What brand of dac did you own before switching to dCS?

I’m curious to learn about your transition to dCS? What brand did you switch from? Who introduced you to dCS? Was there something special beyond the sound that brought you over? Thanks in advance for sharing.

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I had a Naim Dac, YBA cd player and Moon 180d streamer.
I always heard dCS gear in hifi show, and very often it was the room I preferred…
Eventually I bought a Vivaldi Dac and a NetWork bridge, two years later I bought the Vivaldi Upsampler.

I use my stereo every day, and it is always a pleasure.

I had a Reymio TOKU SE player and converter.
Before those, a Mark Levinson duo (36 dac + 37 transport), a Wadia 96something, a Meridian 508, and before that the Marantz CD94 duo. Oh well I also had a Sony form 1986 to 1990, nothing to write home about :slight_smile: With a Proton 1200 pre+final and JBL 4312A the whole thing was a bit … over the top.
I still have a Sony TD3 DAT walkman that was plugged into the CDP 94: the amplifier was an Accuphase integrated an Klipsch Forté II loudspeakers. It sounded pretty nice.

I went through several DAC’s before acquiring a Wadia S-9, then moved to Meridian 808v6, which was replaced by a Rossini player and clock. That didn’t stay too long before I moved up to Vivaldi.

Resolution Audio Cantata (3.0). Still have it, won’t let go of it (have the matching C50 amp too). Someday, I’ll find speakers that are a good match for it. Prior to the Cantata, I had the Resolution Audio Opus 21.

The Bartok was a pandemic purchase, bought sight unseen (or rather, unheard). Did a ton of research about it, enough that I felt confident. The HPA also drew me to it + the combination of features like ethernet, USB, AirPlay, Roon integration. I was working from home listening to music much of the day; I had not made any major changes to my system in years.

dCS was always one of those brands that I’d heard of but would never own because prices were stratospheric and the brand felt too exclusive. Were it not for the Bartok that may have remained the case. As it stands, I absolutely love the Bartok.

Wadia S7i; previous to that it was a Wadia 830 and a Wadia X-32, so you’ll detect a pattern there. :grin:

I had been looking for something that could do higher bit rates, as Wadia development stopped when the highest bit rate it could accept was 96/24.

I had been told by people I trust to check out the dCS Rossini but that the Clock was mandatory.

I did not have a dCS dealer locally, so I put things on hold for a year or so, and then a local establishment suddenly became a dCS dealer.

I was excited and borrowed their Bartok for a home audition. I connected it up and… was not at all impressed.

Keep in mind I do not stream, I listen to Red Book CD, S/PDIF from other devices (satellite receiver) and songs played via USB or from my internal network, and don’t use headphones.

When I returned the Bartok, my dealer told me they would be getting a Rossini and Clock shortly, so I returned a month later and took a listen.

I’ve stated before that the Rossini alone was better than the Bartok, but still wasn’t impressive enough to make me want to switch from my Wadia.

However the Rossini with the Clock… finally exceeded my Wadia in terms of musicality, soundstage width and depth and general presentation.

Jim, If you don’t mind me asking, what was your experience when moving up from the Meridian 808v6 to the Rossini player and clock?

I’m asking this because I have recently retired my Meridian 808v1 (which I had for 14 years and used for CD listening) and am planning to purchase the dCS Rossini and clock towards the end of this year. The plan is to connect the Rossini setup to my Krell K-300i integrated (power only - making use of the Rossini volume) driving my Wilson Audio TuneTots in a nearfield sound office setup. I’m retired now… and the music is on all day.

The 808v6 was a very nice machine. The move to dCS allowed me to use the DSD and DXD options while continuing to play MQA files when desired.

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I moved from a Chord Dave and mScaler, which were great for sure. But I wanted to move up in the world and found a Rossini DAC (and eventually clock, and soon APEX).
Before that, some cheaper DACs from Simaudio Moon, Naim and Schiit.

Thanks for sharing! That’s great to hear.

Great to hear your story. Seems like a significant amount of people have moved over from Wadia. What happened to them? I see they were bought out but are there any insights as to their demise.

That must sound amazing. I have Wilson Audio speakers as well but the nearfield set up must sound fantastic.

To be honest, Mark, I cannot get enough of the TuneTots. The speakers are approximately 86cm (34 inches) from each ear. Completely non-fatiguing but detailed aka blissful. They’re on for 10 to 12 hours most days. I’m using the onboard DAC in the Krell K-300i right now while I contemplate and plan a dCS purchase towards the end of the year.

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I was using a Laufer Technic - “The Memory Player” - older model - and I still use that as my Roon Server and storage - bu the Bartok blew it to smitherines in the DAC Dept.

Last one was a ND555. Before that: MSB Analog, Linn Klimax DS, NDX2, nDAC, Devialet (integrated DAC), PlaybackDesign, Weiss DAC

Wadia was bought by Fine Sounds, then owners of Audio Research and McIntosh, in 2011.

Everyone thought that would be a good thing at the time, perhaps an Audio Research CD player or DAC using Wadia’s Digimaster algorithm, or perhaps even the use of Wadia’s technology in McIntosh CD players or DACs. This was especially true as Wadia was moved from River Falls, Wisconsin just across the Mississippi River into the back of Audio Research’s building in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

Instead, by 2013, Fine Sounds and McIntosh decided to let Wadia wither on the vine and die. For example, Wadia had a new upgrade to allow the S7i to do 196/24 designed and ready to roll out, and Wadia’s customer base was anxious for it and regularly bugged the company about wanting to buy it.

Fine Sounds killed it. (In their defense, it still would have been PCM-only in a market rapidly embracing DSD.)

Instead, in 2014 they turned Wadia into a “lifestyle” brand, introducing the Intuition 01 DAC/Integrated amp in a swoopy new chassis that did not use Wadia’s vaunted Digimaster filter algorithm at all, instead going with an off-the-shelf ESS Sabre Pro ES9016S DAC.

Fine Sounds bought the Wadia legacy and… threw it away.

The former Wadia engineers decided in 2013 to create their own company to carry on the Digimaster legacy, but their effort, Exogal, sadly went out of business earlier this year; notably there was at least one review that stated their $2500 Comet Plus DAC beat the Rossini (though not the Vivaldi.)

That left many of the Wadia faithful like myself wanting to upgrade, but not willing to accept a downgrade in sound quality to do so.

Wadia still makes the Intuition along with the $3500 di322 DAC, which also does not use the Digimaster filter but instead uses the same ESS ES9016S DAC. (Wadia is now located in the back of the McIntosh factory in Binghamton, New York.)

Prior to the Rossini with Clock, I had auditioned the ARC Reference CD 9 SE and found it to be my “if my Wadia dies and I have no other choice” DAC, trading places from recording to recording with my other “second place” DAC, the Moon 780Dv2.

Again, as soon as I heard the Rossini with the Rossini Clock, I knew I had found my upgrade and left (with some sadness) the world of Wadia behind.


Played with an Ayre CX7e MP and Wadia 381i for a long time, both players were great, the Ayre was very musical in my system, then tried a few other DAC’s, EmmLabs DA2, Wadia S7i GNSC, DCS Rossini, all great dac’s but I preferred the Rossini in my system

Wow! @BillK what a story. This reminds me of what a PE firm can do to a business. I appreciate the depth of your reply. Thanks!!

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Before the Vivaldi I was living in Japan, where any imported hifi was absurdly marked up, so all my prior DACs were Japanese, In order of purchase I had:

  1. Sony CDP-R3 - Still one of the best built pieces of grear I’ve ever owned, and I still own it
  2. Teac VRDS-15 - I really wanted an Esoteric but couldn’t afford it. This had a ‘light’ version of their awesome VRDS transport
  3. Accuphase DP-600 - Another beautiful player with beautiful sound. Only changed because a great deal on an Esoteric came up:
  4. Esoteric K-01 - Finally got my hands on a top Esoteric transport. This generation of Esoteric was a big jump in sound quality and defied its previous repuation for an overly sharp sound

I kept that until around a year and half ago, when I decided to give up on physical media for digital and started looking for options. I’m no longer in Japan so my options were much broader. I tried the latest Estoeric network player, the MSB Premier DAC, and the full dCS range. Initially I planned on only looking at the Bartok and Rossini, but my crafty dealer had the Vivaldi right there, so why not have a listen right? I ended up with a Vivaldi DAC and Upsampler. Added the clock maybe six months later.

The sound was a big factor, but the software experience was also a big plus versus the competition.


I was an Esoteric customer for 15 years (K05-X and DV50s before). Very reliable products with a tremendous build quality - I never had a single issue. While exciting, the Esoteric ‘house sound’ ultimately got to me. I found it a rather curated sonic signature with forward mids and lower treble with a mid bass boost. The Esoteric products gave the illusion of momentum and drive but too fatiguing for the kind of music I listen to.

I moved to dCS because I like the sound better. There is a natural smoothness coupled with extraordinary clarity. Warmer, clearer and more resolving than anything else I’ve heard. No part of the frequency spectrum appears to be exaggerated.