Over the past few years of attending AXPONA (Audio Expo North America) in Chicago, I've found many of the rooms to be audio deserts consisting of tonally dry, overly analytical systems that were too unpleasant for me to stay and listen to even for short periods of time. Contrast that with the Bricasti Design room, which has been an audiophile oasis of beautiful sound, panoramic soundstaging, and an overall musicality that refreshed my musical palate and allowed me to relax and connect with the music. The system I am speaking of was built around Bricasti's own upstream DAC/preamplifier into their M28 monoblock amplifiers.
Roughly a year ago, I had a conversation with Mike Kay of Audio Archon--a Bricasti Design dealer--and Brian Zolner, who is the co-founder and chief designer of Bricasti Design, regarding the development of a single chassis stereo amplifier that could trickle-down most of the superlative performance of the company's M28 monoblocks, which retail for a hefty $30,000. I suggested a price point of around $10,000, which would allow many more HomeTheaterReview.com readers would be able to afford. Whether or not those conversations actually resulted in (or contributed to) the subject of this review, the M15 Professional Series amplifier, I cannot say. But here we are.
The M15 Professional Series amplifier is a $12,000 class AB design that uses a unique and truly balanced topology that was developed for the reference M28 monoblock amplifiers. The M15 delivers 125 watts into 8 ohms, 250 watts into 4 ohms, and 500 watts into 2 ohms. Its reported total harmonic distortion at full rated power into 8 and 4 ohms is a minuscule 0.005 percent. This means that this amp has the power supply to drive virtually any speaker on today's market with ease and clarity.
The M15 Pro Series weighs in a stout 100 pounds and stands 10.25 inches high by 16.75 inches wide by 18 inches deep. On the thick front plate in the middle is where the power and standby buttons are located. You also find the name of the M15 Pro Series and Bricasti Design logo laser etched into the black surface of the aluminum faceplate. The black and silver chassis of the M15 Pro Series is CNC machined. Thick plates of aluminum are precision cut to shape, which lead to exact tolerances for a perfect fit. This beast of an amplifier is elegant and classy in its physical appearance.
Around back you'll find your choice of either RCA or XLR inputs, very high quality and easy-to-use speaker wire posts, the ICE input, and a unique trim control. This input trim control can be used to lower the input sensitivity of the M15 Pro Series to match better the outputs of a preamplifier or a DAC driving the amplifier directly.
The packaging in which Bricasti Design ships the M15 Pro Series amplifier is first rate, with double-thick cartons and precisely cut foam inserts that completely protect the amplifier from damage during shipping. I was able to place the M15 Pro Series on my rack by myself. However, to ensure the safety of the amplifier and one's back, I recommend that you enlist the help of at least one other person.
The M15 Pro Series was inserted into my reference system, which also includes Linear Tube Audio's MicroZOTL preamplifier, Jay's Audio CDT2 MkII CD transport, Lab 12 DAC1 SE, a Running Springs Dmitri power conditioner, MG Cable reference silver interconnects and copper speaker wire, and Audio Archon power cords, all placed on a Tomo rack designed by Krolo Design, with Tekton Design Ulfberht loudspeakers mounted on Sistrum Apprentice Platforms.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...