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Denafrips ARES II USB R2R DAC Review

BDWoody

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I guess there are still some audible differences that we are not yet able to measure.

There are zero examples of anyone, ever demonstrating that they can hear something that isn't measurable. Not once.
 

Angsty

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Despite the fact that most people don’t believe it and I didn’t believe it at first, DACs have proven to be virtually indistinguishable when level matched and listened double-blind.
 

zepplock

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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.
lots of feelings, very little substance. There's no way to measure dacs by ear, unless you measure input and output signals, match the volume, and remove placebo effects.
 

maxxevv

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lots of feelings, very little substance. There's no way to measure dacs by ear, unless you measure input and output signals, match the volume, and remove placebo effects.
Usually IF there is a REAL difference heard is the output stages are either underpowered thus resulting in high noise/distortion / clipping at 2V/ 4V output or over-powered in that they are pushing more than the typical 2V / 4V output levels.

So yah, unless that is sorted, its never a case of the DAC chip / R2R making the difference.

The other extreme of course is that one or the other DAC in the comparison is broken with bad distortion / noise inherent in the circuit design/implementation.
 

maxxevv

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tell that to all the bafoons who can hear a difference between dual AKM chips and ESS. Down to chip model number! What is next? This DAC sounds "softer" cause it was manufactured on the left river bank.
Use of vastly different filters might also play a part. Such a properly implemented "brickwall" versus a super slow decay one that starts drooping at about 15k versus one that starts at 20k frequency.

But that disappears too once both systems use filters that are very close in profile.
 

gvl

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Use of vastly different filters might also play a part. Such a properly implemented "brickwall" versus a super slow decay one that starts drooping at about 15k versus one that starts at 20k frequency.

But that disappears too once both systems use filters that are very close in profile.

Or about the age of 45.
 

giordy

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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.
with ares 2 I use a simple volume2 SPL ....
the volume control has an input impedance of 22k ohm while the ares2 has an output impedance (on xlr) of 1.250ohm (data declared by the manufacturer ... and it is not a small value)
I don't remember what is the relationship between output impedance and input impedance (between source and preamp) ....
 

sjeesjie

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I have a question about the Ares II. I’ve read that it has a bit of lag when used with toslink. Can anyone confirm this?
I’m using toslink to hook up my tv so any input lag would be annoying as hell.
 

giordy

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I have a question about the Ares II. I’ve read that it has a bit of lag when used with toslink. Can anyone confirm this?
I’m using toslink to hook up my tv so any input lag would be annoying as hell.
i think you should watch the audio sync of the tv .... not the dac
.... I think eh!
 

roderickvd

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with ares 2 I use a simple volume2 SPL ....
the volume control has an input impedance of 22k ohm while the ares2 has an output impedance (on xlr) of 1.250ohm (data declared by the manufacturer ... and it is not a small value)
I don't remember what is the relationship between output impedance and input impedance (between source and preamp) ....
The Ares II was indeed specified with 1250Ω on the balanced outputs, but Soundstage measured it at almost twice that with 2420Ω. Rule of thumb is to keep output impedance to input impedance 1:8 or better (1:10 and on).

I read up on the SPL Volume2 -- it looks nice enough but it seems that it first does balanced-unbalanced conversion, then single-ended attenuation, the unbalanced-balanced again? That seems wasteful of a good balanced signal.
I have a question about the Ares II. I’ve read that it has a bit of lag when used with toslink. Can anyone confirm this?
I’m using toslink to hook up my tv so any input lag would be annoying as hell.
Worse for that application, it’s been said that the latency is variable so you can’t set your TV to sync to it either.
Although I own an Ares II, I never tried and I have no interest to. For me this is purely for listening to music.
 

pinpoint_oxford

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I have a question about the Ares II. I’ve read that it has a bit of lag when used with toslink. Can anyone confirm this?
I’m using toslink to hook up my tv so any input lag would be annoying as hell.
I have my sattelite receiver connected to my Ares II via toslink and haven't noticed any issues in terms of lag.
 

giordy

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I read up on the SPL Volume2 -- it looks nice enough but it seems that it first does balanced-unbalanced conversion, then single-ended attenuation, the unbalanced-balanced again? That seems wasteful of a good balanced signal.
thanks for the observations ....;)
but i didn't find anything on the manual :rolleyes:
 

gvl

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I have a question about the Ares II. I’ve read that it has a bit of lag when used with toslink. Can anyone confirm this?
I’m using toslink to hook up my tv so any input lag would be annoying as hell.

Iirc Denafrips uses some sort of adaptive FIFO so there’s some lag, likely not big enough to cause lip sync issues, but can be problematic if one tries to use it in a multichannel setup.
 

Eddy H.

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Iirc Denafrips uses some sort of adaptive FIFO so there’s some lag, likely not big enough to cause lip sync issues, but can be problematic if one tries to use it in a multichannel setup.
If there is lag it isn't very much.
 

sjeesjie

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On another forum I read about cd players micro-skipping when connected to Denafrips DACs. So the idea of wanting one is out the window.
 

roderickvd

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Which forum? Over which interface? And what exactly is micro-skipping? Was it consistent for multiple users?

All these questions because I find it very surprising. Unless the source is a late for the entire length of the FIFO buffer, either unit is faulty, or the link (cable connection) is not robust, I don’t see how this could happen.
 

gvl

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Big enough clock frequency mismatch and FIFO can under/overrun unless a big buffer but then you get latency.
 
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