This is a review and measurements of the Denafrips ARES II USB DSD DAC based on R2R architecture. It is on kind loan from a member. I think it costs US $680 so not too high for a custom DAC.
The overall look of the ARES II is rather plain:
The LED indicators are quite tiny so standing top of it, I could not tell they were on.
There is a large toroidal transformer in there making the ARES II quite heavy. So at least on that front, you get the feeling that you are getting your money's worth.
The back panel has the usual connectors:
I was pleased to see balanced XLR outputs as this increases the cost substantial in R2R implementations. I used that for all of my testing.
R2R DAC Audio Measurements
As usual we start with our 1 kHz dashboard:
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Oh, this is pretty good! THD+N is 10 times better than the specification and the highest distortion product is below -100 dB. SINAD as a result which represents level of distortion and noise is respectable for R2R DAC:
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Signal to noise ratio is very good:
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Intermodulation distortion is very important in the case of custom DACs like this and here, we do see variations that are level sensitive:
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There are some clear jitter components visible but they are well below audibility threshold:
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Linearity once again is good for an R2R DAC:
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Multitone response representing "music" is surprisingly good:
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THD+N vs frequency once again shows better than expected performance:
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The spec says there are two filter settings but I could not figure out how to change that. Here is the only one that I used for all my testing:
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There seems to be no change in performance with temperature:
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Yes, I got bored and stopped it.
Usually when the performance has temperature dependency, it is obvious out of the gate.
It has become a common retort to say that R2Rs measure poorly. Indeed even the manufacturer says this. Good thing that is not the case here as that is just an excuse. The Denafrips ARES II has very good performance as an R2R DAC. And its faults if any, should not be audible.
So if you are itching to have an R2R/custom boutique DAC, the ARES II makes a good candidates.
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.
The panthers are complaining that they are looking too short relative to the size of the speakers I have been testing as of late. So they are demanding that I buy them pedestal shoes to make them appear taller! These are not cheap as there is not a big market for such shoes for panthers. So please donate what you can