dCS announces Expanse for Bartok + HP

"Cambridge’s dCS announced their 1.1.1 Mosaic update to the Bartók DAC and headphone amplifier adding Expanse, a DSP designed to bring the headphone listening experience ‘closer to the sound artists and engineers hear when listening to a performance mix in the studio’.

In front of a loudspeaker system, each ear hears the sound of both loudspeakers plus a plethora of reflected sound; commonly referred to as reverb. But listen to that same recording behind headphones and the left ear only receives left channel information and the right ear only receives right channel information. And with the room effectively removed by headphones, there is no reverb. For dCS’s engineers, this imbalance between loudspeaker and headphone listening was a problem in need of a solution."

In initial listening I was afraid it might sound like flipping a “reverb” switch on other systems, but it is quite subtle. Expanse adds a nice touch to certain tracks.


That sounds pretty cool, like an advanced crossfeed.

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Exactly. That’s what it sounds like, but not overdone.

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Very nice. I’ve played around with crossfeed on the Phonitor before and it’s can be nice with certain recordings.

I actually just ordered an RME ADI-2 Pro FS R and I’m looking forward to playing around with the crossfeed as well.


Say what? I don’t understand.

If you have to ask “how much” you can’t afford it. Oh, damn.

So I have been listening to the Expanse capability of the dCS Bartok + Headphone Amp for several days, and I am hooked. There are two levels of Expanse (E1 and E2) with subtle differences in effect.

I have seen “reverb” applied in the past by other manufacturers, but it was a ham-fisted approach. dCS’s Expanse is done with a DSP, and is guided by the music being presented, instead of the “one size fits all” approach that I have seen in the past. This is something to easily get wrong, but IMHO dCS has done it well. Once I became used to the spatial presentation of music with Expanse, now I don’t want to do without it. It makes the transition from speakers to headphones quite seamless, as the music is no longer in my head, but out in front of me with a wide sound-stage and precise instrument placement on the virtual stage.

One tiny limitation is that the Expanse capability is only available from the headphone outputs of the Bartok, so external speaker-amplifier driven headphones (like my Raal Requisite SR1a) cannot use the Expanse capability. Not a big problem.

Here is the White Paper from dCS on Expanse for interested members:

dCS Bartok HP Amp Expanse White Paper