dCS Scarlotti Stack

Elliot Goldman -- Tue, 07/15/2008 - 08:53

Dear Jon,
After playing with the pieces I would like to suggest something to you. I would suggest you get a purcell or aanother upsampler, ( they are making a new one for the Scarlotti to be available sometime in the future) and try it with the scarlotti at 176.4 with dual AES/EBU cables. We did it this weekend and used a pair of Odin balanced cables as the digital cables. After we finished I tried plugging the dac into a Quantum X4 Nordost "magic box" and the results were something very special. I know you like the stack but this just takes it over the edge for me.
I am a dealer for this so I am not trying to sell anything just reporting my findings on what I believe to be very significant and special. I only wish I could afford one and that everyone that listens to digital could have the opportunity to hear what is possible!

Jonathan Valin -- Thu, 07/17/2008 - 10:15


I'm not at all clear about why you didn't avail yourself of the upsampling in the Scarlatti DAC, and upsample to DSD. Why would you use the DAC in the Purcell, which I don't think is being made anymore? Is it that you prefer the sound of AES/EBU interconnect to Firewire?


Elliot Goldman -- Thu, 07/17/2008 - 14:58

I did use the Scarlatti Dac and maybe the upsampler is not called the purcell but we used the old upsampler to feed the scarlatti dac with clock and transport. We used Odin Balanced cables for the digital stream in a dual AES/EBU set up. This is in my opinion( my friends as well) much better sounding than the DSD. It sounds more transparent and less "processed" and on really good recordings it is down right scary! I apologize if I was not clear we are not using the other piece which I thought was a purcell as anything but an upsampler. The folks at dCS are making a Scarlatti upsampler due shortly that will also accept a usb connection and a lot of other stuff and can upsample all of the digital streams to 176.4 or 196 etc. It will also auto sense the inputs and lock at 32,44.1,88.2, and 96ks. The folks at dCs read my post and sent me some info about it. I know, excuse me, I am sure that you will find this even better, so if you can try it. We have done this once before on another system which was not even close to the one we did last weekend and found the results amazing as well.

Anonymous -- Sun, 11/30/2008 - 08:09

To Jonathan Valin:
"according to David, the vast majority of dCS clients do not prefer high-rate PCM to DSD upconversion."   Really ???
There are 2 AES output in the transport, and 2 AES input in the Dac. However, they cannot act as an AES pair (dCS claims this is clearly written in the manual). This is the funniest thing I have ever seen.
I agree with Elliot Goldman:
My opinion:
Through 1394,
The space expand.
The sound is very very analogue, but not as crystal clear as upconverted PCM . I would also say the sound is "processed" through 1394.
The reviewer (Japanese Hifi magazine -Stereo Sound) Takahito Miura says:
I prefer the sound through SDIF-2, which has cleaner sound and deeper bass than 1394.
The reviewer (Hong Kong Hifi magazine -Audio Technique ) DaChaou says:
The default digital setting is 1394, and 2 AES output cannot act as an AES pair.
The dCS think it will create the better sound than 176.4/192 , I disagree.

Jonathan Valin -- Thu, 07/17/2008 - 23:06

I'm still confused. Are you saying that dCS is planning to release an outboard USB upsampler for the Scarlatti stack that runs exclusively at lower upsampling rates than the Scarlatti stack itself does? Or...well, what are you saying?

Currently, the Scarlatti DAC is configured so that you can upsample all the way to 2.822 or 3.07 MS/s DSD via FireWire (the configuration I preferred) or to accept up to 24-bit PCM at 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96kS/s via its two AES/EBU connections, or 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192kS/s as a dual AES pair (which may be what you're talking about).

The sound that so impressed me--and others here in town--with CD was via the FireWire connection upsampling to DSD. Lower upsampling rate sounded more discretely detailed (more "hi-fi" impressive), but they didn't have the astonishingly analog-like holistic presentation that the DSD-upsampled signal had and that, to my ear, separated the Scarlatti off from anything else digital I'd ever heard.

However, we agree that the Scarlatti is a great piece of digital gear and, like you, if I could afford it i would buy it.

Elliot Goldman -- Fri, 07/18/2008 - 08:38

They are going to release a Scarlotti upsampler YES.
What I am trying to say is we prefer using a dual AES/EBU set up with an outboard upsampler to take a digital bitstream via AES/EBU instead of the firewire DSD presentation. We have found that it is more realistic sounding and in my non reviewer vocabulary is just plain Magical.
I am not technical enough to explain the math, but I can hook it up and make it work!!! LOL
We have gone back and forth on the DSD versus the Dual AES/EBU in three different systems and always liked the AES better.
I do agree that the "stack" is amazing and I am going to try to figure out how many pints of blood I need to sell to get one for myself :)

Jonathan Valin -- Fri, 07/18/2008 - 10:53

Since I haven't heard the configuration you've talking about (if I'm understanding what you're saying), I can't comment on how it sounds vis-a-vis upconverting to DSD.

I did try the various configurations that the Scarlatti itself offers and, as I noted, preferred upconversion to DSD on CD playback.

Although I'm not at all sure why dCS would release an outboard Scarlatti upconverter, I'd be interested in hearing it, or anything else that dCS makes.

Elliot Goldman -- Fri, 07/18/2008 - 11:07

They are and I am sure you will. Then you will have the chance!

Elliot Goldman -- Sat, 07/19/2008 - 14:49

The Scarlatti does not upsample pcm to anything other than DSD by itself. It requires and outboard upsampler and then one can use the dual aes/ebu configuration to bring it up to 176.4 or 192. It will need 3 aes/ebu cables and an upsampler, whether the purcell or the new one that they are making for the Scarlatti coming in September I believe.
What you might have tried is not what I am talking about. If you tried dual aes/ebu with only the stack all you got is double 44.1 and that does not sound good at all.
Try it and I believe you will like it... alot!
Iam sorry if I was not clear but I am not a wordsmith as you are! :)
Enjoy the weekend it looks like a few rounds of golf here in sunny FLA!

Jonathan Valin -- Sat, 07/19/2008 - 16:58

I'm still bewildered.

Why would you need the Scarlatti DAC at all, if what you wanted to do was upsample 16-bit/44.1k to 24-bit/176 or 192 via dual AES/EBU? Why wouldn't you just use the Elgar Plus DAC? Or, contrarily, why would you need the Saraltti transport? Why not use the dcs Verdi Encore transport feeding the Scarlatti DAC? For that matter, why not use the dCS Verdi Encore/Elgar Plus/Verona clock stack instead of the Scarlatti stack, if you prefer upsampling to 176 or 192 via dual AES/EBU to upsampling to DSD via FireWire?

I'm not disputing your claim about the sound of your preferred setup, understand. I haven't heard the combination you heard, so I can't. i just don't understand the logic--yours or, if your explanation is correct, dCS's. Are you implying that dCS itself has a problem with the Scarlatti's upconversion of CD to DSD?

Elliot Goldman -- Sat, 07/19/2008 - 17:53

Dear Jon, The previous dCS equipment was capable of upsampling to 24/192 as well as upsampling to DSD. The Scarlatti is as well. They have not released a upsampler for the Scarlatti yet. Since my crew and I have played with the previous generation and have preferred the 24 /176 or 192 to dsd we decided to try it with the Scarlatti stack which is superior in sound to the previous gear. We all liked the sound we got in the upsampled mode better. When I noted that on this forum I received a note from Mr. David Steven of dCS that informed me that he was excited with the new upsampler that would join the Scarlatti line.
I have no idea how the folks at dCS feel about the two different streams however I have discussed my thoughts with some other people who are involved with the product( dealers, clients etc.) and we have compared our experiences and agreed that we like the non DSD better on most things.
I don't know how to be any clearer. If you require further information I suggest you talk to the dCS folks and maybe they can give you their thoughts. David is a very responsive person and does answer his email in my limited experience.
I have used up my limited verbiage for this post,

Jonathan Valin -- Sat, 07/19/2008 - 18:20

Fair enough, Elliot.

I'll write to David and find out what's what.


Jonathan Valin -- Tue, 07/22/2008 - 03:21

I have now corresponded with David Steven of dCS and I believe I understand the situation. There will be a new Scarlatti upconverter capable of upconverting to any of a variety of output sample rates, including 176.4/192 and DSD. It is intended primarily for those folks who are using hard drives as transports, which is why it is equipped with a USB port (as well as other standard I/O ports).

Why not just use the Scarlatti DAC for this upconversion? Well, for various sound reasons, dCS puts Scarlatti upconversion circuitry in its transport rather than in the Scarlatti DAC. In other words, the Scarlatti DAC oversamples to Ring DAC format (5 bits at 2.822MS/s) but does not upsample to DSD first.

Those with computer-based servers who want to avail themselves of Ring DAC technology will be able to do so via the new Scarlatti upconverter (which replaces the defunct Purcell upconverter) by going out from their server-transport via USB (or whatever output their server uses) to the Scarlatti upconverter and, thence, to the Scarlatti DAC.

David Steven and dCS firmly believe, as the vast majority of dCS clients does, that upconversion to DSD is the best option in most systems. (Indeed, part of the reason why dCS discontinued the multiple-rate upsampling Purcell was that it found that its clients were using DSD upconversion almost exclusively, making the various high-rate PCM options superfluous.)

However, upconverting to 2.822MHz DSD can (very occasionally) cause linearity problems in some (presumably ultra-high-bandwidth) amplifiers, when the signal is processed via what I and dCS consider the best-sounding filtration option that the Scarlatti stack offers (Filter 1, which provides the highest bandwidth at the price of the highest out-of-bandwidth noise). While the Scarlatti offers three other filtration options, which progressively limit bandwidth and lower noise with upconverted or actual DSD signals, some users may prefer higher-rate PCM upconversion if DSD causes problems with their amp. This high-rate PCM upconversion is what Elliot was extolling. (What Elliot and his friends did was insert an "old" Purcell upsampler between the Scarlatti transport and the Scarlatti Ring DAC—coming out of the Scarlatti transport and driving the Scarlatti DAC via dual AES/EBU. This allowed them to upsample the 44.1k signal of the Scarlatti transport to 176.4 or 192 and then feed the high-rate PCM to the Scarlatti DAC for digital-to-analog conversion.)

For the record, let me repeat that David Steven and dCS and, according to David, the vast majority of dCS clients do not prefer high-rate PCM to DSD upconversion.

Quote:We pioneered these higher PCM rates, and don't undertake the use of anything we don't consider to be valid both technically and audibly.
We believe DSD to offer the widest range of benefits across the audio spectrum, in most systems.

Since I have not heard 176.4/192 PCM via the Scarlatti stack, I cannot judge, although I can say with confidence that if upconverted PCM is better than upconverted DSD then it must be pretty damn remarkable. I will report on the Scarlatti upsampler when it becomes available.

Elliot Goldman -- Tue, 07/22/2008 - 08:33

I will be interested in knowing your thoughts when you get it.
We have done a lot of listening on a few systems and always prefered the pcm upsampled. We are using a ZILLION dollars worth of cables for sure but at almost 70k for the gear plus the upsampler what the heck!
This set up is the most realistic presentation that I have ever heard.
I know there are people that would say that the best analog is better and it might be but for a digital front end to make me forget the fact that I am listening to a cd is just remarkable!

Jonathan Valin -- Wed, 07/23/2008 - 12:43

The Scarlatti upsampler won't be available for several months. As noted, it is intended to be used with stand-alone or computer-based servers (which, because they perforce eliminate the Scarlatti transport, also perforce eliminate the Scarlatti transport's upsampling). I'm not into server-based digital, but I will try it, assuming I can get the Scarlatti stack back to conduct the experiment. I know you're wildly enthusiastic about 176/192, but...well. David Steven, the other folks at dCS, and the vast majority of Scarlatti owners seem to strongly prefer upsampling to DSD.

Any differences of opinion aside, Mr. Steven and his crew have to be high among the smartest and most innovative thinkers ever to put mind to digits. They certainly make the most lifelike CD players I've ever heard. I am an analog man, first and foremost, but, as I said in my review in Issue 184, the Scarlatti and the Puccini simply raise the bar on realism from a CD source to a new and exalted level that makes the entire medium far more competitive with vinyl.

Allis -- Thu, 07/09/2009 - 19:44

Interestingly , Michael Fremer  in his excellent Scarlatti review in the new issue of Stereophile , which included the Scarlatti upsampler, found  upsampling of CD  via the Scarlatti upsampler up to 24/176 to be  preferable to upsampling to DSD.  Had he known Elliot had concluded likewise- he might have disavowed. LMAO.
While also calling it the best CD and SACD playback  he has ever heard - Fremer managed to avoid using the word "revolutionary" or "landmark" or "most significant product in the history of CD" - something that TAS writers were unable to accomplish in the last issue on four different digital products ( none of which can play in the league of the Scarlatti).


Elliot Goldman -- Wed, 07/23/2008 - 13:35

I hope you get the chance and since I only know 3 Scarlatti owners are all three are upsampling I guess my survey is limited however they all agree and I also find that it is preferable that way. When I used the Odin cables in two of the three occurences the difference was magical.
I am not an analog man having given my records away a long time ago and so this for us is truely a revelation.
I am sure they did not build this item just to stick a music server into it since it accepts all the digital formats in 44.1 as well as the 48 for the servers. If need be when my new place is finally open I will invite you to come listen and we can stop battling :)

Jonathan Valin -- Wed, 07/23/2008 - 13:46

I'm not battling with you, Elliot. I'm simply reporting what I was told by David. I have no opinion of my own about upsampling to 176/192, as I've never tried it with the Scarlatti stack. But I will.

Elliot Goldman -- Wed, 07/23/2008 - 14:08

You should and I await your findings. I hope to have this set up in the new digs. My invite stands if I do.
You will get a chance to hear the New Utopia EM, Scaena 3.2 and maybe even the CLX if I get it before you.

Jonathan Valin -- Wed, 07/23/2008 - 15:33

Thanks for the invite! Very kind of you--and very appealing. I'll let you know.

Elliot Goldman -- Thu, 08/07/2008 - 11:44

Dear Jon and Robert,
I just received the new magazine and I am lost as to your methods. In the last two issues there is an expensive digital source on the cover. In the last two issues there are reviews of these devices. Why are we them not at least discussing the two of them together or comparing them. In my humble opinion a CD player at 65k shuld not be system dependant, should not be outdone by an 11k player on Sacd and still called the best and if you can afford it you should get one.
If this is what the absolute sound has become you all should be ashamed of yourselves.

Elliot Goldman -- Wed, 09/24/2008 - 15:05

FYI SCarlatti upsampler/ digital to digital convertor is on the verge of release.

Aye Non E mus (not verified) -- Mon, 05/25/2009 - 13:10

It's really not that important. Put on a vinyl and listen for yourself to find out that all this digital gumpf has nothing on analogue sound.

Allis -- Thu, 07/09/2009 - 19:46

Interestingly , Michael Fremer  in his excellent Scarlatti review in the new issue of Stereophile , which included the Scarlatti upsampler, found  upsampling of CD  via the Scarlatti upsampler up to 24/176 to be  preferable to upsampling to DSD.  Had he known Elliot had concluded likewise- he might have disavowed. LMAO.
While also calling it the best CD and SACD playback  he has ever heard - Fremer managed to avoid using the word "revolutionary" or "landmark" or "most significant product in the history of CD" - something that TAS writers were unable to accomplish in the last issue on four different digital products ( none of which can play in the league of the Scarlatti).


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