Data Conversion Systems (dCS) is based just outside Cambridge (UK) and has its roots in some of the first analogue to digital converters as used for military applications in the 1980’s. This naturally led to some of the first high-res pro audio converters, and the rest is history. The company is one of the UK’s top purveyors of digital systems, and the Network Bridge is one of its most recent additions, albeit at a surprisingly reasonable price, for dCS at least.
For those befuddled by the concept of a ‘Network Bridge’, it exists to provide a connection between digital files and a DAC. This can be in the form of network attached storage, USB sticks or drives, and finally (for the moment) online services such as TIDAL and Spotify. The output is bit-perfect and should in theory be several steps better than playing music from a laptop or PC, due to the dedicated nature of the device.
A bespoke app controls the Bridge. Using an iPhone 7+, having downloaded dCS’s offering from the App Store, I was up and running with the Bridge in a few minutes. The Bridge needs a network cable, as it is not currently Wi-Fi enabled. This is due to be developed in a later release, and an aerial socket is currently lying dormant, waiting for instructions… which sounds a bit like a sleeper cell!
The Bridge can play files sampled at rates up to 24-bit, 384kHz, supporting all major lossless codecs, plus DSD/64 or DSD/128 in native or DoP formats. For OAP DACs, the Bridge’s downsampling feature converts high-resolution data (for example DXD or DSD) to 24 bit PCM at either 176.4/192kHz or 88.2/96kHz – bringing the data within a range supported by a vintage DAC. There are external clock inputs, and it shares DCS’s ‘auto clocking’ architecture as used in Vivaldi and Rossini, which is said to minimise jitter and improve sound quality significantly. Internally, multi-stage power regulation is used to isolate the sensitive clock circuitry from digital processing noise. It is also Roon ready.