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dCS Bartók APEX - High-end Streamer, DAC, Upsampler and Preamplifier

The new dCS Bartók APEX combines the tasks of a streamer, D/A converter, upsampler and preamplifier in a particularly elegant form and at a quality level that can clearly be described as reference class.

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  • The new dCS Bartók APEX is everything that defines the dCS brand, as the English high-end hi-fi manufacturer describes its latest addition.

The dCS Bartók APEX is a solution that is a prime example of everything that distinguishes dCS products, at least that is how the English high-end hi-fi manufacturer Data Conversion Systems Ltd. describes its latest solution. What’s more, according to the company, it incorporates all the knowledge and experience gained in decades of development.

The new dCS Bartók APEX thus embodies 30 years of innovation in a single beautiful, flexible and future-proof system that embodies the essence of the dCS brand.

dCS Bartók APEX – The latest generation

The new dCS Bartók APEX represents the latest generation of a solution that combines a music streamer, D/A converter, upsampler and preamplifier, and can also be equipped with a headphone amplifier if desired, in which case it is called dCS Bartók APEX with Headphone Amplifier.

dSC APEX Ring DAC – Latest Generation D/A Converter at its Heart

As the name suggests, the developers of the new dCS Bartók APEX rely on the latest generation of the so-called dSC Ring DAC, the technology platform that the English high-end hi-fi manufacturer has been consistently developing for years and presented last year as the dSC APEX Ring DAC.

The dSC Ring DAC platform was already known for its outstanding signal processing, but in the latest generation as the dSC APEX Ring DAC, the company has once again succeeded in optimising it, especially with regard to even lower noise and distortion, thus achieving a higher linearity and a lower output impedance for an optimal connection to the output stage.

In this way, the D/A converter sets new standards in terms of transparency, detail and dynamics, according to the manufacturer, who points to solutions such as dCS Vivaldi APEX and dCS Rossini as a reference in this context, since the dCS Bartók APEX now has the same electronics as these systems and is thus equipped not only with the latest generation of the, according to the manufacturer, groundbreaking dSC Ring DAC APEX, the clocking architecture and the digital processing platform. They speak of a unique combination of hardware and software that is unrivalled in its sonic and technical performance.

By the way, special attention was paid to the filters, because now six variants are available for data in Linear PCM and five for DSD.

The dSC Bartók APEX is capable of processing signals in Linear PCM up to 24 bits and 382 kHz, DSD up to and including DSD128, with upsampling to DXD, DSD and DSD128 supported. Content encoded in MQA can also be played back.

Flexible Music Streamer

The new dCS Bartók APEX functions as an extremely flexible streaming client, because it is not only dlna-certified and thus able to play back content via UPnP from the network, it also understands Apple AirPlay and supports Spotify Connect and is designated as Roon-ready. TIDAL, Qobuz, Deezer and Internet Radio are also available via the dCS Mosaic Control App for Apple iOS and Google Android.

Numerous interfaces

First of all, in order to integrate the dCS Bartók APEX into the network, it has a Gigabit Ethernet interface and thus an RJ45 socket at the back. Another RJ45 interface functions as a switch, although this is only an Ethernet interface for up to 100 Mbps.

The dCS Bartók APEX can be connected directly to a PC or Mac via a USB-B port that corresponds to USB 2.0, whereby asynchronous data transmission is of course carried out, with the dCS Bartók APEX’s high-precision master clock alone in control.

Via a USB-A port, corresponding storage media can be used directly as a source, which should also be mentioned at this point.

For digital sources, there are two coaxial and one optical S/PDIF and two AES/EBU interfaces on the dCS Bartók APEX. If the dCS Bartók APEX is to “listen” to external clocks, there are two word clock inputs available, as well as a word clock out, all of which are BNC, of course. By the way, there is also an RS232 interface.

Analogue signals are available via XLR in balanced form and a pair of RCA sockets in unbalanced form.

If you choose the dCS Bartók APEX with Headphone Amplifier, you will not only find a display, buttons and a rotary encoder on the front, but also two connections for headphones, one unbalanced as a 6.3 mm stereo jack and one balanced in the form of a 4-pin XLR.

It should also be mentioned that this solution has dimensions of 444 mm in width, 430 mm in depth and 115 mm in height. Thus, the dCS Bartók APEX weighs 16 kg.

Prices and availability

The new dCS Bartók APEX is available immediately from specialist dealers. Customers can choose between a silver or black version. If you choose the standard version, i.e. the dCS Bartók APEX, you have to calculate € 22.500,-. If, on the other hand, you want the version with an integrated headphone amplifier, you will have to pay € 25.500,- for the dCS Bartók APEX with Headphone Amplifier.

By the way, proud owners of the previous model should be able to upgrade their solution. To turn the dCS Bartók into a dCS Bartók APEX, you have to invest € 9.900,-.

Getting to the point

Even if the price does not suggest it, the dCS Bartók APEX is the “entry-level” product of the English high-end hi-fi specialist Data Conversion Systems Ltd. However, and this is what makes it exciting for many, the dCS Bartók APEX is supposed to have the essential features of its big siblings, first and foremost the latest exclusive DAC technology from the English, the dSC APEX Ring DAC, and thus perform on a completely new level of quality.

PricedCS Bartók APEX € 22.500,-
dCS Bartók APEX with Headphone Amplifier € 25.500,-
Update dCS Bartók to dCS Bartók APEX € 9.900,-
ManufacturerData Conversion Systems Ltd.
DistributionAudio Reference GmbH
More about this manufacturer at HIFI BLOG
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Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.at, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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