As any maker of digital audio devices can verify, the last few years have seen a significant change in the way the digital happens, and the digital landscape has been entirely redrawn. If you think back to our review of the dCS Puccini player from 2009 and look at what’s changed in the digital world since then, what was then ‘state of the art’ looks ‘out of the ark’ in today’s world. Clearly, if you are at the vanguard of digital audio development like dCS, it’s difficult to stand still, and the new Rossini is the result of this restlessness.
The Rossini is dCS’ ‘entry point’ to the company’s digital ethos (the Debussy DAC is cheaper, but it is essentially ‘just’ a good DAC). That ethos makes a device like the Rossini a sophisticated digital nexus, accepting virtually any digital audio signal you can squeeze, fire, point, pull, or push at it. However, the company is keen to stress it isn’t in the DSD ‘arms race’; it supports DSD 128, but it questions the need for even higher grade processing in the light of almost no software availability.
Rossini is the first disc player from dCS not to include SACD in its line-up, although the Rossini supports DoP (DSD over PCM). This is an unfortunate by-product of trying to make a digital multistandard player in 2015 because the lack of SACD comes down to a lack of SACD transport and controller chip availability today. Companies like Esoteric have withdrawn OEM sales of transport mechs, in part because Sony has called time on the chips Esoteric uses to read SACD data off discs. Companies like CH Precision, dCS, and Playback Designs are left out in the cold as a result. While these brands have bought stocks of mechs and chips to supply and service their existing top players, building a new model with finite stocks of a key component is not a good idea. But maybe this lack of SACD replay is not as important today, because the Rossini itself comes in two forms – with or without that built-in CD transport. Only time will tell whether audiophiles go for the ‘hub’ or ‘hub+CD’ version in greater numbers.
A problem in writing about dCS products is attempting to edit down the technology inside. The company has always been at the forefront of digital audio development, and that means the technologies involved with a dCS player don’t conform to regular descriptions. No off-the-shelf Burr Brown or ESS chipsets here. Instead, dCS rolls its own Digital Processing Platform, which includes its patented Ring DAC, and uses the latest and greatest iteration of that DAC as found in the Vivaldi. This Digital Processing Platform means dCS can implement a multi-stage DXD oversample/DSD upsample schema, allowing the user to experiment with a range of DSD and DSD filter settings.
Connectivity is key for the 21st century digital player, and the Rossini is well stocked. There are ‘legacy’ AES/EBU and S/PDIF inputs, USB inputs (both Type B for a computer, and Type A for a thumb drive), main and loop-through Ethernet connections, as well as a trio of clock connections (two in, one out) and variable balanced and single-ended outputs. Importantly for tomorrow’s audio, the Rossini platform is a fully integrated network player. Again not content with an off-the-shelf solution, dCS has developed its own Ethernet streaming front end, and this is fully app controlled.