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Denafrips ARES II USB R2R DAC Review

flz

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Well, you do seem to like to stir up pointless arguments. As I have pointed out to you already, the necessary scientifically conducted listening tests have not been conducted so you cannot claim to hold the correct opinion.
This is a hobby, can't we have a bit of fun & humor? I think that was BDWoody's intention with the steak knives. But if you disagree, fine.

FYI, my only opinion of the Denafrips Ares II is that opinions of it are all over the place. And that is fine with me.
 

svtcontour

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I do like mine a little better than the Gustard X16 I had but not sure why. I wonder even though most dacs are very capable, if there are still small response wiggles and if people have sensitivity to some frequencies - say a half db or db bump here or there, that it may be grating to the ears on longer listenings? Not sure.
 

svtcontour

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@svtcontour I could be that you just prefer the looks of the Denafrips. Or something other non-audio related.
Well one thing is for sure, I'm planning a non scientific listening test over the weekend with a few friends so we're going to listen to a few DACs using a few test tracks we know. Someone not part of the listening will swap DACs without us seeing which is now in place and sound for each will be set to some predetermined volume such as 80db with a mic at a fixed non moving location and then we listen and jot down our thoughts and at the end see if we liked DAC, A B or C and on which song.

It may be not conclude much but hey lets see what happens :)
 

SIY

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Well one thing is for sure, I'm planning a non scientific listening test over the weekend with a few friends so we're going to listen to a few DACs using a few test tracks we know. Someone not part of the listening will swap DACs without us seeing which is now in place and sound for each will be set to some predetermined volume such as 80db with a mic at a fixed non moving location and then we listen and jot down our thoughts and at the end see if we liked DAC, A B or C and on which song.

It may be not conclude much but hey lets see what happens :)
Mike is the least accurate way. Match electrically.
 

svtcontour

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I agree its not nearly ideal. Maybe putting an 8 ohm load across the amp's output and adjusting the level and measure voltage of a test tone would be not much slower. Maybe I could do something like that? Either way I think it would be a fun test even if it was with a mic.
 

BDWoody

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we listen and jot down our thoughts and at the end see if we liked DAC, A B or C and on which song.

As @SIY said, a multimeter is probably a better way to match your levels. They are cheap if you don't have one.

I'd also suggest doing these in random order about 20 or 30 times, then compare your notes to see if there is any consistency in your preferences and observations.

Break it up into different sessions if you want.

Lastly, try to keep your switcher from knowing what he is switching. All kinds of ways we transmit/pick up cues.

Kudos to be willing to implement some basic controls. Don't shortchange yourself by cutting important corners. Definitely interested in your results.
 

svtcontour

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As @SIY said, a multimeter is probably a better way to match your levels. They are cheap if you don't have one.

I'd also suggest doing these in random order about 20 or 30 times, then compare your notes to see if there is any consistency in your preferences and observations.

Break it up into different sessions if you want.

Lastly, try to keep your switcher from knowing what he is switching. All kinds of ways we transmit/pick up cues.

Kudos to be willing to implement some basic controls. Don't shortchange yourself by cutting important corners. Definitely interested in your results.
Thank you for the tips my friend :) I do still have my old radioshack meter so I'll use that.

I actually have a really neat ABX tester by QSC that I picked up used ages ago but its got problems I believe.. Twice I tried to use it and twice it shorted the amps and/or threw them into protection. I've been meaning to take it somewhere to have it checked out because as far as I can see, it seems ok. I only used the continuity tester to see if I had short across anything but didnt find it. Anyway one day - but until then its full manual :)
 

SIY

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Thank you for the tips my friend :) I do still have my old radioshack meter so I'll use that.

I actually have a really neat ABX tester by QSC that I picked up used ages ago but its got problems I believe.. Twice I tried to use it and twice it shorted the amps and/or threw them into protection. I've been meaning to take it somewhere to have it checked out because as far as I can see, it seems ok. I only used the continuity tester to see if I had short across anything but didnt find it. Anyway one day - but until then its full manual :)
And you can do it at the speaker terminals, no need to swap for a resistor.
 

svtcontour

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And you can do it at the speaker terminals, no need to swap for a resistor.
Ah perfect. I was thinking because speaker is reactive, maybe the meter may not be happy but but I guess not if I'm always feeding the same test signal frequency right? Clearly I'm not experienced but I was kind of thinking along those lines :)
 

SIY

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Ah perfect. I was thinking because speaker is reactive, maybe the meter may not be happy but but I guess not if I'm always feeding the same test signal frequency right? Clearly I'm not experienced but I was kind of thinking along those lines :)
Yeah, sometimes things are actually easier than we expect. Not often, but sometimes, and worth cherishing and celebrating. :cool:
 
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Just making my way through this thread as I've been temped to grab one of these recently, I can see why this is quite a divisive DAC being that we know from the off set that it's a DAC that isn't going to measure amazingly well, and this is what ASR is all about, so what you're left with is kind of being forced into the subjective arena regarding the sound.
 

BDWoody

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it's a DAC that isn't going to measure amazingly well, and this is what ASR is all about, so what you're left with is kind of being forced into the subjective arena regarding the sound.

While it isn't among the top performers, it's in the range where I'd say good luck differentiating it in a controlled test from any other decent DAC with real music in a real room at realistic volumes.

The more you understand what it all means, the less you need to feel forced into the world of uncontrolled subjective claims.
 

pinpoint_oxford

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Just making my way through this thread as I've been temped to grab one of these recently, I can see why this is quite a divisive DAC being that we know from the off set that it's a DAC that isn't going to measure amazingly well, and this is what ASR is all about, so what you're left with is kind of being forced into the subjective arena regarding the sound.
From a measurements standpoint, It measures quite well. Beyond what I would consider would make an audible difference. It also has some other things going for it that I like aside from its (subjective) sound quality or R2R design:
  • Well-built chassis with small footprint.
  • Unobtrusive and understated design (especially use of soft red LEDs instead of bright blue ones)
  • Over-engineered, integrated, linear PSU
  • Support for many input formats
Only thing I wish it had was a remote to switch inputs, but I use mine on USB the majority of the time, so it's not a huge deal.
 

Prolix

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I just reinstalled Win 11, installed the USB drivers from Denfarips, and am now seeing only 32bit output options in sound settings. No 24bit options. What am I missing?
 

TjindarSingh

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I have the topping pre90 and I read somewhere that it not suits well with the ares Ii du to mismatch output/input impedance.

Is there a problem? Didn't fully understand not so technicall.
 

gvl

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It’s not ideal, at best you will lose some of the output level on the Ares at worst there can be roll off at high frequencies and increased distortion. Will it be audible? Who knows. I’d ask Denafrips what they recommend, I hear they are responsive.
 

lhimelfarb

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Still, apparent performance no better than $90 D10, and arguably (imo) not much better - if any - than the $9 Apple dongle.. Look at all that grass! Why would anyone in their right mind pay $680 for this thing???
This R2R is loved by many people and reviewers. I guess there are still some audible differences that we are not yet able to measure. This is the same issue in auto racing. I have variety of DACs. My first high-end DAC was a Wadia 32X in 1990. It was an R2R ladder based design. In my system, it was replaced by a Cirrus Logic based Micromega MyDAC... a way less expensive delta-sigma type that finally sounded much better. Now... I have many brands and types including the Ares II. The Ares II sounds better than all of my ESS based DACs (including Topping DAC, AudioQuest AmpDac, and Woo AmpDac) though I am sure that an ESS based DAC out there would probably sound as good. I have one AKM based delta-sigma that sounds as good as the Ares II, and almost as musical, but it sounds different. We have much better test equipment, and have developed more tests, than we had in 1968 when I started in this hobby but something is still true... most of these manufactured items have differences... however smaller the differences may be.
 
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