New Bee. Suggestions on DCS for my system

Good day all.

My first post on the DSC forum. I would like your thoughts on my current system and the new Bartok Apex.
My current system is full Naim stack running Active Kudos 808. 552 pre…2x 250DR 1x 300Dr, NDX2 with 555Ps at the front end. front end seems to be the week link. Although happy with the general sound it doesn’t blow me away. i recently tried a Chord Dave DAC while this improved things detail wise I found the overall sound quite bright and fatiguing and not really involving which was a disappointment. I have heard the Nd555 in my pretty much the same system as i have at a dealer demo but was rather underwhelmed. I hope to have the new Bartok apex on home demo soon as i have not heard any DSC products but come highly recommended from the dealer that stock Naim, chord and DSC.

as the Bartock Apex is a new product I was wondering how it compares to the current offering from DSC up the range and given my level of system should I be considering the higher offerings.

any feedback would be much appreciated.

thank all.



You have a very nice stereo. Of course it would be very interesting for you to hear the Bartok. In case it does not convince you, you could try a Vivaldi dac and Upsampler, there you would hear what dCS is capable of…If still not convinced, then you are in trouble because not many system can do better, if any…Tell us what you think after you heard a Bartok and a Vivaldi :wink:

There is also a thread on this forum of people who switched from Naim to dCS, you might read some valuable comments.


Hi Danny and welcome to the forum.Combining dCS with Naim is not necessarily straightforward at least to get optimal sound from the combination. Our regular correspondent @Dunc has much good advice on this.

As it is for everyone to make their own judgements of subjective sound quality I won’t comment further. . However on your final question:

dCS have always ensured that there is not only a technical improvement as you move up the range but also that this results in clearly audible gains. However all lines have a common basis and so if you like Bartok you will also like the others as you move up. However remember that Apex applies not only to Bartok but also to Rossini and Vivaldi. The additional cost may be considerable with Vivaldi as the true comparison is Bartok Apex v. Vivaldi Apex DAC + Vivaldi Upsampler ( Vivaldi Apex DAC is just that whereas Bartok and Rossini are full network players).

Let us know how you get on.

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Hello Danny

I will start off by say i have come from being a full naim owner for around 30 years, i ended up with a 500dr, 552dr, and a maxed out NDS, i then tried the the ND555, and found very little if anything inpovement on sound quality from my stored music on my melco.
With that i tried dcs, and that was it for me, and i haven’t looked back.

I also have the titan 808, but run them passive.
I would say the apex bartock is a good place to start, especially as it now runs the same software as the rossini, but you may find the jump up to rossini apex a nicer result.

But if you take a look at my thread about what my 552dr was doing to the sound, then you might want to consider trying the bartock, or rossini direct into your Amp’s, as this will certainly bring a better resolution, and result.

Plus you can sell your 552 to help fund.
But obviously if you can stretch to a vivaldi dac, then you will certainly be a very happy fellow, as it really is fantastic at what it does.
Plus you can like i did just use the vivaldi dac with say a melco, to stream music, and play stored music with, i did just that till i could stretch out for the upsampler.
But which ever you try you do need to really try it direct as well as with the 552, as i think you will be amazed at the difference, as every one that has tried it has been so far, and its a few now.

Plus i have some made up cables that will allow you to try, that i am willing to let you borrow.

But take a read off the many different threads, as the dCS dacs certainly are very different to the naim ones, much more settings, like filters, maps, voltage, etc. That will allow you to fine tune it to your needs.

Fun times ahead, and time to re listen to your music, as you will certainly be hearing things you have never before.

Cheers dunc


A warm welcome from me too, Danny!

I can’t answer your question about the comparison with Naim, but I came from a Chord TT2 before trying the Dave and the original Bartok side-by-side for several days.

I found the Dave far more detailed than the TT2, but a tad little too clinical. The Bartok got close to the detail of the Dave, but with (to my mind) a much more natural sound.

Moving up to the Rossini Apex, my feeling is (without the ability to make a direct comparison) is that the detail is now likely on a par with the Dave, but with an even more natural sound. I would expect the same with the Vivaldi - more of the same, just another level up.

Ultimately, I can tell you what I preferred, but only your ears can decide the best option for you. Have fun while doing so!

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Afternoon all,

Many thanks for all your input and advise. I’m hoping to have the DSC unit with me next week hopefully and will update after the listening session. Duncan thank you for the offer to try the cables I will bear this in mind. The chord Dave goes back today. I must say wasn’t overly impressed over the week. First impressions were good as you are hearing a lot more information and it has great bass weigh also it sounded much more dynamic, but the input voltage is 3v and can’t be changed so the Ndx2 set up sounds softer at the same volume, 2v output I think so you have to turn the system up to match the output of the Dave then thing become less clear between the two. Both very different sounding but I do prefer the Naim kit as it is much easier to listen to at higher volumes and less fatiguing over extended listening sessions , but I can see why people like the Dave and maybe its a different store with the Scaler.

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Hi Danny

So are you getting a bartock or rossini to demo?
Take it whichever it is, it is an apex version?
If you do want to borrow my cables then i believe we might have a problem, as mine are for a 300 or 500. So rca to naim xlr mono set up, you being active will need rca to din.

I ran my previous TT2 (and the Dave on loan) with an M-Scaler. It undoubtably improves the sound quality and, I would consider, almost a must have with these two DACs. I still ended up choosing the Bartok!

Hi Duncan,
It is the Bartock Apex. yes cabling is a problem the dealer has had to make up a cable din to rca to allow the bartock to bypass the 552, will obviously try it with 552 in but like to see how the Pre on the bartock performs direct.

think i read your were using KS1 speaker cables but have now changed them out to the Mogami W3104. how do you find them. KS1 is good.



Hi There,

I actually ran the Dave in pre amp Mode last night rather than DAC mode and set the output to -6 Db so it matched the NDX2 output, to be fair it sounded better this way and loss a lot of its harshness top end. a lot closer now on sound quality slightly different presentations, stronger bass with the Dave. Depends on the track but I still just prefer the NDX2 sound overall music just seems to flow better.


I actually run both mogami on the bass, and ks1 on the mid/treble

Hi All,

Quick update and thoughts on the new Bartock apex which was installed on Wednesday for demo. First impressions have been very positive. The problem is trying to put it into words. Firstly the sound quality is in my opinion is exceptional, so much detail and transparency that I honestly didn’t think possible, very smooth in presentation no harshness the music just flows nicely. if I could sum it up it just sounds analogue like a very good Turntable, but you do have to re-calibrate your brain as its sounds to me so different to any digital front end I have ever heard. Any negatives well a few maybe but i think this is more about me than the kit. The overall sound seems a touch lean, and dynamically a bit soft, not as hard hitting as maybe the Naim stuff or even the chord Dave…but its all there just presented so differently so like I said a re-calibration of the brain from what I have been use to over the last 30 years of listening to hifi.
The Bartock is going through my 552 currently but I will be trying it over the weekend using it as the pre-amp to see what results I get which will be interesting. Waiting in the wings is an ND555 which i also have on Demo i have heard it a few times but never in my system so will see how it performs in the coming days.

Wait till you remove the 552, things will certainly inpove quite a lot
Hopefully going direct will be an eye opening experience, if so then maybe sell the 552 and put it towards getting a rossini instead of the bartock. This will bring a further uplift in sound quality.