DCS Bartok APEX or LINA and master clock

I have a DCS bartok that I can get upgraded to APEX or I can sell the Bartok and purchase a DCS Lina and Master clock.  The cost would be about the same any thoughts on which would be better.

I have a pre amp already so I don't need the Bartok preamp functionality.

Ag insider logo xs@2xefoo



Nope wrong again, I don’t own a TotalDAC but I have heard it extensively. I have an Audio Note DAC. I just call it like it is and what you said is ridiculous speculation.


You seem like a delight 

enjoy whatever it is you use — apparently its Totaldac 

Not bad, if you haven’t heard better 

I had the Bartok(non-APEX) and Rossini APEX in my system for an audition. The Bartok lacked detail and my wife kept saying something was missing. The Rossini APEX sounds unnaturally bright, but has the best soundstage that I've ever heard in my system.



Rationalize much? So dacs for sale give you validation in the choice of dac you made...Thats what that statement says to me about TotalDAC since they have a robust upgrade program where one can send them in and have them upgraded to the latest and greatest..I am sure there was some other dac of the month everyone was herding to at the time you saw these "unusual" (lol) amount of TotalDacs for sale..

I haven’t heard it personally but my dCS dealer told me that Apex upgrade was substantial and worth pursuing. I honestly don’t care for dCS as a brand, firstly its house sound and their policies for 2nd hand customers (upgrades and warranty).

I feel very fortunate to invest in a DAC that doesn’t do frequent upgrades and provides full support to all end users. 3 plus years, I haven’t felt the desire to upgrade to anything else out there.

@designsfx we can only speculate, I suspect there’s something off putting about a company coming out with an upgrade option that expensive. Same thing happened with totaldac, saw an unusual number of those on the used market, when their latest upgrades were announced (bearing in mind it’s a boutique within a boutique in terms of size of customer base)…a “night/day” upgrade makes you think, was what I had before really not all that good in the first place? Let me try something else.

Grateful that my DAC hasn’t had any upgrades for 6 yrs, though if they did announce one, I couldn’t help but me curious. A dealer once told me digital is easy these days, it’s the analog output stage that really separates brands…get something with a killer output and you’ll quickly lose any interest you may once have had keeping up with the Joneses

I know this is off topic but I can’t help but notice the large quantities of Bartok dacs that have been on the used market this year. Seems like a large migration away from it. Wondering if the cost of the Apex upgrade vs the Lina is driving this or have people just grown tired and are moving on?

As far as I’ve read, the Lina isn’t a stripped down Bartok. It seems to be an improvement over the non Apex Bartok.

Likely not an improvement over the Apex though. But I'm not sure.

What should be the expected cost (USD) to upgrade my Bartok? Purchased last Sep 22 from a dealer. I’m being quoted $5K. Is that in-line? Or is there better pricing available?

Geez, some serious hate in the Bartok and dCS here. I have the Bartok (non-Apex) and Rossini Apex, and can assure you they both sound amazing, and definitely not bright. Is there more air and a little more detail in the Rossini, sure. But if you weren’t listening to them side by side, they’d both be incredible. 

Yes I heard the Rossini Apex it makes the old Bartok sound like a squishy toy.

Apex is 3 improvements. The processors are twice as fast, the software is sleeker and analog stage improvements. It’s night/day. It’s more natural and less digititus.

I would upgrade the Bartok or save 40k for the Rossini Apex and buy a better DAC.

don’t master clock anything until you can upgrade the fundamentals.

the Lina is a bauble for headphone children to upgrade from their Chinese made Holo May that isn’t as dynamic.

OR you can just buy a Mola Mola Tambaqui and sell your Bartok and save thousands and thousands and have a better DAC then the Bartok Apex will ever be!

In my opinion, putting more money on bright and veiled sounding DCS DAC or CDP is a bad investment. They all sound bright, veiled and glare with more money or not. The difference is small behind the veil/glare anyway? 

Listen to DCSs


I like my Wavetouch modded Oppo BDP-95's sound better at the fraction of DCS prices.

Original music for reference.


Interesting. It was only $9k to upgrade my Rossini. I have a Bartol as well but for headphone use I feel like the APEX upgrade won’t be worth it. 

It looks like to upgrade my Bartok is going to be right around $10,000. I sure hope it sounds great! That’s pretty steep for a deck that already sounds amazing. 

I haven't heard the Lina DAC, but he Apex upgrade to the Bartok is significant in terms of the improvement to sound quality - it makes the DAC more musical and less mechanical/digital sounding.

Many of the Lina DAC reviews compare to Bartok, but I have not seen any Bartok APEX reviews yet (Bartok APEX was only announced on Feb 7th). 

Rossini APEX and Vivaldi APEX are supposedly very significant improvement over the non-APEX versions. 

I have only heard Lina DAC in my system and like it very much. 

“Lina is a new DAC from DCS, basically a bartok without the preamp”

I believe Lina would be a step back from Bartok. Even though the Ring DAC design is the core dCS technology at the heart of their DACs, the Bartok and the Lina are aimed at different uses and as such have different places where they would excel. I do recall reading somewhere, in head to head comparison; Bartok by contrast has a slightly deeper, and wider soundstage. Not to mention, physical casework on the Bartok allows for better isolation of the various subsections of the DAC. 

Lina is a new DAC from DCS, basically a bartok without the preamp functions a smaller box.  Apex is the new DAC platform - an upgrade to the internal ladder dac.


Hope this helps.

@lalitk ,

Can you explain the differences between the Apex and Lina?

I looked at the website, but couldn't figure it out.


Go for APEX upgrade and add master clock as your finances permits. The overall cost is more with external master clock but you will appreciate the latest DAC and SOTA performance with external clock. I cannot stress enough the importance of master clock with devices that allows you connect external master clock. Once you hear Bartok with external clock like Mutec Ref 10SE, you won’t be able to go back!