Bartok Clock needed?

Hi to all, this is my first post as a newbie.

I have a Bartok, purchased a few months ago, feeding straight into a Goldmund Power Amp driving Martin Logan pure electrostats. Regretfully, my Bartok has been showing issues on some track transitions - jumping or sticking - even after the recent firmware updates. So it’s back with the nice folk at dCS right now for a good poking around…

Here’s where it goes really pear-shaped; I borrowed a Rossini whilst my Bartok went walkies. Bad move! Yes, you guessed it, the musical transformation was disturbingly profound. But here’s the rub: I am retired, with non-infinite earnings, so the jump between the two would be… financially challenging, let us say.

Rossini and Vivaldi owners can achieve cost-effective upgrades through an external clock. But, needless to say, the Bartok doesn’t have a dedicated clock - at present. So:

  1. Does anyone know if one is planned? And
  2. In its absence, can anyone suggest a reasonable upgrade path for my Bartok which might offer a goodly slice of the increment in SQ demonstrated by a Rossini?

Many thanks! - Jon Bower

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Welcome Jon! Sorry about your Bartok difficulties. You don’t mention whether your Bartok is the headphone version or not.

Bartok actually has two dedicated clocks: they are called Rossini and Vivaldi. :wink: I know what you meant, of course, but that’s the reality. Others here may have more of a clue than I do whether dCS plan a Bartok-named clock.

FWIW, my experience was that Bartok clocked by Rossini Clock did not sound as good as Rossini DAC alone. It sounds better than Bartok alone, but not as good as Rossini alone. And that is why I asked if you have the HP version of Bartok. If not, then I would focus my upgrade path on getting to Rossini DAC. I understand that budget issue in retirement; your best bang for the buck here would be a fixed Bartok. For that next step up in fidelity, I would recommend Rossini DAC over clocking the Bartok.

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I agree with Greg. I doubt if there is a Bartok clock planned ( but you never know) though if there was I doubt if it would be significantly cheaper than Rossini Clock although there might be some savings from the simpler chassis construction of Bartok.

Rossini is really a stripped down version of Vivaldi rather than an upgraded Bartok. One very significant difference is that it has a choice of mapping ( the algorithm which sends data to Ring DAC). For Vivaldi and Rossini in their v.2 incarnations two of the Map selections enable the processor to run at double speed which Bartok does not ( AFAIK) have the power to do. So there really isn’t any Bartok upgrade path that will allow implementation of this element which is a significant part of the SQ improvement ( there is more, of course).

Sorry as I understand your situation but dCS always ensure that the step between the hierarchy of models is clearly audible. If you could get 95% of the sound of Rossini for, say, 75% of the price by adding a clock to Bartok then dCS would not sell many Rossini DACs :wink:.

As with all dCS products their structure enables them to be upgraded online. Bartok is a relatively new product so its probably too early to expect an upgrade at this point, However there may well be something in the future and that will cost you precisely zero :smile:.


The Bartok is unique in the dCS lineup in that it has (can have) a built-in headphone amp. Thus, if HP is important to the customer, it could make sense to also have a Bartok clock to complete the Bartok ecosystem/lineup (since dCS believes clocking is important to SQ). One that physically matches the Bartok DAC casework.

However, this does not make sense if a Bartok clock would be very close in design and price to the Rossini clock - which is probably true. The Bartok also makes sense as a one box device at this level in lineup. If you want more, go up the line (including the Rossini clock, if you want a clock). But if you go up the line in the DAC you lose the HP amp.

What if you could order the Rossini clock with a Bartok-matching faceplate for a slightly lower price? Sort of meet halfway.

Reminder that might (likely not!) be of interest — I found an option where you can spend more than 100% the price of the Bartók on clocking and be happy, if not sane :slight_smile:

Perhaps not worth considering for most people, but it’s worked brilliantly for me and meant I could keep the headphone amp in the Bartók occupied.

dCS would make a lot of people happy if they would offer a headphone option in Rossini, or a standalole one. They are blocking sensible upgrade paths in their current offerings.


Right, but I don’t see it as “blocking” so much as a matter of timing. Bartok I believe is newer. The HP amp is a new development. Perhaps it will be part of Vivaldi and Rossini successors. I hope so. Given dCS product cycle timelines, it may yet be a while before we find out.


There is quite a bit of completion in the stand alone headphone amplifier category.

I briefly owned a Bartok for 2 months befor upgrading to Rossini/Clock. The Bartok was purchased for use in my bedroom as a stand alone headphone system. While its performance was admirable, and dCS did a great job with their first attempt at a HA, I felt that other amplifiers such as (in my case) the HeadAmp GSX Mini or GSX MK2 bettered the Bartok’s internal HA.

FYI Focal used the HeadAmp GSX MK2 during the development of the Utopia headphone.

Your mileage may vary.


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Absolutely right. There are many stand alone headphone amplifiers that can be used in conjunction with any of the dCS DACs.

I think that this thread has lurched off to the side though. The OP does not want to have a headphone amplifier as far as we know. He hasn’t mentioned anything at all about headphones. His question is can he get a Bartok to sound as much as possible like a Rossini by adding a clock ? However the existing clocks lie outside of his financial means so will there be a Bartok clock or is there any other upgrade path to achieve his objective ?

My view is that the fundamental differences between the models make that precise objective unobtainable.

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Folks Hi - Many thanks for your responses! Actually it’s a non-HP version, as I already have an Auralic Vega/Aries (which the Bartok replaced) driving my Sennheiser HD800s through a Sennheiser HDVA600 headphone amp. My headphone system is completely separate, organised around a comfy chair…

So the question of improving SQ of the core Bartok product in my main speaker-oriented (Goldmund/Martin Logan) system is core. As far as I can see, the options at this time appear to be 1) Upgrade to a S/H/exdem Rossini - too expensive 2) Find a Rossini or Vivaldi clock at a ‘sensible’ price. Is this even possible? 3) Wait for a Bartok clock which - as noted - is probably not going to happen 4) Forget what I heard with the Rossini and habituate my ears again to the Bartok.

I suspect that it may have to be #4. If so, so be it! My neural re-wiring/adaptation is quite good, as I have already had to adapt to hearing changes/damage a few years ago consequent - believe it or not - on a heavy head cold/virus. On the other hand, my ex-BBC engineer ear/brain memory will - I suspect - always be nagging at me…

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Jon, one other option to consider might be to pick up a Scarlatti or Paganini Master Clock on the cheap to pair with your Bartok.

On paper at least, i.e. specifications wise I mean, they match the Rossini Clock. I suspect even though they’re old, they’ll better a standalone Bartok (and if not, you can easily sell it off for not much less than what you bought them for). One downside though is having to manually switch frequencies between 44.1 and 48.

If I couldn’t afford a Rossini Clock to pair with my Bartok, I would have gone that route. You can find them rather frequently on Audiogon, including right now (I’m not related to the sellers :slight_smile: )

Or you could try your luck with other, non-dCS clocks. If you find one that can do both 44.1 and 48kHz clocks, then so much the better - especially if it can output both frequencies at once, like the Rossini clock. Or, alternatively, 2 separate clocks, one tuned to 44.1kHz and one tuned to 48kHz. I contemplated going that route until a 2-hnd Rossini clock came my way.


Second hand Rossini clocks do come up but as they are suitable for Both Bartok and its bigger sister they do hold their price, note the warranty isn’t transferable if buying from 3rd party I think. as I’m sure you have spotted around 4kgbp seems to be reasonable. I’ll bet you could sell it on in another 3 years and still get most of that back so not as expensive as it appears, I would always go to the dealer armed with what you have found, you never know as there are plenty of dealers and they all rotate stock. That 3-year warranty has a value for sure.

Vivaldi clock is proportionally cheaper second hand it’s an older (but spectacular) product that has fewer buyers as is mainly of interest to Vivaldi owners, I suspect some of the speculations regarding its replacement is priced in.

Personally, I think the Bartok is all it needs to be regarding S.Q. I’m not sure I will trade up to a Rossinni Dac, the problem is that the better the Dac the more I can notice the difference between good and average recordings, that said a Rossini Clock seems to give a far more realistic soundstage and that would be a very nice addition here.

Perhaps a few household cutbacks may be in order for us both.

Good luck

Except non-dCS Clocks don’t support the Dither function, which, IMHO, makes a significant sonic improvement :wink:


Although both Anup and Paul’s advice is technically correct IMO the result would be at best Bartok + rather than Rossini - which is what Jon is really after.

Once Jon’s Bartok returns fixed I somehow guess that the urgency of his desire to upgrade may fade somewhat given what is a great sound in its own right and considering the costs involved otherwise.

Of course if dCS do introduce Vivaldi’s successor in the near future then there will be some Vivaldi clocks on the used market. and maybe some Rossini ones from folk who can now afford to upgrade to used Vivaldi. However I think it prudent to put a warning in place. If Jon can secure a used Rossini or Vivaldi clock it will only be a short time before he wants to find a matching Rossini DAC or Vivaldi DAC plus Vivaldi Upsampler. :thinking:.

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Folks Hi

Many thanks for your continuing helpful advice. Pete’s last note hit the nail on the head, I suspect. In the real world, the best default I see is to get back my Bartok and see if I can live with it, with an add-on clock as a future option to consider when both available and fiscally feasible. I have decided not to sell a kidney to fund it… eventually, one has to know when to stop! Especially in the land of rapidly diminishing returns, however profoundly musical they may be.

A little afterthought - the Bartok to Rossini transition was characterised, to my ears at least, as increasing overall analogue-ness. Obviously, I could go on about increasing stage, focus, air, transparency, musical fidelity and so on. But, I would summarise that - for me - it moved the sound just that bit closer to the SQ of my Goldmund/Clearaudio vinyl front end at its best - but without the clicks, pops, end of side distortion, constant fiddling/paranoia et al.

All gain, no pain…

Thanks again!


Give the Rossini back a week or so before the Bartók’s due home and when it comes back you’ll have nothing but love for the return of your angular beast :slight_smile:


Ben Hi

An interesting piece of psychology…

I might try it.



Maybe I’m playing with fire, but my dealer has a Vivaldi clock that they will loan me so I can try it with my Bartók. I know it is silly to play with a clock that is more expensive than my DAC but used clocks are likely to come to the market soonish? If I really like this experiment how bad would it be to order a Rossini clock instead of a Vivaldi clock? Would I be disappointed? I would just borrow a Rossini clock but my dealer doesn’t have one. They just have the Bartók line and Vivaldi line.

Read my post (and its link to another thread) further up this thread.

In my opinion, yes — you would be disappointed with the Rossini Clock once you’ve tried the Vivaldi Clock. You’d be richer though, so you might get over it :slight_smile: