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To Jeff Fritz,

I just bought a dCS Vivaldi DAC. Your review of the Devialet makes it look spectacular. So, to listen to the Vivaldi I would play digital, then connect the analog output of the DAC to the input of the Devialet, which would convert the signal back to digital and then again to analog. Would that much conversion somehow degrade the sound from the Vivaldi or any high-end DAC? Lately I've been thinking of selling my Spectral DMA-260 amp and getting the Spectral DMA-400, but your description of the Devialet system gives me pause.

United States

If you just purchased a dCS Vivaldi, which by all accounts is spectacular, you've committed to a system model that just won’t benefit from the Devialet approach. The Devialets are designed as all-in-one systems -- the preamplifier, DAC, and power-amplifier sections are all housed inside, so you don’t need other ones. Besides those components being integrated into one box, I personally believe that part of the magic of the Devialet approach is in the super-short signal path it offers -- according to the company, 2” is about it. On the other hand, sending your digital output to a DAC, and then into the Devialet as an analog signal -- with the conversions you describe -- would not only defeat the purpose of the Devialet signal-path length, but it would also render the Vivaldi almost meaningless in your system.

If you're committed to the Vivaldi DAC (since you've just purchased it, I assume you are), then your best bet is to optimize the components around it in a more conventional way -- a better power amp, better speakers, or a better source that feeds it. I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. High-end audio is fraught with buyer's remorse. Don’t let that bug bite you. In the Vivaldi you have a spectacular component -- enjoy it and don’t look back. . . . Jeff Fritz