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dCS Deep Dive: Inside the Lina Network DAC

The Lina Network DAC delivers a full dCS experience in a versatile new format – here, we examine the technologies and unique features that drive its award-winning performance

The Lina Network DAC is the culmination of more than three years intensive development. It delivers the same ultra-revealing, deeply musical sound and exceptional clarity that listeners have come to expect from dCS in a new format that brings various mechanical and electronic improvements.  

The DAC’s unique architecture reflects the various breakthroughs and learnings we’ve made over the past ten years. Renowned dCS technologies – including our Ring DAC™ system and Digital Processing Platform – are combined with a wealth of novel features that have enabled us to further optimise the audio signal path. For listeners, this means a high-performance DAC that can excel in all high-end systems, from reference-level listening room setups to more intimate arrangements.      

Here, we take a look at the technologies and features that drive its performance... 

The Lina Circuit Board

Inside all Lina DACs is a part rigid, part flexible folding circuit board that contains over 2,000 electronic components. This feature is unique to the Lina Network DAC and it allows us to:  

  • Deliver the full range of dCS DAC technologies – including our Ring DAC™ system, Digital Processing Platform, clocking system and integrated streamer – in a more compact footprint, without compromising on sound or performance   

  • Reduce the number of individual circuits inside the product for a cleaner signal path and better performance     

Creating the flex-rigid PCB meant we could utilise every millimetre of available space in the DAC’s chassis – a feat that in turn, meant we could deliver the same range of critical components in a more compact design.  

Using a single board – rather than several boards connected together, as found in other dCS products – brings several benefits. Having less connections between components results in better electromagnetic performance, which in turn contributes to better overall system performance.    

Making the board required us to test the limits of PCB manufacturing. The board’s design was made possible through new advancements in PCB design and machining. We were also able to benefit from advancements made in other industries such as medicine, aerospace and defence.   

The board was designed in-house, with our electrical engineering team taking great care to devise the best layout for optimal performance. It is manufactured by our specialist production partners – a team of experts with decades of experience – using cutting-edge equipment, and each one is fitted by a dCS technician during the Lina Network DAC assembly phase. 

The solid aluminium chassis that aids performance

The Lina Network DAC is housed in a chassis cut from a solid aluminium billet. This feature is an integral part of the product and one that serves to further enhance performance.   

Creating a chassis from a single piece of metal – rather than several pieces bolted together – is an unusual approach which allows us to ensure that all electronic components within the DAC perform to the best of their abilities.   

When developing the chassis, we were keen to look beyond simply creating a safe house for sensitive electronics and instead take a more holistic view. We wanted to create a chassis that could serve as a true faraday cage, providing a completely secure enclosure that prevented electromagnetic interference and leakage. Alongside this, we wanted to reduce the number of components to an absolute minimum to create an elegant, minimal chassis with a timeless appeal.   

This led us to develop a design using a single piece of aluminium – a material renowned for its excellent acoustic properties. This required the use of a 5-axis CNC machine. The cutting process is complex, but it allows us to create a rigid, non-resonant case. The casework is able to dissipate heat whilst avoiding unwanted vibration and magnetic effects, something that would not be possible with less complex production methods.    

This approach reflects the wider ethos that has shaped the development of all dCS DACs. Our engineers are dedicated to ensuring each aspect of a product’s design supports our aim to deliver the highest levels of performance, quality and reliability for dCS owners.  

This driving ethos requires us to carefully consider the construction of every component – from circuit boards to casing – as well as the materials and production methods we use.   

The renowned dCS Ring DAC

Another core component of the Lina DAC – found on its flex-rigid board – is the Ring DAC, the digital-to-analogue conversion system which manages the process of translating the 1s and 0s stored on a digital recording into the signals that drive our speakers or headphones.  

The Ring DAC is unique to dCS. It uses hardware and software developed by our engineers, who have spent decades exploring how we can reproduce audio signals with the highest degree of accuracy. Its design enables us to deliver sound while keeping distortion to an absolute minimum, resulting in a more resolved sound and a more revealing, natural musical experience.  

You can find out more about the Ring DAC here.

The infinitely flexible processing platform

The Digital Processing Platform is found in all dCS DACs from Vivaldi APEX through to Lina. The platform is responsible for taking a digital audio signal and optimising it for conversion to analogue. This process encompasses a multitude of complex operations from filtering to oversampling, which are vital to ensuring that audio signals are faithfully reproduced and that listeners experience the best possible performance from their system. 

Creating our own processing platform, rather than relying on third-party software or hardware, means we are able to optimise performance at every aspect of the signal path, without compromise. It also gives us near-unlimited scope to continue improving the DAC’s performance throughout its lifespan. Processing operations are controlled via FPGAs – flexible hardware chips that run on dCS software. This software can be updated to deliver new features and improvements as we develop them, ensuring that Lina continues to offer a state-of-the-art experience. In 2023, we released two major upgrades for Lina owners. Lina 1.1 added digital volume control and volume lock whilst Lina 2.0 brought a major upgrade in performance, along with additional settings and new features such as balance control.  

With each product we create, we aim to build on all that we’ve learned, pushing ourselves and our technologies to deliver new innovations that can enhance people’s listening experience, while maintaining the strict performance standards seen across the dCS range.  

The Lina Network DAC draws on insights gained through four decades of audio development and recent advances in electronics. Its form caters to a vast range of spaces and setups, whilst its flex-rigid circuit board, aluminium chassis and unique technologies combine to deliver a profound musical experience. 

Explore the Lina Network DAC product page, browse recent reviews & discover global dealer outlets at the links below.

Coming up: Lina Network DAC Review Highlights

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