Long time lurker here and finally decided to break the ice by sharing my experience moving through the dCS line and asking for some your great feedback. My current system is all digital and made up of Wilson Sasha 2’s, Pass XA-160.8, Pass XP-30, Synergistic PowerCell SX, dCS Vivaldi Upsampler, DAC, and Synergistic Euphoria speaker cables and interconnects. I’m using Nordost TYR2 AES cables. I have mildly upgraded power cords to the amps, DAC, and Pre. The upsampler is using the stock power cord. I have on order to be here next week Synergistic Galileo SX power cords for the DAC and Upsampler plus a Synergistic SRX cord for my PowerCell. The room was treated with GIK products following the direction of a sound engineer.
The hardware components have remained the same for the Bartok, Rossini and now Vivaldi though the cables were upgraded when I bought the Rossini. All that said I was so impressed when I first heard the Bartok. What a great piece of equipment. Little did I know it was my first hit of dCS euphoria that would fuel my run all the way to Vivaldi in 16 months. I’ve always been a theater hobbyist and have designed and built my last 3 going from a modest theater to now one I would consider to be a world class home cinema. I had no idea what HiFi was 2 years ago. My thing was just relaxing and watching a movie a few times a week. During my theater build at the end of 2019 a friend who was into HfFi suggested I go with him to listen to a proper system. I was done for. So of course since then i’ve been on the journey to build a HiFi system that would trigger emotion and engage your soul at every level. Now I admit I moved pretty quickly but I knew what I wanted and with every upgrade I got closer but hadn’t achieved that spine tingling emotion I was looking for and knew was possible. I spent about 14 months with the Bartok and it certainly set the benchmark for me to grow from. I would say it executed super well and in my room, with my components, I got wonderful resolution, decent depth, decent height, good separation, and a mostly believable presentation. Listening to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue or Steely Dan’s Gaucho for example made me feel like I was enjoying a great recording with a feeling every now and then that the musicians were in my room. I wanted that feeling every time. In February this year I decided to upgrade to the Rossini player and that leap I can say was a significant improvement over the Bartok. Immediately the sound stage was transformed. it was the size of my room, the notes were more rich, the air around musicians bloomed and became much more apparent as did what I could best describe as overall dynamics of the presentation. I was now enjoying a truly holographic presentation. Every track I listened to was a new experience all over again. I was much closer to that feeling but I personally just still wasn’t getting it. I tweaked and tweaked speaker placement, seating position, and seating height. At this point I was almost willing to accept I may be looking for something that may not be achievable in my environment. The experience was absolutely wonderful don’t get me wrong but I wanted to be moved deeply and I wanted to sit someone in the money spot that knew little about how amazing HiFi could be and see them moved as well. I wanted the London philharmonic in my room and to close my eyes and believe it. Truth is most people were moved even at the Bartok level and the Rossini had the same people even more impressed thinking their original experience could not be improved on.
So last month I was thinking about what to do next and more importantly what was possible in my environment. I reached out to just about everyone I knew over a couple weeks that was into HiFi and talked through it. The bottom line is my room is about as good as it’s going to get. Now that said, someone like Jim Smith or Darryl Wilson would likely come into my room and find a few more percent and hiring one of them or another setup wizard is likely on my agenda just to be sure but the overall balance and tonality of what is happening in the room I feel pretty darn good about. So what was next? To me the jump from Bartok to Rossini was a good one but the jump from Rossini to Vivaldi is like jumping across the grand canyon and I would be so disappointed if I spent that money and didn’t end up achieving my goal of what I could best describe as “realism”. I just wanted to be transported and to believe.
So I came to the conclusion I needed to try. I admit In the back of my mind I thought the Rossini was an exceptional piece of equipment and just couldn’t really see where the Vivaldi could be that much better. Everyone has their own experience and I suspect in many cases the room itself is a silent killer some are not aware of. Gear can only do what you free it to do right so I think some people spend a ton of money and experience these minor improvements and then are a bit disappointed that the incremental improvement isn’t in line with their investment. So with that fear in mind I said the hell with it I’m going to jump. I ordered the Vivaldi DAC and Upsampler. Depending on how that worked out I was either going to be done at this point or would order the clock shortly after.
Yesterday was a very special day. Both components arrived at my dealer mid day so left my office early, picked up my new toys, and eagerly drove home. I was full of wonder. It was much like being a kid again the day before Christmas. So I arrived home, disconnected the Rossini, setup the Vivaldi DAC and Upsampler, plugged in my Nordost AES cables, went through the basic setup for each, and played a track. NOTHING! LOL…Yea, I forgot to turn on the amps…That kind of helps doesn’t it?
For the first 15 mins strangely I knew it was way better but really wan’t composed enough to suggest why or what was happening. Plus boxes were all over the floor and I was bit hot from lifting and moving these pieces. I put everything away, had myself a drink, sat down in the money spot, turned the lights down, and went through about 10 of my favorite tracks. I’m really not exaggerating when I say the Vivaldi blew my damn mind. It was like my walls were alive. The music was penetrating my very core and yes, I was emotional. FINALLY it happened. The Vivaldi isn’t even broken in yet and to think it’s going to get better with break in as well as upgrading the power cables next week is just amazing. We had a 4 hour listening session last night with several friends that have been along for this ride with me and every one was triggered emotionally and unanimously agreed this was the single most impactful upgrade I have done and the Vivaldi has been dubbed “The Magic Box”. No matter what we were listening to the feet were tapping, the heads were bouncing, the soul was feeding. Perhaps my experience is out of the ordinary as I’ve read many people state the difference from Rossini to Vivaldi is smaller than the difference from Bartok to Rossini. I’m here to tell you if that was the experience then something else is wrong. The Vivaldi is nothing short of mind blowing. For me, I wanted to be moved emotionally and I wanted that feeling every time. I’ll be dammed. It’s possible after all! You just have to be willing to jump across the grand canyon! Thanks dCS for making such incredible equipment!
With that said, I’ve never used a clock. I’m a digital guy and plan to just stream Hi-Res. Is a Vivaldi clock going to help me or is it really meant to sync other hardware to the DAC such as a transport?