Decision on Bartok or Bartok Apex

Hi Guys,
I’m new in this forum so bare with me. I’m auditioning the Bartok non Apex loaned by a local supplier. This would be my first DCS product in my system. Im comparing the Bartok to my old ARC DAC 9 and I could tell much difference. Better focus on the imaging, more space between instrument, extended air, better control on the lows, organic and immersive. Now the supplier recommend me to get the Apex instead. Off course from supplier point of view is to make more money. The supplier have not even heard the Apex yet. They have no Bartok Apex demo and not getting the demo at all.
There was one thread in this forum did a blind fold test between the Bartok and Bartok Apex and he could not tell the difference. This is my worry is if I were to get the Apex and there is only subtle change and the price is almost 50% more than the non Apex. With that kind of price i would not want subtle difference.

I’ve been watching many Youtube Bartok comparison and many says the Mola Mola Tambaqui is a better DAC but the Tambaqui does not decode MQA. I need MQA. The other choice that is up to my budget is the Aurender A20, only heard it through Youtube and think is a bit more sweet than the Bartok non Apex but that is through Youtube. What do you guys think on these comparison?

I need you guys experience and advice on this as im having a dilemma.Please help.

I don’t think there is any substitute for listening!

I’d try to find a dealer that has one and audition it, then decide.


The comparison between Mola Mola and Bartok were done before Bartok 2.0. These tests are not accurate anymore. Bartok 2.0 is far better than 1.0. Otherwise, are you sure you can buy a new bartok non-apex today ? I believe it is only possible on the second hand market, but maybe I am wrong.


Hello @Sonicmatters29 and welcome! You are referering to my post

I did not say I couldnt tell the différence. I said that to me the Bartok apex was a slight more refined but lost some of the 2.0 bartok’s dynamics and what I call ”rawness”. I think that the Apex may please people who need to ”taste” the music rather than those who ”feel” it. One image I have is that of a wine lover. With apex, you sip a very good vintage, but you might have difficulty to inebriate; as with the 2.0, the wine tastes a bit more raw, and you are happy to intoxicate yourself with it. So what are you ? A wine sipper or a hedonist when it comes to music?


To @Sonicmatters29 : I have to add that to me the enjoyment between old Bartok and Bartok 2.0 was more strong than between Bartok 2.0 and Bartok Apex.
Your really need to listen the Mola Mola Tanbaqui; I understand that comparing the two would be very difficult for you, because no dealer/distributor would dare to allow you to have them both on your listening room. At a certain point, you will have to make a choice, considering every criteria you need to consider (price, sound signature, the company philisophy, size, upgradibility, etc.). But you must have a listen to each of them if you want to make a serene choice…

I have the Bartok Apex (on loan from Omni a member on here) and my own non Apex Bartok at my place just now. I agree with the broad description Diego has given, the Apex version is more refined, the differences are fairly subtle but noticeable. My own Bartok sounds a bit “harsher” and “in your face” than the Apex.

Definitely need to hear both in your own system/room to decide which you prefer.

Ignoring the cost difference if I could keep either I’d plump for the Apex. Taking into account the £7,500 it would cost to upgrade I personally don’t think it’s a sensible upgrade and will stick to my plan and go with the Rossini next.


Yes you are right but there is only 1 dealer in my small country.

My apologies, you mean subtle difference.

Thats what im afraid of subtle difference. Is it worth the price between those two for just subtle difference? Unfortunately i cant audition both side by side as there is only 1 dealer in my country. If i had the budget i would get the Rossini but i dont.

Noted on the 2.0. Yes there is still 2 non Apex Bartoks left at the local dealer.

Sorry i forgot to mention that the Bartok will be use for Hifi speaker system not headphones.

If you got decided to enter the dCS family, you may acquire the Bartok 2.0, then wait to have an apex on loan to hear the difference for yourself…


I think im going to take the plunge and get the Bartok Apex. I know is a risk but sometime you have to break the bottle to read the massage. Im going to order it and estimate delivery 1 - 2 months. Will give a short review once i break in the Bartok Apex. At the moment will just listen to the Bartok 2.0 until the Apex arrive.


Save your time and energy and buy a Vivaldi DAC and Upsampler and the next time you will think to Mola Mola is during a nightmare :laughing:…seriously there are some other very good and valuable dacs out there, Mola Mola, Acqua Acoustics, Emmlabs etc…buy one, and forget all the other brands otherwise you spend your lifetime comparing gear…Even in dCS world, people never stop comparing, and yes Vivaldi is the best until now…but for a price…Bartok must be good too, but it is obviously a kind of compromise between musicality and price…May be even the Vivaldi is a kind of compromise, who knows ?

Don’t worry about the Tambaqui. I have one and much prefer my dCS Lina. Enjoy your new Bartok APEX!


Absolutely agree with that comment, the Lina, for me is a much better dac than the Mola.
I even prefer it over the Bartok as it’s has a more forward and lively presentation. And streaming wise it replaced my statement so it’s pretty good there too!