Something to ponder over

Well with quite a bit of noise about a new replacement for the vivaldi being revealed at Munich, obviously that didn’t happen, but it’s made me think.
So bare with me on this why i try and explain.

I guess dCS could have with the Apex upgrade done just that, a new top topping dac to replace the vivaldi, but obviously they didn’t. Instead they offered it out as an upgrade to the vivaldi, then later on the rossini and finally the bartock.
But my question is if they hadn’t done what they did and Instead a new dac released, would you have sold and got the new one ?
I also wounded if dCS maded more profit from doing the upgrade program over a new product, as i guess many more would upgrade the unit rather than sell and replace.
With this thought i wounded if dCS would be better just improving the range with new upgrades as then i guess most will go along with them just like the Apex upgrade.
A bit like Linn and the LP12, this is now 50 years old and still going, a bit different from when it was first released but you canstill buy an original and then upgrade it to the top model, obviously not much left off the original (if anything? ) but it certainly keeps the owners and offers the upgrade path rather then sell and replace.

So with all that come on dCS hit me with some new upgrades. Free ones would be lovely obviously as i know you love doing this, especially as after the Apex, we must be due a few free ones. :laughing:
But i guess what i am trying to say is spending smaller amounts on good upgrades is far better than selling and buying new.
But obviously you might have already designed a completely new dac, with very different ideas that the present range just can’t do, or be modified into.

Cheers dunc
Back to the beer’s and music


Despite APEX upgrade, the top model is getting a bit long in the tooth by now. Vivaldi premiered at the 2012 High-End Audio show in Hong Kong. With shows coming up in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Dubai let’s see …

Yes i know and my post wasn’t really about if and when, it was more, is it better to keep updating the vivaldi or just bring a new model out?

Will more vivaldi owners sell and update, obviously cost is an important factor here or would you get more owners spend the money on upgrading their own vivaldi? Like what happened with Apex.
For me i would rather have the upgrading option on the existing vivaldi, as it’s more affordable that way.


Agree with you for existing owners of course it’s great to have incremental upgrades, no doubt. There will be a stage in the product lifecycle though when that gets more difficult due to e.g. lack of processing power of the core platform. At some point a shift to a new generation will be required. That point may be earlier in a DAC compared to an analog product given pace of technological change, new formats, new connectivity standards etc. As a prospect to buy new, or to upgrade to a higher model, I don’t want to buy into something that was released a long time ago and is already further down in the product lifecycle. As an owner, the considerations are different and upgrade options for as long as possible are preferable. No idea how the commercials compare between upgrade (e.g. APEX) margins and full replacement margins. I would think higher for the latter. A trade-in program could help bridge the gap for existing owners.


In essence the RingDAC architecture was developed in the 90’s. Luckily enough the need for a really linear A/D conversion solution was financed by government/ for military purposes (radar) and afterwards the smart founders of dCS came up with the idea to use this technology they had developed for a different field, namely audio. Everything after has really been refinement of the platform around it. At the core the RingDAC is still there as it was in the beginning (apart from maybe slightly different packaging of the chip itself).

As far as I’m concerned the idea of constant progression is for a large part driven by capitalist economy and marketing i.e. the need to sell people new things which they might not really need. This has been accelerated by the way product cycles in computing and smartphones work, driving expectations that in a year or so something better will come along that you will want to have.

I’m not saying there is no technological progression at all, but I really do think a dCS product is one of those products that you buy and then hold on to for decades. I’m really not expecting giant leaps anymore. Remember the founders of dCS who came up with the Ring DAC are not with the company anymore. This doesn’t mean no advancements are being made anymore, but the core technology inside hasn’t changed since the beginning and I’m not expecting it to since this is what defines dCS. So software, DSP hardware and how they use it can change, maybe we’ll see some other changes in the ancillary electronics on the board, connections keeping up with new norms but otherwise I am not really expecting a radically new product. I actually like a company making the best high performance high quality products they can that last for a really long time and making incremental improvements along the way to keep being one of the best solutions to digital audio.


Really how much more is there to be gained from a sonic perspective with a new dCS platform? Have we reached the APEX of whats possible already?

Better parts quality/tolerances, hardware layout and software tweaks may make a difference. But in reality, what do the engineers at dCS know now that they didn’t know 20 years ago?

Perhaps the Vivaldi could be improved if the DAC box was split into mono channels and dropped into the existing Vivaldi platform. Nice upgrade path for existing Vivaldi owners and one that wouldn’t disrupt the dCS ecosystem by introducing a brand new platform that isn’t compatible with the product line.

Few of things to ponder -

The FGPAs horsepower in the Bartok, Rossini and Vivaldi offer dCS a lot of flexibility for future updates. Street price alone for the FGPAs is higher than many so called High end DACs.

The designs of the desktop Dacs are modern design classics. Why change? Do they even need to change?

Bringing the ring dac into that smaller form factor Lina opens up a much larger market base for dCS


As a Rossini owner, I truly love what the company did with the Apex. For a reasonable amount of upgrade money relative to price, you basically got an entirely new DAC with all new boards. And for my ears was a huge step up in sonics. And we keep getting future proofed via software updates.

Honestly it’s hard to imagine how dCS could have offered a better customer experience.


I hadn’t thought to see where there were audio shows coming up on my journeys. I normally look for concerts, festivals and of course restaurants. I just saw that the High End & Smart Home Show Dubai 2024 will be on September 27 and 28. I was planning to be in India in October. I sense a layover in my future.


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