After what feels like a lifetime of being a dCS fan by proxy due to the Arcam CD92/CD23, my first actual dCS was only a few years ago: a full ElgarPlus/Purcell/Verdi La Scala/Verona stack which was a wow amd got me a DAC I could use for streaming.
I replaced this less than 12m later with a Puccini and U-Clock which not only sounds better but has other advantages - automatic sample rate selection, size, complexity, aesthetics…
Where next, on a modest budget (used then)? The pre-Apex Bartok is an obvious choice (I can use an external drive for the silver discs) as I’m sure there will be a good flow of these as the Apex bug bites, but I don’t know whether sonically this would actually be a step up vs the Puccini/U-Clock.
Your advice please, particularly if you were once a Puccini owner. Thanks
It sounds like silver disc is an important medium for you. The term is used to cover CD and SACD so be careful in regard to outboard players as those from sources other than dCS do not have the interface necessary for SACD with a dCS processor. You will need a dCS spinner if you want to play these as the input uses proprietary encryption.
The later generation of the ring DAC of Bartok is superior to that of Puccini even without the newer Apex version… Further an old Bartok can have the Bartok 2 software installed so it becomes even better.
Bartok is a streaming DAC so you get UPnP access, Streaming services e.g. Qobuz and Tidal etc ( subject to subscription) . and Radio. You also get remote control using Mosaic.
You can’t play a CD or SACD ( or upsample them ) with Bartok.
You don’t have an outboard clock ( I would still expect the Bartok sans clock to be preferable though).
I have an Arcam CD23T (with RingDAC which will be redundant here and Sony transport) which I intend to try as a transport into the Puccini; I tried this with an Arcam CD17 and it disappointed. But to be honest with myself, I stream from my NAS 95% of the time rather than heading to the shelves to browse the same albums so in the real world I can probably live with this.
Interesting about the upsampling. I paid £400ish I think to have the upsampling unlocked on the Puccini’s digital inputs, so my streaming is upsampled to DSD just like when I spin a CD. Are you saying the Bartok has no upsampling at all? I hadn’t spotted that if so.
On streaming, I use an Innuos and the Sense app so streaming on the Bartok would be a feature rather than a benefit, as they say.
Sounds like it’s pretty much in the balance here, all told.