This thread is almost spilling over into non audio or music related so I’m keen to try and keep on topic.
To answer some of the questions I’ll start by echoing Ben’s point that any audio product is the result of many years research and development, prototyping and testing before going into actual assembly and production. At dCS it doesn’t stop there, as we continue to innovate and update our products through their life, mostly through software updates.
We have been in audio for over 30 years, starting out in A-D and the recording end of the chain before moving into signal conversion (upsamplng/downsampling) and the playback end with D-A technology. All through this time our engineers have been working to advance the state of the art in digital playback. In terms of product design we do not use standard off the shelf components (e.g. SPDIF receivers, DAC chips, output stages etc.). Any competent electronics engineer could make a DAC if they went down this route, but at dCS the entire signal path is in the dCS domain and any design trade-offs or decisions are made by us (not the chip designer) and with performance in mind.
You are correct that most of the components you will find on a printed circuit board originate in the US or Asia. However, our PCBs are manufactured in the UK by various contract manufacturers, depending on the complexity of the board. It is worth pointing out that our hardware is proprietary to dCS as is the software code that runs on them. All of the design effort to create this hardware and software is the result of our years of experience and performed by our team of engineers in our UK factory.
Second, our raw metal is milled in Europe, cut into billets and slabs, transported to the UK and then machined into fascias, sides, tops, buttons etc. by various precision engineering firms in the UK before being anodised. Different engineering firms have different competencies and tools so we always try to match the right supplier to the part or process required. This is a skill in itself and crucially important when products are in the market for many years as fit and finish must remain consistent.
A dCS audio product is not just the kit of parts. It is the results of years of R&D, extensive prototyping and testing, unique hardware and proprietary software. Our suppliers and partners also bring extensive experience and expertise which we tap into to ensure our products are state of the art. Performance, reliability and ease of huge are so important to us so without our partners we could not build the products we do.
Finally, unlike many audio companies we do all of the final assembly in house as our assembly technicians are skilled craftsmen (and women) who are able to assemble and test all of our products.
I will loop back to this point briefly. The Ring DAC platform is proprietary to dCS. As above, the hardware we use is specific to us and won’t be found in other products. For example, all of the DACs listed on the Denafrips website are R-2R based, use OCXO based clocking, and so on. While both a dCS DAC and a Denafrips DAC perform D/A conversion, they use different technologies (both hardware and software) to do so.