DENAFRIPS Terminator: the King of R2R dac
May 27, 2017 at 5:42 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1,006


Mar 8, 2017
Have you ever had the inclusion of a new component in your system literally upset any of your certainty that, until then, had you laboriously realized? And I do not mean differences that are comparable to nuances, difficult to perceive situations, but rather to a very marked difference, in all reference parameters, to listening.
This is exactly what has happened since I entered the Dac Terminator, a flagship product of the Chinese manufacturer named DENAFRIPS, in my chain of listening. Everything started a few months ago when, during reading a thread on head-fi forum about a dac, I embarked on the enthusiastic comments of a russian user who magnified the dictates of a small dac with R2R Ladder technology named Ares, which is the product entry level of DENAFRIPS. The investment required for its purchase was pretty modest if compared to the figures that run in our hobby, just under $ 600 and bought directly from the only authorized worldwide distributor, Vinshine Audio Singapore, and I launched in it. Already after a few dozen hours of burn-in, strongly recommended by the manufacturer, the little Ares has begun to unlock absolute performance, unthinkable for an object of that price and comparable to dac more expensive.
And as the appetite is eating, I decided to challenge myself considering the purchase of the top range Terminator. In fact, I said to myself, "Claudio, if the little Ares already sounds better than that, what can be the performance of his big older brother?"
And so just over two months ago I ended the Terminator purchase, of course always online, which affectionately, I renamed Arnold, is so massive and heavy.
The Terminator is a dac R2R with four counters of 500 high-precision 0.005% laser-cut resistors, with a nominal resolution of 26bit, capable of reproducing both PCM format up to 384khz and DSD up to 11.2Mhz (DSD256) in native mode. Of course all the components are at the top, Cristek Femto Clock oscillators used with FIFO technology to ensure that the dac clock is independent of the input signal, Amanero usb input, power supplies with two toroidal transformers of 250VA and 60VA low noise , Elna Silmic capacitors, M Cap and Stargest at very low ESR, WALT Jung voltage regulators with very low ripple and many other high quality components. The digital inputs are 9 so distributed: 1 usb, 3 i2s (1 on hdmi and 2 on rj45), 2 AES / EBU, 1 toslink optic, 2 spdif (rca and bnc). I think a few dacs for sale, if not anyone, can have such an entry input that can satisfy any kind of connection. The outputs are the classic XLR and RCA, the dac is native balanced.
On the thick brushed aluminum front, like the entire frame, we find the Standby button in the center and then left to right the two input selection keys, the Mute button, the OS / NOS, the Phase key, and finally the Mode key that serves to select the two Slow and Sharp digital filters as well as to activate some special features, including the firmware update. No control of the volume or even the remote control, DENAFRIPS wanted to remove all the accessories that could have affected the sonic result in any way. All components are mounted on FPGA cards, wiring is absent. The Terminator at the balance test pays a weight of just 19 kg, demonstrating that you did not want to save on anything.
The Terminator was inserted into my system liquid consisting of two-pcs fiber-optic connected server-naa player, preamp Spectral DMC20 balanced series 2, amps Gamut D200i and M250i endorsing, in my mood, an Infinity IRS Beta in active biamplification or a pair of Magneplanar 3.6R in passive biamplification. The connection to the preamp was made using the XLR connections. To avoid misunderstanding I want to specify that I'm an Italian audiophile with more than 30 years of listening experience.
The Terminator, in contrast to the Ares, does not need a long run, since it has been factory-burnt-in for about 100 consecutive hours, and in fact has unveiled superb performance right away, I would say to the limit of excellence. The earliest feature of the ear is its ability to extract from the files that are given to him such a quantity of unthinkable informations(compared to my Mark Levinson 360S as reference), combined with a quantity of harmonics that seem to be stationary for air, so much is their decay time. As some reference discs (Marialy Pacheco - Introducing), the detail and refinement in listening to the music message reaches very high, never heard before, as well as dynamics. The attacks are of a crazy speed and the crescendo in some tracks of symphonic music (Giocchino Rossini - The thieving magpie, Alexander Borodin - Symphony No. 2 Prince Igor) seems to never end. Even at low volumes, the return of the information being transferred is excellent, with a truly remarkable intellegibility, not even a note is lost. Going to the soundstage, I have to overcome the superlatives, deep in all three dimensions, well beyond the physical limits of the bottom wall and with a 180 degree horizontal aperture, virtually wall-to-wall. It almost seems to be in the midst of the music event with a holography that only machines of quite a few costs can reproduce. Using the filters you can shape the sound according to your own tastes, I prefer using the SHARP filter also because I'm a fan of transparency and detail but it never has to end in listening fatigue; with the LOW filter you have a lightweight roll-off on the medium high that, with some systems, can be of utmost benefit. Returning to the main features of the Terminator, the bass is very fast and deep, dry enough, with no hint of rubberiness, medium frequencies, especially with female voices (Cecile McLorin Salvant - Woman Child, Roberta Gambarini - Easy to love, Maria Callas - Rossini and Donizzetti Arias) are of a shocking beauty, rich, fleshy and at the same time succinct, the medium record reaches incredible definition levels without ever going into hyperanalyticism; In one word the Terminator can be termed a musical object, one of those few hifi components that makes you forget to listen to the system, which you would listen for hours and hours focusing only on music and forgetting everything else. And of these times is not very little.
And finally we come to the "bad notes", how much does all this well of God cost? I'm telling you that Terminator has a price comparable to a good-quality hi-end cable, only $ 3980, at the current exchange rate of just over 3500 euros, with a three-year full warranty and after-sale service, tested personally and also by several friends of mine who have bought DENAFRIPS dacs in recent times, simply unthinkable for our European standards.
One last tip, if you want to find dac comparable to the Terminator, go look at the catalogs of the most prestigious manufacturers and pay your attention to 10K euros (11K dollars or more)up there, as well as possible disappointments, as happened to some of my italian friend, dacs owners of the cost of a utility car (for example DCS Debussy) , who wanted to compare its dac with Terminator.
May 28, 2017 at 2:13 AM Post #8 of 1,006
Beatufil image, Pitbul.
Can I share it?
Yes, no problem :)

I prefer using the SHARP filter also because I'm a fan of transparency and detail but it never has to end in listening fatigue; with the LOW filter you have a lightweight roll-off on the medium high that, with some systems, can be of utmost benefit.

I have two questions:

Did you use the SHARP filter in OS or in NOS mode?
Is there a sound differense in NOS mode by filter switching?
Jun 6, 2017 at 5:10 PM Post #14 of 1,006

Very compelling. I too, closely followed the Ares thread from the beginning and have seen the quick and responsive transformation of the Denafrips product line.

I may just pull the trigger on the terminator myself! Really curious how it stacks up the likes of the Bricasti M1 SE, which I own, the Chord Dave, PS Audio DirectStream w/ Torreys Update, Total DAC, Nagra HD and even the Yggdrasil.

I've owned 2 of the aforementioned and heard some of the others so just curious if anybody that has heard the terminator and some of the aforementioned could chime in.

Agreed, not surprising the Terminator compared favorably to the DCS. I'm not a big DCS fan personally.

Wow and quite a statement regarding the Terminator over the Wavedream!!!

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