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dCS BARTÓK APEX streaming DAC

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The Bartók APEX retains the original’s powerful, dynamic and detailed soundscape and adds elements of resolution and refinement previously only achievable with the Rossini or Vivaldi APEX.
dCS engineered Bartók APEX to inform and inspire. APEX sets a new benchmark for transparency. It organically resolves the finest details and uncovers textures and subtleties that most systems overlook. From the broadest dynamic swings in volume to the subtlest shifts in tone, Bartók APEX reveals each aspect of a recording with a sense of effortless refinement and control.
Optional headphone amplifier available in both finishes.
 
Overview
This single-box digital music player features the legendary dCS Ring DAC™ and signal processing platform, plus a custom high-performance UPnP music streamer.

Bartók plays music through an array of industry-standard USB, AES or S/PDIF digital inputs. It can stream over Ethernet from a NAS drive or via online music services such as TIDAL™ or Spotify™, and from Apple devices via Airplay™. The network interface can perform full MQA™ decoding and rendering.

The DAC section is equipped with independent balanced and unbalanced line outputs that can drive power amplifiers directly, avoiding the need for a separate preamplifier. All of the outputs can be set to one of 4 maximum levels to enhance system compatibility.

Designed for flexibility and ease of use without compromise, Bartók uses the very latest dCS Digital Processing Platform and Ring DAC™ technology, originally developed for the Rossini series. Its single FPGA offers streamlined signal processing and superior flexibility, effectively making it future-proof.

Bartók DAC has a powerful new user interface, plus a custom control app that lets listeners manage their music playback from any source in an elegantly simple way – accessing iRadio channels, digital and UPnP sources all from one control point. The Bartók app provides easy access to the DAC settings.

Featuring DXD upsampling as standard, the multi-stage oversampling design offers optional DSD upsampling plus an extensive selection of DSP filters to suit individual taste and music choice. The network streaming functionality within Bartók is proven in terms of jitter, ease of use, and sonic performance. The network interface currently runs at up to 24-bit, 384kS/s and DSD128, supporting all major lossless codecs, plus DSD in DoP format and native DSD.

Bartók supports the simple yet highly effective dCS "auto clocking" architecture as used in Vivaldi, which minimizes jitter and improves sound quality significantly.

Designed and made in Great Britain to the highest standards, Bartók takes its design cues from the award winning Rossini range, using aerospace-grade machined aluminium with internal acoustic damping panels to reduce sound-degrading mechanical vibration and magnetic effects. Multi-stage power regulation is employed, with twin mains transformers to isolate the DAC circuitry from the headphone amplifier.

As with all dCS products, Bartók firmware can be easily updated via CD, USB or the new automated download and update facility. This lets dCS add new features and improve the performance of Bartok over its lifetime.

Listening to digital music through a Bartók system is in some ways a staggering experience. The general hallmarks of dCS playback – precision, detail, immersive and engaging sound are all there along with a natural musicality and faithfulness to the original recording.
APEX

The dCS Ring DAC is integral to all dCS DACs and integrated music players. This novel invention—one of several bespoke technologies created by dCS—is one of the reasons their systems have earned global acclaim for their transparency and fidelity.

Developed from the ground up by dCS engineers, it features a combination of proprietary hardware and software that has been carefully honed and refined over three decades to deliver a world-leading technical and sonic performance.

In 2022, dCS released APEX, a significant update to the Ring DAC’s hardware, which allowed them to enhance further the musical performance of their Vivaldi DAC, Rossini DAC, and Rossini Player. dCS’s obsession with remaining at the forefront of measured and musical performance meant that it was only a matter of time before they developed an APEX upgrade for Bartók owners.

The latest-generation Ring DAC APEX hardware brings several benefits. Noise and distortion have been further reduced, and linearity increased by over 12dB. dCS’s subjective listening tests, in turn, have revealed a number of sonic improvements, with listeners noting enhanced dynamics, rhythm and timing, greater soundstage resolution and image focus, blacker backgrounds, and a heightened sense of realism.
Bartók APEX awards badges 23-24.png
Specifications

  • Converter Type: dCS proprietary Ring DAC™ topology
  • Digital Inputs: Ethernet network port on RJ45 connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 384kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD128 in DFF/DSF format; USB 2.0 interface on B-type connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 384kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD128 in DoP format; USB On-The-Go interface on A-type connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 384kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD128 in DFF/DSF format; 2 x AES/EBU inputs on 3-pin female XLR connectors, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 192kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD/128 in DoP format; 1 x Dual AES pair, accepts 24-bit 88.2 – 384kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD/128 in DoP format; 1 x SPDIF on RCA Phono connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 192kS/s PCM & DSD/64 in DoP format; 1 x SPDIF on BNC connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 192kS/s PCM & DSD/64 in DoP format; 1 x SPDIF optical on TOSLINK connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 96kS/s PCM
  • Analogue Inputs: 1 x pair balanced outputs on 2 x XLR connectors. Output levels: 0.2V, 0.6V, 2V, 6V rms for a full-scale input, set in the menu. Output impedance: 3Ω. Maximum load: 600Ω (10k-100kΩ is recommended); 1 x pair unbalanced outputs on 2 x RCA connectors. Output levels: 0.2V, 0.6V, 2V, 6V rms for a full-scale input, set in the menu. Output impedance: 52Ω. Maximum load: 600Ω (10k-100kΩ is recommended)
  • Wordclock IO: 2 x Word Clock Inputs on 2 x BNC connectors, accept standard Word Clock at 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192kHz. The data rate can be the same as the clock rate or an exact multiple of the clock rate. Sensitive to TTL levels. 1 x Word Clock Output on 1x BNC connector. With Sync Mode set to Master, a TTL-compatible Word Clock is output
  • MQA: Full decoding and rendering of MQA data from the Network and USB2 inputs. Final rendering of unfolded MQA data only from the other inputs
  • Residual Noise: 24-bit data: Better than –113dB0, 20Hz - 20kHz unweighted (6V output setting)
  • LR Crosstalk: Better than -115dB0, 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Spurious Responses: Better than -105dB0, 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Filters: PCM mode: up to 6 filters give different trade-offs between the Nyquist image rejection and the phase response. DSD mode: 4 filters progressively reduce out-of-audio band noise level
  • Conversions: DXD as standard or optional DSD upsampling
  • Software Updates: Download and update functionality available via dCS Mosaic Control app
  • Local Control: dCS Mosaic Control app for unit configuration and playback. RS232 interface (controlled by a 3rd party automation system). dCS Universal Remote is available as an optional extra
  • Power Supply: Factory set to either 100, 115/120, 220 or 230/240V AC 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 30 Watts typical / 50 Watts maximum
  • Dimensions: 444mm / 17.5” x 430mm / 17.0” x 115mm / 4.6“. Allow extra depth for cable connectors
  • Weight: 36.8lbs