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Denafrips Dacs

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by bever70, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    I don't really deal in quantifying these things other than to say it was noticeable. I'm not even sure I'd call it subtle. And I get the same out of my homebrew DDC. The only difference being the latter is USB --> i2S only, where Hermes is a much more flexible bit of kit, with all of the conversion to i2S or dual AES/EBU it can do. Truly impressive.

    It's most noticeable in the upper midbass/lower midrange areas as well as in instrument decay and rendering of space around instruments and within the stage itself.
     
    Shangri-La likes this.
  2. alvin1118

    alvin1118 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Singapore
    Hello Guys,

    Just sent a Production Update of the Pontus II DAC.

    Shipping will happen soon!

    [​IMG]

    Happy Easter!
     
    SergZh, Swann36, OC Zed and 7 others like this.
  3. rockin_since_58

    rockin_since_58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simi Valley, CA
    Question for Ares II owners:

    Do you leave it fully powered on at all times or do you put it in standby overnight?
     
  4. Voodoo Child

    Voodoo Child Just A Flea-Bit Peanut Monkey

    Location:
    London
    I own the Pontus not the Ares but the recommendation from Denafrips themselves is that all their dacs should be left on 24/7 for them to perform at their best, so that's what I do.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2021
    basie-fan and bever70 like this.
  5. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine I'm All Ears

    Location:
    Free Speech Land
    Great!
    I just got the Ares you sent me and immediately put in an order for a Pontus II.
    The Ares is very very good.
    Thank you so much!
     
    bever70 likes this.
  6. jazzsurfer

    jazzsurfer Well-Known Member

    Location:
    new york
    How would you Compare the by Frost to the dinafrips
     
  7. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage Thread Starter

    Location:
    Belgium
    Mine is left on all the time. But putting it in standby should make no difference according to Alvin (Vinshineaudio).
     
  8. rockin_since_58

    rockin_since_58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simi Valley, CA
    Yes, an R2R DAC is best being left on. I was just not sure because the Ares has a main power switch and a standby switch.

    If the main power is left on and the unit is put into standby, is the main portion of the circuit remaining energized?
     
    bever70 and adamos like this.
  9. rockin_since_58

    rockin_since_58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simi Valley, CA
    It is not even close. The Ares II outperforms the Bifrost 2 by a long shot. There is way more detail in the Ares.
     
    YtseJammer likes this.
  10. adamos

    adamos Forum Resident

    Location:
    Southeastern PA
    This has always confused me a little because if it makes no difference then I’m not clear what purpose standby mode serves. Typically it’s to reduce power consumption and reduce temperature but then would that in fact make a performance difference vs. leaving it on all on the time?

    Anyway I leave mine fully on all the time too.
     
    bever70 likes this.
  11. rockin_since_58

    rockin_since_58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simi Valley, CA
    Thanks for your input. I also am leaving it fully on. I was just thrown off by the standby mode.
     
    adamos likes this.
  12. Voodoo Child

    Voodoo Child Just A Flea-Bit Peanut Monkey

    Location:
    London
    Honestly, no idea. Apart from my valve amp all my gear is left on permanently (unless away for a few days).
     
    ssmith3046 likes this.
  13. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage Thread Starter

    Location:
    Belgium
    Confused here too! I asked (pretty much in the beginning of this thread) and this was the answer I got. But as it confuses me too I also just leave it on ;).
     
    adamos and rockin_since_58 like this.
  14. ubiknik

    ubiknik Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    I leave my Pontus on all the time and it seems quite happy.
    I should maybe some day get the new DSP card, so I can taste some of that Pontus 2 action.
     
  15. jazzsurfer

    jazzsurfer Well-Known Member

    Location:
    new york
    very surprised since others have said the opposite as far as detail.
     
    rodentdog likes this.
  16. rockin_since_58

    rockin_since_58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simi Valley, CA
    Interesting, I haven't seen any direct comparisons. When I got the Cambridge CXN V2, I sold the Bifrost 2 as the Cambridge DAC sounded better than the Bifrost 2. The Ares is better than both of them in my system.
     
    YtseJammer likes this.
  17. jazzsurfer

    jazzsurfer Well-Known Member

    Location:
    new york
     
    Linger63 and rockin_since_58 like this.
  18. Oliver Meyer

    Oliver Meyer In Audio Heaven Up Here

    Location:
    Virginia Beach
    hi Alvin.

    I’m interested in the Iris but unsure if it’s a good fit for the AresII. Is connecting them via coax going to limit playback options and quality?
     
  19. YtseJammer

    YtseJammer Forum Resident

    I have both the Ares II and the Bifrost 2, and to my ears the Ares II is a better DAC. The sound is more fun and engaging with the Ares II, I can hear more details, the soundstage is wider, the electric guitars have more bite, etc.
     
  20. Salparadise

    Salparadise Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Virginia
    I’ve seen a lot of descriptors of the Ares II, but this is the first time I’ve seen it described as lacking in detail. Would you care to elaborate on how you reached that conclusion? Have you been able to compare the two directly?

    I’ve had an Ares II in my system for three months now, and it seems detailed to me. I am considering upgrading to the Pontus II and am trying to decide if there is enough difference to justify more than 2X cost. I want more than a nuanced improvement. Has anyone attempted to quantify the difference. It’s purely subjective, of course, but I’d love to know how everyone perceives it
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
    bever70 likes this.
  21. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    This is the territory where text descriptors of what we hear (and in what room and system) get to be relatively difficult to distinguish.

    I went from Ares II to Venus II. As one would expect at roughly 4x the price - Venus II delivers more precise and conspicuous room cues, instrument fundamentals and harmonics, and those are all thanks in part to better instrument separation, what seems like a more quiet noise floor, and just a little added transparency.

    I'm not sure if I'd pull any of that out of a month of listening if my room weren't atypically quiet, and if my speakers and amp weren't atypically transparent.

    None of the above is an indictment of Ares, either. It's not noisy, it doesn't lack detail, and it does just fine with complex orchestra and congested heavy metal-type recordings. But Venus II does those things just a little better, and I suspect Pontus does as well. Could be the better power supplies or the closer tolerance resistor network. Maybe it's i2S on Venus II which I do feel is better than USB now that we've updated my unit to FPGA firmware that doesn't have an intermittent glitch or skip.

    If Ares II were bad in any way - no way would I have elected to move up the line two levels to Venus II. Ares II is simply amazing for what you're spending to get it. But the higher end DACs in the line build on what makes Ares so intriguing and fun to listen to. Personally I'd love to hear a Terminator Plus but even wtiht he system I have - I think my room starts to limit the amount of "better" I'm going to be able to hear.

    And that's fine. Especially as far as my wallet is concerned :D
     
    adamos, Doctor Fine, realgone and 4 others like this.
  22. Calvin_and_Hobbes

    Calvin_and_Hobbes Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Just got a Pontus II yesterday so I can answer that question directly. In terms of the Ares II, it was just my subjective impression that it lacked detail. I got a Qutest two months ago and confirmed that.

    I would say that if you are satisfied with the Ares II, don't 2nd guess that. There's always better in audio, but only you can determine the level at which you are satisfied.
     
    gabbleratchet7 and Salparadise like this.
  23. ubiknik

    ubiknik Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    This is a nice way of putting it for sure, thanks for the summary of your experience with the Denafrips.
    My experience was different in that I was already using the Border Patrol dac and for whatever reason purchased a Pontus to compare.
    It was actually kind of tough to choose at first because the BP throws a nice soundstage with that tube rectified power supply selected. The Pontus won in the end for what it's worth.

    I was wondering if you could elaborate on the FPGA firmware update you got for the Venus as I'm still on the fence on a streaming device to use. The Pontus I have is pre Pontus2 and I have yet to get the new DSP card for it, basically I have mainly been playing optical transport feed through rca SPDF and needle drops via Tascam DA 3000 through a AES cable.
    The sound is plenty good as is and should improve with the new card, I had for awhile now been planning on getting that Allo USBridge Signature Pi player with their Shanti psu.
    Earlier on I was determined to go I2s, I even had Alvin make sure that mine got a HDMI jack for that as opposed to the RJ45 style input (just because of my unfamiliarity with either really), but as I went along and read more here and there it seemed that USB wasn't being considered all that bad currently and Alvin did point out that Denafrips uses a better than average USB mudule.
    That's when I started looking at the Allo, they also offer a rca spdf version with a clean board for the connection,
    ...eventually I'll jump on one or other RPi variant, but for now I have a few or more projects going on so still no hurry I guess.
     
    toddrhodes likes this.
  24. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    I've had quite the time playing around with USB and i2S on the DF Venus, so I'm happy to share my thoughts. I will admit my bias for connections is generally "anything but USB" but DF kinda changed my opinion from being hardcore anti-USB to realizing USB CAN sound really good. Like, really good. And it is so good that I would say i2S is definitely a touch different, not necessarily better for everyone.

    To just get impressions out of the way, the best way I can characterize my preference for i2S over USB is basically a beefier, more muscular lower midrange - like a guitar amp on steroids - and better illustration of the overall sound stage and recording venue. The illusion feels just a little more real, sounds hang in the air in perceptible "spaces" for longer and they feel more easy to pinpoint.

    None of that is bad with USB. I just think i2S elevates the whole experience a touch.

    Now for the detail:
    I've been playing with 3 i2S sources:
    Pi2AES - limited to 192 PCM and DSD64
    Ian Canada FIFOPi + HDMIPi digital Fifo reclocking scheme with custom clocks and LifePO4 battery PSU (and yep, it's a mouthfull) - essentially a battery powered TXCO DDC
    DF Hermes DDC

    My chain is a Win10 PC running HQPlayer feeding a Pi4 via optical ethernet (converted back to copper just before the Pi4). USB goes out of Pi4 via a dual-head Ghent Audio cable and into the Ian Canada DDC which uses an Amanero Combo 384 USB streamer and outputs i2S via HDMI.

    Using that Ian Canada DDC, I was getting a "skip" or a "glitch" in the music every 10-15 minutes, and it seemed to worsen as things warmed up. It also seemed most prevalent in 44.1 rate family sources. I purchased a used Hermes so I could verify it was also there with it as a source and it was. Worked with Alvin to troubleshoot and he offered the F/W update first. We did that and the issue hasn't recurred on either the Hermes (which is now sold) or the Ian Canada DDC.

    I decided to ultimately keep the Ian Canada because I like that basically the entire pre-DAC source is battery powered now. With Hermes, it was still plugged into the same circuit as everything else. Could I A/B the difference? Very likely not. But I just kinda also like that I helped "build" the Ian Canada stuff, so that adds to the experience just a little.

    Point being - I do think if you have a source like a direct PC or a Pi4 or possibly even something like an Allo on an LPS - I do think USB reclocking and a DDC makes a lot of sense. It strips away some of the last remnants of "digititus" or sheen from the music. I would be happy without it, but I do feel a bit more engaged and enchanted with the DDC in the chain.

    It also says a lot for how frickin' complicated "good digital" chains can be. I've now completely flip-flopped my position from three years ago, just before I got back into digital with an Yggdrasil and Jay's transport.

    My current vinyl rig is middle of the road, sounds good and plays well. It's also fairly simple.

    My digital chain is a computer nerd's fantasy and an electrician's nightmare. It's hard to explain how it all works and even harder to make peace with the fact that it works so well for such marginal investments in networked streamer technology. But here I am, enjoying streaming Qobuz and digital files so very much, and my records - the ones I'm not selling off - sit.
     
    MayoStudenT, adamos, ubiknik and 2 others like this.
  25. ubiknik

    ubiknik Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    Thanks for the thorough going over all that. I quoted this bit because I will probably look into doing something similar with the Allo USBridge if I go with it.
    Basically my streaming use will focus on local hard drives in some configuration, I am basically on scorched earth at this point and while I've been doing tons of needledrop recordings that sound great (24/88.2 seems good enough for me), I don't have a solid backup scheme figured out yet let alone whether I should use a NAS or one of those WD Mycloud things hooked up on the router or what.
    All the recorded music is kept on the original SDs so far and I have copied them to one hd on this computer and an Easystore 5tb.
    Qobuz sounds like the way to go for pay streaming, that is one I would go with out of the ones available, but as for now I'm kind of into no cost solutions and one of them is to also rip about 500 cds to flac.
    Once I've figured out streaming local music and maybe playing with some internet radio via either Volumio or some such rpi software (maybe JRiver), then maybe, but for me just having tablet remote of all the music already here will be that realistic first goal and a substantial game changer.
    If Roon had the internet radio back when I first started looking at it (and the lifetime cost was 500$) I probably would have sprung for that and been off in that direction, my work was a bit on the decline back then so I was already getting cautious 2 years ago, since last year my work is fairly sporadic, which is good for playing around with the stereo and such, but it's made monthly subscription deals seem like a wasteful way to go.
    I did have a Spotify premium account for about 6 months last year as I was working on locations and have a BT speaker, but when I'm not painting (I'm a pictorial and sign painter) I don't use it.
     

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