dCS Rossini v2.0 firmware upgrade

British digital-audio specialists dCS (Data Conversion Systems) has been on a roll. Since the September 2015 introduction of the Rossini DAC ($23,999), the single-box Rossini Player ($28,499), and the Rossini Clock ($7499), they've released a number of new products and software/firmware updates. In 2016 came network firmware updates that established dCS DACs and Players as Roon endpoints. 2017 brought improved (v1.05) software for the Rossini DAC and Player, and 2018 an update to process MQA, followed by the October 2018 introduction of the Rossini upsampling SACD Transport ($23,500—see John Atkinson's review in the May 2019 Stereophile). Then, in January 2019, dCS released their Rossini v2.0 software, which applies to both the Rossini DAC and the Rossini Player, and which is offered free to Rossini owners.

Upgrading the Rossini DAC or Rossini Player from v1.10 to v2.0 is easily accomplished: just open the Rossini's iOS app, go first to Configure, then to Information, then tap the Check for Updates bar. The process takes 15–20 minutes. Upon completion, a message appears requesting that you restart the DAC.

Rossini v2.0 brings to its associated products virtually all the upgrades introduced with the dCS Vivaldi DAC's v2.0 firmware. Rossini v2.0 offers a choice of six PCM filters (F1–F6) plus the single MQA filter. V2.0 increases the number of DSD filters to five. PCM is now upsampled to DXD (24/352.8 or 24/384), DSD, or DSD128. Rossini's original Ring DAC algorithm (Map 2) has been augmented by Maps 1 and 3, both of which are optimized for the v.2.0 architecture.

The update's completely re-written Roon Ready module is of great importance to dCS owners who find that Roon music playback software is superior to the alternatives. According to John Quick, General Manager of dCS Americas, dCS developed its firmware around UPnP, Airplay, Tidal, and Spotify. When Roon gained popularity, dCS and Roon had to perform a workaround because Roon uses its own unique protocol. dCS's new Roon Ready module addresses that earlier deficiency.

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Set-Up
So that I could evaluate the changes, if any, brought about by the arrival of v2.0, dCS loaned me two Rossini DACs, loaded with software v1.10 and v2.0. I also had on hand a number of other dCS products: a dCS Vivaldi DAC v2.11 with Network Bridge v1.02, Rossini and Paganini transports (the latter now discontinued), and a Scarlatti Clock (also discontinued, replaced by the Rossini Clock). Comprising the rest of the system were an Intel NUC loaded with Roon's ROCK operating system, Dan D'Agostino Master Systems Progression monoblock amplifiers, Wilson Audio Specialties Alexia 2 speakers, Nordost Odin 2 cabling, Wireworld Platinum Starlight Cat8 and AudioQuest Diamond Ethernet cables, Grand Prix Monaco racks, and other accessories.

This review also compares the sound of Rossini v2.0 with that of the Vivaldi DAC (v2.11). Those with weak hearts are warned against contemplating what all the cable and product switches required for these comparisons entailed. Suffice it to say, no humans, animals, or components were harmed in the making of this review.

Listening
Given that the Roon module is part of the Rossini v2.0 upgrade and cannot be evaluated separately, I first evaluated the Roon upgrade in a different context. I used Roon to play the beginning of my go-to track for dynamics, transparency, massed forces, huge and deep soundstage, pounding bass and tinkling triangles—Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra's performance of Mahler's Symphony 3 (DSD64/Channel Classics CCS SA 38817)—through Network Bridge/Vivaldi v2.11 before and immediately after performing the latest Network Bridge 406 firmware upgrade. This comparison revealed that the new module enables Roon to deliver fuller and more naturally color-saturated sound.

What's the deal with these new "MAPs"? Quick says the dCS RingDAC is comprised of more than discreet hardware; software is an essential component of its design. The hardware serves the software, whose mapping algorithm remained virtually unchanged from the RingDAC's inception over 25 years ago until the 2016 release of Vivaldi v2.0. The Vivaldi and Rossini DACs include a large number of adjacent discreet current sources. The mapping algorithm turns them on and off in a calculated pattern 3–6 million times per second, depending upon the digital signal and choice of mapper. The sequence and rate at of switching determines the amount of noise generated by the process. MAPs 1 and 3 run at twice the speed as the original algorithm used in MAP 2.

ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Ortofan's picture

...the mouth of JVS open while listening to the CD of Murray Perahia playing Handel's Harpsichord Suite in E major when played back via a Marantz CD5004?

JA1 stated that "The Marantz CD5004's measured performance indicates that its intrinsic resolution is better than is needed by the CD medium. That it can offer this level of performance for just $350 is astonishing."
https://www.stereophile.com/content/marantz-cd5004-cd-player-marantz-cd5004-cd-player-measurements

The replacement for the CD5004 - the CD5005 - is available for $399.
https://www.us.marantz.com/us/Products/Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?CatId=HiFiComponents&SubCatId=0&ProductId=CD5005

Bogolu Haranath's picture

..... so wide that, JVS was singing like Luciano Pavarotti, while listening to dCS :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

BTW ,,,,, Marantz CD 5004 has 'nice sounding' 3rd harmonic distortion (although, low in level) ....... Marantz integrated amps also have 3rd harmonic distortion :-) ........

davip's picture

'Mapping algorithm' and 'upsampling' = made-up music. This comment -- "...produced a bigger and noticeably more open sense of acoustic space, greater three-dimensionality, and superior transparency than..." is pretty damning, as it amounts to conceding that those whose jobs it is to objectively assess equipment merit can be fooled by software trickery, contrivance, and 'mathmatistry' (to use Box' (1976) felicitous phrase).

...algorithms, necessity of an iOS computer, software, updating firmware... Who in their right mind takes audio down the computer path? If you're doing so in the quest for quality sound then analogue is the simple answer. You gotta do all this after dropping $40K on a digital source that sounds worse than a turntable 100x cheaper?!

My record player never fails to work when the 'on' button is pushed -- unlike my router -- and it sounds better than any digital source in the world playing the same media. I'm beginning to wonder about the point of subjective reviewing when digital is involved, and this is the thin-end of the wedge that led to the late and unlamented Audiostream site and its denizen who listened to the non-existent differences between SD cards...

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

https://www.audiostream.com

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be JVS could review the new Krell Solo 575 XD mono-blocks with I-Bias? :-) ..........

supamark's picture

You seem to be confusing your personal taste (opinion) with objectivity. You *like* the sound of your turntable more than any digital source you've heard (and that's cool - it's your ears/brain), but I assure you that your turntable is less *accurate* and less true to the original sound than top quality digital. The amount of signal manipulation, not to mention that every playback degrades your record a little bit, is actually higher with vinyl (and analog tape) than you find w/ digital (huge amounts of EQ, which means huge amounts of phase shift, are required to get the record playable due to physics of needle/groove interaction, not to mention the sound gets continuously worse as the record plays from outer to inner grooves because again physics).

You might also want to consider that the universe is essentially "digital" (quantized, probably at a frequency around Planck time... but this isn't the forum to discuss such things).

Oh, and it costs considerably more money for a vinyl based system to reach roughly equivalent performance compared to digital (dCS is an outlier, you can get an excellent DAC with an excellent analog stage for a few $thousand and it won't wear out like your needle/albums/berings/belt, etc does in a vinyl system).

Sure, if I could afford a quarter million dollar vinyl playback system like Mr. Fremer has I'd probably listen to a LOT of vinyl but that's simply not practical (that's like decent house in a mid-sized city money...).

and as JVS said, audiostream.com is still up and running strong under new editorship - just scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the logo right next to the Stereophile logo.

off topic, pretty cool that Hi-Finews is now available same way.

davip's picture

"...You seem to be confusing your personal taste (opinion) with objectivity. You *like* the sound of your turntable more than any digital source you've heard (and that's cool - it's your ears/brain), but I assure you that your turntable is less *accurate* and less true to the original sound than top quality digital".

The only thing that I find "confusing" is that what I describe is labelled by you as subjective opinion whilst we are to accept what you write as an 'assurance'. I come across people like you every day in my work as a planetary geologist, usually spouting some physics-based assurance related to measurement but who always miss that their models are all paramaterised upon assumptions that need to be grounded empirically first (and usually are not). So it is here. Please look at Robitaille and Crothers (2015) if you want a better understanding of the non-physical significance of Planck Time and photic travel across Planck Length -- an arbitrary measurement scale within which light still behaves as a wave.

The straw-man in your audio argument is that "...the amount of signal manipulation is actually higher with vinyl (and analog tape) than you find w/ digital", but you omit to mention that > 99.9% of the music that we listen to is pre-recorded in analogue, and digitising that music makes it sound worse. Don't take my word (opinion) for it -- ask MF, JA, even the author of this Stereophile piece. Whether or not digitising audio at source is better at capturing sound than analogue methods is entirely conceptual (thus irrelevant) when 99.5% of what you listen to is a 16/44.1 copy of something that is forever analogue, just as the touted superiority of DSD512/DXD are irrelevant when little or nothing is available in those formats. You and I will both be long-dead before LZ II is available in octa-DSD; 'Five Leaves Left' will now never be.

My vinyl playback system (STD 305M/Hadcock GH228/Nagaoka MP11) cost me £160 in 1981 (plus new styli and £40 in new belts) -- not a "...quarter million dollar vinyl playback system", but one that will demonstrably trounce any "few $thousand" (or few-million) digital system you can put against it. Why? Because the REAL source -- the media -- is a native analogue copy of the analogue R2R tape in vinyl but a quantised-copy in digital (and a poor one at that in Redbook).

If 16-bit quantisation is good enough for you then I honestly could not be happier for you; just don't ever compare a CD of LZ IV / PG III / Foxtrot / Unknown Pleasures / Reggatta de Blanc / For your Pleasure, etc. with vinyl copies of the same on even the most rudimentary turntable, as it will destroy your little digital universe forever.

In regard to that 'digital universe', in music as in life, reality is preferable to abstraction and make-believe. So it is in my case.

N.B. Yes, Audiostream continues to run under new editorship, as does Innerfidelity. Ask someone in Stereophile to publish the number of site-hits for either now. The SD-card-listener is now Twittering elsewhere and that -- my point -- is the good thing.

CG's picture

I will continue to argue that the constant re-mastering of albums, which mostly began when CDs first appeared on the market, is not making things better.

Fast forward a couple decades and the target audience for most recording companies now seems to be users who listen through cell phones and earbuds. The re-mastering is done with that in mind. So, you get unbridled compression and all sorts of effects that might grab your attention, but may not be what some of us want to listen to.

That all suggests that if you want source material more suited for listening at home, you're better served by using good copies of old vinyl. The best digital playback possible will only faithfully reproduce whatever crap is on the recording.

michaelavorgna's picture

Never mind. Your comments speak for themselves.

Michael Lavorgna
Editor/Publisher
Twittering Machines

ok's picture

for addressing how big an improvement can be achieved in our digital age for virtually nothing.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Thank you for posting about the Rossini DAC. I'm not sure that it costs virtually nothing, but if you do own one, the upgrade is free. And it sure sounds good.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be it is time to re-visit Linn Klimax Solo mono-block power-amps? ....... JVS is the perfect person to do it :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Lyn Me :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be just one more? ....... Chord Ultima Mono Reference Power amps :-) ..........

dial's picture

Hello everybody ! Nice review. I still use my old (15 years old) 3D LAB DAC 500 because I discovered his performance is satisfactory with most of the digital music I listen. Perhaps with super-sound discs or HD downloads, it would have his flaws. So I think it's the same here, this playback system can do better with supreme records...

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

It may make poorly recorded CDs sound worse than your current machine, simply because it is far more accurate. This DAC uses a FPGA, but any well-made DAC with newer chips and better digital filters than were in use in 2004 might also do this same.

With hopes that I haven't burst your bubble - hey, if it works, and doesn't hurt anyone in the process, why change - I thank you for the strokes.

dial's picture

In fact I listened more than carefully to their latest offering, the Nano (and to other brands of course) but it wasn't with my own system. I found the improvements too slight, well for me. The reseller, although distant from North America, used several classical records seen in your columns...

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

is affected by so many factors, including power source, room acoustics, component quality, cabling, and set-up. This is why we at Stereophile only review products in our established reference systems, where we strive to change only the product under review. That's the only way to tell what's going on.

Having said that, you're happy. That's great. You're happy. That's what matters.

jason

PS. Thank you for mentioning that he was using some of the recordings I've reviewed. I really appreciate hearing that.

dial's picture

I think you're mostly right, you're a pro, me just an amateur music lover so I take your advice very seriously. Well next time I'll have to bring my own speakers (the bookshelves, I know them for years, my electronics are a bit heavy to carry).
I think that by now, Stereophile has become the most important music publication in the world, you won cos' the quality of reviews, the writing, the truth of the matter, measurements (important) and others like this forum.
And if possible, I'll like to have reviews of ZYX & Coincident material.

Ortofan's picture

... note that the Marantz CD5004 reviewed in 2011 (and whose "intrinsic resolution is better than is needed by the CD medium") uses a DAC chip that is of no newer than year 2000 vintage.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Year 2000 was a very good year ....... The climate was perfect ........ So, they dug up some sand and made silicon ingots and wafers, and subsequently some semiconductor chips ....... The sound quality was sweet, full of body and without any bitterness or harshness :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

BTW ...... Those year 2000 silicon ingots are stored in a secret, un-disclosed location ........ Indiana Jones is searching for that location :-) ........

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