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Denafrips Dacs

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

  1. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine I'm All Ears

    Location:
    Free Speech Land
    I got the ARESII and compared to any other DAC I have heard so far in my main far-field system it is head and shoulders ahead in certain respects.
    I rewired my far-field rack so it can now be used for comparative purposes just like an audio reviewer.
    It performs instant A/B tests by volume matching with a switch and as I listen for hours at end it also serves for long term testing so that I don't get fooled by "drive-by" impressions.

    SPDIF/RCA and Balanced lines are now rigged up outboard of the stacks so I can swap in whatever to compare to whichever DAC is in position one.
    My new wiring setup provides two addition input positions to load up with DACS and race them all against each other.

    So far two of my my old time professional studio 20 bit and 24/96 DACs from way back when still are holding their own at those particular resolutions.
    But of course they aren't modern enough to do true high res 24/192.
    They were made by Symetrix---ones a Lucid 96/24 and the other a wonderful fat sounding 20 bit AD/DA setup from 20 years ago.
    Great analog output stages kept their SQ well above the el-cheapo DACS I bought lately just to test and fool with ---like Toppings little D50s and D10.
    BUT. Useful comparisons for sure.

    I also run a Bryston 24/192 and a Benchmark 24./192 setup.
    So there's a lot of Delta Sigma DACs of good solid reputation to run against the R2R Denafrips of the world.
    They are all Delta Sigma chip types up against the R2R of the ARES II.

    The Ares was so good I immediately ordered a Pontus II.
    Stay tuned as I intend to do a long term listening comparison and try to nail whatever improvement the Pontus provides over the little ARES II.
    It will have to be phenominal.
    Because so far the ARES II is shocking my world.
    Further words and descriptions will have to wait until I am more sure of my opinions on these DAC comparisons.
    So stay tuned---the Doctor is IN.
     
  2. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage Thread Starter

    Location:
    Belgium
    Looking forward to hear your thoughts about Ares vs. Pontus !
     
    Doctor Fine likes this.
  3. Calvin_and_Hobbes

    Calvin_and_Hobbes Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    My impressions of the Ares II vs the Pontus are:

    Ares II: I found the sound to be pleasant. It definitely has a more analog-like quality to its sound. It had a touch of harshness in its high frequencies which were resolved with the addition of a Synergistic Research UEF Blue power cord. My guess as to why is perhaps the Synergistic cord may be good at shielding and redirecting EMI. But what I found was that music that I liked sounded good, but it didn't provide additional insight into music that I didn't already like or engage me in listening to a broader range of music.

    Pontus II: I've only been listening to the Pontus for several days, but some aspects of its presentation stand out for me. It has the type of warmth that the Ares has, but perhaps even more so. With a Shunyata Venom power cord, I'm hearing no sense of the slight harshness that I heard from the Ares. Resolution on the Pontus is incredible. It's resolution may even be better than a Qutest that I've recently been testing. A key difference for me between the Ares and the Pontus is the sense of pace and engagement that the Pontus has. I would attribute that to the greater resolution of detail that the Pontus has over the Ares. I think the sense of engagement and pace that the Pontus has comes from clearer definition to the leading edge of notes. The Pontus is eye-opening in how its sound manages to be both lifelike and detailed.
     
    adamos, bever70, Doctor Fine and 2 others like this.
  4. I love the Ares II as well. For me, this is one of the most expensive I've owned, but not heard. I've used DACs since the early '90s (Audio Alchemy), along with DDC's and I2S connections even back then. Since then, have accumulated or tried about 2 dozen, and still have about a dozen in use with Roon zones, and home studio.
     
    bever70 and YtseJammer like this.
  5. JumpingBean

    JumpingBean Forum Reedmaker

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
  6. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage Thread Starter

    Location:
    Belgium
    Interesting ! I would have thought that Pontus provide more insight into the music because of more details but maybe at the cost of the 'warm', analog sound of the Ares 2. But you find it even warmer, or perhaps more natural with greater resolution/details ?
    Is there a difference in soundstage/imaging between both ?
     
  7. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage Thread Starter

    Location:
    Belgium
    Very nice and thorough review ! Looks like you got the same impression as @Calvin_and_Hobbes concerning tonal qualities and details. And it looks like it's a step up soundstage-wise from Ares. Pfffff, you guys have me lusting after one :drool:...
     
  8. Calvin_and_Hobbes

    Calvin_and_Hobbes Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I also thought that resolution and warmth were traits on two opposite ends of a spectrum. In my decision to try out the Pontus, my objective was to get 90% resolution that a Qutest provides with more of the warmth that I heard in the Ares II. I've been pleasantly surprised that the Pontus actually seems to have even more detail and resolution than the Qutest and also more smoothness and warmth than the Ares II. What's interesting is that this resolution is delivered in a more natural sounding way than via the Qutest. I would say that the resolution via the Qutest can have an artificially Technicolor feel to how detail is delivered...perhaps a bit larger-than-life. Resolution via the Pontus feels more lifelike and believable to me.

    The Pontus definitely has a broader and fuller soundstage than the Ares and the Qutest as well, I think.

    It sounds exceptionally good to the degree that I can't imagine anything that I would want to improve as I did with the Qutest.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
    adamos and bever70 like this.
  9. Calvin_and_Hobbes

    Calvin_and_Hobbes Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    "Dynamics on the Pontus are impressive and reminiscent of a good 45rpm vinyl record, they ebb and flow and can really hit you with impact when required."

    I noticed and appreciated this as well. I really like the wide emotional range that the Pontus is able to convey. Some DACs have good pace. Other DACs such as the Ares II sound more relaxed. It's intriguing to hear a DAC that can sound both relaxed as well as upbeat and dynamic as needed.

    I would also add that the sense of flow and continuity in the way that the Pontus reproduces music sounds exceptional to me. Ultimately, this is what makes audio equipment compelling to me at any price point.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
    displayname, adamos, ubiknik and 2 others like this.
  10. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage Thread Starter

    Location:
    Belgium
    Great feedback, thanks !
     
  11. Calvin_and_Hobbes

    Calvin_and_Hobbes Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Something else that I've heard is that the Pontus seems to at least narrow the sonic difference between streamed Qobuz files and local files. Local files have always sounded better to me. I attribute that to a shorter signal chain without the noise that might come in through being sent through the internet and then transmitted through my local network.

    Local files MIGHT still sound slightly better, but I'll admit I would have difficulty telling the difference via blind testing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
    Have a Cigar and bever70 like this.
  12. YtseJammer

    YtseJammer Forum Resident

    I cannot go back the Bifrost 2 since I started to use the Ares II with my Verite Closed. My VC sound so much better with the Ares II in my setup. The Bifrost 2 is not bad DAC, but to my ears the Ares is ahead of the BF2 for everything I care about when I'm listening to my music.

    Btw, my Bifrost 2 is on sale here if someone is interested.
     
    Doctor Fine likes this.
  13. edo.t

    edo.t Forum Resident

    Location:
    NY
    I ordered a Venus II yesterday. Can't wait till it gets here. As much as I love my Oppo (that will remain as a transport & continue with video), it never checked some of the boxes that my Naim CDX did (that sadly died). I'll post some impressions after it settles in...
     
  14. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine I'm All Ears

    Location:
    Free Speech Land
    Hey Bever.
    Did you notice the words "Technicolor" being used by another poster?
    As you and I are in constant communication and I used that exact word to describe the effect I so crave and hear with the ARES II---isn't that just a huge coincidence?
    Or maybe something else is going on here.
    Technicolor.
    Yeah.
    it can happen.
    The little Ares is Technicolor over at my house for instance.
    What a hoot!
     
    bever70 and rockin_since_58 like this.
  15. Calvin_and_Hobbes

    Calvin_and_Hobbes Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    If that is what you like about the Ares, I'm pretty confident that you will LOVE the Pontus.
     
  16. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    I was just reading this thread, saw you are buying a Venus II, which I'm listening to right now.

    True story - since it arrived, I've played two records. I got the SRV OneStep? Still sealed, didn't even bother opening it. I will eventually, but...

    I've listed about 2/3 of my vinyl collection on discogs. I still really enjoy vinyl and especially those titles that are truly excellent on that medium but a lot of what I listen to is modern enough that the digital recordings of them used to sound better on vinyl to me, than on my old digital setups. Not any longer.

    So anyway, I was reading your post and Roon shuffled me into a song I've never heard before.

    Jesse Cook - Shake (was previously listening to Strunz & Farah - Illusion, also a Spanish guitar track).

    I'm reading this thread and I'm honestly just forgetting there are speakers in the room. So "Shake" starts and like a lot of tracks like this, it has some random percussion, then guitar, reverb, panning, and finally the feature guitar pops out of the middle.

    Venus II makes it so easy to just forget I'm listening to a couple of speakers. It sounds more like a room filled with sound than anything. Truly amazing. And granted it's not ALL Venus II doing that... but that's what it's capable of. Feed it well, and it will reward you.
     
  17. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    Venus II and friends:

    [​IMG]
     
    SergZh, bever70 and 342 like this.
  18. MayoStudenT

    MayoStudenT Leonard Cohen Fan

    +1 to adding an DDC. It changed my entire viewpoint of digital audio. I find the sound of i2S marvelous so far in my setup. I’m hearing it in the entire soundstage and especially in the bass on my system. It’s quite impressive; one of those upgrades you just have to smile with.
     
    toddrhodes likes this.
  19. Salparadise

    Salparadise Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Virginia

    “Ares is so good I bought a Pontus, Venus...” You guys are a terrible influence. I’m sure there must be something rational about statement, in some universe. I used to be so thrifty, and now I’ve gone and pulled the trigger on a Pontus even though I’m quite happy with the Ares... And Marie Kondo- I tidied that book away years ago, and here I am asking myself, “will it bring me joy?” Hell, of course it will!

    Ok, I made myself a bargain- I have to sell off a dozen things that still have value and no longer bring me joy.
     
  20. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    LOL

    Well if it's any consolation - I've sold about 3 Venus' worth of vinyl in the past three weeks. So, technically, Venus is making me money.

    Sort of.

    I think?
     
  21. rockin_since_58

    rockin_since_58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simi Valley, CA
    Alright you guys...I am also tempted by the Pontus and have only had the Ares for a week. The Ares was such a big improvement over what I was using previously that I will be able to resist the temptation for now o_O
     
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  22. gabbleratchet7

    gabbleratchet7 Forum Resident

  23. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage Thread Starter

    Location:
    Belgium
    Yeah, you can do it ! I've been enjoying mine for over a year now, so if I can do it... ;)...
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2021
    Swann36 and rockin_since_58 like this.
  24. Salparadise

    Salparadise Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Virginia
    Well, if you need help with the rationalization process you’re in the right place. I have mine covered from at least four different angles.

    You’re right though, a week isn’t quite long enough. You’re still in the honeymoon phase. 2-3 months and you’ll be ripe.
     
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  25. Oliver Meyer

    Oliver Meyer In Audio Heaven Up Here

    Location:
    Virginia Beach
    I’ve owned the Ares II for a few weeks now and I can’t praise it highly enough. The biggest compliment I can pay it is that it really grabs you attention. It’s pulling sounds out and separating them that you can’t help but be engaged. I have reasonably high end vinyl set up and this is as close as I’ve come to an analogue sound.
     

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