dCS 972 D/D converter

I've heard it all a thousand times before:

"J-10, you won't believe this component!"

For sure.

"It'll redefine the listening experience and blow away everything else you've ever heard!"

Yadda yadda yadda. We'll see.

I try not to become blasé about things. Really, I do. Fortunately, Kathleen is such an earthy person that somehow she keeps me from floating completely away.

But the buzz around the Nagra/dCS room at HI-FI '98 was sizzling hot. Steve Lee (footnote 1) was preaching to the converted by upsampling commercial 16-bit/44.1kHz recordings to a whopping 192kHz at 24 bits! The playback chain included a pair of Wilson WATT Puppies tethered to Nagra's new MPA solid-state amplifier, a dCS 972 Digital to Digital Converter—the object of this review—and a 24-bit/192kHz-enabled Elgar—l'objet of this Follow-Up. (The $12,000 Elgar, Stereophile's 1997 Product of the Year, was reviewed by John Atkinson in Vol.20 No.7.)

And that buzz wasn't just flash. Steve brought along 24/192 recordings he'd made in Europe and played them back on a pair of multiplexed 96kHz Nagra-Ds. More impressively, he'd recorded a parallel chain that was downconverted and "stuffed," as he put it, onto a 16/44.1 CD-R. With the Nagra-Ds as a reference, he played the CD-R and used the dCS 972 to upconvert bit depth (word length) and sampling rate to 24/192, thence to the Elgar in dual-AES mode—two channels of 96kHz.

It sounded wonderful. All agog. Consternation reigned. A few colleagues were heard to mutter that they couldn't understand the why of it, but could sure hear the improvement.

The possibilities are tantalizing. If the dCS 972/Elgar combo works as advertised, all of your collected CDs will be given, in one fell swoop, a new lease on life, not only extending their usefulness in these turgid digital times, but protecting your investment and improving the sound to boot!