dCS Bartok Impresses with JPS Labs and HIFIMAN at High End 2019

As an audio component, you know you have hit the big time when you have a whole room to yourself at High End Munich 2019.

No amps, no speakers, no turntables: just a whole very quiet (!) private room with four dCS Bartók upsampling DAC/streamer/headphone amps listening stations and what presents like a seemingly infinite TIDAL playlist. (Current pricing in Sterling £10K or £12K with headphone amp) or $13,500 USD/$15,000 USD with built-in headphone amp).

I auditioned the Bartók using Johnny Cash (with June Carter) Live at San Quentin, and two of the best headphones I know: the JPS Labs Abyss AB-1266 Phi and the HiFiMan Susvara.

I know this recording well – on every format on which it has ever appeared – but today, playing from TIDAL, it was hyper-clear and spacious and super-detailed. Johnny seemed very present ‘on stage’ and the audience seemed very ‘out there’ like real people in front of him. The Bartók’s three selectable gain settings made alternating between the moderately-insensitive Abyss and the extremely insensitive Susvara a pleasure.

Next, I listened to a variety of spiritual-DUB-jazz recordings including an album I did not know but hope to go home and become intimate with: Sarathy Korwar’s My East is Your West. The sound was highly descriptive, super-delicate, and right there. Maybe a little dry for my taste, but probably just perfect for the traditional audiophile transitioning-to-headphone crossover market that the dCS Bartók seems intended for.

More High End Munich 2019 coverage to come.

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