Bartok break-in - dull sound on RCA

I am currently evaluation the Bartok.
My integrated primaluna amp don’t have balanced in so I am using RCA
The dealer has only used XLR and has been playing for around 200 hours.

Now to my question: Does the RCA circuit need break in when the XLR’s has been in use?
The reason I am asking is because the sound is dull. Missing air and attack.
I had the Chord Dave for a visit in my system using the same cables and setup and there was air and attack.

My dealer can not recognize my description of the Bartok sounding dull. Do I just need to break it in?

Break in? probably necessary as the RCA and XLR outputs,if as per usual dCS practice, do not share the same output circuit. I would just put on something as background music for a couple of days and defer any critical listening until the end of that period.

Also as it seems that the RCA connectors have been sitting unused for some time I would also unplug and plug back in the RCA cables a couple of times just to wipe the contacts,

Dull sound has never been a dCS characteristic as I am sure you will find in due course.

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If the dealer has only used XLR then the RCA’s will require the standard 100 hour break-in.

The short time I had my BARTOK (changed for a Rossini+Clock) I used it exclusively via RCA as my two channel system and cabling (Naim & Linn) only run single ended with RCA’s.

The Bartok is definitely not dull. Even cold it is not dull. How are you using it?


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Yes, the sound of the RCA outputs may well improve over a period of burn-in if they have not been used before. As the XLR and RCA outputs are completely separate, you’ll need to run in the RCA outputs for a while. The amps etc. don’t necessarily need to be on during this process, just connected so the RCA outputs have a load attached.

If you are finding the sound is dull, there could be some optimisation that can be done with the filter choice, or perhaps an incorrect sync mode. Your dealer will be able to provide reccomendations and advice on getting the Bartók properly optimised for your system. It would also be worthwhile taking a read of the filter and sync mode sections of the Bartók User Guide, here:

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I don’t know what I did yesterday, but today the sound is just good. Bass is tight and the top is nice

That’s what happened with my Rossini Player, too.

For the first few days it was OK, but not really special, and then on day five or so, it changed character immensely and became what I heard from the demo.

I can only share my burn-in experience with Bartok with new unit and after 24h sound was terrible, sharp, sterile. After 120h it started singing and after 2 weeks it was fine.

Now on day 10 with Vivaldi DAC and Network Bridge. Sounded great from the start but not the same as the demo unit: much tighter and less organic. At around a week it went bad: lost transparency and quite muddled sounding with busy music. Today it seems to have improved dramatically but strangely the display somehow changed from being set to Off to On! I suspect the unit reported a defect to DCS who sent an engineer to secretly fix it while I was out. Unfortunately he/she forgot to reset the display to Off so the DCS break-in procedure has been rumbled.:rofl:

I did wonder if it was sounding worse after a week due to some psychoacoustic phenomena. But maybe it’s a burnin thing. I recall Pete saying his got worse at some point during break-in.

I can’t recall but I am likely to have been referring to cables though non-linear burn in can indeed occur with all components. However if you have been using your Vivaldi regularly over 10 days and have been keeping it powered the initial burn in should be complete. It will already have had quite a period of being powered during the test and approval procedure at the factory.

I doubt that anyone came while you were out to fix things without you being present. In fact what you are generally describing here makes me suspect that you may have mains power problems such as voltage fluctuations and/or intermittent RFI/EMI.

Your profile does not say whereabouts you are but quite severe power fluctuations and intermittent interference are not that uncommon in some areas hence many opting for power conditioners to supply their audio system.

I would wait and see if you continue to have periods of great sound and periods of not so great sound. If so that may help to confirm if your incoming power is to blame.

It is funny to observe how new Bartok changes its sound in time and the discussion about the different sound of output voltage settings are mostly related to resistor break-in period i think. When i connect a preamp you easily observe which voltage settings were used mostly as they do have to most civilised sound. I used 0.2V and 6V mostly and both sound the same and neutral now. When i switch to 0.6 and 2.0 sound is cold, sharp and rock music like. For the last 15 years of building and voicing tube ams i checked several types of resistors like vishay z-foil, audio note tantalums, shinkoh, takman etc and they do have strong sound signature but metalic taste present in bartok during burn-in time was similar to z-foil and metal film resistors. They do need a lot of time to be relaxed and this can be heard here so i can only speculate what happens when you change the output voltage but i assume there is a relay switching beetween different resistors or SS chips.

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