Bartok Apex Upgrade

I agree Pete, and I was being a little facetious ; )

It seems logical that over time, the performance gaps between the models will compress. For example, I would bet that at this point, the Bartok APEX is noticably better than the Paganini, and the Rossini APEX is significantly better than the Scarlatti.

What I am getting at is that the gaps probably look like this over time:

Bartok <<< Rossini <<< Vivaldi
Bartok APEX << Rossini APEX << Vivaldi APEX
NextGen1 < NextGen2 < NextGen3

As dCS customers of course we benefit from this improved experience, depending on pricing…

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To clarify here, the APEX hardware is identical between Bartók, Rossini and Vivaldi. There is nothing someone upgrading their Bartók to APEX gets that the Rossini and Vivaldi customers don’t also get.

RE clocking, there are changes on the APEX hardware that impact clocking. Principally, there is an improvement to the signal path which feeds the clock signal into the Ring DAC latches. This does result in better system performance, but does not mean that for example any clock crystals have suddenly been changed.


Will the “improvement to the signal path which feeds the clock signal into the Ring DAC latches” also impact users using external clocks?

I guess that we need a response from one of the dCS engineers but without this I would imagine that this may be the case. Use of an external clock does not mean that the onboard DAC clock becomes redundant. It stiill functions but is now referenced to the more accurate external clock.


Pete is correct - as the Ring DAC is always directly clocked by the internal clock circuitry, and using an external clock simply slaves the DAC’s clock circuitry to the external unit, the improvements to the clocking with APEX will be just as big whether you use an external clock or not.


Sometimes, it’s just all good. Thanks James.


I just saw this posted on Stereophile. Encouraging for those (like me) who are on wait list for Apex upgrade to their Bartok:

In the “Hi-Fi for small spaces” room, Mangelson treated me to a one-on-one comparison between the new dCS Bartók Apex DAC ($20,950) in its Northwest debut and its non-Apex predecessor. I’ll leave it to Herb Reichert, who is reviewing Bartók Apex, to provide specifics and only note that it, like Rossini Apex and Vivaldi Apex, is in every respect a major advance on its predecessor.


Appreciate the Stereophile report, but could do without the ‘hearing aids’ comment. Many music lovers and audiophiles much younger than JVS deal with Tinnitus and hearing issues.


Thanks for your comment. Removed.

Oh Geez I apologize @enjoyaudio - my comment wasn’t directed at you, it was directed at the Stereophile reporter.

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I totally understand your comment. I should have caught that. Thank you for pointing it out.

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Hello @haha161, are you happy with your Bartok apex ?

really satisfied with the upgrade,

money well spend,

going through my music library and still surprisingly discover details never heard


will go through the cd section later on

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What about the quality of the voices? Do they sound more real? The bass resolution? Thank you; I would like to hear it myself, but my retailer doesn’t have it yet…

I need to get motivated and order my upgrade. I hope I can make an appointment to drop it off in the AM and pick it up in the PM.

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I can report the results of a brief ‘surprise’ Bartok Apex comparison yesterday at my local dCS dealer. They were doing some headphone comparison sessions, with Qobuz and Bartok as source. Headphones were Stax Lambda and one of the Omega models (with a Stax valve energiser, connected with phono plugs to the Bartok), and several Focal models driven from the Bartok’s headphone output. I was listening to the current Utopia, mostly. The ‘surprise’ bit was that there were two Bartoks in the equipment rack, one Apex and one not. I was not told which was which.

In my own system I have a non-Apex Vivaldi, and Sennheiser HD800S phones (and Benchmark headphone amp).

I had a bit of trouble getting myself into listening mode, having cycled straight from work (complete with employee access card still hanging on a lanyard round my neck). I was in a fairly quiet room, on my own.

My initial impression, listening to familiar material (not really audiophile), was actually disappointment. I should say that I hadn’t heard the Focal phones before. Certainly they don’t suffer from the Sennheiser’s Achilles heel - a peak in the upper midrange/low treble which was ameliorated but not removed in the HD800S variant - but they (the Focal) cost approaching 4x as much and I wasn’t hearing other benefits. My disappointment was the same/similar with the other phones although they did sound different.

The biggest improvement in the sound quality and realism I heard (and it was obvious) was by switching source to the second Bartok. This yielded something beginning to approach what I am used to hearing. The dealer confirmed that the second unit was indeed the Apex version.

I didn’t try Expanse, or play around with Bartok filter settings. After about an hour and a half I came away with the opinion, which I suppose I had before, that the quality of the source is immensely important to listening enjoyment. I was surprised by the fact that headphones, at least the ones I listened to, seem not to have improved over the last 5-10 years quite as much as I had imagined. The prices have certainly risen a great deal. Perhaps members here have had better experiences with other brands?

The last thing I decided, reluctantly, was that I’ll probably have to get the Apex upgrade for my Vivaldi and do it before the next price rise. That wasn’t really what I expected to conclude from this demo! A friend of mine has just had his Apex’ed unit returned, so I’m keen to learn what he thinks.


I returned a pair of Utopia’s. They didn’t fit my fat head and I didn’t think the ear cups were large enough. I didn’t give them enough to to break-in since they weren’t comfortable.

While my Rossini is away to be Apex’d (for the second time - don’t ask) my dealer, Hifi Corner in Edinburgh, sent me a Bartok Apex to get me by. I had been using a friends Bartok and still have that here. He’s coming over tomorrow to compare Apex and standard Bartok’s to decide whether to get the Apex or wait for a Rossini.

Audio memory can be fickle but, based on what I’m hearing, in SQ terms the Bartok Apex is very close (but not quite) equivalent to a standard Rossini. Having had the Rossini for two years I struggled a bit with the Bartok, the treble seemed wrong and the music didn’t flow like I was used to. The Apex remedies that and adds bass impact, detail and more importantly a sense or order, flow and musicality.

Having heard this from the Apex I’m quite excited to hear what my Rossini Apex will bring on its return.


Thank you @Omni for this feedback.

Before and after :blush: