dCS Bartok Apex

Any dCS Bartok Apex owners here ?
I’m thinking seriously about this and going direct into ATC SCM50ASL with it.

I did a demo years ago with the original Bartok into the ATC’s and thought it was very good.

Maybe check the dCS community site.

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I had a demo today and I strongly preferred the Chord DAVE to the (admittedly only Bartok Non Apex version 2.0) Even so, I doubt the Apex update version would change the base sound that much more to beat the DAVE on my preferences and criteria.

I’ll be placing an order for a DAVE on Monday.


I would say that you definitely can’t go wrong with progressing with the Dave: I actually took the opposite path and traded in my Dave for a non-Apex Bartok. Before this I did have the chance to demo a Bartok Apex and I must admit that my unsophisticated listening and ears would struggle to identify any sizeable difference between the two Bartoks. I do have to say that my decision to trade in the Dave was a difficult one but for me the Bartok just had the edge; warmer and less analytical but this is the beauty of different folk having differing listening preferences. In my book, two absolutely first class pieces of kit. I am sure that you will enjoy your Dave.


I auditioned a Bartok Apex against NSC222/NPX300 with the full expectation of purchasing the Bartok - preferred the Naim presentation.


That was my take as well, the Bartok had a much warmer take on the musical delivery.

No right or wrong, just a different presentation of the same music. The detail and soundstage seemed similar.

My preference is geared towards a more matter of fact and forward bent on the music though.

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The thing to remember with any dCS dac’s is to make sure you have the output settings correct for which way you are going to use it, be it into a pre amp or directly to amp or speakers. As these matter and can be very different.
Also the apex upgrade makes a significant difference especially if you are going direct.
But which ever way you intend to use it the dealer should pre set it up or atleast tell you as it will make a difference to how it work’s.

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@Dunc I too have been trying Bartok and Dave. I cannot see anything in the Bartok instructions about adjusting the settings depending on whether you are going into a pre-amplifier or a power amplifier direct, apart from the output volume. I found the direct route sadly disappointing, which is frustrating because the matching pre-is nearly as much as a Bartok Apex.

Your post implies that there is something that might be changed. It would be great if there was something I could tweak to get a better result as the addition of a pre-blows the budget. Incidentally, the way the filter seems to change automatically depending on the genre of music being played is quite impressive, and for certain tracks makes a huge difference.

Any suggestions therefore, greatly welcomed.

How does it know what genre of music you are playing?

My experience seems similar. Listening to the Dave, using theChord Utopia, pre-and power into some large PCMs it sounded a bit as though all the 64 tracks from the mixing desk were playing at once, very clearly, and precisely, rather than that they had been reassembled into a coherent piece of music. I find that interesting as DCS say they focus on getting the maths right, and simply let the little chips do their business.

A good test for me is Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams and the difference between the 2004 and 2001 remasters. On many systems, I find the high hat completely excessive on the 2001, as the tapping cymbal, which balances it up, is much quieter and can be inaudible. On the 2001, recording the high hat dominates less. But it seems to take something like a Bartok to render the cymbal properly and balance the mix up. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to listening to Dreams onthe Dave in the time available.

Neither did I get to try the Bartok into the chord amplification, which would be an interesting experiment.

I don’t know @jlewis Maybe it has a database or maybe it analyses what’s being played in someway. But it consistently and correctly switches between F2 and F3 when playing classical music and rock music respectively, which is what the instructions recommend. You can always override it manually.

You can adjust the output voltage from 0.6, 0.2. 2, and 6 volt.
This helps with volume and to try and keep the dac’s volume more towards the 0.0 rather than lower down the scale.
Also some pre amp’s won’t like the 6 volt output as it might make them clip.

So if going direct try them all and see which works best at different volume levels, you might find low volume listening is better at say 0.2 v and the dac’s volume at 0.0 or thereabouts, and for louder listening 2 or even 6volts.
But what you are aiming for when doing this is getting the dac’s volume as close to 0.0.

Hope that helps and 6ou understand what i have tried to say.

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I don’t have the DAVE, but I’m using the Chord TT2 paired with the M Scaler, connected directly to the Chord Ultima 5 power amplifier. Additionally, I also have the dCS Rossini Apex connected directly to the Vitus monoblocks. Both setups offer distinctly different presentations; it’s not surprising that some may have a preference for one over the other. With the Chord DAC and amplifier, I use Fyne speakers and appreciate their assertiveness, focus, and exceptional timing performance. Conversely, with the dCS and Vitus combination, I opt for Marten speakers. This configuration caters to a more sophisticated and refined auditory experience.


I have had the DAVE connected directly to my ATC SCM100ASLT speakers.

I’m liking what I’m hearing, and I’m curious to hear what the Chord Ultima Pre 3 preamp as well would bring to proceedings. As another forum member has just got one with is HTT2 and Mscaler combo and says it’s a massive improvement vs going direct from the HTT2.

I also have an Esoteric N-05XD on loan to compare. I’ll be trialing that extensively over the weekend vs DAVE and if the DAVE is the same or better SQ or at least close enough, I’ll go with the DAVE and order the Pre 3 as well.

Unfortunately the Bartok Apex is out of the running mainly due to cost and the most likely need for a preamp of Chord Pre 3 or higher quality to match my ATC’s as I didn’t think much of the Bartok running direct into a power amp at the store demo. that I did.

Deleted, please remove.

But of a generalisation there. Many think the amps in SRC actives are superior to a nap 300

Yes after a bit of reflection I get what you mean. If best results going direct are with minimal attenuation then you really use the output levels as a crude form of volume control or a bit like gears and fine tune turning the attenuation knob.

When I was trying it, I used maximum output and attenuated by around 40% so wonder what a lower output would’ve sounded like.

I’m surprised everyone is so excited about Bartok and no mention of LINA; I tested DAVE extensively against the Weiss 501 mk2 and LINA and LINA was a clear win for me, in no small part that it does everything under one roof. Outstanding, detailed, rich sound with an inbuilt streamer module and dCS upgrade ability. Cheaper than DAVE and a streamer too… Some have tested Bartok against LINA and preferred the latter; so much more than a headphone option!

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The Lina dac is a wonderful dac you are right, and with the free upgrade it just got, even better now.
The bartock is still better again, and more so with the apex upgrade as it should be. But as you say don’t underestimate how good the Lina is.

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Well, if it’s source first and all that… the Lina sure does look good with a Nait50 size wise :wink:

I’m just a bit disappointed it’s still 10k+ even on the second hand market

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