As a Brit living in the States, I always have one eye cocked east to see what new and interesting gear is coming out of the UK. Whether it’s stuff from Linn or Naim, or even the revived Leak and Epos brands, I’m always curious to see what Blighty can muster, post-1980’s brain-drain. It’s strange but over the years I seem to have purchased a disproportionate amount of gear from Britain and Europe, versus more homegrown goods found on these US shores. I don’t believe that purchasing UK or European brands is a conscious preference of mine, even though it would involve remittance to the tribe. Purchasing high-end gear from overseas poses a clear drawback, particularly when it comes to repair services if the stuff stops working. But for whatever reason I’ve found myself owning a lot of ‘foreign’ gear: My Nottingham Analogue turntable, my Music Hall speed controller, my ProAc D40R speakers, and my Synthesis A100 Titan integrated amp – all of it was designed and built overseas, and most of it in the UK. And now….my dCS Rossini Player/DAC and Master Clock – another manufacturer from the homeland.

When Tim, my local dealer, presented me with the dCS kit at a reasonable price, my mind didn’t dwell on the fact that it was another British brand. Instead, a curious feeling of guilt crept in as I pondered the significant investment.

It brought to mind a moment from six years ago when I almost bought an old house in North Carolina, complete with an acre of land, for about the same cost as the dCS duo. Reflecting on the relative values, it seems the real test is in deciding if the price-to-performance ratio of this equipment can be justified on any level. Naturally, such evaluations are deeply personal. But I know for a fact that some people read reviews and are looking to be told what to do. Others are not just looking for information on a product, they’re looking for a way to justify a decision they’ve already subconsciously made. I feel that I have a responsibility to these people 😉

Of course, not all of us pay full retail, so that’s another factor to take into account. While the dCS Rossini Player/DAC/Master Clock are truly exceptional components, even I wouldn’t consider paying the full $40K MSRP to acquire this pair. And while on the one hand, I’m grateful to my ‘dealer’ for the discount, I also have him to blame for initially sparking the idea of owning them. This was ‘hidden’ stock, under-the-counter merch, acquired from his ‘personal collection’ and not from his more publicly available storefront. It was Tim’s fault, no question.

dCS Rossini Player / DAC / Master Clock Review

Appearance, Connectivity – Other Stuff…

The Rossini Player/DAC and Master Clock exhibit a design philosophy that marries functional elegance with robust construction. Both units share a visually coherent aesthetic, characterized by sleek, minimalist lines and a luxurious finish that commands attention in any high-end audio setup. The chassis, made from high-grade aluminum, not only provides a sturdy enclosure but also contributes to the units’ vibration-resistant properties.

The attention to detail is evident in every aspect of their design, from the precision-engineered buttons and dial to the intuitive layout of inputs and outputs on the rear panel. The Rossini Player features a front-facing display that offers clear visibility of the selected inputs, track information, and settings, and can be viewed easily even from a distance. The Master Clock, while more understated in its appearance, stands as a testament to dCS’s commitment to precision and quality. It’s designed to work seamlessly with the Rossini Player, ensuring jitter-free digital signal processing.

Once out of the box, there are two approaches to getting sound from the dCS kit. The Player/DAC is a technological powerhouse with manuals that run to many pages. There’s network connectivity to consider, and connectivity to other outboard hardware via the multiple digital inputs to assess. Sampling rates, filters, dither settings, isolation and vibration control, and power cord choices. You can dwell on all of this or you can just switch both units on then stick a CD in the drawer on the Rossini Player, and hit play. I did that.

Prior, I’d pulled my Holo May KTE DAC from its position atop my rack and replaced it with the dCS kit, pretty much wire for wire. Now I powered up the dCS via the mains toggle on the back of each unit, waited for the blue LEDs and display to settle down, then stuck the new Roger Waters CD (DSOTM Redux) in the drawer, and hit “play”.

dCS Rossini Player / DAC / Master Clock Review

Hold That Thought…

You could argue, and quite convincingly at that, that the dCS Rossini Player/DAC with Master Clock is wasted on me. I mean, just take a gander at my room. It’s a complete sh*t-hole, excuse my language. Whenever I dare venture into the official dCS forum, I stumble upon a thread where people proudly showcase photos of their rooms and systems. It’s like flipping through one of those fancy interior design magazines that I’ve never actually laid eyes on. The majority of user systems are stunning, meticulously curated, housed in magnificent rooms, and seamlessly integrated into their surroundings. And not a cable in sight! (Everything obviously works wirelessly.) And then there’s my room, my system… housed in an old and decrepit 1910 farmhouse that hasn’t seen an update since the Cold War. My room and system look pretty shabby, and while that’s one reason to preclude me from the dCS owners’ club, the other I alluded to earlier is the technical aspect of ownership – I’m something of a Luddite.

This is sophisticated equipment that can perform at a very high level – assuming you know what the hell you’re doing. While I’m an engineer by trade, that was in another life in the distant past and anything I learned back then is mostly forgotten. However, I review gear so I should know what I’m doing on the technical front, I should know what I’m talking about with bits and digits and sample sizes and all that stuff, right?

To be fair, I’m on the older side and have taken a few blows to the head over the years. So if you’re in search of technical advice or insights on maximizing the sonic capabilities of the Rossini Player there are better places to look.Try the dCS Community forum for starters.

Technical

The Rossini Player/DAC and Master Clock are marvels of modern audio technology, embodying dCS’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of sound reproduction. At the heart of the Rossini Player is dCS’s proprietary Ring DAC technology, acclaimed for its exceptional accuracy in digital-to-analog conversion. This technology, coupled with a powerful processing platform, allows the Rossini Player to handle a wide range of digital audio formats, up to DSD512 and DXD, with remarkable precision and fidelity.

The Rossini Player is also equipped with digital filters or ‘mappings’, giving users the flexibility to tailor the sound to their preferences and the specifics of their listening environment. Its streaming capabilities are equally impressive, with support for popular services like TIDAL, Spotify, and Qobuz, as well as compatibility with Roon, Airplay, and UPnP streaming.

The Master Clock utilizes a highly accurate oven-controlled crystal oscillator that significantly reduces timing errors (jitter) in the digital signal. This results in a cleaner sound, with more detail and spatial accuracy. The Master Clock can also serve as a reference clock for other digital audio devices, further enhancing the coherence and timing of multi-component systems.

As well as the dCS gear, I’ve also bought other gear from Tim’s ‘private stock’, including his Aurender N10 network streamer. I bought the N10 a few months before the dCS Rossini and I like it, it worked great with the Holo Audio May KTE DAC and improved upon the Lumin U1 Mini that it replaced. Tim mentioned that the Aurender and the Rossini had been something of a ‘pairing’ when he had them in his system and that made good sense to me and it was one of the reasons I splurged on the dCS kit – knowing that I had Tim’s old playback source and that it wouldn’t be a limiting factor if I bought the dCS Rossini. But when I brought the dCS units home I posted on the dCS forum asking a question about the best method of connecting to the unit from external sources, such as the Aurender N10. Some kit is optimized for USB, others for i2s (which the Rossini does not have) others for unbalanced SPDIF, etc, so I thought I’d jumpstart my dCS setup with a couple of newbie forum questions.

dCS Rossini Player / DAC / Master Clock Manual

Long story short….it was pointed out to me by a forum member that the Rossini is optimized as a ‘Network Player’, above all else, and that it ought to sound best when used that way, and not with the Aurender N10. As it happens, I have a SonicTransporter i5, which is similar to a Roon NUC and basically a stripped-down computer that’s optimized solely for audio file management. So I pulled the i5 from the closet, powered it via the external SGC LPS power supply, plugged in my USB external hard drive containing about 3TB of music to the i5, connected it to a network switch via Ethernet cable purchased from Blue Jeans Cable, then, ran another Ethernet cable out to the Rossini Player from the same network switch.

It took a while to realize that I needed some software to control this setup, and after some research, I ended up installing minimServer on the SonicTransporter i5. I’d already installed and played around with the dedicated dCS app, Mosaic, so within a half hour of getting minimServer up and running, I had a connection established between Mosaic and Rossini, and Mosaic was seeing the USB hard drive and its music file contents and was beginning to index the 4000 or so albums, getting them ready for playback over the network.

So I did it, mostly on my own with little help. Pat on the back for me. I now have an $8,000 Aurender N10 that’s redundant, replaced by a $1000 SGC i5 that I already had lying around.

So the dCS Rossini is connected via Ethernet, playing files back over the network –  its preferred and optimal connectivity method.

Of course, the Aurender worked just fine as a source while I had it connected to the Rossini, and I used it via USB, SPDIF XLR and SPDIF single-ended RCA. It sounded just fine. But yes, sending locally stored files to the Rossini over Ethernet does sound better, by a small but noticeable margin.

Aside from connectivity, there are a few more technical things to talk about, including the dCS control app – Mosaic. As I’ve touched on already, there are several filters and ‘mappings’ that you can engage via the Mosaic app, and there’s something that dCS refers to as ‘dither’, which is set via the front of the Master Clock.

I have to confess that I went back to the dCS community forum when I came across these settings and options in the Mosaic app. Reading a few different forum posts I found out what a few other people seemed to prefer for these setting options, and I punched them into my unit via Mosaic.

Here’s what I found:

  • Mapper 3 (for a ‘fuller’ sound versus Mapper 1, apparently)
  • Upsampling to DSD×2
  • Filter F3
  • DSD filter F5

For the ‘Dither’ setting I scrutinized the forum and some knowledgable folk seemed to feel that it does very little to the sound engaged or disengaged one way or the other. It illuminates another little blue LED when switched to ‘on’, which looks quite nice, so that’s the way I wear my dither. And yes, I agree, I couldn’t hear a difference in sound when I turned it off.

Another thing you can switch via the app or the front of the player is the gain of the unit, 2v or 6v is selectable and there’s a whole load of opinion on the dCS forum as to which sounds better. For me, my total system gain is quite high, resulting in too little movement on the volume dial of the integrated amp, and the volume buttons on the remote are way too clunky and insensitive, so I’m somewhat forced into using the 2v setting with my present system arrangement.

And that’s it, as far as I can tell. Of course, you can go down the proverbial rabbit hole on things like cables, network switches, hubs, and the like. I’m using a good power cord for the Rossini, an ESP Reference from Essential Sound Products. The PC on the Master Clock isn’t anything fancy, it’s another ESP, this time the ‘Essence’. I used the cheap clock cables that came in the box for a while then switched them out to a pair of Black Cat BNC 75 ohm cables, I could hear a subtle improvement stepping on the Black Cat and I was quite happy with that.

As I’ve mentioned, Ethernet cables were purchased from Blue Jeans and they appear to be really good quality, I’ve no desire to spend more money there unless someone tells me otherwise. The network switch is a basic TP-Link that I picked up for $35 on Amazon. If you think I should spend more, drop me a comment below. I’ve stalked different network switches, some that run to multiple $thousands, but I haven’t pulled the trigger. I started a thread on the PS Audio forum asking about different networking switches and the like and I also learned quite a bit on the subject from that Hans fellow on YouTube. The consensus was/is that the dCS equipment is built in such a way, to such a standard, that spending money on downstream network filtering and the like would be largely fruitless. I couldn’t just let it go at that, the idea of spending nothing after hours of research was repulsive to me, so I dropped $89 bucks on an Ethernet filter from iFi Audio.

So to complete this long and convoluted section, here’s the technical spec for the Rossini Player/DAC:

Type: Upsampling CD/Network Player.
• Color: Silver or Black.
• Dimensions (WxDxH): 444mm/17.5” x 435mm/17.2” x 151mm/6.0”. Allow extra depth for cable connectors.
• Weight: 17.4kg/38.3lbs.
• Converter Type: dCS proprietary Ring DACTM topology.
• Digital Inputs: Network interface on an RJ45 connector–Acts as a UPnPTM renderer in Asynchronous mode, streaming digital music from a NAS or local computer over a standard Ethernet network, decoding all major lossless formats including FLAC, WAV & AIFF at up to 24 bit 384kS/s native sample rate, plus DSD/64 & DSD/128 in DFF/DSF format. Other supported formats include WMA, ALAC, MP3, AAC & OGG. Some formats are limited to lower sample rates. Accepts data streamed from an iPod, iPhone or iPad via Apple AirPlay, 44.1 or 48kS/s only. Network Loop Out connector on a second RJ45 connector. USB 2.0 interface on a B-type connector operating in Asynchronous mode, will accept up to 24 bit PCM at up to 384kS/s plus DSD/64 & DSD/128 in DoP format. Operates in Class 1 or 2 mode. USB-on-the-go interface on type A connector operating in Asynchronous mode, streams digital music from a flash drive at up to 24 bit 384kS/s plus DSD/64. 2x AES/EBU on 3-pin female XLR connectors. Each will accept PCM at up to 24 bit 192kS/s or DSD/64 in DoP format. Used as a Dual AES pair, it will accept PCM at up to 384kS/s, DSD/64 & DSD/128 in DoP format or dCS-encrypted DSD. 2x SPDIF on 1x RCA Phono and 1x BNC connectors. Each will accept PCM at up to 24 bit 192kS/s or DSD/64 in DoP format. 1x SPDIF optical on a Toslink connector will accept PCM at up to 24 bit 96kS/s.
• Mechanism: Stream Unlimited JPL-2800 SilverStrike with aluminium tray.
• Analogue Outputs: Output levels: 2V or 6V rms for full-scale input, set in the menu. Balanced outputs: 1 stereo pair on 2x 3-pin XLR male connectors (pin 2 = hot, pin 3 = cold). These outputs are electronically balanced and floating. Output impedance is 3Ω, maximum load is 600Ω (10k-100kΩ is recommended). Unbalanced outputs: 1 stereo pair on 2x RCA phono connectors. Output impedance is 52Ω, maximum load is 600Ω (10k-100kΩ is recommended).
• Word Clock I/O: 2x Word Clock Inputs on 2x BNC connectors, accept standard word clock at 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192kHz. The data rate can be the same as the clock rate or an exact multiple of the clock rate. Sensitive to TTL levels. Word Clock Output on 1x BNC connector. In Master mode, a TTL-compatible word clock appears on this output.
• Residual Noise: 16-bit data: Better than -96dB0, 20Hz-20kHz unweighted. 24-bit data: Better than -113dB0, 20Hz-20kHz unweighted. (6V output setting).
• L-R crosstalk: Better than -115dB0, 20Hz-20kHz.
• Spurious Responses: Better than -105dB0, 20Hz-20kHz.
• Filters: PCM mode: up to 6 filters give different trade-offs between the Nyquist image rejection and the phase response. DSD mode: 4 filters progressively reduce out-of-audio band noise level.
• Upsampling Rates: DXD as standard or optional DSD upsampling.
• Software Updates: Loaded directly CD-R or via PCM digital inputs or PC via USB input. Download and update functionality available via Rossini App.
• Local Control: dCS Rossini App for Unit Configuration and Music Playback. RS232 interface (controlled by a 3rd party automation system). IR remote control – dCS premium remote control is available as an optional extra.
• Power Supply: Factory set to either 100, 115/120, 220 or 230/240V AC, 49-62Hz.
• Power Consumption: 26 Watts typical / 35 Watts maximum.
Price when last sold prior to Apex upgrade $28,500

dCS Rossini Player / DAC / Master Clock Review

How Does The dCS Rossinin Player/Dac with Master Clock Sound?

I believe I have supporting equipment that’s of a high enough standard to let the dCS Rossini source shine. But perhaps only just. I’ve switched between my Veloce Audio Pre/Power ($36K) and also a Synthesis A100 Titan integrated ($11.5K) that I brought home a while back, purchased from Guess Who. In both cases, I heard a significant difference in the sound of the dCS Rossini when compared with my previous DAC, the Holo Audio May KTE. So my amps, speakers, cabling, etc, are suitably resolving, I believe.

On a side note, I really, really like the Synthesis A100 Titan amp, but I’m sure some might argue that it isn’t able to do full justice to the far more costly dCS Synthesis Action A100Titan 100W Integrated Stereo Tube Amplifier reviewRossini. The Synthesis retailed new at around $11.5K, so clearly from a price perspective it’s in a lower league compared to the costly dCS combo.

Side Note: When I write reviews for this website they’re often quite fluid. Since I actually buy most of what I review on the used market, I tend to keep the gear for many weeks or months, if not years. So if things change in my system that subsequently changes my opinion on a product I quite frequently pop back here and add an update, usually via an addendum at the end. So I may well do that at some point when I change other components in my system, as I tend to do.

The first thing I want to get out of the way is the dCS Rossini Master Clock. Some think its impact on the sound of the Rossini Player is marginal or minimal, Tim even said he couldn’t hear much difference with the clock engaged. I disagree. While it’s an expensive piece of hardware, I hear a good impact on performance that at least justifies its cost – if anything costing $11,000 or so can be justified at all in a music playback system. When you’re at this level, what’s another $11K anyway?

So my comments from here on are based on the sound of the Player and Master Clock combo. If you don’t have the clock, you’ll hear just a little less of everything. Not much, but I think it’s enough for you to sit there and wonder what your life could be like if you had a Master Clock. You’ll never be able to fully enjoy the Andy Williams rips you made from vinyl unless you have the Master Clock. You’ll become paranoid, nothing will be enjoyable, food will taste bad, and you’ll lose your sense of smell. Get a clock.

dCS Rossini Player / DAC / Master Clock in Silver

So let’s try again –  how does the dCS Rossini Player/DAC with Rossini Master Clock sound?

If you’ve landed here from a Google search for ‘dCS Rossini’, you’ve probably already read the Stereophile review from a few years back.

John Atkinson wrote the review and he also used the Aurender N10 that I started out using when the dCS kit came in to me. I can concur with JA in that the sound of the Aurender N10 via USB into the Rossini Player, is pretty close to the sound of the Rossini’s CD player. I’ve many CDs that I’ve painstakingly ripped to hard drive over the years so I’m able to easily call up full albums from the Aurender HD and pull the same CD from my (dwindling) collection of silver discs. What I will say is that the Aurender sounded better spitting digits from its AES/EBU into the Rossini than it did the USB, but yes the Aurender Vs Rossini CD is a horse apiece*. My conclusion here is that the Rossini has an excellent sounding CD player. I’ve you’ve a large collection of CDs and you haven’t gotten around to ripping them to a file server setup, then you’ll loose nothing using the inbuilt CD player.

Where my opinion differs from JA’s is in his comment quoted here: “Playing the same files via USB from the Aurender N10 or via Ethernet using Twonky Server running on my Mac mini, if I had to swear to it, I felt that the Aurender-sourced playback was a touch more palpable than that via my network.”

John was using a Mac mini back then and I’m sure that isn’t the case now. There are better options for streaming files over a network in 2024 and I doubt he’d hear now what he heard back then. So in my system, using the SonicTransporter i5, minimServer, a basic Network switch, and a self-powered USB drive plugged into the i5, the sound is quite a bit better than that coming via the Aurender N10 regardless of which digital output is used from the Aurender. As discussed earlier, the dCS Rossini is optimized for Network Playback and that’s how it sounds the best, in my system and that’s how I listened to the dCS gear primarily when putting together this review:

SOUNDSTAGE
The first thing that struck me when I heard the Rossini playing back files over the network was its sense of scale.
Compared with the Holo Audio May KTE DAC, the soundstage grew, most noticeably an expansion laterally to the sides of the room. I also noticed considerably more depth than I’d been used to with the May KTE DAC.

I’m a big fan of Ry Cooder and his music tends to be very well recorded and produced. ‘River Rescue – The Very Best of Ry Cooder’ is a pretty good way to get into his back catalog of music, if you haven’t already, and the first track on the album ‘River Come Down’ is great for assessing soundstage scale, particularly width. With the Holo Audio May KTE, the soundstage on the track was expansive and impressive but confined by the physical constraints of the room. With the Rossini, the side walls are melted and are no longer a constraining factor, and the sound envelope pushes a little more forward of the front plane of the speakers, and a little farther back through the wall behind the speakers too, greatly enhancing the illusion of depth.

IMAGING
The Rossini combo exhibits an impressive capacity to reproduce a three-dimensional soundstage with excellent image specificity, skillfully positioning instruments and vocals within a spatial environment that feels real. While the Holo Audio May KTE DAC excels in producing a holographic soundstage, the Rossini combo elevates this experience even further.

As exemplified when listening to Paul Simon’s Graceland, 25th Anniversary Edition, particularly the track ‘Homeless,’ the music unfolds seamlessly into the room with Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s harmonious vocals enveloping the listener in a rich and immersive sonic landscape. It’s spookily real – the presence of people in your room!

REALISM
Discussing “realism” has somewhat lost its luster, as it invariably circles back to the recording room’s sound as the ultimate reference point — a space inaccessible to pretty much all of us. However, after over half a century of listening to recorded music and attending live performances, including owning a live music venue for a time, I think I’ve cultivated a reasonable sense of what sounds “real” in terms of audio reproduction. While acknowledging that all recorded music is inherently contrived — crafted and arranged deliberately during the recording and mastering process, a seasoned listener should be able to discern what sounds real, in terms of truth to the source, and what doesn’t. I honestly believe that the Rossini combo stands out for its ability to convey the engineers’ intended sound. It’s sense of realism is as good as I’ve experienced.

MIDRANGE TRANSPARENCY
I’ve consistently lauded the Holo Audio May KTE DAC for its midrange performance, which I still consider top-flight at its $5,700 price point. Its standout characteristic in my system has been its ability to deliver a midrange with warmth and fullness, akin to a tube-like presentation. Unlike the May KTE, the Rossini does not exhibit the same level of warmth, nor does it convey instruments and vocals with the same level of flesh-on-bones. Is this a failing on the part of the Rossini combo? No, the Rossini provides a good lesson to other equipment designers to the point that digital equipment shouldn’t add ‘stuff’ that isn’t on the recording, even if on initial encounter it sounds quite inviting and pleasing to the listener. I can generally handle and appreciate a little bit of added blubber if it comes from the harmonic distortion of a good tube amp, where tubes can result in a warmer and more euphonic sound. Good tube amplifiers can add richness, depth, and a sense of texture to the music, enhancing the overall listening experience. But I don’t want this coming from my digital source gear, I want the truth and nothing but the truth coming from the source. There has to be a point of reference that can be trusted in the audio playback chain, and it has to be the source. The dCS Rossini duo absolutely nail the midrange, for transparency and a sense of purity, I haven’t heard anything close in my system.

DYNAMICS
The Rossini combo demonstrates exceptional capability in reproducing both macro and micro dynamics. In “Diamonds on The Soles of Her Shoes” from Paul Simon’s Graceland, 25th Anniversary Edition, the track showcases a wide dynamic range, from delicate percussive taps to bold tom strikes – the dCS pair faithfully captures the dynamic impact of the track’s percussion.

TIMBRE/TONE – MIDS THROUGH HIGH FREQUENCY
On the all-important midrange, the Rossini excels in delivering purity and naturalness, faithfully reproducing the timbre and tonality of instruments, and in particular vocals. This midrange purity, clarity, and naturalness, allow the emotion and expression of the music to shine, and it allows the listener to connect more deeply with the performance. Case in point – Abdullah Ibrahim’s ‘A Celebration’, a musical journey that showcases the South African jazz pianist’s exceptional talent and unique style. As well as being highly enjoyable in a musical sense, this recording serves as an excellent tool for evaluating the performance of piano playback in an audio system. The dynamic range and tonal nuances of Ibrahim’s piano are nicely captured, and each note is rendered with precision and purity, revealing the subtle textures and timbres inherent in the instrument.

HIGH FREQUENCY / DETAIL
The Rossini combo delivers high frequencies with exceptional precision, detail, and an exquisite sense of airiness. It offers clarity and definition without harshness or listener fatigue. While it doesn’t magically transform poorly recorded music, it does justice to well-recorded tracks, honoring their authenticity and faithfully preserving the original intent, as well as can be assessed by a person who wasn’t there when the recording was made and mastered. It’s only when you experience the Rossini pair that you truly understand the extent to which the others fall short.

LOW FREQUENCY
Its bass reproduction is powerful and tight, with well-defined bass notes that add depth and impact to the music without overpowering the rest of the frequency spectrum. Timbre and tone of bass notes are excellent, again Abdullah Ibrahim’s ‘A Celebration’ album proves useful in gauging the authenticity of bass frequency reproduction. Another source for assessing bass performance is Holly Cole’s Temptation, which is a great tribute to the songwriting abilities of Tom Waits. “Temptation” covers a range of Tom Waits’ songs from various phases of his career, showcasing the breadth of his songwriting. Cole’s interpretations strip back some of Waits’ rawness to reveal the sophistication and depth of his lyrics and melodies. Her arrangements bring a jazzy, sleek sophistication to Waits’ sometimes-gritty compositions, making the album accessible to both jazz enthusiasts and die-hard Waits fans. In Cole’s version of “Jersey Girl,” the bass lays down a smooth, walking rhythm that adds a layer of depth to the song, underpinning Cole’s vocals and providing a steady heartbeat throughout the track. The May DAC sounded quite flubby in comparison to the Rossini duo, which just nails the bass on this track, delivering taught and deep bass that sends a ripple of energy to the listening seat via the suspended wooden floor in my room!

WRAPPING UP
Although I haven’t assembled a collection of other high-end DACs for direct comparison, I frequently explore and audition various equipment in the upper echelons of the market. While I’ve owned and lived with DACs like the Holo Audio May KTE, the Denafrips Terminator with GAIA DDC, DACs from Mytek, PS Audio, and Chord, etc, I’ve also spent time listening to loftier gear, including the Berkely Audio Alpha DAC Reference Series 3, T+A DAC 200 and more. From my experiences, it’s evident that the dCS Rossini combo resides in a realm occupied by few others, taking a space within the most elite tier of digital audio reproduction. Since my subjective preferences have shaped my system configuration and the sound it produces, I acknowledge that individual preferences vary, and others may not share the same level of enthusiasm for its sound as I do.

At the outset, I posed a fundamental question: does the investment in the dCS kit align with its performance? Can the leap from a $10,000 DAC to a $40,000 combo be warranted? (Not quite apples with apples, granted).

While the dCS Rossini Player/DAC/Master Clock undeniably establishes a new benchmark for digital audio playback in my setup, delivering unmatched transparency, expansive soundstage presentation, pristine midrange reproduction, and exquisite detail, I find myself grappling with the cost-benefit ratio.

While the Rossini offers a listening experience that surpasses that from DACs at a cost tier some steps below it, I’m hesitant to assert that its price differential can be fully justified. Imagine what the cost difference ($30K?) could yield if invested in new speakers, or new amps. So I’ll leave the dilemma in your capable hands. Is this piece of audio wizardry a gateway to auditory paradise or just another pricey extravagance? You decide.

CAH March 2024

*Means that two options or alternatives are essentially the same in terms of value, quality, or outcome. It suggests that there is no significant difference between the options being considered.