Are the "cheaper" dCS models the best digital

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
3,138
59
48
#1
According to both Valin and Fremer the $80K dCS is the ultimate in digital.

Has anyone heard and compared the lower models to other similarly priced untis?

Does dCS have an analytical or musical presentation?
 
#2
I have listened to all of the models including the CD player with their outboard clock. I really loved the Scarlatti ( 80k piece) and a few of my friends own this unit and use it directly into their power amps. I think that this product is truly a reference caliber product. MY second choice after listening to many other digital playback systems was the Meridian which I think is really terrific and very musical sounding.
 

Lee

Well-Known Member
Feb 4, 2011
1,513
70
48
Alpharetta, Georgia
#4
Chris Connaker reviewed the Paganini here, at Computer Audio.
I spoke with him last week. He has a Debussy for his personal listening now.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,269
241
63
Manila, Philippines
#7
I hated the P8. It was almost as if it came from a different company. It was thin and mechanical.
 

Lee

Well-Known Member
Feb 4, 2011
1,513
70
48
Alpharetta, Georgia
#8
I hated the P8. It was almost as if it came from a different company. It was thin and mechanical.
I heard that. We had a local dealer with one and I hated it. Very mechanical indeed.

However I heard a dCS stack at the RMAF show that sounded impressive.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,269
241
63
Manila, Philippines
#9
Yup, like I said, it almost didn't sound like a dCs. :(
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,876
107
63
#11
Ceasar,

I have only heard DCS Elgar Plus/Verona and i just heard the Scarlatti Transport, Clock, DAC today in a system i know very well (many of the parts incl the speakers i used to own). Here is my personal take compared with my own Zanden. Redbook only since Zanden is 16/44.1, though i did also hear SACDs on DCS.

1. The DCS is a stunning achievement. It is a far more technically accomplished piece of equipment than its predecessor, as well as the ARC 7, 8, Krell 505 (all costing far, far less) which i heard in the same system. It leaves a wide gap in technical performance. Dead silent background, extraordinary retrieval of decay and detail, and also carries a natural tonality with its music that is probably the most noticeable improvement over the Elgar Plus.
2. I found a near-complete lack of "shimmer" which i often hear on digital sources. the treble is totally solid which is a shock the first time you hear it
3. Further, its Filters 1-4 help shape things a bit. In fact, i would say that given how technically accomplished it is, and how variable its settings are...you have the very strong ability to set it into many, many systems and get remarkable sound.
3. Now...here is the rub. We played with the system a good deal all afternoon to optimize. In the end, i would knowingly sacrifice the pitch black background, the extraordinary detail...and the lack of shimmer for my Zanden for one reason alone...liquidity/musicality. The DCS (to my ears) felt a touch, a spec, a nano-milli-something dry for my personal taste, and as a result i found myself marveling at its delivery of VERY NATURAL SOUND...but i stopped listening to the music. Honestly, i cannot say why...i just did. With the Zanden with its relative "flaws" or imperfections, i found that i just listened to music...i listen to Starker vs Rostropovich, Gardiner vs Klemperer...NOT cymbal decay here vs cymbal decay there. i found myself "flipping tracks" much more with the DCS...to hear that first bit of decay, or that bass hit there...as soon as i went to Zanden...i stopped doing that, and kept hesitating to change tracks because it killed me to stop the music.

in sum, i respect the DCS deeply...and those who own them are truly fortunate to have such an immense player. it is in a class unto itself relative to the CD8, Wadia reference, Esoteric X-01, (older) Emm Labs CDSA, even in technical terms to the Zanden. But i would not trade my Zanden for it.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,876
107
63
#13
Zanden 5000IV Signature DAC
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,876
107
63
#15
Yes...note i have changed stock tube to Amperex 7308 with EAT tube damper, and also the tubes in the PSU to 1950s Mullard and Sylvania based on advise from Brent Jessie who was great.
 

mep

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
9,483
4
0
#16
Amperex 7308s are great tubes. So is the Siemens version. I wonder what a Telefunken CCa would sound like in your Zanden.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,876
107
63
#17
Interesting that you mention Siemens....the guys at Audio Exotics (mecca for audiophiles in Hong kong/Asia) use Siemens in their Zanden setup. In fact, for years, Zanden was their be all/end all digital reference until the Stahl-tek Vekian set up. I cannot speak about Telefunkens...i have used JAN Phillips (stock), Sovtek (horrid in the Zanden), Mullard 7308 and 6dJ8...the Amperex was the best of the musicality of the Mullard withouts its softness in the lower registers...much stronger fuller signal. and the EAT tube damper is great...particularly for 19 bucks!
 

mep

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
9,483
4
0
#18
The Telefunken CCa is a great tube as is the Siemens CCa. Since you only need one, it may be worth buying one of each. I doubt you would regret it. If you don't like them, you could pretty much get your money back.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,876
107
63
#19
Thanks MEP...may give that a try. in the meantime, i am enjoying the Amperex 7308...US white label, i believe. i will say, the current music from the Zanden, and the original sound are just "even better Zanden" than originally. thanks for the advice.
 

fas42

Addicted To Best
Jan 8, 2011
3,973
0
0
NSW Australia
#20
In the end, i would knowingly sacrifice the pitch black background, the extraordinary detail...and the lack of shimmer for my Zanden for one reason alone...liquidity/musicality. The DCS (to my ears) felt a touch, a spec, a nano-milli-something dry for my personal taste, and as a result i found myself marveling at its delivery of VERY NATURAL SOUND...but i stopped listening to the music. Honestly, i cannot say why...i just did. With the Zanden with its relative "flaws" or imperfections, i found that i just listened to music...i listen to Starker vs Rostropovich, Gardiner vs Klemperer...NOT cymbal decay here vs cymbal decay there. i found myself "flipping tracks" much more with the DCS...to hear that first bit of decay, or that bass hit there...as soon as i went to Zanden...i stopped doing that, and kept hesitating to change tracks because it killed me to stop the music.

in sum, i respect the DCS deeply...and those who own them are truly fortunate to have such an immense player. it is in a class unto itself relative to the CD8, Wadia reference, Esoteric X-01, (older) Emm Labs CDSA, even in technical terms to the Zanden. But i would not trade my Zanden for it.
Yet again the truth and tonality dichotomy reveals itself. It appears that a precarious tightrope has to be traversed to reach optimum sound, and unfortunately for most people to cross this obstacle, at the moment it seems to need the level of skill of a highwire artist.

And what is optimum sound? Very easy: just combine all the positive statements from the quoted post; the best of both the DCS and the Zanden in other words. Solid engineering expertise can create either a DCS, or a Zanden, but to get the best of both worlds takes another level of understanding or sensitivity to the subtleties that affect sound reproduction. What each of these approaches demonstrate is that Redbook has all the information needed to recreate the musical event, the data just has to brought forward correctly.

To throw a bit more into the mix: Mark just commented in a separate thread how top notch reel to reel seems to be in another class again above LP and CD. This is just a demonstration of how if the playback mechanism behaves itself, does not corrupt the recorded sound during playback in overly objectionable ways, then the experience of hearing a recording can be as satisfying and fulfilling as anyone could wish ...

Frank
 
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