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Denafrips ARES II USB R2R DAC Review

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..
 
OP
amirm

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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.
 

majingotan

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

View attachment 48329

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.

1% at 4KHz and rising:facepalm::facepalm:o_O (probably why so many love the extra harmonics this thing produces in the violins, flutes, sax, etc. in NOS mode). Now I kinda see how people perceive a massive difference between NOS and OS mode not just on this Denafrips but on Holo Audio Spring L3 Kitsune Edition impressions as well
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #157
1% at 4KHz and rising:facepalm::facepalm:o_O (probably why so many love the extra harmonics this thing produces in the violins, flutes, sax, etc. in NOS mode). Now I kinda see how people perceive a massive difference between NOS and OS mode not just on this Denafrips but on Holo Audio Spring L3 Kitsune Edition impressions as well
It is a measurement artifact though. That test uses wide bandwidth so if you don't filter above 22.05 kHz as you are supposed to, all of that gets included in that graph. And hence my comment about ultrasonics.
 

garbulky

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I don't know what mode the unit I listened to was (it was stock). However, I wasn't all that impressed and I didn't think it was very detailed in the sound. (No dbt performed, subjective impressions).
 

Francis Vaughan

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I'm curious whether the test is able to differentiate the aliasing products that will result from removing the reconstruction filter. The issue with no filter is twofold - lots of ultrasonic junk that can lead to pathological behaviour of some amplifiers, and aliasing of signals in the passband.
 

Geoff

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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 dac sounds a lot better!!!
 
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