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For almost 10 years the dCS Verdi Encore/Elgar Plus/Verona have occupied the universally-recognized position as the best sounding CD/SACD playback system in the world.

Those days ended with the introduction of the dCS Scarlatti STT CD/SACD transport, Scarlatti SDC D/A converter and Scarlatti SCK master clock. With Scarlatti a new standard in digital playback has been set, one which I, personally, would not have believed possible.

Say it any way you want, "there's a new sheriff in town", "the king is dead, long live the king"! Or, "meet the new heavyweight champion of the world". Use any metaphor you can think of to describe a palpable superiority in performance and you are only scratching the surface of how musical and how much better sounding the Scarlatti system is than the Elgar group was. This is due not only to dCS' new advanced algorithms but also to a level of construction quality and parts selection which is an order of magnitude better than its forebear.

The Scarlatti transport/DAC are built like the proverbial "brick s--- houses". Most impressively, the Scarlatti transport employs Esoteric Audio's finest VRDS/Neo transport mechanism which is available only in the Scarlatti STT CD/SACD transport and Esoteric Audio's best CD drive.

There simply isn't any question about it: If you want the very best, you need to own the Scarlatti transport, DAC, and clock.




Only slightly less impressive than the Scarlatti in terms of performance and build quality, the new dCS Paganini  PTT CD/SACD transport, PDC D/A converter, and PCK System Master Clock combine to form a digital playback system of penultimate quality. Both the Scarlatti and Paganini systems incorporate the legendary dCS Ring DAC, proprietary clock technology and unique upsampling algorhythms.

Nicolo Paganini
Sonically, only Scarlatti components best the Paganini system in terms of musicality, detail and dynamics. Paganini Components are simply a joy to use and sound much closer to musical truth than the Elgar/Verdi Encore and Verdi ever did. And that is saying something!

Both the Scarlatti and Paganini lines feature upsamplers capable of taking any digital input (including USB) and outputting a 176 kHz/24 bit signal. The result is breathtaking audio from any digital source!

The ultimate solution for PC/Mac based digital audio systems!

Claude Debussy



Interested in dCS world class digital to analogue conversion for CD, iPod or server/computer stored music at about ½ the price of the dCS Paganini? Of course you are! How could you not be? dCS figured that out and in response created one of their most exciting products to date, the Debussy DAC ($11,000).


Envisioned as the future hub of a complete digital playback system, the Debussy DAC combines the legendary dCS Ring DAC™ and patent pending (GB0817141.5) asynchronous USB technology in one box to deliver a DAC that will extract amazing performance from any digital source.



Built to the highest specifications, Debussy is a discrete balanced design which will extract every last bit of detail from your music collection, bringing a reality to your music that you never heard before whether your source is CD, iPod or computer/server. In common with the flagship Scarlatti, Paganini and Puccini ranges, Debussy employs DCS’ proprietary patented dCS Ring DAC™, which oversamples all incoming data to 5 bits at 2.822 or 3.07 MS/s.



The Debussy DAC features standard AES3, Dual AES and SPDIF inputs in addition to a USB2.0 interface. The digital volume control allows direct connection to a power amplifier so that you can start without a preamp and add it later if you choose.


Typically, the biggest problem with hooking up your computer to a conventional DAC is the amazing amount of jitter (see image, right) which is developed between them. The result is muddy, incoherent sound. The Debussy cures this problem. When connecting a computer source, the Debussy DAC operates in “asynchronous” USB mode (not to be confused with asynchronous rate conversion), in which the Debussy DAC synchronizes the audio by providing a feedback pipe to the computer. The computer is then effectively locked to the audio device, which provides a much more accurate clock and much lower jitter. The result is clear, liquid audio; exactly what you would expect from a DAC which bares the dCS label.





My extensive auditioning of the dCS Debussy has been a revelation in two areas.

First, due to its Asynchronous USB input, the sound from my computer played through the Debussy with selections recorded as WAV files was so lifelike and non-digital sounding as to belie its price.

Second, used as the DAC for any decent CD player or reasonably priced transport, the Debussy sounded exactly as one would expect from a dCS DAC: crystal clear with layers of detail, harmonically true and amazingly dynamic with a soundstage of exactly the right width and depth. A remarkable DAC from a remarkable company!



dCS’ new range is completed by Puccini, an all new integrated CD/SACD player, using the same control board and DAC analog board as the dCS Scarlatti and Paganini, the same Esoteric mechanism as the Paganini, and the same aluminum casework and remote handset as the Paganini.


At approximately half the price of the dCS Paganini system, the Puccini is the very best integrated player dCS could make at anywhere near its price, and it shares all the same engineering and performance values as their more expensive products.


Puccini is a revelation - a high end system in one box - combining the aesthetics of the Paganini with all of our upsampling, DAC and CD/SACD player technology in a single, easy to set up unit which delivers unbeatable performance. The Puccini range now features a patent pending (GB0817141.5) Puccini U-Clock ($5,000) which is separate grade 1 system clock to further reduce jitter and improve performance.

Puccini U-Clock also features a USB to SPDIF converter, which enables Puccini owners to present sound files from a PC or Mac to the legendary Ring DAC inside the Puccini.




How They Work:



It is common practice for top-end audio DACs to oversample, as this is essential to producing high-quality analog. The process involves using a number of adjacent incoming samples to calculate intermediate values, resulting in an outgoing stream that is at a higher sample rate. Note that the data must be digitally filtered to remove alias products that would otherwise result in unacceptable distortion. This means that the signal bandwidth is unchanged – around 20kHz for CD data – but there are many more samples used to re-create the analog signal, so the sampling artifacts are easy to filter out.

On the face of it, upsampling does much of the same job except that the upsampler outputs a digital signal and is only an intermediate step. We developed the dCS Purcell from our range of professional DDCs after we discovered that converting CD data to an intermediate sample rate then presenting the data to the Ring DAC resulted in a substantial sonic improvement.




Theory indicates that upsampling should have no effect, the mechanism is still not clear 7 years after the Purcell was developed. Indeed, some of dCSs competitors have attempted to ‘prove’ that upsampling does not work. We agree that it SHOULD not work – but our ears tell a different story. An upsampled system behaves as if breaking the oversampling process into 2 steps makes it ‘easier’ for the DAC to oversample accurately.

Most listeners agree that the result of upsampling is larger, more accurate sound stage and even more fine detail, including voices and instruments that were not discernible before. Upsampling does not ‘invent’ the extra detail – that would be worthless! All of the detail you can hear is recorded on the CD, but some of it is apparently masked by the rather pedestrian CD format.



All dCS D/A and A/D converters are based on dCS’ patented dCS Ring DAC system.




 All digital data processed by the Ring DAC is digitally filtered, noise shaped and oversampled to 5-bit data at a sample rate of either 2.822MS/s or 3.07MS/s. Noise shaping is used to shift most of the quantization noise inherent in the 5-bit format out of the audio band, so that it cannot be heard. This format is even used for DSD, which is 1-bit data sampled at 2.822MS/s. As you can see, the 5-bit format has plenty of ‘capacity’ to cope with existing digital audio data formats. A digital feedback system forms the ‘Ring’, which dramatically improves the linearity of the process.

The 5-bit data is decoded and used to control an array of latches, which together with an array of equal value resistors, reconstruct the analog signal. Variations in resistor values are ‘averaged out’ by cycling around the array, so there is no need for ultra-precise resistor values.

An analog filter removes sampling artifacts above about 100kHz. As the sample rate is so high, Nyquist images start to appear above 1.5MHz, and so are easy to filter out. The analog filter can be relatively gentle, which improves the transient response.


As a result of this novel architecture, the Ring DAC is renowned for reproducing subtle detail that is completely veiled by other converters. The Ring DAC delivers true 24-bit performance, even at low signal levels, where other converter topologies fall down.





The quality of the clock in a digital audio system has a major impact on sound quality.

 dCS products use a pair of voltage-controlled crystal oscillators (VCXOs) to generate the system clock for the converter (or the whole system). One of these oscillators is used for sample rates related to 41.1kS/s (such as 22.05kS/s, 4414kS/s, 88.2kS/s, 176.4kS/s, 352.8kS/s and 2.822MS/s) while the other is used for sample rates related to 48kS/s (such as 32kS/s, 48kS/s, 96kS/s, 192kS/s and 384kS/s). The appropriate VCXO runs at a multiple of the sample rate, is divided down as necessary to drive each part of the circuit. This approach allows the converter and its’ micro-controller to run synchronously with the incoming data stream, reducing noise and spurious responses to a minimum.



Crystal oscillators in general have some nasty habits, such as quenching (the oscillations suddenly stop) and sudden frequency shifts as the temperature changes. dCS burns in their VCXOs in-house then plot their performance over temperature. Any parts with obvious flaws in their characteristics are rejected. The frequency vs. temperature data is used to temperature compensate the crystals used in some of their professional products, so that the sample rate is very stable with temperature.

 In slave mode, a multi-mode phase-locked loop (PLL) is used to lock the converter to an external source. First the unit measures the incoming sample rate, selects the appropriate VCXO and turns off the other VCXO. Next, the PLL locks the VCXO to the incoming sample rate using a fast response circuit (coarse lock). In this mode, the PLL can track a lot of jitter in the source. Finally, a slow response circuit takes over (fine lock). In fine lock, the circuit ‘clock-cleans’ sources which have levels of jitter commonly found in commercial audio equipment.


  The main cause of jitter in a system is often the motor in the source equipment. The motor servo circuitry is constantly compensating for changes in mechanical friction, trying to keep the disc rotating or the tape spooling at a constant rate. This causes changes in the current flowing through the motor and corresponding changes in the load on the power supply. If the source equipment has the facility to lock to a master clock, the system jitter can be greatly reduced.

Experience has shown that the system component most vulnerable to jitter is the DAC. If the DAC generates the master clock for the system, it can largely ignore jitter in the source. For this reason, Paganini and Scarlatti DACs can be set to produce a stable 44.1kS/s clock. This can be used to synchronize any source equipment running at 44.1kS/s which can lock to an external word clock.


  Taking this one step further, you can lock all the system components to a very stable, highly accurate master clock, such as the dCS PCK. This adds another quantum leap to the sonic performance, which just underlies the importance of a really good clock source.