British digital audio pioneer, dCS trickles down next-generation Ring DAC APEX technology to the Bartók.
In 2018, dCS launched the Bartók – an up-sampling network DAC designed to deliver exemplary sound quality with both high-end loudspeaker-based systems and headphones. Within its casework resides the latest evolution of dCS’s proprietary DAC technology, with preamplification and network streaming functionality (the latter driven by dCS’s Mosaic software), and an optional Class A headphone amp stage – all designed and engineered from the ground up by dCS. The Bartók was not only created to be the entry point for dCS ownership; it was also the company’s first foray into the world of headphone audio.
In 2022, dCS issued a major software update – Bartók 2.0 – including an upgrade to the mapping algorithm that controls the dCS Ring DAC technology, improvements to DSD up-sampling and new digital filter options. Another year on and it’s time for the next major revelation – Bartók APEX, incorporating dCS’s new Ring DAC APEX technology.
Cambridge-based dCS established itself as a digital audio pioneer in 1989, having adapted its signal conversion expertise from radar systems to sound systems. A series of technological breakthroughs ensued as dCS pushed the boundaries of analogue-to-digital and digital-to-analogue conversion – including the launch of the world’s first 24-bit DAC for home use in 1996.
At the heart of every dCS DAC component is Ring DAC – proprietary dCS technology, built from the ground up to ensure the company’s audio components deliver the high-quality sound with digitally encoded music. Constant in-house development has enabled the Ring DAC to stay ahead of the curve over the years, says the company and its evolution remains critical to dCS’s pact with its customers: invest in products and ensure that users experience the apex of sound, both now and in the future, as digital audio technology continues to evolve.
APEX is dCS’s latest Ring DAC innovation – a hardware revision designed to push the boundaries of digital audio still further, both at an objective level and a subjective one. When scientifically measured, nothing matches the performance of the Ring DAC APEX claims the company, this, in turn, leads to significant improvements in subjective listening tests, such as enhanced dynamics, rhythm and timing, greater soundstage resolution and image focus, blacker backgrounds and a heightened sense of realism.
Ring DAC APEX technology was introduced to dCS’s Vivaldi and Rossini product families in 2022, and now it’s reached the Bartók. The first Bartók APEX units are now shipping to dCS’s distribution partners around the world and, as always, dCS is offering an upgrade programme for existing Bartók owners.
Prices and availability
The new APEX edition of the dCS Bartók replaces the previous version with immediate effect. UK RRPs are as follows:
• dCS Bartók with integrated headphone amp: £21,500
• dCS Bartók without integrated headphone amp: £19,000
The APEX upgrade programme for existing Bartók owners begins this spring via appointed distributors worldwide. For Bartók owners in the UK, the upgrade cost is £7,500 per unit and Absolute Sounds will begin taking bookings in March. Absolute Sounds is sole UK distributor of dCS products.