dCS Bartok D/A processor/headphone amplifier Specifications

Sidebar 1: Specifications

Description: Streaming digital-to-analog converter with headphone amplifier. Digital inputs: Network interface on RJ45 connector—acts as UPnP renderer in asynchronous mode, decoding all major lossless formats including FLAC, WAV, & AIFF at up to 24-bit 384kHz native sample rate, plus DSD64 & DSD128 in DFF/DSF format. Other formats include ALAC, MP3, & AAC. Some formats are limited to lower sample rates. Supports Apple AirPlay at 44.1 or 48kHz. USB 2.0 interface on a B-type connector operating in Asynchronous mode, will accept up to 24-bit PCM at up to 384kHz plus DSD64 & DSD128 in DoP format. USB-on-the-go interface on type A connector operating in Asynchronous mode, streams digital music from a flash drive at up to 24-bit 384kHz plus DSD64 and DSD128. 2x AES/EBU on 3-pin female XLR connectors. Each will accept PCM at up to 24-bit 192kHz or DSD64 in DoP format. Used as a Dual AES pair, it will accept PCM at up to 384kHz, DSD64, & DSD128 in DoP format or dCS-encrypted DSD. 2x SP/DIF on 1x RCA Phono and 1x BNC connectors. Each accept PCM at up to 24-bit 192kHz or DSD64 in DoP format. 1x SPDIF optical on a TosLink connector will accept PCM at up to 24-bit 96kHz. Analog outputs: Output levels: 0.2, 0.6, 2, or 6V rms for full-scale input, set in the menu. Balanced outputs: 1 stereo pair on 2x 3-pin XLR male connectors. Output impedance is 3 ohms, maximum load is 600 ohms (10k ohms–100k ohms is recommended). Unbalanced outputs: 1 stereo pair on 2x RCA phono connectors. Output impedance is 52 ohms, maximum load is 600 ohms (10k ohms–100k ohms is recommended). Headphone outputs: 1 stereo balanced pair on 1x 4-way male XLR connector. 1 stereo unbalanced pair on 1x 6.35mm (¼") 3-pole jack. Minimum headphone impedance is 33 ohms. MQA: Full decoding and rendering of MQA data from the Network and USB2 inputs. Final rendering of unfolded MQA data from the other inputs.
Dimensions: 17.5" (444mm) W by 4.6" (115mm) H by 17" (430mm) D. Weight: 36.8lb (16.7kg).
Finishes: Silver, Black.
Serial number of unit reviewed: BHD 0S2 1D1 1F1 1B2 S01 0055170.
Price: $15,000 with headphone amp option. Approximate number of dealers: 18. Warranty: 3 years, parts & labor, to original owner.
Manufacturer: Data Conversion Systems, Ltd., Unit 1, Buckingway Business Park,Anderson Road, Swavesey, Cambridge CB24 4AE, England, UK. Tel: (44) (0)1954-233950. US distributor: Data Conversion Systems Americas, Inc., Waltham, MA 02454-1443. Tel: (617) 314-9296. Web: dcsltd.co.uk

COMPANY INFO
Data Conversion Systems, Ltd.
US distributor: Data Conversion Systems Americas, Inc.
Waltham, MA 02454-1443
(617) 314-9296
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Ortofan's picture

... match the levels by measuring at the speaker terminals with a precision voltmeter.

georgehifi's picture

Am I missing something? or did not the reviewer try going direct to poweramp and set the gain level so the Bartok's volume control was used near full?

Cheers George

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be Jim Austin could also do a comparison follow-up review with the PS Audio DirectStream DAC with the newest 'Windom' software update? :-) ..........

tonykaz's picture

I applaud folks that try to find something special about any modern DAC.

I tried and failed.

but...

in my systematic hunt I learned about Tube Rolling and how economical it is to make significant changes to the performance of a Pre-Amp by Tube Shopping. Hmm. Art Ferris of Audible Illusions spoke of his Modulus Preamps having great sounding tubes but I wasn't paying attention properly, I had to relearn that basic truth from another Schiit Valhalla 2 Audiophile at an Ann Arbor Michigan Headphone Meet.

I also felt my hearing was defective, so I hired the University of Michigan Audiologists do a rather complete work-up; my hearing response curve tapers off over 8k.

The good news could be that the psychiatrists reveal how a person's brain adjusts and extrapolates sounds to complete the missing bits. ( if allowed and encouraged )

Bob Katz the Mastering Engineer has useful opinions about DACs, as does Jason Stoddard.

For all I know, now, DACs are dam good and won't "Move the Needle" like a Power Cord, PS Audio Power Plant, a good 12ax7, new CAPs in an Vintage AMP., Good Cabling and Class A's sweet sound.

Tony in Venice

ps I'd be surprised if this review read any different.

JBLMVBC's picture

Bartok? Vivaldi? Haut Brion?
I guess the low end of the line will use a Ducon DAC, a National Lampoon turntable, a Burger King amp feeding some American Standard speakers through Pepsi Zero cables...

barrows's picture

from dCS: "He acknowledged that chip DACs Big IC companies, he pointed out, tend to go where the money is. There's a risk that in their efforts to make DAC chips more mobile-friendly—more compact or energy efficient—the unique needs of audiophiles will be sacrificed, or at least neglected"

While the above may be true in some cases, or in the future, it is clearly not the case now for all DAC ICs. If we hold this comment up to the light for a minute, we see that ESS indeed makes some "compromised" DAC chips, designed specifically for mobile uses (the Q2M series I believe), and therefore to run on less power, and perhaps not at the top possible level of sound quality. But none of those things are true of ESS' top of the line DAC chip, the 9038 PRO, which requires stout and very sophisticated power supplies, and is a fairly expensive and non-compromised part. By no means do I intend to suggest that the ESS 9038 Pro is the "best" way to make a DAC, or that discrete implementations have no possible advantages, I am just pointing out that this part is not compromised in any of the ways which dCS' John Quick suggest "could" generally be the case with DAC chips. In any case, I suspect the Bartok, like most of the current offerings from dCS which I have heard, is an excellent sounding DAC.

Jim Austin's picture

While the above may be true in some cases, or in the future, it is clearly not the case now for all DAC ICs.... By no means do I intend to suggest that the ESS 9038 Pro is the "best" way to make a DAC, or that discrete implementations have no possible advantages, I am just pointing out that this part is not compromised in any of the ways which dCS' John Quick suggests "could" generally be the case with DAC chips. In any case, I suspect the Bartok, like most of the current offerings from dCS which I have heard, is an excellent sounding DAC.

I couldn't have said it better myself. John Quick and David Steven's forward-looking point is well-taken, and the Bartok sounds superb. But the fact remains that, for the moment, based on this audition at least, the best chip-DACs appear to be sonically competitive with more expensive-to-produce technologies.

None of this--neither the competitiveness of cheaper technologies nor dCS's response to my review, lessens my respect for the company or the excellent products they produce.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be JCA could also review the Auralic VEGA G2 streaming DAC ($6,599)? :-) ..........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

AKM also makes some excellent DACs (chips) which are used in several hi-end audio DACs :-) .........

barrows's picture

"None of this--neither the competitiveness of cheaper technologies nor dCS's response to my review, lessens my respect for the company or the excellent products they produce."

Totally agreed Jim! Thanks or the review.

joemariano's picture

Way out of my league for now lol but great review Jim! What you said about A/B comparisons really resonated with me and my way of evaluating my upgrades.

JRT's picture

Based on the review, I am confident that this DAC delivers performance fully adequate to the intended applications.

It is also an expensive DAC, and I think it integrates too much functionality within one box. I don't mind high levels of integration at price levels suitable to short-lived disposable electronics, but for me the price of this well exceeds what I would spend on short-lived disposability.

I would not buy one for the simple reason that it does not separate out the IP streaming functionality to a separate box that can be separately placed in the trash when it soon becomes obsolete, when orphaned out of active technical support and security vulnerabilities are unpatched.

This DAC is priced high enough to afford a separated multi-box solution.

JRT's picture

The known cybersecurity vulnerabilities "Urgent/11" related to orphaned IPnet code mentioned in the links below extend well beyond medical devices to many industrial, defense, security, and consumer electronics devices. I am not implying that this DCS device includes these vulnerabilities, because I do not know that it does or does not. And I have no way of knowing that if it does, that it has been patched or will soon be patched, or if it will have long continued support in this to provide future patches for any future problems, if and when any are discovered. That is why I do not want that functionality integrated in what for me would be an expensive device.

https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/safety-communications/urgent11-cybersecurity-vulnerabilities-widely-used-third-party-software-component-may-introduce

https://www.armis.com/urgent11/

https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity/2019/07/30/cisa-releases-advisory-wind-river-vxworks-platform

https://www.windriver.com/security/announcements/tcp-ip-network-stack-ipnet-urgent11/

Bogolu Haranath's picture

So, if it is hacked, it will start playing Rap and Hip-Hop, when you want to play Classical music ........ It will stream Howard Stern show when you want to listen to Rush Limbaugh ............ Just kidding :-) ........

Robin Landseadel's picture

Is it gonna hook you up to the broadcasts of Madame Psychosis?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"The man was so cross-eyed, he could stand in the middle of the week and see both Sundays" ......

That would be 'Infinite Jest' :-) ..........

Jose luis's picture

How would you compare it to the Mytek Manhattan 2?

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