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Article: dCS Bartok Review

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3 hours ago, bobflood said:

This is one of the best reviews that I have ever read in my 50+ years in this hobby.

 

43 minutes ago, matthias said:

Thank you,

this is a review how all reviews should be.

 

Matt

 

Thanks for the kind words.

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Thank you for the review. It's outstanding. You are setting high standards.

I did spend big money on a vinyl system.

I can't get me to spend significant funds on a DAC atm. Technology improves significantly every 2 years and you basically can throw away your expensive DAC again and again in the last 10 years. I am afraid this will continue for some time.

On the digital side of HiFi I will stay with my Yggdrasil for PCM and RME ADI-2 Pro with HQ Player for the moment, but with an eye on dCS.

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12 hours ago, austinpop said:

 

 

So true. I'm like a moth drawn to flame. But I couldn't resist!

Thanks Rajiv!
Another very interesting and  very well written review!
And a nice varied and relevant list of music used too!


I'll have to sample some which  I don't have already.

But I am honestly and a bit impatiently  waiting for "this moth to be  drawn to the flames" of a direct  DAVE/HMS versus Rossini comparison!

 

Now THAT would make  for some very interesting reading indeed!

 

Very  interesting to read that ,in spite of all its merits ,you are still  sticking with your  TT2/HMS against the  Bartok.

On the other hand but  with the Rossini still unheard..... 

 

What if the most important ingredient is still the HMS  and  its transformative 1 M taps technology and its 32/768khz against dCS 384khz?

If I remember correctly the Rossini is also limited to 384khz pcm isn't it?

 

Within the Chord dac line, Dave's 20 elements dac against TT2's 10 elements could  well be one of the reasons why to my ears at least the DAVE/HMS  combo sounds notably better and more transparent than the TT2/HMS.

But I am still NOT willing to dish out the dough needed for a DAVE to go with my HMS.
I just bought a piano last month!

A new,  in room ,reference point for me. 
The chords and beautiful harmonies in Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata have never sounded more real in my home, before.
Cheers Chrille

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8 hours ago, austinpop said:

 

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "leveraging of computer based processing." You seem to be implying that running SW upsampling via HQPlayer is always superior to a DAC's internal upsampling and filters. That is certainly not my experience. It is very DAC-dependent, and as it happens, most of the DACs I have had in my system have sounded best when delivered the recording at its native sample rate. I don't doubt that some DACs in some cases benefit greatly via this approach.

 

Given the context of this thread, let's keep this discussion focused on the Bartok. This article was long enough already that I can't describe all the experiments I tried. Early on in the evaluation, I did a quick test with Roon to see if using Roon upsampling to PCM 352.8/384 or DSD128 (the max sample rates the Bartok will accept) yielded any improvements. Had the results been profound, I would have been motivated to try HQPlayer. But in fact, Roon upsampling sounded no better than no upsampling - in fact, I thought it degraded the sound.

You perfectly understood but for me implying that running SW upsampling via HQPlayer is always superior to a DAC's internal upsampling and filters. I don't imply that but suggested you include an appreciation of computer based upsampling and filtering input into the DACs you test. You now did for Bartok and Roon, that's a start, thank you. 


 

HQP Embedded  (REW + RePhase created convolution filters for correcting frequency and time domains for the actual results presented below/IIR/Wide/overlap-ADD/ [email protected], mqa lp @ above Frequency Rates/DSD5EC) on a cooled mid 2012 15" rMacBP > Cat 6 UTP Ethernet> Airport TC > Cat 6 UTP Ethernet > NAA (Miska's image on UP NUC)> 2.0 certified Supra USB > Green Regen > TEAC UD 501> (balanced output) >Cardas Golden Cross> JRRG all balanced pre> Cabasse 4 ways 8 amps active system played at realistic SPL (key factor IMO). MCH files (matrixed to Stereo) on an attached HDD, the rest on a G-Tech HDD attached to the AirPort and WIFI accessed, as Qobuz, via Audirvana fronting HQPlayer Embedded.

 

 

 

Proofing B&K C @ -9 copie-Modifier-2.jpg

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Any issues with the unit performing as a DLNA renderer? Gapless playback? Did you try BubbleUPnP client as well? Kudos for using MinimServer!

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More for curiosity’s sake than I might buy either of them, but I’m curious to know how this stacks up against a Warwick Acoustics Aperio and headphone combo. 


No electron left behind...

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What a superb piece of writing. A thoroughly enjoyable and informative review.  


- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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1 hour ago, AudioDoctor said:

More for curiosity’s sake than I might buy either of them, but I’m curious to know how this stacks up against a Warwick Acoustics Aperio and headphone combo. 


Not sure where the Aperio is. Definitely interesting.

 

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Sensational review, Rajiv! 


Digital:  Innuos Zenith Std Mk2 > Shunyata Alpha USB > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Wireworld Gold Startlight > OPTO DX > Shunyata Alpha S/PDIF > Chord Hugo TT2 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha power cords, Shunyata Anaconda interconnect, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, GIK bass traps

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On 10/24/2019 at 9:40 AM, austinpop said:

 

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "leveraging of computer based processing." You seem to be implying that running SW upsampling via HQPlayer is always superior to a DAC's internal upsampling and filters. That is certainly not my experience. It is very DAC-dependent, and as it happens, most of the DACs I have had in my system have sounded best when delivered the recording at its native sample rate. I don't doubt that some DACs in some cases benefit greatly via this approach.

 

Given the context of this thread, let's keep this discussion focused on the Bartok. This article was long enough already that I can't describe all the experiments I tried. Early on in the evaluation, I did a quick test with Roon to see if using Roon upsampling to PCM 352.8/384 or DSD128 (the max sample rates the Bartok will accept) yielded any improvements. Had the results been profound, I would have been motivated to try HQPlayer. But in fact, Roon upsampling sounded no better than no upsampling - in fact, I thought it degraded the sound.

Stereophile's Jim Austin, ROON ROCK feeding the Bartok, doesn't place it (to say the least) in another league than a 2K$ 2 yo Benchmark DAC... I doesn't seem to measure better either https://www.stereophile.com/content/dcs-bartok-da-processorheadphone-amplifier


 

HQP Embedded  (REW + RePhase created convolution filters for correcting frequency and time domains for the actual results presented below/IIR/Wide/overlap-ADD/ [email protected], mqa lp @ above Frequency Rates/DSD5EC) on a cooled mid 2012 15" rMacBP > Cat 6 UTP Ethernet> Airport TC > Cat 6 UTP Ethernet > NAA (Miska's image on UP NUC)> 2.0 certified Supra USB > Green Regen > TEAC UD 501> (balanced output) >Cardas Golden Cross> JRRG all balanced pre> Cabasse 4 ways 8 amps active system played at realistic SPL (key factor IMO). MCH files (matrixed to Stereo) on an attached HDD, the rest on a G-Tech HDD attached to the AirPort and WIFI accessed, as Qobuz, via Audirvana fronting HQPlayer Embedded.

 

 

 

Proofing B&K C @ -9 copie-Modifier-2.jpg

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Jim Austin said he found the difference between the Bartok and the Mytek Brooklyn (via Brooklyn Bridge) subtle.  Very curious conclusion compared to Rajiv's review.  I trust Rajiv's very thorough assessments. 


NUC7PJYH/AL --> Berkeley Alpha USB --> Jeff Rowland Aeris --> Jeff Rowland 625 S2 --> Focal Utopia 3 Diablos with 2 x Focal Electra SW 1000 BE subs

 

i7-6700K/Windows 10 Version 1903/HDPLEX 200W/HDPLEX 400W DC-ATX --> EVGA Nu Audio Card --> Focal CMS50's 

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27 minutes ago, Kal Rubinson said:

I think the differences among all high quality modern DACs is subtle and while others may rave about huge audible differences, there's no evidence that all of us are actually hearing anything different.  A subjective assessment expressed subjectively.

 

It would be great if someone organized a subjective listening test of a well-regarded $2k DAC with a $20k to $35k DAC.  Maybe someone in a large city like Boston or NYC with lots of audiophiles and musicians ...  If it was a retired scientist who knew how to do it that would be even better!


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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well that is often the determining factor - we could reload the tranq gun with something else tho...


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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1 hour ago, Kal Rubinson said:

If only you can find someone like that with the motivation to make the effort.  :P

You are a retired scientist if memory serves and you write for an organization with the resources to do it.

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2 hours ago, rickca said:

Jim Austin said he found the difference between the Bartok and the Mytek Brooklyn (via Brooklyn Bridge) subtle.  Very curious conclusion compared to Rajiv's review.  I trust Rajiv's very thorough assessments. 

 

...

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Rajiv,

Thank you for the ongoing and thorough reporting of your journey here. I find your style of reporting to be very engaging and insightful. Your methodology is consistent and clean. There is no pretense here.  What is most interesting to me about the dCS Bartok and the Rossini is that dCS also seems to have a clear line of thought in their products. It is good to envision through your reporting the "value" represented by these products.

 

I like your use of the Ayre QX-5 Twenty as a reference device to ground the relationships of devices in your reviews.  

 

Sometimes I think we are headed off to "A Bridge to Far".   But, boy is it fun!

 

Bob

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7 hours ago, Kal Rubinson said:

I think the differences among all high quality modern DACs is subtle and while others may rave about huge audible differences, there's no evidence that all of us are actually hearing anything different.  A subjective assessment expressed subjectively.

 

The difference between any any two things (DACs, or anything else) may be subtle or crude. But it is not necessarily correlates with the difference one may percept or not percept.

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Thanks @austinpop for a very well written rewiev of the Bartok.

 

On 10/25/2019 at 1:34 AM, austinpop said:

The Mosaic client is so nice, I never considered anything else like Bubble.

 

I resently sold all my SOtM and Paul Hynes equipment and went for the one box dCS Network Bridge (using AES to my TAD dac) and Mosaic is the first app that is from an hardware manufacturer that actually works really well (I use Roon most of the time) in my system. 

Soundwise I trully love the dCS NWB it is a really well engeniered pice of equipment with software that works flawless :)


Main system
TAD D1000mk2, TAD M2500mk2, TAD CE-1, Ansuz Mainz 8 C2, Ansuz Darkz D-TC, Qobuz Studio -> Roon ROCK on NUC
-> Uptone etherREGEN ->  dCS Network bridge -> AES/EBU -> DAC
HD Plex 200W PSU (4 rail for ISP fiber, router, etherREGEN and NUC)
 
Second system
Qobuz Studio -> Devialet Silver Phantom, Devialet Tree

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7 hours ago, AnotherSpin said:

The difference between any any two things (DACs, or anything else) may be subtle or crude. But it is not necessarily correlates with the difference one may percept or not percept.

Just so.  The difference between any two things may not be perceived the same way by two different individuals and will likely not be described the same way by two different individuals, even if their perceptions are similar.    


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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49 minutes ago, Kal Rubinson said:

Just so.  The difference between any two things may not be perceived the same way by two different individuals and will likely not be described the same way by two different individuals, even if their perceptions are similar.    

 

Exactly. That is why I couldn't see the point for dismissal of one's likes or dislikes, be it audio or anything else.

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