Balanced and unbalanced Outputs. Digital Inputs: Coaxial, BNC, Toslink, Aes-Ebu, USB, I2S (HDMI)

Denafrips Pontus R2R discrete Ladder DAC

Average User Rating:
5/5,
  • pontus-dac-1_orig.jpg

Recent User Reviews

  1. Auditor
    5.0/5,
    "Hi End Sound for everyone"
    Pros - - the absolute absence of digital glare, but maintaining a great resolution.
    - the deep, organic and detailed bass
    - the large and credible soundstage
    - the really intoxicating dynamic, who keeps enjoying you for hours revitalizing any song
    Cons - Not a status symbol to show
    Pontus.jpg

    Nowadays, no other segment of the Audio market is dynamic as the DACs one, with new models presented each day. Soon, you realize that most of them are based on the latest flavors of Sigma Delta DAC chips, with vanishing THD, three digits SNR, and sounding, basically, all the same. Not bad at all, actually quite well, but not moving your heart, or better, not moving MY heart.

    You soon realize that hi-end products do not use those chips, they have custom designs, exotic, and kept confidential. Some of them, oddly, are based on simple, passive, resistor based schemes. How such solutions can be better sounding that those modern, highly elaborated, integrated circuits? Fact is, if carefully realized, they DO. But at costs that most of us simply cannot afford.

    Enter Denafrips, a small, almost unknown Asian company. Quite recently, they showed up on an online shop with a small range of DAC, with different prices, the cheaper one at less than 600$. Just another low cost, average sounding, Asian product? Not at all, because all of them are R2R discrete ladder DACs, with high precision passive components, and state of the art interface circuitry. In sum, stuff not available elsewhere at less than five times the cost.

    I came across Denafrips reading some enthusiastic reviews exactly here at Head-Fi. A friend of mine took the risk with the little Ares, and was so impressed that I also followed him, you can see my Ares in photo on the top of its big brother, the Pontus DAC, which I purchased a month later.

    I usually listen with Stax Earphones, I owned several of them since 90', and now I have a SR507 with SRM353x (and other older models). Not the top, but a pretty resolving and transparent system nevertheless. I also have a belt drive CEC CD transport, a Marantz SACD player, Lyngdorf amplification and Audio Physics loudspeakers, composing a system with remarkable transparency and soundstage. Yes, my humble opinion, but confirmed by people that listened at it.

    For liquid music, I use a Squeezebox Touch, which can seem a toy, but it is one of the best digital sources ever produced, when paired with a good DAC. In recent years, I tried many sub 1000$ DACs, Musical Fidelity, Arcam, Violectric. They are all good products, as I said above, but Ares is in a different league, and Pontus is much much better.

    Four things are really impressive, when listening to Pontus:
    - the absolute absence of digital glare, but maintaining a great resolution.
    - the deep, organic and detailed bass
    - the large and credible soundstage
    - the really intoxicating dynamic, who keeps enjoying you for hours revitalizing any song

    If the little Ares has some limits on resolving power, Pontus does not show any. Paired with the stunning transparency of Staxes, it offers tons of details and nuances.

    OK, and you have a complete set of digital inputs, including state of the art asyncronous USB, coaxial, BNC, Toslink, AES-EBU end even I2S on HDMI. And both balanced and unbalanced outputs, obviously.

    Just forget the not (yet) noble brand name and simply listen to it.

    One last remark: I wasn't a fanatic of burn-in before, but Denafrips products will make you a believer. In the first 100 hours, the sound improves so dramatically that it seems really a different product.
    VilMo, TheNidz, dex-rex and 4 others like this.

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