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2023: A Year in Review

We reflect on our highlights from 2023, from product updates to audio events, awards, new partnerships and creative collaborations

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It’s been another eventful year for the team at dCS. In the past 12 months we have released major performance upgrades for two dCS products, developed a new edition of the Vivaldi CD/SACD Transport, forged new distribution partnerships in Europe and Asia, and participated in over 30 major audio shows, as well as assembling and shipping products to dCS owners around the world.

Behind the scenes, our R&D team have continued to explore how we can further enhance the capabilities of our systems, and our marketing team have produced a range of new content for music lovers and dCS owners – from exclusive playlists to articles offering a deep dive into our culture, products and technologies. Recognition followed as we also received awards from some of the world’s leading audio magazines and audiovisual associations.  

We look forward to bringing you more exciting updates in 2024 but for now, here’s a look at our highlights from 2023.

Thanks to everyone who’s supported us this year and we wish you all the best for the festive season!

Performance upgrades and new features

In March this year we launched Bartók APEX – a new edition of the dCS Bartók which features our latest-generation Ring DAC APEX hardware – and made APEX upgrades available to existing Bartók owners.   

The upgrade brings a range of sonic and measured improvements, from enhanced dynamics, rhythm and timing to greater soundstage, resolution and imaging. You can read more about the benefits of APEX here

We also delivered two major updates to the dCS Lina Network DAC. Lina 1.1 provided digital volume control and volume lock features whilst Lina 2.0 brought new filter and Mapper settings as well as balance control. 

These updates have enabled us to further enhance performance and create an even better user experience for Lina owners, giving them more control over the settings on their DAC plus additional features to support listening in a loudspeaker-based setup.

The 2.0 upgrade brings the range of available filters and Mapper settings in line with our Vivaldi, Rossini and Bartók DACs – you can learn more about the evolution of our 2.0 software and discover how it has enhanced people’s experience of listening to music through their dCS system here.

A 2.1 update for dCS Rossini brought our patented headphone optimisation feature dCS Expanse to the Rossini DAC and Rossini Player. This means listeners can now experience even better playback when listening to a wide range of stereo recordings with headphones. More on Expanse and the benefits of this feature here.

Alongside upgrading our products, we released new versions of the dCS Mosaic streaming app to provide support for Lina 2.0 and Rossini 2.1 plus  improved support for Internet Radio , UPnP and HTTP live stream features.

We also continued to deliver APEX upgrades for dCS owners around the world, following the launch of our APEX edition Vivaldi and Rossini in 2022.

As we’ve discussed in previous articles on the dCS Edit, upgrading products is a core focus for the entire team at dCS. We are committed to ensuring our systems continue to improve and deliver a state-of-the-art performance throughout their lifespan, and we invest significant time and resource in developing updates for owners across the dCS range.

We’ve received some fantastic feedback from Bartók, Rossini, Lina and Vivaldi owners following these developments, and seeing how APEX and Lina 2.0 have enhanced people’s experience of listening to music has been one of our biggest highlights of 2023.

Thanks to everyone who has emailed, called and shared your listening impressions with us so far – hearing that we’ve been able to bring people closer to their music is the ultimate achievement for us and the objective that drives all research and development at dCS. We’ll continue to deliver new features and updates as and when we develop them for all products across the dCS range.

The Vivaldi Transport - Mark II

In addition to developing software upgrades, we launched the Mark II Vivaldi CD/SACD Transport, which began shipping in November following its debut at this year’s Shanghai audio show. 

The Mark II’s release means Vivaldi customers once again have the option of adding a dedicated CD/SACD Transport to their system. It combines the visual stylings of the Vivaldi series with proven and tested dCS hardware – providing an excellent solution for Vivaldi listeners looking to extract the best performance from their silver discs.

While streaming has become ubiquitous, we know there are many dCS owners who have amassed an extensive collection of CDs, including rare recordings not available on other platforms and Super Audio CDs in their native DSD format – a format that is not currently available through any streaming service. We developed the Mark II as we wanted to support these listeners and ensure all Vivaldi owners can listen in their preferred format for years to come. We’re delighted to bring this to market and maintain the high standards of performance seen across the Vivaldi series.  

Awards for Vivaldi, Lina & Bartók

Our design and engineering team’s achievements were recognised by some of the world’s leading audio experts, with the dCS Vivaldi APEX, Bartók APEX and Lina series all winning multiple awards in 2023. 

The Vivaldi APEX received a Golden Ear Award from The Absolute Sound, an Editor’s Choice Award from Mono & Stereo and a Statements in High Fidelity Award from Hi-Fi Statement. It was also named Joint Overall Product of the Year for 2023 by the team at Stereophile magazine.

When we designed Vivaldi, our goal was to create a future-proof playback system that would support a myriad of use cases and deliver the most natural, revealing and immersive experience possible. We were enormously proud of the system when it launched, and we’ve continued to improve its performance and capabilities over time, so we are beyond thrilled to see it is still recognised as a world-leading playback system.

Bartók APEX received three awards in recognition of its continued evolution and enhancements delivered with our APEX upgrade. It received the 2023 Digital Source Component of the Year award from Stereophile, the DAC / Amplifier of the Year award from Headphone Guru and an Outstanding Product Award from hi-fi news.

dCS Lina, meanwhile, was named the Best High-End Headphone Solution in this year’s EISA Awards and the Best High-End Streamer in AV Forums’ annual Editor’s Choice awards. It also received a Best of 2023 award from Mono & Stereo, a Grand Prix from Stereo Sound in Japan, a Best Product award from High Fidelity in Poland, and Personal Listening Product of the Year award from Tone Audio.

In addition, we’ve received a wealth of fantastic reviews from Europe, the US and Asia this year, with leading publications recommending the Vivaldi, Rossini, Bartók and Lina following extensive auditions and many hours of playback. 

Seeing products across the dCS range receive such positive feedback and so many accolades is a wonderful reward for the whole team here, and a reflection of the immense care and dedication that goes into developing each one of our products. We have always set out to deliver the highest levels of performance for listeners, so it gives us enormous pleasure to see so many fellow music lovers, audiophiles and industry professionals so inspired by their experiences of listening to dCS.

New partnerships in Asia and Europe

We continued to expand our global presence in 2023, forging exciting new partnerships that will help us to bring dCS to more people than ever before.

Distribution in China, Hong Kong and Macau is now managed by Richcom AV, whilst German distribution is managed by Audio Reference. We also appointed a new distributor, Audio Jaya, in Indonesia, and appointed Aphrodite to distribute dCS throughout Greece.

We give careful consideration to our choice of distribution partners, selecting teams who share our values, as well as our desire to bring people closer to the music they love, and we’re delighted to collaborate with people whose capabilities, depth of knowledge and experience is unrivalled in their region. We’re hugely excited by the potential that these new partnerships offer – allowing us to bring dCS to new cities and stores whilst ensuring that customers receive outstanding aftercare and sales support.

Alongside appointing new partners, we welcomed numerous dCS retailers and distributors to our factory this year. It was wonderful to spend time with them, sharing knowledge and ideas, and of course, listening to music in the dCS listening room.

dCS on the road 

On the subject of visits, it’s always a pleasure to hit the road and meet with fellow manufacturers and audiophiles, and we attended a record number of events this year. Our team took part in over 30 major audio events in 18 countries, as well as various in-store happenings and dealer training events. We brought dCS to cities across Europe, Asia and the US, from Singapore to Shanghai, Tokyo, Manila, Vienna, Oslo, Stockholm and Warsaw.

In addition to visiting long-established conferences such as Munich High-End, we travelled to six CanJams, and took the Lina Lounge listening experience to headfi enthusiasts at CanJam New York, Chicago, London, Singapore, SoCal and Dallas. We also partnered with several retailers to participate in events celebrating luxury craftsmanship and high-performance audio. We had a fantastic time meeting with dCS owners and we’d like to thank everyone who came along to visit us.

We’ll be back on the road in 2024 – dates and details will be added to our Event Page in the New Year.

dCS Content: Masters, Deep Dives and Playlists 

Our project celebrating music industry creatives who use dCS Bartók in their workflow continued with a film featuring record label owner Dolphus Ramseur. We visited Dolphus at his home and recording space in North Carolina to discuss his career, his approach to working with artists, his love of the Piedmont blues, and his fantastic collection of audio equipment, which includes rare vintage artefacts alongside modern designs. 

We created Masters to celebrate some of the incredible musical talent that exists within our global community. It’s been an honour meeting with such inspiring minds to bring you an in-depth look at their work and process, and we hope you’ve enjoyed watching the series so far.

Our next Masters film will premiere in January 2024 and features renowned classical pianist Nicolas Hodges. Nicolas travelled to the UK earlier this year to spend time with the dCS team, visiting our listening room and performing for us at a local arts venue. The film explores his creative process, his relationship with the pieces he performs, and his choice of audio equipment.

Alongside meeting with musical creatives for Bartók Masters, we’ve continued to bring you exclusive playlists, from our monthly Classical Choices and New Music roundups to our new Guest Playlist feature. We’ve also delved into the archives to provide an in-depth look at the sound of classic albums from decades past, from Frampton Comes Alive! To 808 State’s seminal release, 90.

In addition, we’ve produced a range of content to help people learn more about our products and technologies. Our Lina Headphone Amplifier Deep Dive explored key design and performance aspects of the Lina amp, providing detailed information for people keen to learn more about its drive, linearity and flexibility. Our guide to dCS filters addressed some of the questions we are commonly asked about the range of filters available within dCS DACs, whilst our Filtering technical paper offered a more comprehensive look at filtering in digital audio. 

We’ll be sharing more resources with you in the new year, from video tutorials helping you explore different configurations available with your dCS DAC, to a more detailed look at upsampling.

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Insights, inspiration and advice from the dCS Community

We couldn’t end the year without thanking dCS owners and in particular the amazing listeners who are part of the dCS Community forum.  We are always fascinated to read your insights and feedback, and look forward to seeing what new discussions will unfold each month – from threads discussing different audio setups and product combinations, to posts highlighting the music you love listening to, and your impressions of APEX, as well as discussions regarding common technical questions.

With your participation, the forum has become an invaluable resource for owners and anyone interested in dCS, and a great place to trade tips or discuss high-end audio and music. Thanks again to our members – you can join the forum at dcs.community.

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