Hifi news review Bartok Apex

Just received the latest digital edition of Hifi news magazine, it contains a review of the Bartok Apex


Okay. And . . . ?

Dunno as the edition does not come out intil NEXT friday. Looks like the digital side of the business has been oremature. Meantime I await my subscription copy next week.

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My guess is that it will be something like this:

“At the start of Debussy’s colorful Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp, from Debussy: Sonates & Trio, I heard more sound from the viola’s bow than before. More of the overtones and harmonics that distinguish the viola from the violin emerged, and the complex character of instruments was easier to discern. Subtle changes in dynamics and shading were also more noticeable and impactful.”

; )

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I believe I can quote an extract from the article in HiFi News (if this breaks any forum rules I overlooked, please let me know):

This may be the ‘entry-level’ dCS offering, but there’s no hint of that in a sound as revealing as it is involving, with excellent scale and resolution

Elsewhere, the review states that

…the performance advantages offered by this APEX version of the Bartók are easily measurable

and gives it 88% for sound quality.


Is that a guess or your listening expérience ?

It’s a positive review, not a very extensive one, some comments regarding DSD 256 not being available.


Hi @Diego_Fr ,
It was just a joke. To me 90% of reviews are the same!


It was well written though. And I suspect most of them are written this way… If one cannot trust a reviewer, one cannot trust our room, and even psychoacoustics says one cannot trust our ears… What is left ? Our need to believe, and our passion for Debussy :slightly_smiling_face:


@keiserrg , you guessed right :wink:

Reviewed as if it was a new model…


Thx for posting @Diego_Fr.

This is the most important part of the review for me. Maybe this long-time feature request will finally get some traction with @support, now that the press is complaining too:

“That said, a bugbear for me is the limitation of its capability with DSD files. Yes, the Bartók APEX now handles DSD128 with ease, but the world has moved on somewhat, and many of the files I am downloading these days are in DSD256 – not because I’m playing the numbers game, but because that’s how they were created. Yes, it’s possible to play them by using Roon to
take them down to DSD64 or DSD128 – the software will recognise that’s the upper limit of the DAC’s capabilities – but many DACs will now handle these files in their native form.”

I would say nearly EVERY competing DAC now handles DSD256, with most handling DSD1024: Playback Designs, Esoteric, MSB, etc.

Hopefully we can get this feature soon.


fI have no doubt that dCS have prototyped DSD 256 at the factory . However it is not a simple matter of adding it to Bartok. It would have to be added to Vivaldi and Rossini as well ( they could hardly have enhancements only available for the entry level product ). Further not only would Vivaldi and Rossini DACs require an upgrade but so will both Rossini and Vivaldi system clocks. I don’t think this can be incorporated in a Mosaic version.

Yes there is a perception and competition point but the addition is not a simple exercise for the above reason. Further they may need to retain additional features for any next generation product. This may be where it might occur.

It may happen but I will not lose sleep. After all the reality is this is still a very niche format which, despite its increased availability ( albeit only in relation to certain boutique labels) is still comparatively obscure to say the least. Of course if UMG or Warners start to use it then the need for it would be clear.


thanks for posting the Hi Fi news review. Looking at chart 1… Correct me if I’m wrong but it appears there is zero sonic penalty if one is using the digital volume control from 0dD to just above -20dB. Am I reading this correctly? I as a lay person I find the Hi Fi news charts are to read!


What dCS keeps telling us.

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I believe it’s a varying input signal level; 0 to -120dbFS (1kHz and 20kHz), not the Bartok’s volume control level (since it doesn’t go down to -120dBFS).

If what they measured is correct, and there’s no reason to believe it’s not (other than them not producing the before graphs), just taking a single data-point that they mention, say -10dBFS @ 20Hz, the distortion level going down from 0.0001% (non-Apex) to 0.00003% (Apex) is bloody impressive!! :exploding_head:


Hi Pete, just my position on this topic:

If dCS wants to claim to be a leader in audio, then it should lead with features Ahead of its customers demanding them, and not wait until it is Behind the rest of the market, which it clearly is.

If you personally aren’t interested in this feature then of course this is your right. I personally would like to see MQA support ripped out of the codec stack, which is also my right.

But, respectfully, you and I don’t speak for all dCS users, and many want this feature.

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I disagree though. If you look at dCS’ history, it’s always been about tangible/measurable sonic benefit, not features. Even with Apex for example, this thread highlight some real tangible benefits, not just fluff.

With DSD256 though (other than as a recording format), as a playback format, the benefits are certainly not clear. If you examine (with MusicScope) or listen to the the HDTT or Blue Cost Records DSD256 transfers/recordings on a DSD256 capable DAC (in my case with Chord DAVE), you will struggle to hear what the fuss is about (not to mention native DSD256 content is about 0.0000001% of available music).

If you feel different, I would ask, what DSD256 capable DAC have you heard a substantial difference on vs. DSD128?


Hi @Anupc,
I would very much like to do the comparison you suggest on my Rossini, but unfortunately I am not able to (!) To my ears, there was a meaningful difference between a well-recorded native DSD128 versus DSD64, which I really enjoyed.

Re: this statement, I respectfully disagree:

The speed at which dCS adopted MQA–a lossy format, that dCS engineers would have immediately recognized as such–indicates otherwise.

It is a statement of fact that virtually all high end DACs will now play DSD256 and much higher resolution. dCS is behind the market in this regard. Hopefully this can change soon!


Gotta agree with this. I doubt seriously dCS implemented MQA for sonic quality reasons. It’s past time for dCS to implement a quality DSD256 capability. I wouldn’t get rid of my Vivaldi stack just because of it, but I do wish it had it.


Would DSD256 involve a hardware change or can this be handled through a software update?