Loss of fidelity is a sad fact of all digital music. It’s just not as good as analogue. But what can you do about it? Sit back and accept it? Nope. Thanks to the latest single-box Digital to Analogue Converter from audio specialists dCS you can claw some of that quality back.
The Bartók is, put simply, the best in class. First of all, it’s able to play music from pretty much any digital source. You can use an ethernet cable to attach it to your network or stream Spotify, Tidal or Apple Airplay directly through it. That’s all incredibly useful of course, but not exactly new.
The difference here is that rather than simply converting the digital signal into something you can hear like any computer speaker DAC, the Bartók improves it. The box actively undoes as much of the compression as possible and eliminates errors that come through as part of a digital signal, white noise included. It brings the imperfect medium of streaming at least in line with listening to CDs. Some might say better.
In short, it makes your music more dynamic, the silences more silent and your overall listening experience as close to the original recording as streaming can get.
That audio experience is further enhanced by the in-built headphone amplifier. This allows the signal that the DAC has just improved to find its way flawlessly into a wide range of headphones, be they high or low impedance. Of course, you won’t get the best results from your crappy Apple earbuds, but with a decent pair your streaming will sound like you never imagined it could.
All of this might sound like a lot to get your head around – trust me, I’ve simplified it a lot – but possibly the best thing about the Bartók is that it’s an all-in-one solution. Simply plug it in and you’re good to go, no messing around with pre-amps. You don’t even need to worry about firmware updates, as the Bartók will download them itself any time it’s on the network.
It also happens to look pretty good too. Sure, that’s a secondary thing to the music – or should be at least – but it’s clean lines and British-built aerospace-grade machined-aluminium casework make it one sexy DAC. Digital audio is a compromise, a trade-off between quality and convenience. Everyone knows that. Everyone’s experienced that. And with the dCS Bartók DAC, everyone’s been proven wrong.
The Bartók with the specialised headphone amplifier is priced at £11,999. It is also available without the headphone amplifier for £9999.