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Denafrips ARES II USB R2R DAC Review

pkane

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View attachment 48063
looks interesting, I know DS dacs usually perform well in this regard, but can anyone with a holo audio or this denafrips ares II in NOS mode can shine some light onto how it performs in NOS?
Here's Holo Spring DAC 12kHz -9dBFS in NOS mode, 48kHz:
48k-12khz-NOS.PNG


Turning on OS mode produces this:

48k-12khz-OS.PNG


Resampling the same signal to 96kHz and dithering produces this in NOS mode:
48k-12khz-Upsample96-NOS.PNG
 

pkane

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Now shift the phase half a sample interval.
Here you go:

48k-12khz-NOS-halfsample.PNG


Adding spectrum of the NOS mode 12kHz/48k sampled sine:
48k-12khz-NOS-FR.PNG


And spectrum of the same signal but using OS mode:

48k-12khz-OS-FR.PNG



In case anyone wants to know... Same signal upsampled to DSD256 using HQPlayer, Holo Spring still in NOS mode:
48k-12khz-NOS-FR-DSD256.PNG
 
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solderdude

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That will look a bit like the red trace I drew in (assuming filterless signed magnitude R2R or filterless DS)
20kHz -60dB filterless NOS 44-1kHz.png


The 20kHz will be beating with the 44.1khz sample freq. (-80 will look similar) not dithered 16 bit file but will look the same with 24 bit.
Effectively you (a 10 year old) will be perceiving a lower amplitude than when it was reproduced by a filtered DAC.
 

BDWoody

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In fact comparison of shapes of differentwaveforms on different frequencies and levels is all that you need to know about dac measurements in 2020.
Even onboard realtek have impressive parameters but... disgusting sound.
Simillar thing with headphones and speakers - squarewave rendering is one of the most important parameters.
Just for example 2 headphones on same stand with squarewave at 300 hz.

View attachment 48201 View attachment 48202

If i'll take some Beats in comparison you'll never know it was a square wave ;)

What in fact we want from dac\speaker\amp\headphone? Correct rendering of input signal, agree? And those 0,00001% THD measurements doesn't answer this question at all.
Do you listen to square waves?
 

YSC

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That will look a bit like the red trace I drew in (assuming filterless signed magnitude R2R or filterless DS)
View attachment 48195

The 20kHz will be beating with the 44.1khz sample freq. (-80 will look similar) not dithered 16 bit file but will look the same with 24 bit.
Effectively you (a 10 year old) will be perceiving a lower amplitude than when it was reproduced by a filtered DAC.
So I expect that’s the reason we hear a rolled off treble and music usually sounds softer
 

Frank Dernie

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In fact comparison of shapes of differentwaveforms on different frequencies and levels is all that you need to know about dac measurements in 2020.
Even onboard realtek have impressive parameters but... disgusting sound.
Simillar thing with headphones and speakers - squarewave rendering is one of the most important parameters.
Just for example 2 headphones on same stand with squarewave at 300 hz.

View attachment 48201 View attachment 48202

If i'll take some Beats in comparison you'll never know it was a square wave ;)

What in fact we want from dac\speaker\amp\headphone? Correct rendering of input signal, agree? And those 0,00001% THD measurements doesn't answer this question at all.
40 odd years ago when I was working in the business (record players) I did some experiments altering the phase of square waves to see how sensitive I was to it. I didn't alter the amplitude of the harmonics, just the phase.
On the 'scope the waveforms varied unrecognisably but I could not hear even a tiny difference in sound.
It was a big surprise and I haven't "listened" to a 'scope since - the shape of the wave means nothing whatsoever IME/IMO.
 

Frank Dernie

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I should explain my reasoning in doing the experiment.
With the exception, back then, of the Quad electrostatic speaker the phase response of all multi way speakers with a flat baffle and passive crossover the phase shift was huge, and the output of a square wave looked absolutely nothing like a square wave at all. I was checking how much of a loss this was, people were starting to make complex cabinets to reduce it, I am no longer too concerned about it.
DSP can easily fix it and whilst one DSP speaker prototype sounded great to me whether it was the phase accuracy that impressed I don't know but I doubt.
 

YSC

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40 odd years ago when I was working in the business (record players) I did some experiments altering the phase of square waves to see how sensitive I was to it. I didn't alter the amplitude of the harmonics, just the phase.
On the 'scope the waveforms varied unrecognisably but I could not hear even a tiny difference in sound.
It was a big surprise and I haven't "listened" to a 'scope since - the shape of the wave means nothing whatsoever IME/IMO.
I think that’s exactly why a lot of ppl actually prefer NOS dacs, or those old Philips chips, possibly beside the change in waveform in actual multi tone music, our brain adapt to the missing information better than some oversampling artifices like ringing?
 

pkane

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I think that’s exactly why a lot of ppl actually prefer NOS dacs, or those old Philips chips, possibly beside the change in waveform in actual multi tone music, our brain adapt to the missing information better than some oversampling artifices like ringing?
Did you see the number of extra harmonics an R2R DAC generated reproducing a simple sine wave?
1580568858447.png
Why would you think this is in some way better than some ringing that occurs past the filter cutoff frequency, where even a 10 year old might not be able to hear? With oversampling, this is moved way out of audible range, so why is it still a problem?
 

Frank Dernie

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I think that’s exactly why a lot of ppl actually prefer NOS dacs, or those old Philips chips, possibly beside the change in waveform in actual multi tone music, our brain adapt to the missing information better than some oversampling artifices like ringing?
I think the ringing is a red herring, personally. It occurs at an inaudible frequency even in a simple 44.1/16 system.
To put a display in a review they excite it with a half cycle at 22.05 kHz, which can't exist as a pressure fluctuation in air (ie sound) and almost nothing like it ever occurs in music (or at least non-electronic music) so I have stopped being concerned by it. The frequency response variations of filters designed to reduce it are certainly audible though.
 
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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???
Well...

There are measurements and there are measurements

To me it’s all very tricky.

I am a very analytical, even pedantic. So of course I believe in numbers. But I also realize that audio is meant to fool us and so psychology is very important in that regard. We, humans lack oscilloscopes and we perceive music is a very odd way. Our mood matters and so a nice looking unit might consistently “sound” better - but how do you measure that?

And measuring objective stuff is hard. If you measure cars just by say radiator temperature as the only factor - then it would look odd and hard to compare.

About a year ago I bough a DAC. Me being me of course I looked at this site - numbers rule. So I got ADI and Modi 3 and listened. I could not tell the difference. While amps were easy to compare (they all sounded different), these 2 DACs sounded the same. My family could not hear the difference either. Finally a friend told me that he heard a difference and Modi 3 seem more “true”. So fine, I kept it.

Later I also got Schiit Gungnir. And I realized I can’t stand Modi 3 music but enjoy multibit. Numbers tell that it should not be the case. So why? I think it’s hard for me to hear the difference n general, so I must not be picky. I do not believe in cables (cables have capacitance and resistance, that’s all). So why do I like R2R and do not enjoy listening to cheap D-S? Maybe R2R introduce distortions that’s why they sound nice? Quite possible.

So to me it starts with the fact that R2R often sounds better for most people who compared them with typical D-S. Numbers that we use right now do not tell us why. And my analytical nature tells me that there are some other numbers (measurements) that can tell us why. Maybe R2R reproduce music more precisely than test signals and we need to measure music reproduction? Maybe it’s the opposite and R2R adds distortions and they are pleasing? I have no idea, but I think we would need way more numbers before we can predict how nice DAC will sound.

And for noise and distortions - there is a certain level that you need to reach, after that IMHO these numbers are irrelevant. Having 1% distortion would be bad. But the difference between 0.01% 0.00001% is irrelevant and given our human perception two units with several magnitudes of difference should be considered equal - as in “distortion below audible threshold” for both.
 
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You need a better wife and a better kitchen.
And better me ;-) I could no hear a difference either.

To be fair ADI is much more functional vs Modi 3. It has remote, it has volume control, it has balanced out, it has digital EQ and a nice display. But all I remember that both sounded the same on a speaker system (Schiit Aegir to B&W 702 S2). Maybe now I would hear a difference? Do not know.

And now I listen more on headphones. After playing with Gungnir and Bitfrost 2, I realized I can’t stand Modi 3 sound... I just can’t listen more than 10-15 min with it. But with either Bitfrost 2 of Gungnir I can listen and listen. Vocals and strings - they sound so much better. I do not know why and I will not use silly words to describe it.

Ohh and I learned that I also like Rogue Audio The Pharaoh - that has tube pre-amp and class D power amp. I always though that these are two things that I should not like - tubes add distortion and that class D will never sound as good as A or A/B... Something must be really wrong with me - but how do you measure that ;-)?
 
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