ARE DCS Dacs worth the high cost?


Looking at a new DCS Rossini and wonder if anyone has compared other Dacs to the DCS line and if they come close to the performance.
328e569c 5d35 4b5a b8cc 18125c88f506samgar2
Went to a guys house with my friend He had the so called DCS stack. Like 5 boxes. Brought my friends Audio-GD Master 7. We listened to music for about 4 hours. Everybody liked the Master 7 better. The guy eventually sold the DCS stuff and bought a Master 7. Don't get me wrong, the DCS sounded very very good, we just prefered the Master 7
Alan
A  +£23,000 DCS stack was beaten by a £2,300 Audio-GD Master 7?

Almost seems too good to be true.
I guess that question could address hi fi in general and if you are thinking to buy it new, even more.
But, if we put that aside, and continue to discuss it from relatively 'twisted' audiophile point of view, than its true that DCS gear will provide you 'more' of listening experience than most.
There is a 'catch' too. Your listening room and the rest of your system should be at equally high level, otherwise you could find other gear that cost less but gives you more of  the value, meaning that you have certain 'top' (yours listening conditions) that sometimes is reached before you need some hi end gear, or better, no matter how much money you spend, the 'improvment' may not be significant or even heard.
I saw many expensive sytems, that were placed in less than perfect suroundings and have given nothing but permanent disatisfaction to their owners.
Speaking from my experience with DCS Puccini and clock that replaced Burmester 001 player.
Note, I am not fan of the Dac and pc audio, imho high end dacs are always compromised with use of pc's,at least the ones I had a chance to hear
Well I might as well essay a serious response ...

Answer is --- it depends, and all comes down to your system preferences. DCS DACs can perform superbly but they are hella sensitive to ancillaries -- this is more true of the multi part stacks and the one box Rossini is to many the ideal solution (if you don't need SACD) -- certainly my dealer felt it outperformed a full Paganini stack (which I used to own)

Some feel the DCS kit tends a little towards the etched/over detailed side -- it can, especially if you choose some of the conversion settings (for example I find the PCM to tend a bit this way in comparison with DSD). The good thing is that their are all sorts of adjustments for you to tailor the sound to your preferences.

On the plus side if purchased from an official dealer you get great after sales service and regular upgrades, and a nice path to trading up the line if desired

Nevertheless there are many other great DACs and systems -- MSB, Esoteric, Playback etc -- ideally if you have not already bought into a line get a few in your home system to compare -- at the end of the day you are the only one who can judge
NO is a simple Answer. Its more about a Bragging Right. Your friends will be jealious of you and everyone will think your super rich.
The Playback Design an excellent DAC!!!

Aqua Acoustic Formula
NO is a simple Answer. Its more about a Bragging Right. Your friends will be jealious of you and everyone will think your super rich.


So have you heard all DACs offered by dCS in your system or in another excellent system set up correctly?
No , I have not heard it in my system, but did hear the Rossini at the dealer. It sounded quite impressive especially after it was compared to Meiter DX 2 Dac. Night and day difference.
As folkfreak has commented, it depends on many variables.  I've owned many DACs which recently included a 4-box Paganini stack (DAC, Upsampler, Clock and SACD/CD player), a Lumin S1 single box music server/DAC and a Rossini single box music server/DAC.

IMO, the Rossini DAC is sonically better than a dCS Paganini stack. But there are many other extra feature considerations that may tip the scale to the Rossini depending on what you're looking for. The Rossini is the swiss army knife of digital front ends as it'll accept just about any type of digital cable and data format connectivity. 

I was able to streamline my system by using the Rossini as a pre-amp direct to my amp. I know many will claim pre-amps are needed for a variety of reasons. But I was able to get rid of a well regarded pre-amp as the Rossini connected directly to my amp sounded better to me. A couple years ago when I tried to use my Paganini direct to my amp it sounded a bit lifeless. I'm not sure what dCS did to the Rossini analog out but it sounds amazing.  And it supports use of an external clock in case you want to elevate the system a bit more. Not many DACs support an external clock.

I think a more important consideration is that the Paganini, being older technology, isn't TIDAL ready. I believe this will become a game changer, especially if TIDAL MQA adoption becomes a reality. I've been told that the Rossini MQA firmware is close and even today you can listen to TIDAL MQA tracks on the Rossini at 48kHz/24 bit, which sounds better than Redbook CD to me, perhaps due to the increased bit rate.

BTW, Lumin just released their ver 9.01 firmware which plays TIDAL MQA tracks all the way up to 352kHz/24 bit with MQA Studio Authentication. There's already hundreds of MQA albums on TIDAL at 96kHz/24-bit, many at 192kHz and some at 352kHz. Once you experience these higher resolution rates, you may find that you stop listening to CDs and perhaps even SACDs.
I heard the Rossini with MQA at Audio Salon a couple of weeks ago - the difference was impressive. I currently have a Rossini on loan ..but not with the MQA update. Nice bit of kit....
@davneinla, I know you can play MQA tracks on the Rossini but my understanding is that they won't fully unfold until dCS provides the MQA firmware. Does MQA firmware exist for the Rossini?
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I am considering a Rossini to replace an Aesthetix Pandora Signature and ARC Ref5se

i do have 8 m XLR to drive to power amps....

those of you with Rossini, are you doing similar ?
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I’m currently using DCS Vivaldi full four stacks consisting of Vivaldi master clock, Vivaldi upsampler, Vivaldi DAC, Vivaldi CD/SACD transport in my dedicated two-channel reference room. The volume control is set to fixed gain and the Vivaldi is used strictly as source components going XLR analog out to my Naim Statement NAC S1 linestage analog preamp. I’m also using the Naim Statement NAP S1 monoblock power amps driving the Magico M6 speakers.

I also have a Kronos Pro turntable with the Audio Research Reference 10 phonostage preamp going XLR analog out to my Naim Statement NAC S1 linestage preamp. That’s the main reason I cannot use the volume control in the Vivaldi DAC.

The DCS Vivaldi stacks or any DCS products are very sensitive to placements - as to how and where they are being placed on. They are also system dependent and when set up right and paired with the right downstream electronics and speakers they will sound amazing. It does MQA.
The DCS Vivaldi stacks are in the same league with the Esoteric Grandioso full stacks, which is Esoteric’s flagship line.

The DCS Paganini stacks are quite old and the new Vivaldi stacks are in different league sonically.

The Rossini is nice and I highly recommend it.

I’m contemplating whether I should trade in my Vivaldi stacks for the MSB Select ll DAC with dual powerhouse or dual PSU, one for the digital side of it and the other for the analog side of It. If I decide to upgrade to the MSB Select ll DAC I might keep my DCS Vivaldi CD/SACD transport. Not sure.
I'm curious how the new Totaldac d1-Twelve mk2 would do against the DCS Vivaldi.
I did a few installs and room acoustic design for clients who own the DCS Dacs. Personal opinion of mine and those who work with me, the DAC is not worth the money and is marketing is very clever and more focused to those with high-income salaries or business owners who have no time to sit all day reviewing or comparing dacs. The marketing is focused more on Bragging rights and Magazine Reviews which i assume is paid somehow.

Simply put it if you Own a DCS DAC you have the utmost bragging right as you can afford to pay silly amounts of money on something very expensive. 

Want something musical? There are many DACs now on the market which can beat and compete with DCS at a much lower cost.
I also think if it was MSB vs DCS, to me MSB always sounded fuller and less fatiguing 

@samgar2, The DCS Rossini DAC is only one piece of the entire audio system chain including the source, amplifiers, speakers, cables, power cords, the room and other things. The DCS Rossini DAC may sound great in one system and horrible in another. In some cases, the listing room may also influence the overall sound quality.

The answer to the question of price vs. sound quality depends on the person listening. If you like the way the DCS Rossini DAC sounds and, can afford it, then you purchase it. Everyone on the forum knows that there are many DAC’s available at many different price points and, obviously, many different levels of sound quality.

For me, it is a balancing act between what I can afford and what sounds good. I cannot afford the DCS Rossini DAC, so I ignore it. The difficult part of any DAC decision is the auditioning of many DAC’s in your system to decide what DAC sounds best at your price level. Unfortunately, in this hobby, it is very difficult to audition 5+ DAC’s in our home audio systems so we read reviews, talk to retailers, friends and comments posted on Audiogon, etc.

This makes the purchasing decision process even harder since no one has the exact same equipment, room, or listing tastes. OR, in other words, everyone has a ’different opinion’. For me, it is more important to hear the equipment in my space so I can best judge what sounds good (to me!). I purchase equipment that sounds great at my price point in my audio system.

This hobby is weird. It is very easy to look at the next purchase, the next DAC or another mod, and forget that what you already own sounds excellent.

I own the Bricasti M21 DAC with the MDx board upgrade and like it very much. This DAC has both a signal delta DAC and a laddered DAC so you have 2 options. I usually listen to the laddered DAC option since it sounds the best to me.



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About a year ago I took a leap and bought the DCS Rossini and clock after reading many many reviews and thinking long and hard.  My first evening listening all I could think is guys have no idea what they are missing.  I've tried many sub 10K DACs etc... and have had a lot of gear for a lot of years but this thing really rocked my world.  Yeah it's a ton of money but for me it's worth it, it exceeded my expectations.  I don't think you need the clock just the DAC is good enough.  The clock makes it better but I didn't even hook up the clock for a while and just listened to the DAC and wow what a great piece of gear.  After using for a year it's just been totally solid not a gitch or hiccup such a well built piece of machinery.  Guys hate on this expensive stuff and say we are dumb braggers just for buying it.  It's a shame we can't all have one because after many years of upgrading and trying tons of stuff I still had a lot of room left to be surprised by something.