dCS Network Bridge SQ? See end of thread for conclusion

It is a potentially interesting device but the review is not particularly useful and, as usual, the devil is in the (software) details. It would be interesting to see comparisons – both in terms of sound quality and of software features – with the obvious contenders: the Bryston BDP-3, the Chord Hugo M Scaler, the DigiOne Signature, etc.

dcs is the leading company in digital today. All software and firmware is from dcs.
I would personally buy without listening to it.
The dacs are another story, because they have a signature sound, like naim or others, which can satisfy or not. Without listening is more risky.

There is a large set of audio server reviews here: https://www.stereophile.com/category/media-server-reviews
It includes the Bryston and many others.
The products are as usual compared against alternatives in each reviewer’s reference system.
The dCS Network Bridge review is here: https://www.stereophile.com/content/dcs-network-bridge-network-player
It concludes:
Conclusions
I’ve paired so many different components, and explored so many different ways to use the dCS Network Bridge, that I’m probably ready to launch an audiophile edition of match.com. But so painstaking a methodology was necessary to conclusively establish whether the Network Bridge could optimize the sounds of files and streams played through the dCS Vivaldi and other DACs, and present music in the best possible light.

The answer is incontrovertible. The $4250 dCS Network Bridge and app comprise an invaluable—I’d say indispensable—asset for owners of a Vivaldi and or older dCS DAC. And even with DACs from companies other than dCS, the Network Bridge delivered sound that was demonstrably superior to conventional computer-audio playback via USB. As with dCS’s major upgrade of the Vivaldi DAC’s software to v.2.02: Class A all the way.

As regards your list of streamers for comparison, the RRPs are:

  • dCS Network Bridge £3250
  • Bryston BDP-3 £3600
  • Chord Hugo M Scaler £3500
  • DigiOne Signature £270

So the Bryston and Chord are even more expensive.
But as far as I’m aware only the dCS Network Bridge does an MQA Core Unfold.
So the others weren’t on my shortlist - because my only source is Tidal and I’d like to hear Tidal Masters.

Funnily enough, I just noticed in that Audiophile review that, “Given its multiple functions, the Network Bridge is really a local and streaming music file renderer that can locate, process ( ie , convert FLAC and other compressed formats to uncompressed WAV), and present to any DAC music files from a variety of sources, local or Web-based.”

That adds another way that the dCS Network Bridge will increase the SQ of my system - as well as doing the core unfold of MQA, and being a low noise, high quality streamer, it will transcode Tidal FLAC files to WAV, which I seem to recall the 272 prefers to receive. And it will reduce the levels of EM noise and vibration inside the 272 because there will be less processing occuring inside the box.

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you can see the review of : dcs network bridge audiostream ( google tap). very well done .

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Thanks FR - I had not seen that review.

The reviewer reacts with great positivity, like all the other reviews I’ve read:

"With the dCS Network Bridge installed, my system sounds as good as it ever has … What this means is, it is my opinion that if you own a healthy helping of network-attached stored music and are interested in streaming from Tidal or Spotify and you have been sitting on the fence about how to connect A to B (A being the network-based music and B being your hi-fi) because you felt “this stuff changes too fast so I’ll get something cheap”, dCS’ the Bridge provides a very compelling argument for the getting the hell off the fence.

As compared to my system , which includes the overachieving microRendu, the Bridge-endowed system and the music it played sounded more refined. More real. This means that I hear things more clearly, feel things more fully, and am generally more able to lose myself in music. That last bit being the entire point of this hobby. For me.

Have you ever had a run where all of the new music you hear you love? I’ve been on one and the dCS Bridge made all of it all the more lovely by caressing the beauty out of the bits. To my ears and experience, the Bridge does not suffer from self-noise or if it does, it does so to vanishing low levels. This means music is presented as if emanating from its source without obstruction."

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Hi JD, I do not want to sound like a party pooper but the chord m scaler is not a streamer … also, I have not compared them with the DCS but the Auralic and Lumin are less expensive, have USB output and can stream Qobuz without needing Roon …

Hi BB - no problem - thanks for the input.
I didn’t bring up the Chord Hugo M Scaler - I was simply responding to nbpf who said it was one of the obvious contenders for comparison with the dCS Network Bridge.
As you say, the Auralic and Lumin are less expensive, have USB output and can stream Qobuz without needing Roon.
Having native Qobuz is not important to me as I’m a Tidal HiFi user.
Having USB output is not important to me as I’m planning to use SPDIF.
Being less expensive would be nice, but I had a budget that happened to be just around the price I paid for the dCS Network Bridge and my only criterion was to spend it on the thing that would get me the greatest SQ uplift of my system using Tidal.
Cheers
Jim

JD, very interesting, what was your verdict when you compared DCS/AURALIC/LUMIN? I’m in the market for one of them to feed my m-scaler but only had time to demo the Auralic so far.

Excellent Q.
Unfortunately I have not been able to hear any of them.
The reasons for this are:

  1. I live in Lancaster so it’s a long way to any hifi shop.
  2. I refuse to go to a hifi dealer and ask them to demo kit unless I’m genuinely considering buying it from them. And I have not been planning to buy new unless I came across something where the risks of buying second hand were too great. But that didn’t happen in this case.

So what I did was watch videos of many products (and in different product categories) by Darko, Beekhuysen, Guttenberg, Zero Fidelity, Paul McGowan, et al.
Plus read many many hifi reviews.
Read shedloads of forum posts and ask many Qs on this site, on pfm, on AV forums, audiophile style, et al.
Take all this in and aim off for the copious quantities of unconscious bias, commercial intent, and intentional BS and trolling that traverses these domains like rivers.
(I am a professional psychologist, so I find nonsense very interesting as it always tells you something about the ways people think and why they think that way).
Talk to some dealers on the phone and see if any have made interesting things work - proof of concept.
Then make my own mind up.
And look for an honest and straghtforward seller who makes a decent cuppa (I hope).

But please let me know your findings!

cheers
Jimbledog

auralic is made in China. Lumin in Hong kong, so China too.
I heard that Auralic is not following well his past products, and not once…
Dcs is very close to customers and has a superb reputation.
Anyway, who can really compare lumin, auralic, bryston and dcs in a same system. It’s quite impossible to do.

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Jim, that sounds to me like a thorough research programme , well done.

I’m not sure what this dcs product exactly is though. It’s not a m-scaler type component I see from above. Is it, something akin to say Sonore’s Signature Rendu ( ie. Feeding from NAS or Tidal etc into dac? )

it’s a transport, like ndx2 without its dac. A streamer without a dac.

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Arh, I see. Thanks FR. That’s pretty straightforward then . I thought it was doing something much more complex :+1:

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however, personally, i am unable to explain more…

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That’s OK, thanks for replying FR. I will do some research, but probably it will not be up to Jim’s exemplary standards :wink:

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i think to remember that you have the microrendu with a chord qutest.
But don’t remember well. The dcs is like a microrendu, or raspberry pi. More high end i guess.

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You have a very good memory FR, I have a m/rendu into chord qutest. It was for that reason I asked Jim above if the dcs was similar to a Sonore Signature Rendu ( thinking slightly higher end you state)

:+1::+1:

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Yes I looked at the microrendu and the Chord qutest and other Chords.
I’ve heard these as my Hifi ‘Best mate’ has a Chord Dave, TT, Quest, etc.
We’ve even done A/B tests of them vs the 272.

Jim, as above I have the m/rendu into chord qutest. On the budget I wanted to spend it was (to my ears) by far the best option. Your reviews of the Dcs etc is much higher end and probably would not be directly comparable to my humble system. Hence my question if the Dcs was similar to say the Signature Rendu.