Another New Bartok Owner

I’ve been demoing a Bartok and just committed to buying it. Extremely impressed with the dac and headphone amp. I use HD800 and moved from a Chord Hugo. Going to buy Focal Utopia headphones ASAP.

I will be upgrading to the Rossini in the next couple of months. Looks like I’ll get a Benchmark hp amp. Was looking also at the Head Trip II but my kid wants to go to college in a couple of years so I need some restraint in my impulse purchases.

Last week I was just looking for a streamer to act as a Roon endpoint and had budget of $2k USD. Now I’m about $30k above that. :scream: I’d like to get the clock to complete the package but my kid won’t agree to eat ramen every day so…

My question is “would a Paganini external clock perform better than the Rossini built in clock?” Also “Is the Paganini external clock compatible with Bartok and Rossini?”

On paper it seems inconceivable the Paganini clock wouldn’t be a significant upgrade to these dacs. However I’m not an electrical engineer just a guy trying to keep fresh produce in my kids’ diet and maximize headphone sq.

The Paganini clock is not strictly compatible with either Bartok or Rossini. The reason is that all of the current range of dCS DAC/Network components require two separate clock inputs one for 44.1kHz based sample rates and one for 48kHz based sample rates. So the current dCS system clocks have dual clock generators and two groups of outputs. This allows for automatic switching between incoming data of differing sample rates. Paganini only has a single output. This does not mean, however, that it cannot be used at all but to do so involves a compromise in that the user needs to manually reset the clock output every time the source changes sample rate from one base to another. No big problem for anyone whose listening is restricted to CD/SACD but for those who stream local files of varying sample rates or subscribe to a streaming service that offers hi-res it could be a pain.

I have not compared the internal clock of Rossini with Paganini clock for sound quality ( NB:there were two Paganini clocks , the earlier pieces offering clock only, the later wordclock 2 also offering USB input for streaming) so am unable to comment on SQ. I can only say that Paganini wordclock compared to the current external dCS wordclocks results in a somewhat different subjective presentation.

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My daughters love Raman noodles. And it incentivized them to scholarships. Adjust expectations. :wink:

But seriously, congrats. I am curious about why you think that Paganini “on paper” must be an upgrade to the performance of the current DAC lineup. dCS have had several years to improve their designs. I find Pete’s comment about the respective presentations quite intriguing.

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From dCS description: In a dCS system, the DAC can act as the system master clock, but listening tests have shown that there is no substitute for a high quality, dedicated master clock.

The Paganini clock is a high quality dedicated master clock.

My guess is simply having the clock isolated from digital an analog circuitry in a dac adds a significant % of performance gain. Looking at the clock design the power supply is shielded from the circuit boards. Having a dedicated power supply for the clock gives Rossini three independent power supplies. This separation of duties probably adds most of the remaining % performance gain.

Right, understood. But that concept is referring to the equipment and clocks in the current lineups. Adding any clock is not the same thing as adding the right clock. My question was whether there is any reason to think that adding an older clock—even if still properly calibrated—will improve Bartok’s more modern internal clocking. I don’t think that Paganini, being a separate box, will itself improve the situation significantly, but I am sure it helps some, but only if it actually improves the clocking overall. It’s my understanding that adding an external clock does not replace or effectively shut down the clock already inside Bartok. That clock continues to operate and participate in the timing of music reproduction. The question is whether the Master is better. I don’t know. Is it?

Pete’s earlier reply suggests this experiment might improve Bartok, but I am still wondering if Paganini Master Clock would actually be a superior time reference for Bartok.

You can fund the Benchmark HP amp by getting the standard Bartok and avoid spending on the HP version.

Not sure why you would buy the HP version, knowing you want the Benchmark amp.

The Rossini clock is an upgrade for the Bartok; I have one for mine. But in all honesty, it can wait until you can afford it. Its not a day 1 essential item.

Also if you get the separate amp, you will need a decent set of interconnects. More money. Did you get to compare the Bartok HP amp to the Benchmark?

My friend has the Benchmark amp and uses it with his DAVE. For him its a decent improvement. But I suspect it will be a smaller margin for against the Bartok HP amp.

Greg, just for clarification I was trying not to make such a claim. I was merely indicating that I recall that the Paganini clock resulted in a different presentation with Rossini compared to the current generation of clocks. I would not wish to imply that this difference may necessarily be considered an improvement. As for Bartok that is an unknown to me but I would guess that there may be a family resemblance with Rossini as they are both 3rd generation dCS products whereas the Paganini is 2nd generation.

One thing that I am pretty sure of is that Rossini clock is not just Paganini clock in a new case. Conclusions elswhere in this thread that the difference between external and internal clocks is solely down to additional power supplies is mistaken as that is a common factor when using Paganini, Rossini or Vivaldi clocks, however all are audibly distinguishable :smile:.

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Thanks for that clarification Pete.

Oh I wasn’t suggesting all clocks are the same. I’m not an engineer so I’m mostly speculating. If you took out the Rossini internal clock and placed it in a separate case wouldn’t that necessarily be an improvement?

Good questions. I’m able to get the Bartok w hpa next week but the Rossini is at least 3 weeks for delivery. My dealer offers 100% of the Bartok price as credit when upgrading to Rossini. The benchmark amp isn’t something I want but it sounds like a reasonable option for the Rossini. If you have experience with other amps I’d like to hear your impressions. After a bit of research benchmark, headlamp gsx-2, spl, and head trip ii all appear to be strong options.

The built in hpa is excellent with my hd800 and wouldn’t buy a dedicated amp if I were to keep the Bartok.

There’s another thread on Rossini headphone amps. @Ermos is a big Benchmark fan, and he’s not alone. It’s an excellent amp.

Necessarily? I think not.