Can't send directly to dCS for servicing?

I switched my Scarlatti DAC back on after a few months of it being switched off, as I was travelling extensively for work abroad.

Initially, the backlight on the display remained off, but came back to life after a few minutes, which I found a bit suspicious.

Even with the backlight back on, there remains no audio from the DAC’s analogue outputs. The display shows that the DAC has locked correctly and shows the correct sample rate/bit depth on inputting a signal. I’ve played around with all the configs I can think of (all the digital inputs, both the analogue outputs, mute, etc.), but there remains zero audio from the DAC’s analogue outputs.

Having contacted Phil at dCS, he thinks there might be a problem with the DAC’s power supply. The DAC is >16 years old and could probably do with a service anyway, so I’m happy to send it back to dCS, knowing it’ll be in the safest hands possible.

However, apparently, I can’t send it directly back to dCS, I have to send it to Absolute Sounds first. This makes no sense to me whatsoever. I bought the SDC used, and have had no interaction with AS whatsoever, so why do I need to send it to them first, in order for them to then send it on to dCS?

What am I not understanding about dCS’s servicing setup? Can someone please explain?


Could depend on where you are in the world? Absolute Sounds is the UK distributor so this might play a role.

Yes, I’m in the UK. But I still don’t understand what it’s got to do with the distributor.

Not sure what the policy is for servicing and how this is tied in to the relationship/contracts with distributors. I understand your point though that it might be easier dealing directly with dCS, but seeing as Phil pointed you to them I don’t think there is a choice. Sending a unit in incurs a certain fee regardless of the fault, but the upside is that it will probably be ready for many years of use after that.

A power supply fault could be repaired by an independent electronics technician, but I guess with gear on this level it could matter that it went to the manufacturer for service as they can also check the whole unit and test it according to their specifications.

Thanks for your thoughts.

I think sending it to the distributor first will make what I suspect will be a large servicing bill even larger. If there is indeed no choice, I’d just like to know why.

Hi Mani. The servicing structure is part of the business reason for having a distributor. They look after selling and servicing and dCS look after designing and building. Of course in some cases Absolute Sounds will effectively triage faults so that they do not all end up being returned to the factory. They ensure it is all administered correclty e.g. timing durng the initial Apex upgrade programme.

In the days when your Scarlatti was made you could have dealt directly with dCS. However that is because in those days dCS was its own distributor. As I am sure you understand there are good business reasons for not having all of your eggs in one basket.

Best Wishes,


1 Like

Hi Pete, good to hear from you. Thanks for your thoughts, and for making the servicing structure clear.

If the fault is simple, perhaps AS can fix it. But being >16 years old, I’d prefer the unit to go back to dCS for the service and a thorough check-over.

Will I be given this choice?

I expect that contractual arrangements mean that servicing issues need to pass through Absolute Sounds. Will it still go back to Swavesey? If need indicates its necessity and I wouldn’t dare to second guess Phil’s suspicion. In fact there is nothing to stop you requesting that, given its age, you would like to ensure it has a proper check-over anyway. However even it looks like a dead cert. that it returns to the factory it will still need to go via AS. Such is life.

1 Like

I’d be surprised if Absolute Sounds weren’t willing to send it back to dCS for their full bank of tests, if you ask this to be done. I would imagine they’d be a cost implication, though, over any repair they can do themselves.


It’s not uncommon for boutique manufacturers like dCS to use distributors exclusively for Sales and Support as they’re usually not structured to deal directly with individual consumers.

I would look at it as an opportunity to build a relationship with Absolute Sound, you never know when you might actually need their help.


Although my dac was not purchased from audio salon in la when i did my apex upgrade I sent it to them as dcs required a dealer interface. It was a great experience. Coincidentally they are also a wilson dealer who also prefers the dealer service you. There was no apparent markup. If you order say isolation feet from the dealer it is the price shown on wilson website as was the apex upgrade. Find a good dealer



Absolute Sounds are our UK distributor (as has been mentioned above) and part of our agreement with them is that they handle repairs and servicing …

All units that come back for repair do get a full “as new” soak test before they are sent back out but of course that doesn’t (and can’t) guarantee that no other faults can occur with a unit further down the line - only that it leaves us fully working to the units as-new parameters.

I hope that helps.


1 Like

Thanks Phil. I shall organise sending my SDC to AS later this week.


When I had my Rossini Apexed I got two labels from my supplier. One to attach the label and send to dCS then a few hours later another label to attach the label and send to Absolute sounds. Before I received the second returns slip I had taken the Rossini to the dropoff centre; so it was on its way to dCS (Cambridge). I then received a call from the supplier to make sure it should go to Absolute Sounds. Talk about confusion!!! Anyway all was well I did get it Apexed.

1 Like

I sent my SDC to Absolute Sounds at the beginning of December. It was delivered back to me before Christmas, serviced and tested. Very impressed.

The cost was pretty much what I was expecting to pay for a dCS repair - no more, but unfortunately no less :wink:

I haven’t had a chance to hook it up yet, but am assuming that it’s as good as new.

A big thank you to the teams at AS and dCS.



Hi Mani. Good to hear from you and just to mention that on the couple of occasions I need to deal with AS, either directly or via my dealer, they have been excellent. Fortunately it was under warranty so no idea of costs.


Happy New Year Pete!

The service sheet states “Dried capacitors replaced on DAC board”. It doesn’t specify where exactly.

I’ve had the SDC for 18 months or so (bought used), and now wonder whether I’ve ever heard it at its best. I mean, are caps ‘black or white’ (either they work or they don’t), or can they still function but lose performance over time?

In any event, my SDC has been tested as meeting specs now. I should have time to hook it up and take a listen to it again over the weekend.


1 Like

Basically they degrade and their electrical performance changes over time. Eventually they may move outside of the performance tolerance allowed for by the designer. So, in general, they don’t simply just stop functioning, at least within the typical period which we are dealing with. Let us know how you find the result.

May I wish you and your family a Happy New Year too.


@manisandher to elaborate on Pete’s very accurate answer, and just because we’re all geeks here of some sort, for purposes of digital equipment especially with high precision, any capacitor which isnt within tolerance hinders and possibly destroys performance. Pete is spot on.

In another application such as a guitar amplifier capacitor drift “can” be very desirable. Fender years ago tried to replicate the extremely desirable tone of Buddy Guys ‘58 Bassman amplifier. Replicated part by part and even matching the bias on tubes, tube output, brand and each resistor, capacitor and potentiometer in the box. Exactly the same. You have already guessed it sounded nothing like the original. The disposable parts were all out of tolerance which gave the amp its distinctive tone. The amp was finally blueprinted with parts that matched the out of tolerance parts and voila. A close match which was sold in limited edition quantity at a premium price. True story.