Firstly, apologies Richard if this thread is too similar to the existing one regarding the ATC 19A. I just found it after this was posted. So please just add this post to that one if that’s more appropriate.
Just trying to gauge people’s thoughts on “one box” DAC/streamer/preamp. route. The research I have done recently seems to suggest they have come a long, long way - and in some situations, indistinguishable from systems with a dedicated preamp. Kit from dCS , Ayre, Lumin, Linn, MSB, Weiss, Mola Mola and Chord - though not so much streamer.
For example those with an all digital system - with no requirement for any analog inputs (like me, strictly streaming only now).
There seems to be an unlimited choice now of these “all in one” units from budget to extreme hi end.
So, I am going to see about a home demo. of the dCS Bartok to see if it’s good enough to replace my NDS/555DR - 252 combo. (into ATC active speakers).
Or would I be wasting my time and the NDS / 252 will trounce any all in one system ?
I have Bartók with my 252/300dr. And I’m a fan of dCS/Naim combo but I would say keeping your setup is better. Value for money nds/555 is very hard to beat.
On top of that I found dcs driving power amp direct is far too lean for my taste. I prefer a preamp slotted in.
The reason this peaked my interest was a Dealer Event in the UK last year using only the Bartok and ATC active speakers. It apparently sounded superb.
I have a 552/500 system fronted by a Linn KDS (of which I have had the last 3 versions) however the past 3 years have seen me playing extensively with headphones. I am looking at the Bartok as a stand alone all in one headphone system to use in my bedroom and I came away very impressed after a 1 hour demo at a local dealer utilizing my Focal Utopia headphones.
I am going to CanJam NY in one week and will demo the Chord offerings again and afterward try to arrange a home demo of the Bartok.
I felt that it definitely had toe tapping PRAT qualities along with a rich lush sound and a weighty texture. Tonality of instruments was excellent. Definitely seemed to give me what I want ie a Naim type of sound - while offering solid software performance including the ability to be a ROON endpoint. Much like my Linn it also will have longevity in that it can be updated with performance enhancing software updates. A recent software update to the Rossini has dramatically taken it to the next level (as reported my many owners).
Does the Bartok performance compare favorably to my Linn? No the Linn is definitely better - however it is also 2.5 times the cost.
I am curious to hear other opinions from those who have been able to demo this very interesting piece. The timing of this thread is interesting as I was getting ready to start a new thread asking about Naim owners experience with DCS products.
Naim needs a product like this… a new headphone amp/dac to replace v1
Gregg, are you using the SO with your KDS and have you tried it direct to the 500?
Seadog, looking forward to your test feedback. I also have an NDS and starting some research on a magic 1 box system. Given that Naim has not offered an upgrade path for NDS owners, second hand prices are very low so its a very difficult decision to sell low and pay top ££ to switch to another box.
That’s an interesting set up to audition. Having auditioned both myself, may I suggest auditioning an MSB Discrete streamer as well as the DCS Bartok? It’s nice to have a choice of at least two.
Best regards, BF
“You don’t know what you got til it’s gone”.
Yes, the MSB The Discrete and possibly The Premier has got my attention too. MSB is right up there with dCS , Chord , Naim, Linn territory DAC/streamer wise for sure. I was not aware they were that good until I looked more into high end DAC’s recently. About the only doubt I have with MSB is the OS for the Ethernet/streamer option looks a bit average. Like a 3rd party OS is required to use it I think, however it will support Roon and is seamless with that. But I don’t use Roon, may be forced to , and that will add a bit to the cost.
That will definitely be the acid test Jimdog, can I let go of my NDS & 252 ? I had them all recapped/serviced/or DR (555PS) updated last year including a service of the 252 itself. It is quite frankly amazing as to what that did to my system enjoyment level since.
I am whittling down my list of possible options, the Bartok is first to demo. then the MSB will be an option too.
We shall see what my home demo. of then Bartok brings…
DCS is the sonic equivalent of the body of a deceased dog in a ditch on the Day of the Dead.
Until you spend £64,000 at which point you reach the sonic singularity where opposites are combined.
So it’s a no from you then ?
Hi Seadog , it will be interesting to hear your DCS findings ? One box you should consider is the Auralic Vega G2 . I tried one with my Active 40’s before Xmas and it was stunning, very musical. One thing that stood out was the Analogue Pre section which seemed to give more drive at all levels . The Vega is top of my list at the moment.
I think the value of a good Pre section can be undervalued at times in this digital age .
I was curious too to upgrade from my existing nds/ 555 dr. I am not ready to invest 10 k or more to have the nd555.
Have heard the Rossini, Dave and Linn KDSM.
I liked the Linn but can’t say he is better vs the Nds. Just different.
For now I am more thinking of upgrading my Melco .
Thats exactly what i have just done, upgraded my melco and very happy with the results.
My NDS/555dr lives on for a bit longer.
Yes i could sell it and get the Bartok for not that much, but its the rossini/clock that i would like, if i am going to move away. The nd555 does not interest me one bit for the price as i dont feel its that much better than the nds and poor valve for money in today’s market.
Now chord i haven’t tried as yet and i could use my melco to stream and get a tt2 / m scaler or dave / m scaler and see how that goes against my current set up.
It is not too bad if you already own 555ps
That was my start point too, with a freshly serviced and DR’ed 555PS. Even then the ND555 didn’t come out as unbeatable value. The rest is in my long thread in the Streaming section.
Best regards, BF
I am not using the KDS direct into the 500 - no reason at all when one owns a 552. Most seem to agree that in a Naim system including a preamp such as a 552 yields better performance into a 500. If I ditched the preamp what would my poor LP12 do - he would be lonely
SO is an interesting story. I played around with version 1 and many would agree that it was extremely difficult to get it to work properly. Too many variables and tweaks. Regardless of Linn’s insistence that their dealer network is equipped and required to do installs the consensus is that many dealers had no idea how to properly install SO1. This was one of the underlying reasons behind introducing SO2 and a cloud based version. Unfortunately SO2 has also been met with many questions. Just head over to the Linn forum on WAM to see what comments have been.
For now I am running my KDS without SO. I bought it (versions /1,/2 and /3) before SO even existed and continue to be happy with it sans SO. It is an interesting concept and when properly set up can make a difference. Unfortunately the setup proceedure is not easy and I think that this contributes to the lack of adoption.
Its still a lot of money even if you have a 555ps dr, add in the price of the ps and i am sorry i feel its very poor valve these days and i even liked the £10 K Bartok slightly better, but there’s not much in it, but for half the price i feel the Bartok is a bargin when viewed against the ND555/555ps.
But i also dont feel like the Bartok is a massive step up from what the NDS/555 can do on the sound front. As i have said the only one that has mad me sit up is the rossini and for about the same price as the naim combo it clearly shows it a clean pair of heels.
The NDS is the real winner i feel, especially at its price point these days, true bargin and feed it a great source like the melco and it can still shine