Newbie Advice Please

Hi, please be gentle with me as this is my first post on this community and the obvious answer (try it and see for yoursef) is not quite what I’m after.

Having moved largely away from Naim, my setup is now:

Rega P10/Hana Umami Red/Rega Aura (very happy with this)
Ypsilon Phaethon (over the moon with this)
Naim ND5 XS2/Chord MScaler/Qutest
Wilson Benesch ACT One Evo (again, fabulous)

I retire in 18 months and, next year, want to reach my end-game setup by changing my streaming side to a one-box solution (and, yes, I know the ND5 is a one box streamer/DAC but it’s the weak link in my system and Chord is sounding increasing ‘digital’ through the Phaethon). Looking ahead I’m researching several choices in which DCS obviously features heavily (Bartok or second-hand Rossini). However, when I’ve discussed this with a few - non-DCS - dealers, and I express my desire to achieve a more ‘organic’, analogue sound from digital, they have all said, without hesitation, that I won’t get this from DCS. One of these (very high-end) dealers has no skin in the game as he doesn’t offer what I’m after, so why would they say this? Reviews I’ve read have all unequivocally praised the DCS SQ, so am I missing something here?


I can only speak for myself, but I moved from a well respected Japanese brand to dCS because I wanted (as you state above) ‘a more organic, analog sound from digital’. I haven’t looked back. My only regret is that I didn’t hold out and buy a dCS in the first place. If you can find a good local dCS dealer - they should be able to guide you.


As Mandy Rice Davis once almost said " they would, wouldn’t they?" This may have some credence with early generation units but not now and especially given the Apex upgrade to the current range. I would strongly advise you to stretch to a Bartok Apex if you can ( or even Rossini Apex). The cost may seem a lot now but if this is intended to be an end of the road move its value will soon be clear.

It’s their job :wink:.

You have to find out for yourself. The equipment list you give suggests you may be in the UK and I can assure you that as @Urbanluthier suggests the dCS dealers will look after you and there may even be a chance of arranging a home demonstration through your own system (ask).


Hi Stilts, welcome to the forum, it’s a pretty friendly place unlike a few other hifi forums around :grinning:

I’ve been up the Naim ND Streamer/DAC Classic ladder and had various recent Chord DACs, plus a shed load of other kit, ending up with what I thought was gonna be end game, an Auralic G2 stack.

I’m guessing like you the dCS name was familiar through magazine reviews and online mentions. I was at a loose end over lockdown with plenty of spare time, curiosity got the better of me so I organised a home loan/demo of a Bartok, it didn’t take long to realise it was on another level to the Auralic sound and shortly after the loan unit was returned I decided to order a Bartok and sell the G2 units.

A friend who lives nearby also moved to dCS and over a few months I’ve managed to hear a Bartok Apex, Rossini and his Rossini Apex against my Bartok at home. A few weeks ago I traded my Bartok for a Rossini Apex, the Bartok Apex upgrade didn’t tick my vfm box.

I really don’t recognise the description those dealers are giving you, the dCS kit engages in a much more emotional and analogue way than any other streamer/dac I’ve had. Over many years/a few decades there have been very few purchases that fit the “why the hell didn’t I jump sooner” the Rossini Apex is one of them, absolutely no regrets. The only way as you know is a home loan, I don’t think you’ll be wasting your time or a dealers.

If you are in the UK there’s a used Rossini Apex going for £20K at my dealer. Never seen a used Bartok Apex come up, a used Bartok plus the Apex upgrade would be around £16K I reckon. In the context of your goal of end game and 18 months to save/find one, I’d definitely have a Rossini Apex on my shortlist. The Bartok is fab but the Rossini is a real step up.



Hi Gus, thanks for the response. Although I live on Exmoor (not famed for it’s high-end audio dealers, I’m pretty sure I know the unit you’re talking about - I just can’t afford it yet and I feel sure that it won’t hang around long.

Be worth getting a home loan of a dCS unit so you can decide if the sound signature is up your street. The dealer is HiFi Corner in Edinburgh, Iain there is a good bloke.

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Thought it was

Exmoor? So aesthetically appealing but you aren’t overrun with audio suppliers especially ones that carry dCS. The nearest to you hat I can find is Stone Audio in Poole. You might like to chat to Absolute Sounds, the UK distributor.

Came from ND555, now Rossini/Clock Apex…didn‘t look back. Try it in your setup!!

Many of us are here precisely because dCS delivers a very organic sound.

Any dealer is entitled to have an opinion, but I think you should decide for yourself.


If you are from Scotland, take your freedom, buy a scottish brand: Linn :joy:

But if you enjoy British imperialism then dCS is a good choice, but what I experienced is that the impressive dCS sound is only provided by a Vivaldi stack ( dac + upsampler is enough).
You should hear that, it is is a very attractive sound and very involving.

Spend time to compare stuff if it is your “last” set up. One thing is such a case is reliability, I guess you don’t want to replace it in 6 years…dCS is quite impressive in this area too.

Tell us what you bought eventually !

Well I wouldn’t consider myself an Imperialist. Others I’m interested in are the Brinkmann Nyquist and the T+A 3100 HV Series, but there are so many choices out there…

I was not serious obviously. It is my french humour when writing in English…So the final result is very instable and unpredictable :wink:

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I would say that some brands use “standard dac chipset”, which can be very good, and they build the best hifi stuff around the dac. Results can be attractive, but sometimes, every 6 months or less, the dac manufacturers issue new chipset, supposedly better. Very few hifi manufacturers give you the opportunity to upgrade.
dCS, and I guess some other brands, they design, create and program their own dac chipset. They can upgrade the conversion algorithm much easily and deliver new firmware impacting the sound quality without changing the dac chipset.
That is what dCS did, until the Apex upgrade which was a hardware upgrade.
That kind of criteria can make a difference. Brinkmann is is fine brand…If one day I replace my Linn LP12, it will be with a Brinkmann turntable…

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Well, my patience has been rewarded… The first display/ex-demo APEX Bartóks are appearing and so I snapped up a bargain (all things being relative, of course) for a home trial. Only 10-15 hours on it apparently, so now running it in. First impressions are good and it seems to mate well with my Ypsilon amp, though the differences between the filters seem very subtle for my cloth ears ;). Finding Mosaic a bit clunky - certainly not as polished as the Naim app I’m used to, so I may well switch to Roon for day-to-day but, overall, very happy to be a newbie member of the dCS club. Any top tips now gratefully received!


I’m pleased that you have this opportunity and believe that you are going to enjoy it.

The topic of this thread requests advice and I am unsure what you are seeking. However in regard to Mosaic it does need a fair bit of exploration as not all of its features will be apparent from your initial opening of it and seeing only the top level screens. If you let me know what you find clunky I will see if there is a simple solution though, like most new applications, it may need a little familiarisation to begin with.

if you are using an iPad and Roon, I find it convenient to set the mosaic app in ‘slide over’ mode. That way i can simply slide it over the Roon app when I need it.

Personally I use mosaic quite a bit. I use my Bartok as a preamp and prefer to adjust the volume in Mosaic. I also adjust the voltage output depending on programme material. (Kind of like shifting gears in an automatic car). I’m in first gear most of the time at .2V with chamber music but If I play orchestral music I often need to jump into 3rd gear 2V to get the gain i need!

also watch out - there is a bug in Mosiac - if you have multiple iOS devices and adjust the volume on one, the GUI on your other device may not update correctly. Simply lower the volume control tab and raise it again and the GUI will updatre.


Top tips, thank you, but I’m unsure quite what you mean by ‘slide over mode’?

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Thanks for the comments Pete. Clearly, as you say there’s lots to learn with a new app, but one thing leapt out was a seeming inability to ‘hide’ sources that you don’t use/need. For instance, on the ‘global’ screen, I only need USB and Qobuz - none of the others (UPnP, TIDAL, Deezer, etc.) are needed and could be easily removed on the Naim app. Equally, one thing I like about Roon is that when you shuffle a playlist it displays the new ‘shuffled’ order, which Mosaic (nor Naim either, for that matter) doesn’t do.

I must also say - and Rossini/Vivaldi owners can raise their collective eyebrows now - that my new toy is by some considerable margin the most expensive box that I’ve ever picked up. Quite scary, actually…