dCS LINA - DAC/Amp/Clock - Official Thread

dCS Audio has just announced its new headphone-centric “LINA” system.

Components in the LINA system are:

  • Network/streaming DAC - $12,750

    The DAC employs dCS’ highly-regarded Ring DAC™ conversion and supports built-in network streaming directly from Roon, TIDAL, Qobuz, Spotify, Deezer and others.

  • Headphone Amplifier - $9,100

    The amplifier offers balanced (dual 3-pin XLR and 4-pin XLR) and single-ended output (6.35mm TRS), has two sets of analog XLR inputs and one set of analog RCA inputs. It provides provides up to 2,000mW (2W) of class A/B power into 30Ω (balanced) and 480mw into 300Ω (balanced).

  • Master Clock - $7,300

These components are available for pre-order, and are slated to ship after June 27th.

This is the spot to discuss dCS’ intriguing new product line.


Man I’m in the wrong line of work if there’s a market for this kind of gear


Handsome. Now, I just have to put off buying that new RV I’ve been eyeing until 2032…

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Only if I can drive it or live in it.


That’s more expensive than a chevy camaro and you still need a headphone to actually make a sound

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If you wonder how this compares to the Bartók + Headphone Amplifier.

Lina Review and Bartók Comparison

DCS is also releasing an. Upgrade, Bartók 2.0 on May 31st, so you may want to have a listen to Bartók 2.0 as you evaluate the dCS Lina.


Some quasi-random thoughts on the LINA stuff …


I’m going to assume that this is essentially the DAC-guts of a Bartók, with no provision for a headphone board, smaller (and possibly simpler) PSU(s) and significantly smaller casework. It’s about the same price as a pure-DAC pre-price increase Bartók.

Headphone Amplifier:

2W in class AB for $9,100 doesn’t get me very excited. It makes me wonder how far into class A this thing is biased. If it’s biased heavily enough into class A to push a full watt without going AB, that’d be more reasonable (to me). Though, at that price, for solid-state, and with relatively pedestrian performance numbers elsewhere, it seems a bit of a push.

Proof is in the listening … and 2W is more than enough for almost everything, with plenty of headroom, I just would have preferred class A here.

Master Clock:

There are lots of misconceptions about external high-precisions clocks when it comes to DACs. Almost all of the “Atomic” and 10MHz “Master Clocks” are not employed properly by most HiFi/Head-Fi listeners.

In most cases their purpose is simply to discipline multiple DACs so they’re all in sync. This is usually a studio concern, not a 2-channel/headphone issue. Often the built-in local oscillators for competent DACs are significantly more accurate/have lower phase noise than expensive master-clocks (and hence have lower jitter). And such clocks usually have outputs at rates that have to undergo non-integer downscaling (division) to drive 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz sample clocks, which is bad for jitter.

dCS do this differently.

Their clocks actually have dedicated 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz clock signals, so no wobbly division has to be done by the DAC to consume their signal, and they can drive the DACs sample-clock directly.

I’m usually not a fan of expensive external clocks to drive a single DAC, as the results are typically demonstrably higher jitter (since they’re being misused and their purpose misconstrued), but dCS do it the way people THINK everyone else does, and they are much more relevant as a result.

I may give this is a listen, if it’s around, when I get to do my dCS APEX DAC audition on their flagship DAC and clock. Though for the pre-APEX Vivaldi I wound up preferring the MSB Select DAC, and I like the latest Linn Klimax DSM (Organik) even better.

Price is right about where I expected for the DAC. The clock and the amp seem out of whack, but we’ll see I guess.


Per the various price comments, these type of products scream out for double blind testing. Spend $12,750 when your music sources include compressed Spotify? (!)

I’ve been looking for something that can properly drive my Porta Pros… I think this is finally it!!! :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously tho, I don’t think I’m the target audience for this type of product but hopefully will get a chance to hear it at a canjam or something in the future.


Not sure it will hold its value like a Camaro. A client of mine just sold his used 1969 Camaro SS RS convertible for $45,000 cash.

Other competing options at the tippy top


Now try that with a 2 year old camero…

While you clearly have some good tastes, almost all of these are 2x the price of the lina amp even after haggling with a dealer (and several of them just flat out dont offer discounts). For people wondering what they all are btw:

  1. Aries Cerat Genius 845 - probabaly just wait for their new dedicated HP amp to drop in a couple months
  2. MSB refrence headphone amp
  3. MassKobo 406S - This was an art version of the 406 (no dragon standard) and has since been replaced by 456
  4. Oji Special BDI-DC24B-G Limited - I dont know much about this one. Most people talk about the BDI-DC44B-G and its variants which is this amps bigger brother.
  5. Traformatic Primavera
  6. Riviera AIC-10 - I own one of these and its fucking fantastic but not sure I can exactly rec anything at this price range. I dont regret buying but its not exactly a sensible purchase
  7. WA33 - This looks like non-elite which would actualy be similar price to the LINA amp
  8. Viva Egoista 845 - Make sure you read up on how to use the amp before you buy. It has some quirks in how you turn it on and not liking no load and stuff like that

I’ve seen this listing winking an eye at me all day. perhaps I should have included this in my posting as well and half the price of pretty much all that group.

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It was looking at you too? Lol

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Holy schiit, at those prices you’d have to be British royalty, Russian mafia, or some other odious plutocrat! Yikes :-1:

I’m still yet to hear a Niimbus. I am kinda skeptical it properly competes with the amps in the comment above, but certainly could compete with LINA amp. Any idea if you will be getting LINA amp in at any point and may be able to compare it to other stuff (IIRC you have a primavera, yah?)

The DCS Lina’s selling point on the website is total transparency; it gets out of the way of the music. Isn’t that the exact same quality that SMSL and Topping are offering at a tiny fraction of the price? For 30 grand, I kind of expect it to do SOMETHING to the sound.


Regarding the amp, it seems it’s the “buffered input” which seems to be elevating the performance. No idea exactly what it’s doing but the Abyss guys were seriously raving about this input option.

I was very excited by this new release when I heard it was c. ~$9k - I even thought “Hmm, this would be an interesting alternative to the Stellaris I’m waiting for…”. Then a few days later I found out it’s actually ~$9K per unit for a total of ~$27k for the whole system.

Yeah, no. There has to be a line of rationality somewhere, doesn’t there?

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You would hope…Though my line has made considerable leaps and bounds up the ladder since starting in the hobby.

It is still far from this price point atm and don’t believe I’ll ever rationalize myself into this range :crossed_fingers::grin:

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