dCS Lina System DAC/Headphone Amp Quarts Into Pint Pots

Quarts Into Pint Pots

It's easy to overlook that the Lina Headphone Amp is dCS's first 'all analogue' product, and one not short on bipolar silicon with its directly-switched and op-amp buffered inputs feeding a 20kohm ALPs volume control, also with its own IC op-amp gain stage. The main amp includes high/low gain (the two relays are visible in the centre of the pic, p40) preceding a host of discrete devices for the biasing and drive circuit, the latter feeding a beefy, complementary output. Switchmode regulation is employed for this main power amp with linear regulators for the input/line stages.

By contrast, the Lina Network DAC is a version of the Vivaldi/Bartók, production-engineered into a new form factor on a 'flex-ridged' PCB (multiple, ribbon-connected boards). The digital filters are all linear phase types, varying principally in tap/coefficient length, trading response and stopband (alias) rejection against distortion/ringing in the time domain. This includes those deployed in the Lina's 'DSD mode' where the processing is executed in LPCM before the resampling/format conversion to a single-bit DSD stream. For its flagship DACs, dCS offers a maximum of six digital filters and while the same underlying code is embedded into the Lina, only two of these are user-accessible as 'F1' and 'F2'. We've already explored these filters in our Lab Reports for the Vivaldi One [HFN Feb '18], Bartók [HFN May '19] and Vivaldi APEX [HFN Jun '22] – it seems the Lina's 'F1' is equivalent to the Vivaldi/Bartók 'F1' but the Lina's 'F2' is the Vivaldi/Bartók's slow roll-off linear phase 'F4'.

Possibly, dCS might choose to enable the Vivaldi/Bartók filters F2, F3, F5 (minimum phase) and F6 within the Lina at some future date, but that's just supposition on my part. Similarly, it could also update the RingDAC's mapping to align the Lina more closely with the latest APEX upgrades. None of this is a block to purchase now because any future revisions would be achieved 'over air' via the network. PM

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