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Denafrips ARES II USB R2R DAC Review

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 ;-)?
 

gvl

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You just need to spend less time on audiokarma, headfi, sbaf and similar forums. You'll be a happier man without all these questions.
 

majingotan

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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.
The psychoacoustics of having a bigger box of a DAC make you perceive better sound lol. I have the Bifrost 2 myself and upon volume matched A/B with my $9 Apple lightning DAC/amp. I find that they sound exactly the same.
 

solderdude

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So I expect that’s the reason we hear a rolled off treble and music usually sounds softer
Exactly. The effect becomes less at lower frequencies. At 192kHz sample frequency there is no audible effect at all in the audible range.
 

YSC

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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 ;-)?
May I ask you bifrost 2 is the r2r or DS one?
 

ta240

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The psychoacoustics of having a bigger box of a DAC make you perceive better sound lol. I have the Bifrost 2 myself and upon volume matched A/B with my $9 Apple lightning DAC/amp. I find that they sound exactly the same.
I'm confused. Expectation bias is only a factor if someone says components sound different not if they sound the same? And a sighted A/B test isn't an acceptable way to prove components sound different but it is okay to prove they sound the same.
Granted, if your expectation is that they sound the same it probably doesn't really matter if you know what is playing when. But still; if the continued argument against the objective reviewers is going to be "Because science!" then we should probably not flip flop on the acceptable procedures.

If, as a group, we are going to mock the methods used to find results that we don't agree with then we shouldn't use those same methods to find the results we do like.
 

YSC

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Exactly. The effect becomes less at lower frequencies. At 192kHz sample frequency there is no audible effect at all in the audible range.
Right, I am kind of feeling in the tidal mqa the holo spring 2 in nos do sounded better than the 16/44.1 songs though, maybe that’s just illusion or it’s the case. But when the treble roll off is due to this and not actually hearing some weird distortion this would be a nice effect to a lot (me included, I tried the os sound for quite a while but really love those effects though lol)
 

solderdude

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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.
waveforms of squarewaves in DAC's most certainly is not all you need to know.
The better the squarewave (re)production is the worse it performs with sine waves and not desired ultrasonic frequency products.
No soundcards used because ringing would show that is not there in reality.

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

6.5ms period = 150Hz (not 300Hz).

I don't use 150Hz but do use 40Hz and 440Hz squarewaves for headphone testing. Of course created with a squarewave generator and measured using a scope.

Below one of the better headphones around HD650 with 440Hz.


and a poorer one for good measure:



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.
When an amp or DAC has extremely low distortion numbers and the squarewave response of a DAC shows the dreaded ringing (caused by sharply limited bandwidth) it actually is the most correct rendering of an input signal.
For amplifiers (not sharply bandwidth limted) squarewaves are supposed to look 'good'.

When a DAC shows a very nice and sharp squarewave it actually is not rendering correctly but showing it does not adhere to the sampling theorem. It shows the DAC is broken by design.
 

solderdude

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Right, I am kind of feeling in the tidal mqa the holo spring 2 in nos do sounded better than the 16/44.1 songs though, maybe that’s just illusion or it’s the case. But when the treble roll off is due to this and not actually hearing some weird distortion this would be a nice effect to a lot (me included, I tried the os sound for quite a while but really love those effects though lol)
Some filterless NOS DACs have a filter that lifts the average value of the treble so the perceived treble roll-off is not there when 44.1 and 48kHz files are reproduced. It should be switched off for higher bitrates otherwise one gets too much treble.
 

majingotan

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I'm confused. Expectation bias is only a factor if someone says components sound different not if they sound the same? And a sighted A/B test isn't an acceptable way to prove components sound different but it is okay to prove they sound the same.
Even with expectation bias of sighted listening showed no difference. I cannot quick switch A/B if this is performed blind. Even sighted, there's no difference and without a doubt blind test would also result to same observations
 

beefkabob

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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?
No. Some people just like listening to distorted sound.
 

beefkabob

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And better me ;-) I could no hear a difference either.
Psychoacoustics will overwhelm anything you actually hear. Double blind or bust. If somebody snuck in and put the Modi 3 in without you knowing, you most likely wouldn't notice.
 

Veri

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True. Many people using Beats, Monster, Sony XB headphones and they like that sound.
Less a problem of distortion and more a combination of bad tuning, not knowing better, and prioritising crappy fashion wear headphones..
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #160
OK, tested the NOS mode. Dashboard remains the same. Filtering almost goes away resulting in this:

Denafrips ARES II R2R USB DAC DSD THD+N vs Frequency Distortion and Noise NOS mode Audio Measu...png


If you like pumping ultrasonic noise into your amplifier and speaker, by all means, use the NOS mode. :)

Now I need to move on to other testing folks.
 

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