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Denafrips Dacs

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

  1. garyalex

    garyalex Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York NY USA
    I've got a Pontus II scheduled for delivery to me in a week. I've been using a Border Patrol DAC SEi for years. I'm very happy with it. I'm not sure why I decided to try the Pontus II. I suspect it was just audiophile curiosity. I am encouraged by what I've read in this thread but to be honest, I'll be very surprised if I prefer the Pontus II to the BP. I'll end up selling one or the other.
     
    bever70 and RockAddict like this.
  2. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage Thread Starter

    Location:
    Belgium
    The good ole 'audiophile itch' as we call it ;).
     
    gabbleratchet7 and Tony C. like this.
  3. garyalex

    garyalex Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York NY USA
    I just got my Pontus II yesterday. Obviously it needs time to break in. But my initial impression is that the gap between my vinyl and digital playback systems is wider with the Pontus II than with the Border Patrol DAC SEi I’ve been using for the past couple of years. That may well change as I put more hours on the unit. We’ll see.
     
  4. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage Thread Starter

    Location:
    Belgium
    Played around with the different os/nos modes and filters yet? I suppose not since you've had it only 1 day. Give it time, learn to recognize the sound and the difference the filters/modes make.
     
  5. garyalex

    garyalex Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York NY USA
    I’m using NOS, Slow. I will say bass reproduction is better. It’s tighter and better defined.
     
    jmadad likes this.
  6. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage Thread Starter

    Location:
    Belgium
    If Pontus is like Ares there are NO filter modes in NOS, so NOS Slow is impossible! OS Slow is possible.
     
    rockin_since_58 likes this.
  7. rockin_since_58

    rockin_since_58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simi Valley, CA
    I have the Ares II and can't really hear a difference between any of the modes. They all sound good. I just default to NOS.
     
  8. Calvin_and_Hobbes

    Calvin_and_Hobbes Music Lover

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    That is the case for my Pontus II. The somewhat complex switching process of first pressing the Mute button to enter configuration mode & then pressing the Mode button to toggle between Slow and Fast filters doesn't seem to be available in NOS mode.

    FWIW, I seem to gravitate to OS Slow mode as it seems to be a bit less grainy in sound than NOS mode, though I would be happy to listen to the Pontus in either mode.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
    adamos and bever70 like this.
  9. rockin_since_58

    rockin_since_58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simi Valley, CA
    I'll have to give the OS Slow a serious try as a number of people seem to prefer it in this mode.
     
    adamos, jmadad and bever70 like this.
  10. garyalex

    garyalex Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York NY USA
    Yes I clearly made a mistake, in more ways than one. Thanks guys.
     
    bever70 likes this.
  11. JumpingBean

    JumpingBean Forum Reedmaker

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    I also prefer OS Slow on my Pontus II. I find it to be the most balanced.
     
    adamos, jmadad, bever70 and 1 other person like this.
  12. RockAddict

    RockAddict Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Should I be worried? All these people using OS slow and I'm using OS fast. What's wrong with me? Do I need to google therapists? :confused: :D

    Sorted. It's not me. It's the rest of the world... Now, where are those last 94 cable threads...
     
    Kyhl, PhantomStranger, timind and 3 others like this.
  13. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    HQPlayer + NOS mode user checking in. I know there's been a little controversy around NOS not really being "NOS" but having been back and forth between OS fast/slow (though admittedly not very much - I couldn't draw an honest comparison) and NOS + HQP PCM or NOS + HQP DSD or NOS + HQP "no filter," I find that NOS + HQP PCM is the sweet spot for most of the music I like - rock, metal, classic rock. If I'm in an acoustic and/or classical mood, NOS + HQP DSD is the ticket.

    I should note, it also takes a hell of a computer to do what I prefer out of HQP versus straight PCM, so that's saying something as well. No such thing as a free lunch, it seems.
     
  14. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage Thread Starter

    Location:
    Belgium
    Strange, maybe the speakers are not positioned ideally? Or lots of room reflections?
    Try listening for highs/attack of instruments (use Eric Clapton 'unplugged' or any other acoustic guitar performance and listen for the attack of the guitar snares or with drums listen for sound/attack of a hi-hat for example) when comparing OS/NOS modes.
     
  15. adamos

    adamos Forum Resident

    Location:
    Southeastern PA
    I started with OS sharp on my Ares II but have settled in with OS slow for a while now. I still haven’t used NOS much; I should experiment with it a bit more.
     
    jmadad likes this.
  16. Greg Carrier

    Greg Carrier Forum Resident

    Location:
    Iowa City
    Continuing to experiment with different settings on my Ares II, but I keep settling on OS/slow filter. I suspect it depends on your system, though. Ignore peer pressure and use the setting you like the best.
     
  17. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    What sort of computer is necessary to do the high rate PCM filters in HQPlayer?
    And what is necessary to do the high rate DSD conversion and filters?
     
  18. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    My PC runs an i9900 K without integrated graphics, noctua air-cooled and a Geforce 1650 GPU for CUDA processing (Convolution and Sinc filters benefit heavily from a good GPU offloading some work)

    PCM is much simpler than DSD. I'm using PCM384 with NS5 noise shaping and Sinc M+ and don't see much in the way of CPU usage nor have I experienced any dropouts.

    But DSD is a different story and it really all comes down to filter + modulator. It gets confusing and it's been awhile, but from memory:

    DSD256 + Sinc M using modulator ASDM7EC runs on my setup, but just barely. I am mostly PCM these days, but if I recall, I had to run Sinc M for 1X rates and Sinc L for nX rates. The reason is because L is a ratio of taps based on the amount of upsampling being done, so a 44.1 file will produce more taps when upsampling to DSD256 than a 192 Khz based-file, because the ratio from 192 to 12.1M is smaller than 44.1 to 12.1M.

    I haven't tried his newest filters in DSD yet (Sinc M+, poly sinc EXT3), only the former with PCM384.

    So in other words - it takes quite a lot of horsepower to upsample 44.1 to DSD256 with the ASDM7EC modulator. If you were to go even bigger, like DSD512? No modern computer can play that without dropouts. Reason being is how the workload gets split up - modulators can run across 2 cores and that's it, so you need cycles, a lot of them, to handle it. That's why a Threadripper is a little bit powerless against this type of set up because while it has tons of cores, the primary processing cores are net slower than on, say my 9900k which can operate multiple cores at 5Ghz.

    Hope that all makes sense - it's just a trial and error thing. It's also why I built a dedicated machine for HQP - background processes, memory and such would cause dropouts on a very powerful Ryzen on DSD256 + ASDM7EC modulator.

    To me, the DSD settings below that weren't "worth it." They still take a lot of power but just didn't have that immediacy and attack that ultimately drew me right back to PCM anyway. However, DSD256 + ASDM7EC on the Sinc-L and Sinc-M for acoustic and classical? To ME, it's the best layering and image depth I've heard out of my room, speakers, etc... It's pretty special.

    For PCM384 and 768? Ethernet bandwidth can actually be more of an issue - lots of bitrate gets chewed up by those and it can overflow some memory buffers on downstream streaming hardware, or cheap/bad switches that can't cope with sustained 50-80 mbps throughput for hours. Never thought I'd run into that issue with audio, but it can happen.

    The biggest issue with something like PCM384 + Sinc-L, for example, on a 44.1Khz file - is startup time and "lag" if not using the queue feature in Roon. You can have some pretty long gaps to start out songs if you're cherrypicking music. So long as it's "queued" in Roon, you don't notice a gap but it takes a bit for even a fast computer to chew through that quantity of data just to get playing. But once it's playing, it's pretty lightweight, compared to DSD256 like above which is a heavy sustained load.

    Edit - I do believe he's recently come up with some Linux builds that better distribute the workload and can run some of the heavier DSD settings, modulator, and filters without needing 5GHz processors. Also? The Apple M1s are doing VERY good with HQP. If I were starting out, I'd just use one of those. They can do Sinc M, DSD256 + ASDM7EC out of the box, based on what I've read.
     
  19. realgone

    realgone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Singapore
    For me the NOS/OS choice seems to go beyond system dependency. Although my mind tells me OS mode has better hifi qualities like transients, inner detail and more extended highs, somehow I just can't seem to relax into the music. Might be more like tubes Vs SS. With the Pontus, the roll off in highs in NOS is not as pronounced as with Ares on my system so that helps too.
     
    bever70 likes this.
  20. Swann36

    Swann36 A widower finding solace in music

    Location:
    Lincoln, UK
    Interesting comparison ....kindly be sure to update us here ... perhaps initial thoughts and later a more considered opinion ..
     
  21. Greg Carrier

    Greg Carrier Forum Resident

    Location:
    Iowa City
    Agreed. I should have said it depends on your system AND your personal preference. It's all about what sounds best to you.

    Sometimes we get all wrapped up in trying to agree what the goals are, because it feels good to get confirmation from others. While there's a lot we can agree on, it's about personal preference in the end.
     
  22. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    Awesome. Thank you for all that. It really helps. You got me to finally install the demo of HQPlayer today and play around with it. I got it working. Using the stock desktop application on a Windows laptop and the stock client app. It works. But the client app isn't the best way to navigate through a library. Now to figure out how to better interface with HQPlayer. The standard HQPlayer client isn't going to cut it. Which will probably lead to Roon and a $120/yearly subscription or a $700 one-time siphoning from my audio gear budget.

    Still lots and lots to explore with HQPlayer with all of the filters and other combinations. I'm currently listening to the closed form filter upsampling 16/44.1 to a Schiity Gungnir MB. The closed form filter isn't the same as the Schiit filter. The Schiit filter does bass resolution better and the multibit magic thing better. But so many more filters to try. At least it is working and playing music. Now to try some DSD and find out if HQPlayer can get me to like DSD converted to PCM played through a Schiity DAC.

    If this works out, and it very likely will, this will open up my world to considering a NOS DAC. But NOS with HQPlayer oversampling/upsampling. Which makes the NOS no longer really NOS. A Denafrips or Holo could be my next DAC.
     
    Kyhl, toddrhodes and gabbleratchet7 like this.
  23. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    Sounds like you have a lot of healthy experimenting in front of you :) Glad it all is up and going, that's no small feat, IMO.

    And to your point, if I ever find myself wanting to move on from the DF Venus - and that would merely be about trying something new, not some deficiency of the DF gear - it would be to the Holo May. Obviously a pretty decent step up from Venus II, price wise.
     
  24. Influxor

    Influxor Member

    Location:
    Alexander, NC
    I Received and installed an Ares II into my system 4 days ago replacing a simple topping E30.
    I perceive the Ares II to be slightly more spacious in sound stage and a little more bright if not harsh on the highs using OS/fast (i have horn tweeters).
    OS/Slow is better with the highs -
    But.. I feel the Ares sound is more distorted in the mids and a little less tight in the bass.
    I have put the topping back into service on my system and will continue to leave the Ares II powered on and burning in for the next few weeks.
    I hope for an improvement.
    I must say Vineshine Audio is very Polite and quick to ship. It was a pleasure doing business with them.
     
    Swann36 and timind like this.
  25. rockin_since_58

    rockin_since_58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simi Valley, CA
    Are you keeping it on full time? It takes several days to really start to shine.
     
    rodentdog likes this.

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