture and realistic presentation of the trumpet allowed me to feel as if it truly was playing in front of me. Each fluttering note was slightly different in texture and tone through the bell of the trumpet. The hair-raising presentation did not end there. “Festival in Bagdad” ends with a beautiful violin solo. Every aspect of the violin made me feel as if I was sitting fifteen rows back, watching the violin on stage. There is a way the M30 captures all the natural harmonic energy and texture of instruments I simply have never heard elsewhere, at any price.
Does the Bricasti M30 Amplifier Have Any Resale Value?
There is not much used Bricasti gear out there, which is a good sign. When they do pop up in the used market, they typically sell very fast. Given Bricasti’s stellar reputation and build quality, all Bricasti gear holds its value very well over the long-haul. You don’t have much to worry about when it comes to resale with a pair of Bricasti monoblock amps. Bricasti also has a very strong following in the professional audio world and that is a whole other audience to sell a Bricasti product to. But if you ask me, I don’t see selling a pair of amps like this anytime soon.
Who Is the Competition for the Bricasti M30 Amplifier?
On paper, the Bryston Cubed Series 28B³ is a monster of a monoblock amplifier that is capable of delivering 1,000 watts into 8 Ohms. A pair will set you back $27,590, but the THD rating does not include the noise (THD+N), the power does not double into 4 Ohms, and there is no 2 Ohm power rating, which makes one wonder if the amp is stable with such current-hungry loads. So why the Bryston? I have never heard a Bryston I have not liked and the 20-year warranty is legendary.
Since there is not that many monoblock power amps that compete with the M30 at its price, I will pick a sonic competitor. Given the ratings of the Gryphon Mephisto, I am not going to pretend the Bricasti M30 is capable of as much raw power, however when listening to the Mephisto, then the M30 at realistic levels, there is nothing lost with the latter. The Mephisto retails for beefy $57,000. In a well-executed system, I cannot imagine needing the capability of 6,400 watts into one-half of an Ohm. Further, in a regular listening space how loud can one listen before our body goes into protection, pulls the tympanic membrane in our ears tight, and kills our ability to hear dynamics?
Final Thoughts on the Bricasti M30 Mono Audiophile Amplifier
The Bricasti M30 is not an amplifier for everyone, as most don’t have the pockets for $30,000 per pair just for amplification. Beyond price, the Bricasti M30 amps are huge, heavy, and the micro-print on the rear panel can make setup tricky. However, the M30 is an amplifier to be coveted by everyone who values the most powerful dynamic range, zero noise, and three-dimensional imaging.
Adding the Bricasti M30 pair to my reference listening rig has allowed me to experience my music in a manner that suits my listening tastes perfectly. The M30s never fail to amaze regardless of genre and draw me into the music way past my bedtime most evenings. I made a tremendous investment in these power amplifiers for someone at my station in life financially, but I’ve never regretted the decision to write that check.