Stereophile's Products of 2010 DIGITAL COMPONENT OF THE YEAR
dCS Puccini SACD playback system ($17,999; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.32 No.12 & Vol.33 No.10 review)
2010 RUNNERS-UP (in alphabetical order)
Benchmark DAC1 HDR USB D/A preamplifier ($1895; reviewed by Erick Lichte, Vol.33 No.9 review)
Bryston BDA-1 D/A processor ($3150; reviewed by Larry Greenhill, Vol.33 No.2 review)
HRT Music Streamer+ USB D/A processor ($299; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.32 No.11 review)
Musical Fidelity V-DAC D/A processor ($299; reviewed by John Atkinson & Jon Iverson, Vol.32 No.12 & Vol.33 No.6 review)
Oppo BDP-83SE Blu-ray player ($899; reviewed by Kal Rubinson & John Marks, Vol.33 Nos.3 & 6 review)
Playback Designs MPS-5 Reference SACD player ($15,000; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.33 Nos. 2 & 7 review)
Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD player ($1500; reviewed by Kal Rubinson, Vol.32 No.11 review)
Stello U2 USB-S/PDIF converter ($350; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.33 No.5 review)
We all know what dCS brings to the digital game: Seemingly boundless innovation and ingenuity, an obvious commitment to excellence, and an unflagging desire to advance the state of the art. It's almost unfair; dCS seems to play in a league of its own, and the well-respected company has succeeded again with the Puccini. Garnering more first-place votes (five!) than any other product in any of this year's component categories, the Puccini distinguished itself from this strong group of contenders.
The least-expensive model in the new dCS line, the Puccini is a one-box SACD/CD player with both balanced and unbalanced analog outputs; it has pairs of digital inputs and outputs, and can be partnered with the external Puccini U-Clock ($4999), which offers 24-bit/96kHz support and adds a USB input. Examples of state-of-the-art technology abound: The Puccini employs dCS's Ring DAC and the bombproof Esoteric UMK5 transport mechanism, while the U-Clock's USB port uses a Texas Instruments TAS 1020B USB receiver chip operating in asynchronous mode. With its convincing low frequencies, outstanding midrange clarity, confident musical flow, and immaculate measured performance, the Puccini produced a sound that allowed John Atkinson to almost forget he was listening to recordings. (Almost?! Man, JA is a tough audience.) Congrats, dCS!