dCS Bartok as a one box solution

I am coming at the Bartok from a different point of view as my 2 channel system is set with the KDS so it is strictly for headphone use. I have been reading the other DAC/streaming threads on the forum and came across the lengthy one on the DCS Network Bridge. I wonder if the streaming component of the Bartok is the exact same as the DCS Network Bridge ie is their a DCS Network Bridge inside of the Bartok? If so than the vfm increases once again.

I will go back and demo Chord again next week at CanJam (I owned a Mojo, demoed the Hugo1, and briefly heard the TT2 (with an external headphone amplifier which I felt held it back) however I am extremely concerned about all of the “tweaks” required to make Chord DAC’s work. If one wants to use ROON or other services than it just seems like there is endless tweaking going on with Sonore etc. to get a good USB signal into the unit. Then there are others who maintain that the TT2 sounds better with an optical input.

I personally subscribe to the theory Linn put forth in 2007, and which Naim followed up with, that Ethernet and not USB remains the best mode of signal transmission. DCS have officially taken this stance with the Bartok as well (even though the unit provides a complete range of other inputs).

As an all in one single box I maintain that there is much to like with this unit. If I were to try to replicate what I want (a stand alone headphone system) with Chord I would need a TT2, MScaler, Sonore or some other form of network bridge, and the associated cables. A bit complicated and somewhat of a hodgepodge with many different variables in the mix - power supplies, cabling, etc.

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the investment one makes holds value in the long run. Just like my KDS, DCS plans their products for a lengthy lifespan and enables them to be updated and future proofed with continual software updates. I purchased a KDS/1 and have been able to keep up with each and every iteration - /1,/2,/3.

Unfortunately, as many on this thread have found, once you purchase a Naim digital device the only way to upgrade it to the next iteration of technology is to bin it and start over again.

While we are at it I am curious to know how DCS products in general are sensitive to the quality of the mains supply? I’m in the States (good quality electric in my area) however I have a direct home run of electricity from the panel to my dedicated listening room and Naim setup. The DCS (or any device for that matter) will be placed in my master bedroom and will run off of the regular house mains supply.

I guess same goes with support stand - sensitive to placement or can a Bartok sit on any old shelf? Since they are aiming the product at the current younger generation of headphone listeners I would think the idea of expensive Fraim type shelving is foreign to that particular target market.


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I think that you will struggle to better the dcs Bartok as a headphone only one box solution, i didn’t try the headphone socket at all, but as a £2.5K extra i would hope its a good one.
Like you i also like the way they go about things, with the future in mind and dont just expect you to lose thousands when the next upgrade comes.
Also as the Bartok shares the same guts as the rossini apart from one transformer, then you can only hope they will in the future further lift its performance with a software boost, just like the rossini has just had and that made a big difference to it. As they could just run rossini software on the Bartok, but i guess thats not good for business.

As said i keep thinking about the Bartok and like it a lot.

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The real question/problem: how big is your bedside table?! :rofl: :wink:

Not big enough :joy:

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They are very deep, even without cables attached

I think this needs to be put in perspective. Naim developed their streaming platform in 2008, and only once since then have they released a new platform that required a complete replacement. Then, if you choose to do that, you certainly do not need to ‘bin’ your old one, as it will still work, and is still serviceable by Naim if required.

Perhaps we are referring to two different “concepts”

When I made the move to digital from my last Naim CD player (CD555) I (and many others from the old forum) moved to the Linn KDS. This was at the time between the HDX and NDS. My first purchase was the KDS/1 and since then I have been able to upgrade that box to a KDS/2 and then a KDS/3. Each upgrade allowed me to take advantage of Linn’s dramatic updates such as Dynamik and Katalyst all while paying a reasonable upgrade cost. The internal board was removed by the dealer and a new replacement board installed - all within 15 minutes time. As a result I have had my KDS since 2011 and today it is the exact equivalent of one which is sold in 2020.

If I were to have purchased a HDX, or NDS, or NDX etc. then to be able to upgrade I would have had to sell or “bin” the unit and make a brand new purchase of the newer technology at full price - dramatically losing the value of my previous purchase. In order to take advantage of important developments such as Tidal, Qobuz, ROON etc. (which did not exist back in the days of the HDX or NDS) one needed to purchase a new Naim box. With my Linn that was not necessary. As Tidal and Qobuz were introduced the functionality was added. Same with ROON.

With relevance to this particular thread the same concept seems to be in place with the Bartok and other DCS products. A product remains viable for a much longer time horizon and performance and features can be upgraded via software updates. One is able to maintain a functioning unit capable of keeping up with the rapid changes in digital streaming and performance - and not have to purchase a new box in order to keep up with those changes.


Very good point and the reasons why I’m a bit disappointed with Naim. A very recent NDS that cannot be updated and require a sell & purchase of a new box compared to Linn that offers an easy upgrade program.


Not sure that DCS is the same concept. There are downloadable firmware upgrades but DCS boxes are changing from time to time: DCS bartok replaces the Debussy , Rossini the Puccini. Like Naim, you have to sell the old and buy the brand new.

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However…the Rossini came out in 2015 and just received a large 2.0 update now so…good (and up to date) for at least another 5 years.

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Presumably the new Naim streamers rely on software updates. With the older streamers, you are a bit stuck for upgrades, but fine for local streaming and Tidal.

Perhaps not anymore in 3 or 4 years. Even the streaming part can be upgraded with the DCS bridge.

Well trying the bartok right now and have to say it is better than the NDS in my system
I run my NDS with a 555psdr on socket 1 and another power supply on socket 2.
More separation, more detail, better control of the bass and more lively but still has great prat.
Also the headphone amp is nice and very powerful.
It certainly fits in well with naim and loving all the features it has, I dont think there is anything it cant do, qubuz sounds lovely and better than tidal and even get to try MQA on tidal, which does sound nice and different to normal tidal but I prefer qubuz.
The dcs mosaic app is also very nice and works well.
One thing I have noticed is that if you have the bartok set to max on its volume and out put at 6v it sounds so much more dynamic than at lower levels even if you adjust the 552 volume to compensate and I wonder if this is why some haven’t got on with it?
Anyway so far it’s been fantastic and has the ability to make even crap recordings sound nice, something the NDS can’t do.


Can you tell what kind of music are you listening most?
Don’t you find the Bartok leaner vs the nds?

Listening to all sorts really, but not classical.
London grammar, dire straits, fleetwood mac, nils lofgren, norah jones, daft punk etc.
It certainly isn’t leaner than the NDS. It has everything the nds can offer and more.
When i tried it for about 30 minutes in the shop against the ND555/555ps i felt the Bartok was slightly better but didn’t really get the time i would have liked with it.
The dcs dac has a lovely sound to it and fits in very well with my system as it is.
It does bring extra detail over the nds, but it doesn’t lose any timber if you get what i mean, i did try the dave at the shop before the Bartok and found that to bright and light for my taste and quite a bit away from the naim sound signature that i liked for over 25 years, these dcs dacs seem to offer a more middle ground, enouth great detail, nice bass and involvement from the tracks.
So far its been a nice improvement


Forgot to say these filters on the Bartok are a nice feature and you can choose which one you prefer and swap about as you please on different tracks etc.
Not much difference between them but with my headphones on and switching from the 1st one to the last one you can get to hear the slight difference.

But as i said before having the Bartok connect to the 552 and running the Bartok on 0.0 db and output voltage at 6v does make it sound better than say -40 db. If the Bartok had been used on headphone output then the db would be running lower as it would blow your ears at 0.0db and just maybe this is a reason why some have not liked what they heard, also the output voltage can be set to different settings 6v, 3v and other lower ones and as said this also effects the sound

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I hope you will enjoy your new Bartok. It’s a nice piece of kit.
I would like to see more feedbacks on it vs Naim streamers.
Bluesfan compared the Nd555, DCS Rossini with and without clock, Dave, and Bartok with and without the clock.
He found the Bartok the less involving vs the 3 others . Nice and refined sound however.
So opinions seems to vary. Difficult to know how it sounds really.

I heard the Rossini and preferred the Linn KDSM for its musicality, even if the Rossini was more detailed and holographic. However on a bare SN2.

You are lucky to live in UK. It’s easier to make the right choice.

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Is the Rega P10/ Aura still the king?

Just swapped the nds back in and played the same track from the melco, so it rules out the streamer side of things, as its plain to see and hear the Bartok is far more advanced in this department as you would expect.
Playing track one off norah jones ablum " come away with me" it was very obvious the difference, her voice was just lacking somewhat, the instruments also. It was like i have moved from the front row to the back row in the theatre.
So much more involving the extra details around the notes from the instruments just stand out more.
Part of me was hoping that the difference would be much, as in the shop demo my nds and nd555 wasn’t a huge difference, yes the nd555 was better but not this much different.
Also the Bartok was not massively different to the nd555 and the only one that really made a big difference was the rossini/clock.
With that i can only dream what that would be like on my system, if the Bartok sounds like this. But it does go to show that home demo is the only real way to try these products as it could just be that i have hit the sweat spot with my room, speakers, gear and my sitting position?
The nds is still a great product, but it has just been shown a clean pair of heels