The original Vivaldi was launched in late-2012 to widespread critical acclaim. Music industry professionals and audiophiles alike declared it to be the finest sounding digital front end on sale.
Comprising the Vivaldi Transport, Vivaldi DAC, Vivaldi Upsampler, and Vivaldi Master Clock, this cost-no-object flagship system pushed the boundaries of what was then possible with digital replay. Vivaldi processed practically every digital format and offered a vast array of input and output configurations. At its heart was a new generation of the dCS Ring DAC™, a unique, bespoke-designed digital-to-analogue converter that offered superlative sound quality and technical performance.
As with every dCS product, subsequent firmware updates have improved Vivaldi’s functionality and performance since its introduction. Now though, dCS has made a number of landmark hardware and software improvements to the system, warranting the 2.0 suffix. The changes are designed to make Vivaldi even easier to use, more flexible, and even better sounding.
The improvements 2.0 comprise include double-speed DSD upsampling in the Transport, while the DAC gets additional gain settings, a new mapping algorithm, and a new DSD filter. The Vivaldi Upsampler adds the option for double-speed DSD upsampling and a new, galvanically-isolated Network and USB interface board that improves performance and adds support for TIDAL, Airplay, Spotify Connect, plus a new control and music playback App.
The new mapping algorithm (mapper) is a milestone in the development of the dCS Ring DAC™, which forms the heart of the Vivaldi DAC. Taking over a year to model and implement in software, the new mapper greatly improves on the very technology that makes dCS unique. The 5-bit binary music data obtained after the oversampling and digital filtering stages is assigned, or mapped, onto forty- eight latch outputs at the core of the Ring DAC™. These outputs drive balanced current sources which are mixed, filtered, and amplified to produce the analogue output signal. The new mapping algorithm has been developed to run at higher speeds while better avoiding mismatches that occur between outputs, further reducing any errors correlated with the signal. The results are superior linearity, even at very low signal levels.
This sophisticated mapper functionality is implemented in the Vivaldi Ring DAC™ through dedicated FPGAs, offering dCS the power to improve and change these fundamental algorithms through software updates. This unprecedented flexibility also allows the user to choose their desired mapper from a simple menu item. Version 2.00 software allows for two new mappers, together with the original for comparison. Subjectively, both new mappers bring more detailed, expressive, tonally-complete, and full-bodied character over the original, but each offer subtle differences in sound that users can choose between, depending on their preference and ancillary equipment.
The new, highly optimised DSD filter fitted to the new Vivaldi DAC was created to provide better impulse response than previous DSD filters and has virtually no ringing. High frequency noise has also been better suppressed outside the audio band to be more universally amplifier friendly. These improvements manifest themselves in a more dynamic and dimensional sound across the entire audio band.
Vivaldi Upsampler’s new network interface board and control App lets listeners manage their music playback experience from virtually any source – whether CD/SACD, iRadio, USB, traditional digital, streaming services, or UPnP – in an elegantly simple way, and all from one control point. It has built-in TIDAL, Airplay, and Spotify Connect functionality and is firmware-upgradeable to accommodate future music services. The new, galvanically-isolated Network and USB interface that comprises part of the Upsampler upgrade results in a quieter, more natural sound while using these inputs.
Vivaldi DAC and Transport owners can update to version 2.0 by requesting software update discs from their authorized dCS retailer. Vivaldi Upsampler owners wishing to upgrade to Upsampler to version 2.0 will need to arrange for their unit to be sent to an authorized dCS service center to perform the hardware and software upgrade. Please contact a dCS retailer or dCS Americas for more information and upgrade pricing.
Once the new version 2.0 software has been installed, as with all dCS products Vivaldi’s software and network firmware can be easily updated in the future- via CD, USB, or with new internet download and update functionality- to add new features and to improve performance over its lifetime.
Vivaldi Transport and DAC – April 2016
Vivaldi Upsampler – May 2016
Vivaldi is dCS’ flagship digital playback system, widely regarded as the best in the world
The new dCS Vivaldi 2.0 range is a major step-change in technical and sonic performance
Vivaldi Transport gets 2x DSD upsampling
Vivaldi DAC gets a new Ring DAC mappers, improved clocking, and a new DSD filter
Vivaldi Upsampler gets new, isolated Network and USB hardware, new Playback and Control App, 2x DSD upsampling
Vivaldi plays music from virtually any digital source and is compatible with nearly all formats
Designed and built in the United Kingdom with superlative, cost-no-object quality and finish
Vivaldi is firmware-upgradeable for future functionality and performance upgrades
Prices: Vivaldi Transport ($41,999), Vivaldi DAC ($35,999), Vivaldi Upsampler Plus ($21,999), Vivaldi Master Clock ($14,999)