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DENAFRIPS 'ARES' R2R discrete ladder DAC - close up view

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by pitbul34, Jan 28, 2017.
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  1. Zachik
    Hey guys,

    I am in the market for a new DAC, and stumbled upon this thread.
    Seems like the thread went VERY quiet 2-3 months ago, where (IMHO) several good questions were not answered. Main questions (to me):
    1. How does ARES compare to Schiit Bimby? Yes, I know, @willsw commented (in post #979) but that is 1 person's opinion... Nobody else compared them?!
    2. What about Schiit Gumby?! Yes, I know it cost approx. 2 times, but several people mentioned before that those 2 needs to be compared, and I totally agree!
    3. Very few comparisons to Chord 2Qute (@willsw in post #884 actually preferred the 2Qute). In post 1016 @ajreynol mentioned he wants to compare them... Did you? What do you think?

    For reference, my desktop setup is desktop PC (JRiver) -> DAC -> Schiit Jot / Cavalli LC -> Headphones. I am not really listening much through speakers (although I do have JBL LS305s in my desktop setup connected to the Schiit Jot pre-amp outputs). Personal preference is warm sound signature (I know Jot is NOT warm, but it works well with warm / bassy headphones like Sony Z7 etc.).

    Currently, I use built-in DAC in Jot (I know it is not very good, to say the least). I want to invest in a good DAC and my 3 candidates are: Gumby, ARES, 2Qute (random order). The 2Qute and Gumby (in the $1300 price range) already stretch my budget, so please no suggestions to go for the Terminator :wink:

    I would appreciate any help or opinions.

  2. sheldaze
    The ARES does quite well at its price, having more clarity and tighter bass control versus the Bimby. The 2Qute and the Gumby are both better. Though you diverge dramatically in how each processes and outputs sound. If you are looking for DACs at that level, you might also consider the Metrum Amethyst. Having owned the three, I think you pretty much have three distinctive, yet interesting sounds, covered - all at the same level of DAC competency.
  3. CJG888
    Maybe wait for the new Soekris?
  4. Zachik
    What I understand from your response is:
    * Gumby, 2Qute, Amethyst - are all better than ARES.
    * Those 3 are the same level, just sound different.

    Did I get it right? If so - between those 3, can you try and compare the sound?

  5. everittroad
    Hi, I have a audio Gd nfb 17.32 going to a audeze Deckard. I'm mainly using it as a DAC for my marantz CD player (cd6006). Will there be much improvement as I'm mainly using it for Redbook conversion. I noticed most of the discussion is on using computers.
  6. cnspt
    Disclaimer: I have no relation, either loan/gift or financial or any other type of interest to any audio manufacturer in the US or abroad.

    I bought an Ares (and running for 3 weeks) and I liked the sound compared with Ibasso DX90. I played with USB without problems, even hooking up with active USB 3 cable for 5 meters. The sound is clear, spacious, wide and has that smoothness that is difficult to describe but which I find musical. Found the bass deep, mid range clear. I found DX90 with a pair of ES9018 annoying in some high piano notes, no problem with Ares. I like classical music and have expensive sets of British speakers, power amp and preamp with 2 separate power supplies, no overpriced equipment over $5K. So far, nothing to complain on Ares except the fading lights in front of the DAC.

    My weak link in my system was the DAC so I thought R2R would be an interesting investment for next 10-15 years. For under $1K, I narrowed it down to Schiit Modi MB vs Ares. But mimby has USB gen 2 so essentially you need to get the Schiit Eitr for another $200 (shipping included). My guess is that Mimby + Eitr at $500 with shipping is unlikely to be as good as a true R2R ladder with newer USB. Mimby warranty is 2 years vs 3 yrs for Ares. You may try Schiit Bifrost with USB gen 5 but several reviewers think it sounds similar to Mimby. More expensive R2R options are available between $1-3K but I think automation may make prices more competitive in near future.

    Keep in mind, hi end audio mfg are chasing a limited number of customers so there is an increasing number of trolls in most audio blogs and some "super" faked sites may even ban you if you make comments contrary to their sponsorship. So for the smart guy out there having to making a decision on the right DAC, it is up to buyer to discern actual review from phony ones, the latter often making disparaging comments against competitors. Figuring bias is a process more sophisticated than spotting a fake Amazon review. It is easy to hear bias when reviewer can tell the difference between 16.5 and 17 bit definition. But really smooth talking reviewer will tell you that he has listened to dozens of high end DACs and he can remember product A has a subjective (un-measurable) better quality than product B. Remember, bias can also be subconscious, the person owns the equipment and/or he likes a particular type of sound. Thus, if possible listen to equipment before making a purchase. Remember, when purchasing an expensive equipment, make sure it will last for a long time. Good luck!
    Light - Man and Currawong like this.
  7. rudra
    As a former NFB 17.32 owner the Ares is a more musical dac than the 17.32 with redbook conversion.
  8. rudra
    @cnspt I don't know for sure how many bits I am actually hearing , but in the grand scheme of things I don't care how many bits it is if I don't enjoy it. One thing to remember reviewers are human and we humans have biases. So enjoy your dac. :ksc75smile:
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
  9. everittroad
    Thank you. That's good to know.
  10. cnspt
    Bias can come from equipment system, from education, experience, price, ears, room, type of music, etc. A reviewer, including myself, should know its own limitations and preferences before getting to nuts and bolts. For instance, I listen mostly to classical music and my bias is for "British sound" speakers and my view is based on that. Someone who depends only on our biased reviews to make an expensive purchase is just not doing the homework. You got to go out there and listen to what you like, especially those setting up for the first time. Also, there are a lot of used equipment and demos at 1/2 to 1/3 of retail prices. Shop like a pro!
  11. wahsmoh
    Just got in the Amethyst today. It's been trading blows back and forth with my Theta Digital DS Pro progeny A and the Chord Mojo. Better overall than both, although the Theta Digital DAC has a unique slam and dynamic contrast that is unlike either. The Amethyst is more neutral than the old Theta and also sounds more resolute. As in slightly more air in treble, slightly less congestion, slightly more low level detail. The Theta has the edge in soundstage and headroom but the Amethyst images very well and I can hear more details in busy passages than the Theta.. possibly cause the Theta has the upper midrange forwardness and lower bass slam. This DAC feels like a keeper to me. I will try it out on speakers soon. So far just hooked up the HD600 directly to the headphone out and enjoyed what I heard.
  12. franz159
    Could you elaborate more how the Metrum Acoustics Amethyst compares with the Chord MoJo?
    I own the MoJo too and I'm evaluating to buy the Amethyst.
    I like how the MoJo sound, very musical to my ears, especially with voices and small jazz groups, but probably lacks some definition ability with bigger instrumental masses (read orchestra).
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
  13. xenithon
    Really enjoying the Ares. Find it a little "soft" around the edges, but still manages to extract a lot of detail and be musical / non-fatiguing.

    Does anyone else experience a significant change (improvement) once it has been on for a long time? When cold it is quite a bit thinner sounding, almost lacklustre. But after a good few hours of being on, I find it changes for the better quite markedly.
  14. rixlbg
    Hello, everyone.

    I have a little problem with my very recently arrived Denafrips Venus, I hope someone, or even Alvin, can help me. The DAC works great through the USB connection with my PC, but I can't make it work through the coaxial or optical connections with my blu-ray player/source Oppo BDP-105. The sound gets full of cracks and distortions and, eventually, the only thing you can hear are the cracks. A bunch of LEDs goes on and off as if the Venus could not decide what kind of format is being fed into it (just a speculation, I really don't know what the issue is). That's a pity because a have a bunch of CDs I was hoping to primarily use the Venus as a DAC for the Oppo and just secondarily for my PC. The BDP-105 does not have a USB out, so I am stuck to coaxial or optical. I already changed every possible configuration option on the Oppo, including changing the format fed to the coaxial and optical outputs from bitstream to LPCM, with no success; but I don't think the problem is with the Oppo 105 because my old DAC works with it immediately with many diverse configurations. Did someone have a similar experience with other DACs and does somebody have any idea on what is happening and what could I do to solve it, if anything? I hope the Venus hasn't been damaged.

    Sorry for posting a question about the Venus in an Ares thread, but there is no specific thread for the Venus. I am also going to repeat the question on the Pontus thread and maybe on the Terminator's.

    Thank you for your help.

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  15. alvin1118
    Hi @rixlbg ,

    No worry, you may email me at vinshineaudio@gmail.com with your order number #.

    I'd try my best to assist you.

    Many thanks.

    Rgds ,
    Vinshine Audio
    joseph69 likes this.
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