Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange)

Barn Update (!) 07.19.17: the stunning dCS Network Bridge has taken up permanent residence in my system. Why? Because I like it. I like it because it lets me get deeper into my music, leaving thoughts of reproduction and the like in the rear-view more so.

If you've read my review, you already knew that but what you may not know, beyond enjoying the way it makes my music sound, is the Network Bridge has a host of digital outputs including AES, S/PDIF, and soon-to-be USB, which will allow me to feed DACs a variety of inputs for review purposes (does that sound convincing?).

As such, I also purchased one Tellurium Q Black AES cable to connect the dCS to my totaldac. Forever. Yea, I said forever.


bobflood's picture

Looks like the perfect piece for your needs. Better than a string of little boxes connected by lots of wires.


Michael Lavorgna's picture
I agree ;-)
bobflood's picture

part I'm not so sure about.

bobflood's picture

When reviewing DACs with multiple inputs you could now test which input is best using a common source which was difficult if not impossible before.

ednaz's picture

When you ask if it sounds convincing, are you testing it on us before your spouse, or are you asking for our endorsement so you can use it in said discussion? Whichever...

I think it's totally convincing, a work related expense, itemize it on taxes and depreciate! One must have proper tools to do a properly good job.

I'll reach out to you when I need something like this... :-D

DH's picture

Word is it will only be compatible with some DACs, not all USB DACs, acc'd to Chris at computeraudiophile. Worth asking dCS about.

Also the Sonore Signature Rendu SE was just announced - a "statement" ethernet to USB player. You should try and get one to compare it to the dCS....

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...will work with any USB DAC.
DavidZ's picture

I toss this out as a conceptual observation, not a firm conclusion. I own the dCS network bridge and have owned the MRendu and SOTM 200. They are all fine devices, but I can't help thinking that they are transitional technology.

I say this because I recently purchased the Bricasti M12 DAC/pre, which has a network card that allows the LAN cable to be attached directly. Other DACs like those from PSAudio, Ayre and Merging (and others, I'm sure) also are configured that way. I can't speak for the other DACS, but Brian at Bricasti notes that the card allows LAN packets (which are not real-time audio) to be converted directly to the native I2S language of the DAC. In the M12, the card is positioned millimeters from the converter and shares the same internal clock.

I am hard pressed to think of why any device that adds another conversion process -- like LAN to USB or LAN to SPDIF -- would, in theory, be advantageous to the card approach. Plus, the conversion device entails another cable in the scheme of things.

Obviously, network DACs are still a tiny fraction of the population, and there is a huge installed base of DACs that could benefit from the conversion devices.

I only have one sample data point of experience to test my theory. I connected my M12 to the dcs network bridge via the XLR spdif input, and compared it to the M12's LAN input. It wasn't night and day by any means, but the network bridge sounded darker and seemed to blunt the musical line compared to the LAN input.

It seems this will become more relevant as more and more DAC manufacturers see the relevance of having LAN inputs.

bobflood's picture

That is very observant and in my opinion a very correct conclusion. The thing that is unknowable is the time line to a mostly direct LAN connected DAC audiophile world. In this hobby things move at a glacial pace but with global warming maybe that is no longer a great analogy.

DH's picture

Lots of people with a high end DAC - or even more so a high end multipurpose device - will want to keep their device and use one of these external network units.
And there are always the people who prefer having separates of everything.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
One important component of a network device is the control interface. In my opinion, Roon has changed this landscape and made what you are talking about a real possibility. I say this because without a good/friendly control interface, a piece of network hardware is about as useful as a boat anchor.

Roon's architecture places very little computing demand on these network endpoints so we don't have to be concerned with our network devices becoming obsolete due to increased hardware/processing power demands.

All that being said, in today's world, which is where I listen (wink), those of us with DACs that we will not give up welcome these devices with open ears.


mikey8811's picture

It sounds like you have tried your share of streamers.

If you tire of the dCS and wish to sell it, please let me know as I am in the market for a streamer.


mikey8811's picture

My comment about the dCS streamer was meant for Davidz.


DavidZ's picture

Mikey --- can you PM me on Audiogon? DavidZ is also my handle there. Thanks. -- David

udis's picture


Have you tested the bridge without the FMC's in the chain? You might be pleasantly surprised.