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dCS Bartok DAC, Part One | Review

by Lee Scoggins in Digital

Every once and a while, a product will turn up at the house for review that is so special, it changes what I understand to be possible for an audio component. And let’s face it; most of us don’t have anything resembling “unlimited budgets”, so finding something magical at a price you might (barely/one day/maybe-possibly) afford can make for a great day. For me, I found the dCS Bartok DAC to be just such an animal. I started reviewing DACs in the headphone space many [...]


  • Sparkler Audio Spiral, Ether | Review

    August 11, 2019 // 8 Comments

    A Box of Sparklers My introduction to the wares of Sparkler Audio (website) was through the 2017 and 2018 Capital Audiofest shows. There, I’d made note of Sparker’s quirky Spiral compact disc player, which had been featured in both the Charney Audio and VK Music rooms. Given that I had really enjoyed the sound in these rooms at both shows, I was determined to put Sparker Audio on my “to do” radar. That little CD player just kept tugging at me, as I had been considering getting a disc [...]
  • TotalDAC USB Gigafilter

    TotalDAC USB Gigafilter | Review

    August 4, 2019 // 2 Comments

    Digital is dicey Looking at the totalDAC USB Gigafilter, you ask questions. Digital is supposed to be straightforward: ones and zeroes coded as “Hi” and “Lo” voltage signals, all marching forward in a straight line like kindergarteners to the bathroom. That’s pretty much it, right? The complexities of vinyl playback, in contrast, are easy to understand. Move that cartridge in any direction, and you affect the way the tip of the stylus hits the grooves … Which in turn affects the [...]
  • by Steve Marsh Introduction: Cocktail Audio X45 Pro I spend most of my time listening to vinyl rather than digital.  I have a lot invested in my analog front end and the musical satisfaction I get from it is quite complete.  The one big drawback, of course, is that a lot of new music is not available on vinyl.  At the beginning of my efforts to switch from the dying CD player technology to a more modern digital solution, I dabbled with computer audio, purchasing Amarra software and playing [...]
  • Bricasti M1 Limited Edition DAC | Review

    March 22, 2019 // 7 Comments

    Before I start, I should just confess that the Bricasti M1 Limited Edition (aka, The Golden Gun*) has been my personal DAC reference for the past two years. It is, quite simply, the best-sounding all-around digital converter that I’ve had in-house. To anyone who says otherwise — it’s pistols at dawn. As you may or may not recall, computer audio is how I got into this mess got started with this website in the first place. My first stand-alone digital converter was a heavily-modded [...]
  • Audio Fur and the Border Patrol DAC

    January 6, 2019 // 17 Comments

    The Dissenting Opinion Stereophile’s Herb Reichert posted a letter on the web version of an “As We See It” column written by his colleague Jon Iverson. I’m reposting it here (with linking and attribution) for several reasons, but mainly because I want to use it as a map to work out my … feelings. The TL;DR of this (rather long) post is summarized pretty much entirely by Mr. Reichert’s comments. I have taken the liberty of then beating said horse past [...]
  • Ever since I reviewed the dCS Network Bridge a year ago,  I’ve been enjoying a lot more digital music. YES, I still prefer dropping the needle but the convenience of a dCS Network Bridge + dCS Vivaldi DAC + ROON is tough to beat. I find myself re-discovering CDs I ripped years ago, but more often on the hunt for more high resolution music.  Its been a bit of a disease, each Friday around 4pm, heading over to to look for what new music was released that week.  [...]
  • Bricasti M1 Review: Balancing Head and Heart

    September 16, 2018 // 8 Comments

    Perks of the trade Looking at the Bricasti M1 reminds me of one of the coolest perks of reviewing high-end audio equipment: I get to hear lots of different types of gear in the comfort and familiarity of my own listening room. I love mixing and matching different pieces, trying to get the best out of each component that I evaluate. Even so, there are very few “aha” moments in this game for me; much of the gear I get to review is very good, indeed, and a lot of it seems to be converging to a [...]
  • Audio Note UK DAC 2.1x Signature Review

    July 7, 2018 // 3 Comments

    Unexpected Pleasures I wanted to share a few notes about the Audio Note UK (website) DAC 2.1x Signature that Mr. Q sent along with the CDT-Two/II transport that I so greatly admired. The US price for the DAC2.1x Signature is $4,900. Like the transport, this DAC sits about mid-way through their “levels” of digital converter products. It includes the expected Audio Note “secret sauce” componentry, including Black Gate caps, Tantalum resistors, a choke-regulated and tube [...]
  • Spinning Silver: Audio Note UK CDT-Two/II CD transports are passé. Boring. Irrelevant. So … yesterday. Now, if only someone would tell that to the 5,000+ shiny silver discs I have all over my house. Yes, sure – I most certainly can rip my entire CD collection. And yes, I can even acquire one of those systems that will let me pop in a just-found thrift-shop treasure and it will automagically rip, label, tag and store it for me (and someday, I do mean to check out Antipodes and Innuous) so [...]
  • Review: Mytek puts the + on the Brooklyn DAC

    March 25, 2018 // 9 Comments

    There is this one kind of reviews I don’t want to take, the ones I am not sure I will enjoy. I prefer analog to digital sources and if I must spent some time listening to zeros and ones, I prefer them comin’ out of a ladder DAC and not some ΔΣ of the shelf chip. But I am open to suggestions, new ideas and I have several friends always asking me for relatively affordable components, and those usually come with an Asahi Kasei or ESS chip inside. Mytek, known for being among the [...]
  • There is nothing like grabbing a prized LP, dropping the needle in the groove, and having the events of the day get whisked away. Nothing else matters at that exact moment, only that you are sensing every emotion and every note… cue relaxation. But now more than ever, times are a-changing. Digital music reproduction, the growing availability of high-resolution content, combined with better software is making this something audiophiles need to pay more attention to.  The debate of Analog vs. [...]
  • KEF LS50 Wireless loudspeakers, Shinola Runwell turntable, Roon Labs, TIDAL and Spotify -- all in one system. [...]
  • Welcome to something new we’re going to try here on PTA thanks to our friend Wynn Wong of Wynn Audio in Richmond Hill, Ontario. I’m going to be curating a new list every month featuring different categories of gear that I think you – our readers – have to hear under any circumstances you can arrange: beg, borrow, steal, drive for hours, hop a train, take a plane… you get what I’m saying. Price will not be a factor, with individual pieces on each list reflecting a [...]
  • by John Richardson I come from a do-it-yourself type family. To the best of my knowledge, this handy trait started out with both of my grandfathers and got handed down from there. One was a country boy who liked to build stuff for his own use just for the fun of it. He used to build wooden boats for both work and pleasure, well, just because. His son, my father, took the do-it-yourself concept to a new height out of some in-grown sense of thrift. As I was growing up, that man could pinch a [...]
  • PS Audio DirectStream DAC and Memory Player closeup
    The Latest Scoop OK folks, I’ve got your digital dreamboat right here folks, so step right up and see what it’s all about. That’s right, we’re talking PS Audio’s DirectStream DAC ($6000) and its sidekick, the DirectStream Memory Player, aka digital transport (also $6000). As you know, this kit is part of an ongoing saga here in the world of Part-Time Audiophile (see our earlier review, here). Like a boomerang (or certain Millennial offspring) the subject of this review just keeps [...]
  • Review: Clones Audio HOST Music Server

    April 30, 2017 // 4 Comments

    by John Grandberg “It’s hard when you’re stuck upon the shelf.” So sang Eddie Vedder on “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town”, circa 1993. While I’m reasonably confident he wasn’t referring to audio gear, the idea does seem to apply to one poor component in my setup – the little PC I built to handle Roon Server duties. Since I now base nearly all of my listening around Roon, this particular device is a critical link in my chain. [...]
  • Border Patrol SE DAC Review | Zero Frippery

    April 16, 2017 // 19 Comments

    Looking at the Border Patrol SE DAC, you have to smile. It’s cute! Can you even say that about at kick-ass piece of audio gear? Maybe it’s disrespectful. Too bad — because everybody knows that good things come in small packages. To be fair, good things come in big packages too. The common denominator is “packages” and I sure like packages. Sometimes, I’ll order something silly (like a pack of pens) from Amazon just so a package will come. Because [...]
  • This is the second part of a three-part series on living with a computer-based audio system from an analog diehard’s perspective, and how it has changed the way my family, and I listen to music compared to a previously vinyl-only household. In my first instalment I touched on what I was aiming to achieve by replacing my analog front end with the totaldac d-1 integral using Roon, and Tidal. Which was, namely, to see if an audiophile-grade DAC/server could sonically match the level of [...]
  • by Eric Franklin Shook Sometimes paranoia is having all the facts. In the hierarchy of arts, writers are classed a smidge below clowns and a little above trained seals. So ready your skepticism as this is my attempt at writing about something I have never been willingly interested in; digital streaming. Ugh. Call me a luddite, or call me ironically old-fashioned for preferring physical formats. I like their staying power. I like their reliability over those times when I’ve had hard drives [...]
  • First of all, I’m not a “high-resolution” expert by any stretch. I’m a simple analog caveman who finds himself in a digital world. But I absolutely love what Roon, and Tidal do together with the totaldac d1-integral I have for long-term review. So when I was at CES in Las Vegas this past weekend, and Tidal announced they were finally streaming true high-resolution data in the form of  “Masters” 24/48 MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) files I couldn’t [...]