dCS Network Bridge to breathe new life into older streamers

The dCS Network Bridge looks like a good way to get Roon Readiness and various sonic improvements into older streamers.

A review online describes it thus:
What : The Network Bridge. A digital to digital converter with Ethernet input and digital audio output. The Network Bridge feature set includes Roon Ready support, UPnP / DLNA rendering, AirPlay, Tidal, Spotify, bit perfect output or down sampled output to match a DAC, MQA core decoding, and support or PCM up through 24/384 and DSD up through DSD128.

dCS also provides its own iOS app for control and configuration of the Network Bridge. The app supports music stored on a network, locally attached hard drive, or streaming via Tidal and Spotify. People who don’t want the complexity of a third party application or who like simple interfaces for just listening to music, will be very pleased with the dCS iOS app.

I like what dCS has done with the app in that it’s very simple and straight forward. Users who want more features can easily add a Roon or DLNA server and fire up another app.

When : Released in 2017 with an initial set of features that has been upgraded over time via firmware.

Why : The Network Bridge is a product many manufacturers wish they’d have built. The Bridge not only breathes life into legacy DACs from dCS and others, but it also enhances the features and sonic quality of many current DACs. Many legacy DACs feature S/PDIF or AES inputs that support various sample rates but don’t have other digital inputs that enable network streaming or remote control or any of the other aforementioned features. Attaching the Network Bridge to these DACs essentially creates a new digital system very close to what’s currently available. For example, there are sonic qualities to the older dCS Scarlatti DACs that I just love. Whether this is me being nostalgic or not is beside the point that the Network Bridge can turn a Scarlatti into a product that wasn’t even conceived when it was released in 2007.

Enhancing new DACs with a Network Bridge is another huge benefit. Let’s face it, many DACs aren’t cheap. Nobody likes to put one on the shelf and by a new one because of missing features. Adding a Network Bridge to DAC immediately enables all of the above features. For example, adding the Bridge to an upgraded Berkeley Audio Design DAC not only enhances its feature set greatly but also provides a core decoded MQA stream for the DAC to render. Don’t care about more features? No problem. Adding the Network Bridge to a Schiit Yggdrasil and connecting it via AES can improve the sound quality greatly.

One huge benefit to many music lovers on the Roon bandwagon is the fact that the Bridge turns almost any DAC into a Roon endpoint. If the DAC can connect to the Bridge, Roon will be able to send it audio. Technically the Bridge is the Roon ready endpoint, but when viewed as a system of Bridge + DAC, the difference is neither here nor there.

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A very expensive way to do it. There are quite a few other products out there that do the same thing, with a comparable or better result and for less money.

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Which other products?
Have you compared them to the dCS Network Bridge?

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At the very top end (but still 30% cheaper than the dCS) is the Playback Designs Stream-IF. It acts as a bridge AND as a streamer. It will also allow you to rip SACDs to your drive. Runs rings around the dCS. [As an aside, to my ears (and to quite a few others), the PB Designs Dream series much outperforms the Vivaldi stack. Of course, that’s a lot of money in both cases, even if the Dream series is about half the price of Vivaldi stack].

To get closer to ground level, for a pure network bridge function, products from Sonore are excellent at all their price levels. You can add linear power supplies to them to improve their performance. An Ultrarendu with a LPS will be more than enough to feed 99% of DACs out there. Sonore does cheaper and more expensive products than the UltraRendu.

There are many others of course - you can do a Pi based bridge for pretty cheap. I’ve just listed the ones I have experience with.

Comments on sound quality are, of course, entirely personal and subjective. I do think, however, that you don’t need to spend a fortune on a network bridge, and that, in general, dCS products are great but are quite overpriced for what they deliver (again a subjective comment). I think the dCS network bridge only makes sense in the company of other dCS products.

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Have you heard the dCS Network Bridge with a Naim DAC?

How did you do the comparison to come to this conclusion?
Was it an AB comparison in a dealership? Or in your home?

I’m more interested in why an increasing number of posts on here look like adverts on behalf of manufacturers. The OP literally posts pasted text without comment. No indication he’s heard the device in question and then seems to be aggressively challenging others on whether or not they’ve heard it/done a comparison. Very thin ice indeed imo.

Perhaps if a thread had been started with a simple question as to whether anyone used it; had done a comparison or had a view!!!

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Hi Mike
It’s not an advert.
I’m considering whether to buy one, so looking for feedback.
The text I posted above is from an informative review, as I said.
There are extremely positive reviews of what the dCS Network Bridge does to SQ in many of the main hifi journals.
And several of these reviews test how it works with DACs and streamers that are not made by dCS - which is what it was designed to do.
As regards my questions to Cemil, he is making some very strong claims that he knows other cheaper products ‘run rings around’ the dCS Network Bridge, so I asked to know how he knows this - whether it is from listening tests he has conducted.
I shared part of that review because it seemed particularly well written and informative, and I thought that some other forum members might find it of interest.
Jim

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A lot of members here use the sonore products or raspberry pi, in order to have roon or first mqa unfold.
But i believe that better network bridge components can exist. There is no reason for the contrary.
On audiophile style site, ex computer audiophile, Michael Lavorgna found the dcs network bridge better sounding vs the ultra rendu with linear ps.
However the dcs costs around 3k. It’s perhaps a bit expensive just to have roon or first mqa unfold, for me at least.
The network bridge with another dac is a more logical combo for me. Unfortunately naim doesn’t produce standalone dacs.

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Yes, I’m considering it as a way to rejuvenate my 272 with Roon Readiness and MQA first unfold, and get a probable boost in SQ, given the excellent reviews the dCS Network Bridge has had.
The dCS Network Bridge can be bought second hand at less than the figure you mention.
Naim, of course, has made a standalone DAC previously.

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second hand would be a great option certainly Jimdog. A french member, Stringerbell, has the dcs bridge with a chord hugo. He had previously the ndx.
Martin Colloms in hificritic, found the nds with the dcs bridge better sounding for tidal streaming. The nds was already a 8/9 k product, so it says something.

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Yes!
The reviews of the dCS Network Bridge gets are extremely good.
I’ve now pressed the button and bought a 6-month old one in Mint condition.
Picking it up on Thursday.
It will be an interesting experience to see what it does with the 272 and my Naim power amp and Naim speakers.
I’m hoping it will allow me to keep the 272 for many years to come, but make the most of Tidal Masters, as Tidal is now my sole source.
I think there are more than a million Tidal Masters tracks available…

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Well done Jimdog! I am curious to have your feedback when you will receive it.
Perhaps, in the future, you can add a second hand ndac for it. There will be anyway still some possibilities to upgrade the sound.
For now you will certainly have a great uplift in streaming tidal.

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Thanks - I’ll let you know how it goes.
A very good Naim dealer has paired the dCS Network Bridge with a 272 to give his customer Roon and MQA.
He said that it sounded excellent and gave a larger soundstage and better separation, so there are certainly cases where the pairing of the Network Bridge with the 272 has worked very well.

it will be better, i have no doubt for it. If not, you can return it. But i don’t imagine you can be disappointed, the reviews are excellent, in other forums too.

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If it does sound very good, then hopefully I won’t need to bother with Roon, because I’ll have Tidal Masters through the Network Bridge.
If I avoid buying a Roon Nucleus+ (which costs £2.5k plus storage plus Roon fees) the Network Bridge will have more than paid for itself.

which cable will you use? rca/ din or spdif? i don’t know the type of connection.

Via spdif cable.

:small_blue_diamond:JimDog,…If I have the right information, Phil Harris (formerly Naim) is working for dCS now.

Just a little pointless information :wink:.

/Peder🙂

Hi Peder
Thanks - yes, I had heard that.
Jim

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