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Denafrips ARES II USB R2R DAC Review

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
 

amirm

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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!!!
 

Frank Dernie

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So what means? 0,001% vs 0,0001% THD?
No.
IME if the distortion is below 0.1% (-60dB) and the noise below -80dB it is transparent to me, most electronics has been transparent for decades and differences imagined, unlike cartridges, speakers and headphones few of which approach this level of performance.
After all all my record players sound pretty good and they are nowhere near as good as 0.1% distortion and all have more noise that -80dB, even the best, very, very expensive one.
I love my Verum 1 headphones.
Dicking about with electronics is an exercise in imagination and belief in myths IMO.
The transducers are where the weaknesses are and it takes a spectacularly bad bit of engineering to make something genuinely audibly different on the electronic side, not enough power or inability to drive a complex load are about it unless you go for nostalgic vintage stuff.
I have been dicking around with this for over 50 years now and it is sad to see the death of expertise permeating almost every walk of life :(
 
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No.
IME if the distortion is below 0.1% (-60dB) and the noise below -80dB it is transparent to me, most electronics has been transparent for decades and differences imagined, unlike cartridges, speakers and headphones few of which approach this level of performance.
Then it is useless to test any solid stateelectronics - everything is transparent.

I love my Verum 1 headphones.
Thanks, they were made almost without any measurements. The only measurement I've made is tuning of damping to achieve better squarewave results.
 

YSC

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It is worth the designer measuring his designs to make sure he hasn't cocked up or getting hum loops etc but it takes spectacularly bad engineering to make electronics audibly different.
When I have auditioned DACs carefully level matched all the properly engineered ones sounded the same, yes, though there were some reconstruction filter choices which sounded different. The most expensive was £14,000 the least £1100 fwiw.

Most transducer designers don't do much proper engineering, sadly, maybe that is why so many of them are not very good?
All my headphones sound different to each other and I like most of them in one way or another, the only ones I end up listening to only a short time before changing are Kingsound electrostatics.
For transducers my favourite is the old Hifiman he500 planar headphones, really liked how it produces sound and bass
 

Marlowe

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BTW, the review appears to understate the USD price a bit. According to the website of its US distributor (Vinshine Audio) it's currently $768 USD, apparently including free shipping--and an order lead time of approximately 6-8 weeks, which I believe applies to all Denafrips DACs. (I'm seriously considering getting one later this year, but since I'm retired on a fixed income and don't use credit, it takes a few months to save up.)
 

Robbo99999

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There are some interesting components including that toroidal transformer.
lol, looks like 1950's combined with the 1970's or something! I'm only new to the audiophile scene, so my knowledge is limited, but I did buy the SoundBlasterX G6 DAC and combined it with JDS Labs Atom Amp +(AKG K702)...with the first two being bought on the strength of the reviews on this website! But yeah, this DAC doesn't seem to measure well...seems to be so many overpriced DACs that are not measuring well....I think they're just trying to take people's money on the perception that increased price and increased weight equals higher sound quality, ha! Thank God for this website!
 

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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 ;-)?
Some people prefer the taste of fried tofu to BBQ baby back ribs, it’s all good.
 

Spocko

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Then it is useless to test any solid stateelectronics - everything is transparent.
You nailed it. It’s more about engineering quality and getting your money’s worth of effort from design and parts. It’s like a quartz Timex has been a great timekeeper for decades but people still pay extra for a good automatic. Many have sung the praises of the DAC $20 dongle. It’s why I listen to IEMs occasionally - to get out that last inch of transparency.
 

majingotan

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It’s why I listen to IEMs occasionally - to get out that last inch of transparency.
To my subjective opinion I’ve never heard an IEM that can even compete with my Yamaha HS7 in transparency and extracting the finest details and nuances in music reproduction. Not even the 64-Audio U18Tzar, Tia Fourte, Sony IER Z1R, CA Solaris and my Andromeda IEM even match my Yamaha HS7 in that resolution regard not to mention the most lifelike tonality that no IEM can ever reproduce even with EQ. Though speakers are inherently better than headphones and IEMs in tonality to my own opinion.
 

Spocko

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To my subjective opinion I’ve never heard an IEM that can even compete with my Yamaha HS7 in transparency and extracting the finest details and nuances in music reproduction. Not even the 64-Audio U18Tzar, Tia Fourte, Sony IER Z1R, CA Solaris and my Andromeda IEM even match my Yamaha HS7 in that resolution regard not to mention the most lifelike tonality that no IEM can ever reproduce even with EQ. Though speakers are inherently better than headphones and IEMs in tonality to my own opinion.
Impressive!
 

majingotan

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Thanks! Only drawback is that you must have no louder than a 30 dB room background noise and listen on-axis at 2 feet away from tweeters. 77-80 dB SPL average listening volume are required to do that. Otherwise, you won’t be able to hear the orchestra track in Pink Floyd’s Eclipse track at that stated listening volume for example. In retrospect, you also hear the finest details in those aforementioned IEMs but the difference to my subjective opinion is that the finest details are “easier” to hear through HS7 speakers due to much larger sound stage to my opinion. Others might find the opposite otherwise.
 

restorer-john

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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.
And this again is the crux if it. NOS = non over sampling, which does not imply no low pass filter. That is the province of silly "tweakers" and "modders".

By design, most of the non-Philips 1st generation CD players were NOS out of the box, but they also contained perfectly designed (and expensive) multi element LPFs, so, as @Frank Dernie pointed out, the spectral splash up the spectrum simply wasn't there. Neither was aliasing in the audible band.

If anyone doesn't believe that, I have several 1st generation machines here...

And not all 14bit D/A converters used an oversampling digital filter either.

It's amazing that 37 years after the fact, people are still arguing about the superiority of FIR and IIR filters and OS vs NOS.
 
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