Stereophile's Products of 2011 DIGITAL COMPONENT OF THE YEAR
dCS Debussy D/A processor ($11,499; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.34 No.1 Review)
2011 RUNNERS-UP (in alphabetical order)
Ayre Acoustics DX-5 Blu-ray player ($9950; reviewed by Michael Fremer & Kal Rubinson, Vol.33 No.12 & Vol.34 No.1 Review)
Bricasti M1 D/A processor ($7995; reviewed by John Marks, Vol.34 No.8 Review)
Bryston BDP-1 digital audio player ($2150; reviewed by Larry Greenhill, Vol.34 No.6 Review)
Halide Design USB-S/PDIF Bridge ($395; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.33 No.12 Review)
HRT Music Streamer II & II+ USB D/A processors ($149.95 & $349.95; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.33 No.12 Review)
Musical Fidelity M1DAC ($699; reviewed by Sam Tellig & John Atkinson, Vol.34 Nos. 3, 5 & 6 Review)
Oppo BDP-95 Blu-ray player ($999; reviewed by Kal Rubinson, Vol.34 No.9 Review)
Peachtree iDAC D/A processor ($999; reviewed by Jon Iverson, Vol.34 No.10 Review)
Last year, dCS's Puccini SACD player dazzled the competition, garnering more first-place votes than any other product in any of our component categories. You'd think the revered British company might give someone else a shot at the crown. But dCS remains committed to advancing the state of the digital art, and it comes as no surprise that their Debussy D/A processor, which graced the cover of our January 2011 issue, should take this year's prize. Like the Puccini before it, the dCS Debussy distinguished itself from a strong group of contenders to win our Digital Product of the Year award.
Slim, sleek, and easy to use, the Debussy has a digital volume control, offers a full range of digital inputs including a true asynchronous USB port, and employs the latest version of dCS's Ring DAC. While its USB, AES, and two S/PDIF inputs accept resolutions up to 24-bit/96kHz, the Debussy's dual-AES input can handle 24-bit data at 176.4 and 192kHz sample rates, so you can enjoy the latest high-resolution releases from your favorite audiophile labels. (An update to the USB input to handle 192kHz data will be available by the time this issue is published.)
Playing tracks from Soundkeeper Recordings, Reference Recordings, and HDtracks, vinyl lover Mikey Fremer was quickly transported from "Analog Corner" to digital heaven. The Debussy produced a delicate, sophisticated, and involving sound marked by deep, well-textured bass, fast attacks, and dramatically solid, three-dimensional images.
Surrounded by music yet freed from physical media, Mikey happily acknowledged that "I don't see how even the most committed analog diehard would not enjoy the sound of high-resolution digital files decoded by the Debussy." John Atkinson was similarly charmed: "It was a pleasure to test such a superbly engineered product." Indeed, with its great looks, ease of use, complete complement of digital inputs, exceptional sound, and excellent measured performance, the Debussy is an easy recommendation and an obvious winner.