This is the review I was beginning to wonder if I would ever write. Back in 2015 Alan Sircom wrote a very comprehensive take on the then-new dCS Rossini CD/DAC and clock with the thought that I could follow it up with a user experience piece some time later. Now, much later than we originally anticipated, here it is. Since Alan’s review it became clear that the Rossini, as a full blown streamer in its own right, would be looking at future software/format updates to add to its already superb musical qualities. Exciting things were beginning to happen in the world of streaming and Roon has since arrived. As the subscription service Tidal has grown in quality and high-def downloads and MQA have been coming of age, the Rossini has been looking like a different proposition altogether. Initially and from outside dCS, it looked like it might be a scaled-down Vivaldi that had inherited some trickle-down of the top model’s DNA. The Vivaldi I believe could well be thought of as the greatest CD player that was ever made, when the history of the silver disc is written. But its price, especially for the full-blown four-box extravaganza, is prohibitive. Rossini, especially with its clock is no bargain basement device either for, but, as streaming has accelerated its own development and sound quality exponentially, it is beginning to look like a much more comprehensive proposition. Considered alongside the aforementioned Roon/Tidal axis, its appeal has grown. Especially when you consider the fact that exciting upgrades are being developed by dCS itself and that these will become available to their customers as free downloads then the whole idea of a future-proof, high-end digital music machine becomes a serious reality.
The usual prescribed upgrade path of changing hardware simply doesn’t apply within this digital framework now. Rossini is currently on its third major software update as work on the streaming side has now incorporated the inclusion of MQA encoded material and there are always tweaks to the company’s remarkable Ring DAC, a technology initially developed by the company many years ago. One of the things about this DAC architecture is its uniqueness and the company have the engineers who are constantly looking at ways of improving the sound quality. It’s one of the bonuses of in-house development as opposed to off-the-shelf DACs. These software updates are no small things either. The sonic improvements that the mapping and filter enhancements brought to the Vivaldi a couple of years ago were nothing short of remarkable and increased the potential of that great machine considerably. When you buy a dCS, you’re buying into an ongoing commitment to improved sound quality and this hopefully goes some way towards softening the blow of the initial financial outlay.
DCS has been a development partner in MQA and the latest software updates have bought the decoding of these files on board. This enhances still further the Rossini’s formidable number-crunching abilities. Alan’s review considered it primarily as a high-end CD player with excellent streaming possibilities, but like most of us, he found that, at that time, the quality of the streamed material and rips played a definite second string role to the CD side of things. The balance has changed now though and the rise in quality available from Tidal has grown surprisingly to the extent that I think it now sounds extremely good, especially as part of a system that incorporates Roon as its traffic cop.