The dCS Bartók uses dCS’ proprietary Ring DAC technology on the same type of control board as their Rossini/Vivaldi platform, so it’s based off of a set of designs that are upstream in the dCS product line. The Ring DAC processing platform is built around state-of-the-art FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) and Digital Signal Processing ICs. It allows almost any logical or signal processing function to be configured within the hardware simply by reprogramming the processor ICs. Finer details about how the dCS Ring DAC works and differs from the run-of-the-mill DACs in the hi-fi market can be found HERE. Build is entirely done in-house, using no off-the-shelf parts. Support for 24bit/384kHz sampling rates, 2xDSD, MQA and a network streamer that is Roon-Ready.
The headphone amplifier built into the dCS Bartók is completely isolated, and designed as a stand-alone unit that is dedicated to headphone amplifying and operates in Class-A topology. The power supply used for the headphone stage is dedicated, along with the space in the chassis where the headphone amplifier lives. In essence dCS has done a fantastic job of putting two unique and high-fidelity components in one relatively compact living space, without either of the electrical occupants being the wiser to each other. The headphone amplifier was designed from dCS’ own preamplifier output stage, which is an extremely stable circuit to build from, which allowed the headphone output to share lineage with an output stage used in much larger systems.
Included with the dCS Bartók is a unique cross-feed (mixing) algorithm that helps create that true stereo sense of space, that usually gets called two-channel, but as we all know — headphones ARE two-channel — and two loudspeakers interacting with a room are truly stereophony. Cross-feed to my ears is the best thing to ever happen to headphone DACs, but that’s only because I grew up annoying my family and neighbors. I still annoy people, but now it’s not with my stereo system.
Listening to the dCS Bartók again, was a lot like listening for the first time. With a continually updates keeping the dCS Bartók fresh, and with custom brand profiles embedded into the system for a myriad of headphone brands, the dCS Bartók never ceases to amaze me. The character of sound I find with all dCS products, is they sound like home — if home were a sprawling laguna beach mansion with floor to ceiling windows and a private view of the uninterrupted pacific. Sounds cozy right? At least the dCS Bartók paints the sonic picture that way.
You can find more impressions and all our high fidelity show coverage from around the world here on Audio-Head.
by Eric Franklin Shook