Denafrips review

With the release of Pontus — A primordial God that symbolizes the sea itself, Denafrips sent another message suggesting that Pontus will sound like the calm waves of the sea, smoothing out all that digital glare.

With the release of Venus DAC which symbolizes the goddess of love, desire, beauty, prosperity, fertility and victory, Denafrips again sent a message of what should we expect from this wonderful DAC. I want to point out that Venus goddess is an essential deity and a true ancestor of the Roman people, even Julius Caesar claimed Venus as his ancestor.

As I already explained in my Ares DAC review, Denafrips is very much against those delta-sigma modulators and chooses a more complex R-2R resistor ladder DAC network - that in short terms is a binary-weighted DAC that uses a repeating cascaded structure of resistors with values of R and 2R.

Z Review - STAX 727 + SR003 \u0026 Denafrips DAC [StaX-Stravaganza!!!]

This improves the precision due to the relative ease of producing equal valued-matched resistors. You must know that the performance of R-2R ladder DACs is relying a lot on the accuracy of those resistors, the higher the accuracy — the clearer, more detailed and transparent the sound will be.

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Instead of going for hundreds of 0. Venus came in an extra-large box, surrounded by lots of foam, there is nothing more and nothing less.


User manual and USB driver can be found right herefor a DAC of such caliber you will need to supply your own power cable, it is just normal using a higher quality one. I hoped Venus would come with a remote control but sadly that is not the case. Venus, as of today is the biggest and the heaviest DAC I had the pleasure of testing at my place. It is even bigger than most of the integrated amplifiers I have tested and bigger than some power amps.

It is scary just looking at it. At 1 cm and a half, it has the thickest aluminum front cover and the whole structure seems to be built to last a life-time. In all honesty, Venus is built like a Faraday cage, I even put it on top and underneath few integrated amplifiers and few headphone amplifiers and it never shown an increase in background noise.

All the screws were moved on the back panel for a super clean look. Those low intensity LEDs have the perfect brightness even in a dark room. I really like the raw aluminum look of the silver version, the laser engraving on the front and on top is looking great too. Together with Terminator, Venus is using an oversized encapsulated linear power supply that added a lot to the weight. Venus weights a whopping 8.

All in all, I have nothing to complain in terms of design and looks. The front panel is quite simple to remember, from left to right you have your digital input selectors, the selected digital input will be shown by an orange LED on top, then you have the Reversal button that will toggle the phase output — LED On the phase is positive, LED Off the phase will be negative.

The big rounded button is your stand-by button, but in my experience, I would leave the Venus powered On all the time. I opened the top cover to see all the magic for myself and here there are: Four beautiful rows filled with high-precision matched resistors. Four rows meaning four channels, meaning a true balanced signal. Venus is using the highest-grade resistors you can possibly have, at only 0. This R-2R network of resistors will ensure the smallest linear errors, high decoding speed, super low digital noise and a low background noise.

This is the reason Denafrips is recommending leaving the Venus powered On all the time and if you just turned it On, it will need at least 4 hours of warm-up until it will sound at its best. On the plus side that thick metal alloy is used as a shield from nasty electromagnetic interference coming from the power transformers.

Inside it, dual O-Core transformers are completely isolated using linear super regulators, there are multiple filtering stages for the analog and digital sections, ensuring a super low-noise and an instant power delivery to the DAC section. What is kind of interesting is that the USB board is by default disabled so it will not interfere with the rest of digital inputs, it is only engaged when the USB input is selected.

denafrips review

Venus will also consume 20 Watts of power, unusual for a DAC seeing it storing and dissipating so much power, but in the same time it leaves a message of how powerful it might sound. Since Venus has more than capacitors inside plus two oversized O-Core transformers, it was mandatory leaving it powered On playing some tunes on repeat.

I left it on for a week connected to a laptop, it just passed hours of burn-in and as I understand it had some burn-in before that. I sat down, I put my headphones on and that was probably the moment I was searching for my jaw that just hit the floor. Such an unrestrained and effortless presentation, with layers on top of other layers of information flowing like a river towards me.

I experienced the widest soundstage I ever heard in my living room, with notes coming from awkward angles and with a fluidity and I never thought was possible.Denafrips PONTUS has been with me about 3 weeks now, long enough for me to feel comfortable with some early observations.

First of all, he is one handsome fella, all brushed silver with an elegance all his own. I have even grown used to the tiny L. Even better bass definition, better dynamics, smoother midrange, and a high end that is sweeter, yet with even more detail. I think this has quite a bit to do with the differences I heard.

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You see one of the bugaboos about digital to analog conversion has to do with clock jitter i. In a perfect world the spacing in time between each clock pulse would be identical, in the real world this spacing moves back and forth a bit, known as jitter. With this jitter the conversion is not perfect, and the result is an output signal which has sidebands, not exactly conducive to good sounding music!

This is why so much is made about clock stability in a good DAC design.

Dv3t2 setup

This jitter reduction means an even cleaner output signal resulting in all those characteristics we audiophiles love, bass definition, layering, sound-stage, micro-detail, etc. The ease with which the music flowed was quite a bit better than the ARES, and way better than anything I had ever heard from a digital instrument. Or how easily it merged into traffic on the freeway.

That is the feeling the Pontus gives you, not unlike a powerful amplifier with plenty of reserve, nothing phases it. The cleaner, tighter bass results in uncovering even more detail in tracks, handclaps that take on an uncanny realism, percussion that sounds like it is in the room, ah how sweet it is.

I ride motorcycles and can tell you that a small irritant across a long time becomes a BIG one.

denafrips review

One of my cycles has a really cushy seat that on first sitting on it seems so comfortable that it should be good all day, WRONG! So much so that I find myself listening into the wee hours of the morning without even realizing it. Although the few tracks that I found worth adding to my normal playlist with the ARES, were even more enjoyable with the Pontus.

The Pontus cannot make a terribly recorded track sound great, but it usually sounds better. After full break-in I will try even more of my previously left behind tracks and report in on my observations.

Lastly there is the ability to listen at low levels without diminished resolution. Even at night when my wife has gone to bed, and I need to lower the volume I still find the experience very rewarding and worthwhile.

The micro-details come through a bit clearer and better resolved no matter what the listening level.Super Best Audio Friends.

Denafrips Venus Review – The Birth Of A Deity

Read these "rules" AND introduce yourself before your first post. A healthy approach to understanding measurements Being true to what the artists intended. The flagship Denafrips preamp, the Athena, has the same specs with lower distortion numbers. The Athena by the way looks to be two Hestias in one box - one Hestia per channel. The same way the Hattor Big preamp just doubles up on the stepped attenuators when you step up from the Hattor Mini.

I only mention this because I was originally going to buy the Athena, thinking bigger was better until I studied the specs and pictures a bit more - mainly noticing that despite double the number of relays the number of volume steps remained unchanged. I seriously doubt the two preamps sound any different. Folks at ASR might be willing to pay for the lower distortion numbers though. Looks and Functionality : Notwithstanding my crappy photos, this is a badass looking piece of gear.

I think this is par for the course with the upper range Denafrips offerings. It has a huge display - I'm partial to displays. It never got warm during the more than two weeks of burn-in. The remote worked well - it just seems overkill for a small preamp with only 3 inputs. I imagine most people who end up with a Denafrips stack that includes the CD transport, have probably opted for the Athena for matching aesthetics.

Sound : In-house I still have my headphone amp, the Master 9, for comparison. I also did comparisons to the Yggdrasil outputting directly to my amp and volume-controlled through JRiver media center. My final assessments were made after more than 2 weeks of burn-in. Regarding soundstage depth, the Hestia's stage is deep but I find it to be poor at layering. I suspect that this has more to do with my biggest complaint about the preamp, which I will get to in a little later.

Tone: This is an artificially warm preamp. I say artificially because the Hestia just can't suspend my belief long enough to think that the added warmth is natural. The main reason for this is that while the Hestia is warm it is decidedly not smooth. The edges get rougher as the volume goes up.For the initiated, Denafrips already has a stellar reputation.

But for some, it may not ring any bells. That may be because it is not one of the default brands often seen in shops. Impressively, Denafrips provides a month warranty on all of its products which should help instill trust for those who still believe that a Chinese company could not make reliable products. From my point of view, the company became known for its 4. Like the Terminator, the Venus employs a true balanced, dual-mono R-2R network array DAC and contains what seems like a gazillion small capacitors nicely ordered in banks across the entire unit.

Each channel is equipped with an independent high-speed FPGA to control the decoding by means of 4 sets of 0. This may be less convenient but more manufacturers do this and I have no problem with it. Looking at the available inside pictures it seems that the main area where costs have been cut, besides the size of the cabinet, is the power supply. The discrete resistor network DAC can work in oversampling or non-oversampling mode. While the difference was not as huge as it can sometimes be I did notice that with oversampling engaged the transients were slightly softer and thus I developed a preference for NOS.

This way, the DAC sounds purest and that is what I am after. People who want to soften the sound a bit may prefer the OS mode.

From looking at the inscription on the front panel it is not really clear when the unit is in NOS or OS mode but the manual indicates that a lit led means that the DAC is in NOS-mode and this was indeed confirmed by my listening tests. With regards to the interlinks to connect the Venus one can take different directions. For instance, if the aim is to retrieve the utmost level of resolution with as little smear as possible then the FoilFlex cables will be very hard to beat.

If, on the other hand, one wants to bring more substance and color into the sound then the Vermouths are a great option. With some components, the effect of warming up is negligible but with the Venus, this is of real importance.

Actually, it sounds mighty darn impressive even when cold. Even when just switched on, the Venus amazes with superb resolution and refinement on a level competitive even for the almostK Aqua Formula xHD. For the first couple of hours at least, maybe even longerit is absolutely impressive and not at all harsh or edgy but its tonality does tilt over to the bright side. While this helps bring out subtle details with some tracks, a comparison with all the aforementioned other DACs confirms that the Venus is the odd one out in terms of tonality.

And indeed, other tracks fared less well, sounding white-ish or bland. But even then, the performance was impressive. When I checked again the next day, this had evened out to an almost flat response and the unit now sounded well-balanced while retaining its amazing resolution. However, with warm-up, it also became slightly softer on the transients which now made it fall back just behind the Formula xHD in that regard.

I also checked what happens when just switching the unit to standby and leaving it connected to the mains power.At first blush, this R-2R behemoth is making a statement just on sheer mass.

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His core strategy? And thus for the reproduction of digital music. E xquisite. N atural. A ttractive. F idelity. R efined. I ntoxicating. P ure. S ophisticated. Gingko Audio had their entire line of DACs for blind testing. During my session, I and a few others actually preferred their entry-level DACs Ares and Pontus for their tonal character.

I had to take a closer look.

denafrips review

It turns out the movies themselves were heavily influenced by Greek mythology. And so, I shot Mike an email and he was kind enough to test and break in the review unit before sending it off. I was fortunate enough to spend a few months with the venerable Denafrips Terminator.

Wonder how I generate such great content? Lots and lots of caffeine. Audio Bacon himself. An open-minded electrical engineer and software developer by trade.

I have an obsession with the enjoyment of all things media - specifically in the realm of music and film.LOG IN. How much difference in the two dacs?

Cheers George. I guess racism is an acceptable emotional coping mechanism in today's world, certainly cheaper than therapy. The Denafrips line of DACs are thoroughly tested and reviewed by pretty much every popular outlet on the internet, and the results are all excellent.

The house sound is big bold sound with a lot of body and layered details for the money. The Terminator in particular is absolutely fantastic. I spoke with Alvin by email today and also a Denafrips owner in Canada to understand a bit more about the Terminator along with the statements about the serial. Of course, the video I posted above was racist, bitter, and sad but the serial was something I wanted clarified.

The sound I am after is described above, "The house sound is big bold sound with a lot of body and layered details for the money". Which I will be keeping. While I build and prefer R2R discrete DACs, the notion that they sound better than other implementations is subjective.

Each offers sounding that the other does not offer in sound quality.

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Words like state of the art, big bold, are not helpful unless you can show the differences between other DACs in comparison. I have a very cheap Chinese DAC that sounds like that until you make a direct comparison to other company products. IMO the Terminator DAC is nice sounding for the money but it is not state of the art by any means but again is a very nice sound for the money. A friend has the Mojo audio DAC which he has modified and after the modifications he is very impressed with the sound.

He has owned and modified several DACs that have been recommended in these forums in a similar price range and so far has settled on that DAC for now. Happy Listening. Since then I've had Border Patrol dac which was too warm and colored, then the Lab12 tube dac which was incredibly organic and analog but lacked dynamics and detail, finally arrived at Denafrips Terminator which seems to combine the strong points of all my previous DACs.

I used that one direct to amp. The Sony is a 20 year old machine that still sounds great to me. The Terminator is being described like my experience with the Sony so that is where my interest took off.

I still like the DAC3B sound a lot. Both are great. I still have the Benchmark so I'll put it back in to see if any useful observations emerge. In my system, it took about a month to acclimate to the Terminator. At some point in that process it seemed to exhibit that old "loudness" button sound for low volume. That is, bass and percussion seemed fully "there" before vocals, which gave a sense of instruments moving forward or in front of the singer.

denafrips review

But I realized that if I brought the voice up to "there" then everything sounded glorious without excessive bass or percussion. It's almost like an instrument that you need to fully engage, and then it's revelatory and involving.

But this is "in my system" and there's so many variables, especially speaker response. I am trying to understand the point of the DDC units from Denafrips. It seems to me that the benefit, with respect to the Terminator line, seems to be to allow the use the I2S input. Is this the correct?Super Best Audio Friends. Read these "rules" AND introduce yourself before your first post.

A healthy approach to understanding measurements Being true to what the artists intended. A big shout out to Thenewerguy for making this happen! I'm not too sure where to start. If we believe everything that we hear on the Internets, that the Terminator is a transcendent experience, that it parts the clouds and allows us to hear the sound of angels, then we will be disappointed. This is not to say that the Terminator is a bad sounding DAC. But all means no. It's a solid DAC which excels in many areas.

The Terminator took a few days to warm up. When cold, the bass sounded congested and the highs slightly strident. In terms of bass articulation, grip, and pitch differentiation, the Terminator is not quite up to the Convert-2 best in this category or Gungnir "A2", but it's close enough. I don't think this difference would be noticeable on speakers with inferior bass quality not many drivers are going to beat a near 0.

Actually, the bass does remind me of the X-Sabre Pro's bass.

Denafrips Hestia preamp review

Very good heft, near but not quite the tops for transients, grip, and pitch. Before I say more, the OS oversampling mode just sounded off. I can't even describe it, other than it seemed to make worse all its weaknesses stated above and will be stated going forward.

NOS has specific effects of the soundstage for better or worse, which I don't want to go into for the tenth time. The soundstage isn't too upfront though, so there's no feeling of claustrophobia. I can't say for sure how this will affect headphone listeners. The tonal balance, timbre, and transients of the Terminator are much like the higher-end Soekris DACs, except with a little more low end. A little more bass and warmth. As for notes, the higher-end Soekris DACs don't have much density.

They are rendered cleanly without the stereotypical vintage R2R thickness. This is not to be confused for tonal balance. It's more a matter of overtones. For example, a recording without much bass content will sound denser and thicker on a Metrum or even a Gungnir A2 compared to a Soekris, Terminator, or X-Sabre pro.

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Because of this, there does seem to be a sense of clarity. However, the Terminator still does have a veil, particular in the lower registers. This isn't too different from the veil on the Convert-2 where it is across the entire audio band; however, this veil does seem to be more evident than the Convert-2's where it is barely noticeable. Lastly, the one Achilles heel of Terminator is that is just isn't all that involving. The microdynamic rendering is rather poor, the instantaneous changes in volume levels, not the big ones, but the little gradations just aren't quite there.

You have heard me say this time and again where it sounds like a cliche, but it's flat and boring. The Terminator does a lot of things right. But I just don't want to listen to it.


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