dCS Purcell Promises Hi-Rez Playback from 16/44 CDs

Ultra-high-resolution audio formats like the Super Audio Compact Disc and DVD-Audio are just around the corner, but music lovers' CD collections will never be obsolete if companies like dCS have anything to do with it. The British electronics company, noted for its high-quality D/A converters, has introduced a 24-bit/192Hz upconverter that is claimed to elevate the performance of ordinary 16/44.1 CD to near DVD-Audio level.

The Purcell, as dCS has designated it, is "the first high-precision Digital Upsampler designed specifically for audiophile use." The device is said to "increase the sample rate and/or wordlength of the output from domestic PCM digital audio sources, such as CD and DVD players, up to a maximum sample rate of 192/kS/s (kilo-samples per second) and a maximum wordlength of 24 bits."

Nagra and dCS have both demonstrated upsampling at several audio shows to almost universal praise, and the professional dCS 972 upsampler was well-reviewed by Jonathan Scull in February 1999. The $5000 Purcell, however, appears to be the first piece of gear that can bring this benefit to the public. Among the purported benefits are better resolution of detail, improved dynamics, more natural harmonic balances, and better imaging in both width and depth.

The Purcell is a processor, not a standalone DAC. The digital output of a CD player or transport is connected to one of the Purcell's inputs, and its output in turn is fed to a DAC capable of a minimum of 20/96, and preferably 24/192. dCS's Elgar DAC, Stereophile's 1997 Product of the Year, is said to be ideal for the purpose. The Purcell has all the standard input and output connectors, including RCA, BNC, and AES/EBU. An ST optical input is optional.

The unit has not reached its final stage of development, alluded to in a mention of "software and hardware upgrades" at the company’s extensive website. dCS says its policy is "to make upgrades as inexpensive as we possibly can." Progress, thankfully, does march on.

dCS consumer products are distributed in the USA by Audiophile Systems.