dCS Bartók on steroids - minor breaker box upgrade, major effect

dCS Bartók on steroids - minor breaker box upgrade, major effect

[originally posted on the dCS ROON community page]

Since end of February I am enjoying my dCS Bartók, both through my speakers, and headphones.

Because of a planned renovation in our apartment, I got the easy opportunity to ‘lend’ the present electrician, and asked him to replace and upgrade our MCB [miniature circuit breaker] distribution board/ breaker box. I finally got my dedicated 16A circuit, only powering my audio rig. It is using a Kemp Elektroniks Supreme³ Cylindric Fuse Cartridge MCB, containing 2 HiFi-Tuning Supreme³ Fuses. Audio part of the upgrade was just under € 300, parts and labour, including high grade separate wiring to a dedicated wall socket.

Result: dCS Bartók on steroids! The audible result of this upgrade is a bass response that’s even more taut and goes deeper, an even better reproduction of details, and all together an even more natural, richer and cleaner sound that’s reproduced with the right timbre and texture. Voices are as real as they can get.

From the dedicated electrical wall socket and to Bartók and amp are: Audioquest Hurricane power cables to/ from Audioquest Niagara 1000. They were already in place before the MCB breaker box + fuse cartridge upgrade.

Roon is running on a Win10 PC, fed separately, not on the audio group.

The electrician told me before he started: “Electricity is just electricity…”, suggesting a ‘snake oil’ upgrade. I believed him until my ears told me he is completely wrong.

The sound quality of the dCS Bartók already was very pleasing, but it has improved that much that I want to share my experience. The amplifier parts in my audio rig [power amplifier, and Bartók headphones amplifier part] seem to benefit the most. Specially bass response has improved a lot.

I have no scientific explanation for how this worked. But I like it!

I am curious to hear if you have a similar experience, or background info on how this works. And dCS team: what do you think of this?

I have pretty much the same situation: dcs vivaldi fed by a separate group with dedicated (Siemens) breaker and furutech fuses in the Vivaldis. A Roon Nucleus on an other group. Great result.
I even tried some powerfiltering on the dedicated group ( keces). The result was indeed an even more ‘relaxed’ soundstage but also less dynamics en focus. So I took the power filter out again and now run it on the Roon nucleus only.

Maybe I will try Shunyata in the future once but those are very expensive and in the meanwhile the separate power group and the faboulous powersuplies already fitted in the dcs products are quite sufficient for a really great three dimensional soundstage that exceed the speakers even on the left and right side.

Thank you for sharing your similar experience.

I will get me a Furutech fuse from my dealer too, to try what it will bring. On the back of the Bartók it says I will need a T 1A L fuse.

I need to toss in a couple of comments here for future readers of this thread:

  1. Mains upgrades can be an effective way of improving system performance, but it is absolutely critical that any products used have all of the appropriate regulatory approvals. These vary from country to country, but a good starting place is to see if the product is UL listed or approved. There are a large number of audiophile power products out there that do not have any approvals at all and these can be dangerous.
  2. If you’re having work done on your mains then this work should be done by an appropriately qualified and licensed electrician. Furthermore all work should be inspected by your local authority to ensure that it is compliant with all building codes / regulations.
  3. The warranty on your dCS product may be void if so-called audiophile fuses are used. The fuses that are specified for the product are chosen to meet very specific requirements and many of the audiophile fuses on the market do not actually meet these requirements nor do they have any regulatory approvals. Should you require a replacement fuse please contact your dCS dealer.

While it’s fun to talk about all of the different things that can be done to upgrade a system it’s important to remember that anything dealing with mains voltage can be a matter of life and death for you, your family, and your neighbors.

Please resist the urge to “audiophile up” your mains.

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Thanks Andrew for your comments, and warnings. I fully agree that one needs to be very careful, and follow all regulations, in upgrading your mains.

The MCB and cylindrical fuses I picked and used meet all local and international regulations, and the work was done by a fully licensed electrician.

My local dCS dealer advised me to change the fuse inside the Bartók for a Furutech one, however, because he says “the SQ improvement is beyond comprehension” .

Since I don’t want my dCS warranty to maybe get void, I will not upgrade this standard fuse. But I would like to hear from you why this -in all cases, and against my dealer’s advice- should be avoided.

Are you, by your comments, just protecting dCS from possible warranty claims by inappropriate mains upgrades? Or can you acknowledge that, when properly done, this is an effective way to improve your system?

That’s only part of it. I’m also trying to help people understand that some things are best left to the professionals (at a minimum) and many are best just left alone. When I say “professionals” I’m talking about licensed electricians using products from real companies, not companies that make audiophile cables and tweaks.

Here’s a scenario to consider. Someone replaces the safety fuse in his stereo component with the current flavor-of-the-month audiophile quantum-entangled-dark-matter fuse. Some time later that fuse fails to do the one thing that it’s supposed to do (break the circuit) and a fire is started. House burns down, perhaps takes the neighbor’s house with it. There’s an investigation by the authorities and some insurance companies. The cause is determined to be a faulty fuse that has absolutely no regulatory approval. At this point it’s likely that no insurance company will touch this and the burden of compensation will fall to the individual and, possibly, the company that made the fuse. Trust me, the company that made the fuse doesn’t have the deep pockets needed to make this right.

In other words, I don’t care what the claimed sonic benefits are. I really like my house, my possessions, my family members, and my pets so I think that replacing a safety device with one of dubious origin is one of the dumbest things that this hobby has brought about.

If you want to make a meaningful improvement then buy gear that sounds better to you or invest in the acoustics of your room. There are no shortcuts here. No tweak or doodad is going to make your system sound better in any real and meaningful way. Most of these items are harmless, but some (like fuses or other questionable mains products) can be extremely dangerous.

Anyone is free to disagree with me and do whatever he likes, but if you’re going to buy and use these items then please don’t ever move in next door to me :wink:

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Just backing up what Andrew says.

I have an electrician buddy who is fully qualified and up to date with the latest regs. He is also an audiophile. That’s as rare as the proverbial rocking horse poo! He has installed and fully signed off my dedicated hifi mains installation. He has checked out this https://www.russandrews.com/images/pdf/MainsWiringGuide191218.pdf and say it is solid. Note this is UK only.

For your interest, check out this guy who shows how dangerous electricity can be these days with so many unregulated stuff easily available. He has lots of videos and here is one on sockets.

Not saying you’re doing anything dodgy, just saying and just sharing.

Paul