dCS Rossini Player & Clock Review P1

Since so many of you have been excited about the arrival of the dCS Rossini Player and Clock at Mono and Stereo to test them out, here are the first impressions and insights that pave the way to the full review. 

There is no doubt that dCS products are among the most sought-after digital front ends today. Despite their rich heritage and roots, dCS is far from anachronistic. Their continuity in product development is tremendous and impressive, to say the least, and their major technical and esthetic transformation a few years ago makes them straight away recognizable even from a quick eye glance. 

Many high-end audio companies painstakingly strive to achieve this instantly recognizable esthetic, sound and leitmotif. Achieving this is a complex task in itself. Making all products distinguishable (sonically and visually) across the entire portfolio is an even more complicated undertaking. 

But dCS has accomplished this with flying colors. While retaining the essence of the classical aura, they have managed to infuse the devices with a unique elegance that is further supported by smooth operation and enticing music playback. 

All these efforts are not cheap, to begin with. I remember a conversation I had with dCS sales director Raveen Bawa over coffee at the high-end audio trade show in Rimini few years ago. He told me what it takes and how much it costs to make the front panel alone for Rossini and Vivaldi. It’s actually more than the cost of some standalone DACs!

dCS, under the baton of Managing Director David J Steven, has understood at the right time that the market is diverging from the comfortably safe path and how it is transforming into a new era. Yes, it’s a fact that our beloved niche industry is part of a larger part of the luxury business, but luxurious products are far from just bling-bling. Many of the high-end audio brands learned this lesson a hard way. Many are still in the awakening phase. 

As with Haute Horlogerie and luxury sports cars, aside from brand heritage, the real essence of luxury is hidden in the actual performance. It cannot be hindered or simulated. And dCS Rossini is not lacking in performance by any means, as you can read in the first and next installments!

From the very first notes, the dCS Rossini player and Clock proved to be digital luminaries, uniquely reproducing the music frame by frame. 

The sophisticated workmanship hidden beneath the carefully crafted exterior reproduces the complexity of the music with feathery ease and with a breeze of a very different fresh air. 


Most of you enjoy daily mono and stereo reports on various systems from all over the world, and in most cases, the chance to notice Bartok, Rossini, and Vivaldi is greater.

Thankfully I still share the same enthusiasm for high-end audio products as many of you. Of course, I could not resist trying out the Rossini Player and Clock Combo as soon as it arrived. 

I have been doing what I do for a long time and have heard numerous DACs and digital front ends over the course of nearly three decades of constant evaluations. 

Despite the great digital advances made in the last decade, not all DACs and digital front end deliver what the marketing material promises. Many DACs aspire to be special, but in reality, they are only adequate. 

dCS is anything but the usual affair or Déjà vu. It has a deep foundation with a sign of unforeseen firmness to decode music, regardless of genre, with fundamental objectivity. Period!

The nub of the dCS essential inner locking is rooted in reality, providing uniquely focused attention and reproduction of music without the effect of information scattering too often associated with digital technology. The dCS Rossini beat is relentless. It jolts the senses and has a far greater density than ordinary and features replay attributes that are fundamental to the objectivity of music. 

On familiar tracks and albums, Rossini displays a chameleon-like nature that allows it to quickly transform the various sonic ornaments of different genres so that the music remains varied yet emotional. 

dCS Rossini has the rare ability not to sound as if the notes have been inserted into the music, but to be an integral part of it and create a spellbinding universe where music continues to exist and continues to be exceptionally distinctive.

Coming from an analog and early digital background going back to the ’80s, I have somehow always been confronted with analogue and digital antipodes. 

Besides my passion for studio gear, DAWs, converters, recorders and synthesizers, high-end audio has always been a direct result of my almost fanatical obsession with music and sound. 

My deeper attachment to the digital music reproduction shifted considerably with the breakthrough of commercial R2R DACs, and I have sort of stayed on that path, which is immediately apparent from my reference system. To my great surprise, I was quite taken with and caught off guard by the Rossini Player and Clock combo. 

Rossini Player and Clock offer a rare tactile quality to the music that I usually associate with analog, eliciting an emotional response from the listener that is rich in detail.

Underneath the beautifully crafted case, there is an essential spirit that enriches the perception, permitting the music to evolve into endless soundscapes with impressively calculated results that are always sonically translucent and as such allowing the music to come at forte.

Unlike many other DACs, Rossini manages to intoxicate with a focus on the music rather than artificial bloom and saturation. 

Rossini brings out a range of emotions, a refined movement of the music without a scattering of time and phase, which are extremely fragile and of utmost importance in the digital domain. 

But the ability to do deliver these two attributes right or follow various tempi is not enough in this era, and dCS Rossini extends its virtues with an invigorating and unique ability to render the illusion of reality beyond expectation, with an immediate commitment to the music that is both compelling and triumphant. 

I certainly expected a certain level of reproduction, but not such a well-tuned and organized sense of time and place, followed by lavish details.

What I didn’t expect was this kind of impact. The dCS Rossini allows you to venture far into the submarine depths and the Vanta black realms, boldly and proudly cementing the ground rules of the 21st-century digital playback with elegance and uncommon suppleness.

There are many products on the market that simply exists for themselves offering merely a vague presentation of music and that can be too commonly associated with even more expensive digital front ends. 

As opposed dCS Rossini attains a one-of-a-kind music haven facility and has all the qualities for being and becoming an unmistakable high-end audio icon. 

In part two, I will focus on the particular qualities of the dCS Rossini, laying them down in the music references and delve deeper into the mysterious realms of Ring DAC technology. 

But as you have been able to decode so far, I am deeply fascinated with what dCS Rossini can do sonically and music-wise.  

Stay tuned!

Matej Isak


  • Rossini Player – € 25.900 
  • Rossini Clock –  € 8.900 

Technical specifications


  • Dimensions: 444mm / 17.5” x 435mm / 17.2” x 151mm / 6.0“. Allow extra depth for cable connectors
  • Weight: 17.4kg / 38.3lbs
  • Converter: dCS proprietary Ring DAC™ topology. Operates at 6MHz (Map 1 or 3) or 3MHz (Map 2)
  • Digital inputs: Ethernet network port on RJ45 connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 384kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD128 in DFF/DSF format; USB 2.0 interface on B-type connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 384kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD128 in DoP format; USB On-The-Go interface on A-type connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 384kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD128 in DFF/DSF format; 2 x AES/EBU inputs on 3-pin female XLR connectors, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 192kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD/128 in DoP format; 1 x Dual AES pair, accepts 24-bit 88.2 – 384kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD/128 in DoP format; 1 x SPDIF on RCA Phono connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 192kS/s PCM & DSD/64 in DoP format; 1 x SPDIF on BNC connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 192kS/s PCM & DSD/64 in DoP format; 1 x SPDIF optical on TOSLINK connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 96kS/s PCM
  • Mechanism: Stream Unlimited JPL-2800 SilverStrike with aluminium tray
  • Analogue outputs: 1 x pair balanced outputs on 2 x XLR connectors. Output levels: 0.2V, 0.6V, 2V, 6V rms for a full-scale input, set in the menu. Output impedance: 3Ω. Maximum load: 600Ω (10k-100kΩ is recommended); 1 x pair unbalanced outputs on 2x RCA connectors. Output levels: 0.2V, 0.6V, 2V, 6V rms for a full-scale input, set in the menu. Output impedance: 52Ω. Maximum load: 600Ω (10k-100kΩ is recommended)
  • Wordclock I/O: 2 x Word Clock Inputs on 2 x 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; 1x Word Clock Output on 1 x BNC connector. With Sync Mode set to Master, a TTL-compatible Word Clock is output
  • MQA: Full decoding and rendering of MQA data from the Network and USB2 inputs. Final rendering of unfolded MQA data only from the other inputs
  • Residual noise: 16-bit data: Better than -96dB0, 20Hz-20kHz unweighted. 24-bit data: Better than –113dB0, 20Hz – 20kHz unweighted (6V output setting)
  • 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
  • Conversions: User selectable PCM upsampling to DXD, DSD or DSDx2
  • Local control: dCS Mosaic App for Unit Configuration and Music Playback. RS232 interface (controlled by a 3rd party automation system). IR remote control – dCS Universal Remote is supplied with Rossini Player
  • Power supply: Factory set to either 100, 115/120, 220 or 230/240V AC, 50-60Hz
  • Power consumption: 26 Watts typical / 35 Watts maximum
  • Operating systems: Windows Vista / 7 / 8.1 / 10, Mac OSX 10.10. dCS USB driver is required for Windows in Audio Class 2 Mode
  • Type: Class 1 Master Clock
  • Clock frequencies: 44.1kHz or 48kHz
  • Dimensions: 444mm/17.5” x 435mm/17.2” x 64mm/2.6”. Allow extra depth for cable connectors
  • Weight: 8.3kg/18.3lbs
  • Clock accuracy: Better than +/-1ppm when shipped, over an ambient temperature range of 10°C to 30°C. Typically +/-0.1ppm when shipped and stabilised
  • Wordclock outputs: 3 independently buffered outputs on 75Ω BNC Connectors. Output 1: fixed at 44.1kHz. Output 2: fixed at 48kHz. Output 3: 44.1kHz, switchable to 48kHz via RS232
  • Startup time: Typically 1 minute to rated accuracy
  • Local control: RS232 (limited to Power and Clock 3 output frequency)
  • Power supply: Factory set to either 100, 115/120, 220 or 230/240V AC, 50-60Hz
  • Power consumption: 3 Watts typical / 4 Watts maximum


Data Conversion Systems Ltd,

Unit 1, Buckingway Business Park,

Swavesey, Cambridgeshire, 

CB24 4AE

United Kingdom

Website: www.dcsaudio.com 

EmaiL: info@dcsaudio.com 

Tel: +44 (0)1954 233950