Credit to Eric @ Singapore
Player: Melco N1ZH Audiophile NAS
DAC: Totaldac d1-six DAC
Amplifier: Conrad Johnson GAT + ART Monoblock
Speaker: Vivid Audio Giya G4
I will go right out and say this - the Pontus offers outstanding sound quality for the money. I would be hard pressed to suggest another unit with competitive performance at the price bracket.
The Pontus would best be described as sounding very cohesive. It has a very composed sonic presentation with a good even balance. Resolution is very good, with commendable retrieval of micro-detail.
Tonally, I would put it as sitting somewhere to the subtly warm side of neutral. In comparison, the Vinshine DAC or the Holo Audio Spring DAC (Level 3) have a warmer balance.
Bass notes are reproduced in a tight, clean and rhythmic fashion. There is no bloat, fullness, or overhang here, and some may find the low frequencies to be somewhat dry and lightweight. This tended to give the Pontus a reduced sense of scale and dynamic restraint.
Initially, I found the midrange to be overly laidback. Out went the excellent Blackcat Tron coaxial cable, and in went the Viard Audio Silver HD Digital AES cable. The Viard has a very neutral tone and a drier balance than the Tron. While the midrange remained on the laidback side, it was nicely detailed and expressive.
High frequencies are great with the Pontus, with good extension, refinement and nice reproduction of acoustic space in recordings.
Soundstaging and imaging are also a strong point, with very precise placement of instruments both laterally, and depth wise. Sonic images were always kept tightly in focus, without any wavering even when things got busy.
Suggestions though that the Pontus is the one DAC to rule them all are misplaced (why do all audiophiles get all excited by these possible David vs Goliath stories ?). You can get much higher performance than the Pontus, but by spending at least three or four times more money. My Totaldac D1-Six has superior dynamics, more powerful bass, and a dimensionality to the sound that makes the Pontus seem flat in comparison. However, I could buy a Pontus for each of my three bedrooms, my two toilets, kitchen, dining room and still have a fair amount left over.
Great performance at the asking price. Probably not the best choice for bass heads, but otherwise, the Pontus has very little flaws. Makes you wonder how good Denafrips top model is ? It's never been better for audiophiles on a tight budget - Highly Recommended.
Credit to Auditor @ Headfi
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
Not a status symbol to show
Credit to Alexey @ dastereo.ru
Ideally, for myself, I see such a picture: Holo Spring Level 3 has a slight advantage on SSR and heavyweight, Pontus plays on equal terms with Holo - on calm styles, jazz and chamber classics.
I will note one more thing that was raised earlier. I did not notice any problems with the sound of Pontus with the start "on the cold" - the trumpet did not need any additional warming up to enter the "working mode". Perhaps this is caused by an AES / EBU connection.
Summarizing, I can say that I liked Pontus personally. It produces a very decent sound level for relatively little money.