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TERMINATOR - An End, or a Start?

December 24, 2017

 

Terminator has arrived for a week, there are some discussion in another forum post, I started this thread here to try to share my impression. First of all, you do not have to waste time reading the words that you have concern or do not have confidence in audio products made in mainland China. 


First, why buy the Terminator? 


1. The most direct of course is the 6Moons review, otherwise I simply did not know this brand. 


2. Of course I am a audio enthusiast, I like to buy audio gears judging from HiFi reviews. I started this hobby as early as since 1984, CD was born shortly after. Back then, I get to learn new HiFi equipment by reading the local audio magazines, and buy them through the recommendation of the reviewer. Subsequent, I read the United States audio magazine and later moved to the Internet. There are countless examples of buying audio gears from across the country. Phillips SACD-1000, the Meitner DAC6 +, and Meitner's six-channel predecessor were purchased directly from Canada in 2003. Supratek also purchased from Australia. More recently is the purchase of American artillery Coffman G-1A tube preamp, and

 

 

 Grand Teton, a small unknown speaker from the United States, and Rethm Maarga (India), probably the only pair of Horn speakers in Hong Kong. These were purchased by reading the online magazine reviews. They did not disappoint , they have their own characteristics, indeed, have given me a lot of joy of music listening time. 


3. Recently I had my wife support to set up an audio room, regain the vinyl situation, suddenly lost of pure enthusiasm for the digital system at home, most of the time linger in the vinyl. At a coincident read of 6Moons review of the Terminator DAC, I thought it is time to inject some new vitality into my home audio system. Without having much hassle, I purchased a Terminator from VINSHINE AUDIO. Who knows the wait is a month long...

 

 

 

Helplessly waiting, but the level of patience I have, increases as I age. Alvin from Vinshine Audio e-mail several times during the period, are quickly answered, also get the date of shipment. In fact, the DAC is shipped directly from Guangzhou to Hong Kong, Alvin later also take the initiative to return the overcharged shipping (160S$), great business ethics. 


But somehow the DAC finally lagged for a day when it was delivered at ShunFeng courier, and I could only say: "Sigh, but why?"

 

It was always a bit excited to receive the new package, but the packaging of the carton was very armature. Fortunately, the basic functions of protection still doing well. Packaging is very simple (humble), customer who exquisite gift boxes will be disappointed. The DAC has heavy body, 19kg and as a decoder, is really heavyweight. The dimension is quite large, a lot bigger than the Holo Springs I used, bigger and heavier than the La Scala. The DAC base there are three small feet (aluminum), in quite deep position. There are three nail pad, are lightweight, and packed and covered with newspapers ! This is unimaginable for a more than thirty thousand HK dollars . There are no instructions in the box, but downloaded from the Denafrips web page, just install the Amanero driver, you can connect the computer. However, when placing the Terminator, it was a little painful, because the DAC is heavy, the nail pad is very small, it is difficult to put under the nail. I emailed and asked Alvin, I learned that the nail is not screw on, it was just paste with blutac! Of course, if you think about it, with this price, it can be a non-cost-saving DAC, saving yourselves nothing unreasonably. 

 

After hard work, Terminator replaced on the existing Holo Spring position.

 

Connected with the cables

 

Switch on the DAC, it was easy to get signal locked with the computer. The Terminator can only playback DSD256, my previous setting of DSD512 used in the Holo Spring has to be reduced into DSD256, readily play on the DAC on a CD i played yesterday evening (with HQPlayer upsampled to DSD256 or PCM352). It was easy, music played and the sound came out from the loudspeaker.
 

 

 

 

The sound finally came out of the loudspeaker ... 


Let me talk about myself first, before i describe how the Terminator sounds. I am just a music audio enthusiasts, without formal music training, do not understand the music notes, do not play musical instruments, but my ears are not bad, and most importantly, i like and enjoy listening to music. 

 

I listened to pop in my early days, Guan Zhengjie, Lin Zixiang, Alan Tam, Jacky Cheung those era. Then came into contact with classical music from the cassette, gradually attracted to it, hence, classical music become the main interest of listening. The second year since the CD appeared, a Phillips CD303 was purchased, just over a period of time, at least several thousand CDs were acquired. Classical mainly listen to classical and romantic period tracks, I love the violin and vocals, so I fall in love with tube amp naturally. Symphony, I like Mahler, Bruchner also listen to more in recent years. Xiao Shitao is also a favorite composer, some of his symphony and chamber music often being played back in my system. In addition to the classical, the beautiful voice is all the favorite, singers such as Tsai Chin, Joan Baez, Eva Cassidy and so forth. 


Sound of the Terminator, I will leave it to tomorrow. Before closing, let me introduce a extremely well recorded CD. Guys who like vocals, guitar, live recording must not be missed.

 

 

This is an Argentinean male singer concert recording in Buenos Aires concert, male, guitar and a small jazz band, blending Femme and Tango style. Percussion, handcuffs, piano and Niugen are mostly background rhythms, not overwhelming. He has a great solo opportunity, one of the best voices I've ever heard of guitar recordings. Male voice is full of magnetism, its own attractiveness. The scene of the audience and clapping, can be described as the live scene. I learned that this disc is because of the inclusion of a DG Golden recording in Mr. Liu Hansheng essence. However, this disc is not easy to buy, in Japan HMV online shopping, I waited for two months before the stock arrival. Interested enthusiasts can go to YouTube to hear if it's your own a cup of tea?

 

 

 

If you like live recording, guitar and voice, you probably already has this disc. If not, it is definitely worth looking for. Nils Lofgren was a sing a song writer and guitarist, and this was a live recording of a venue in Vienna. It was a 16 / 44.1 digital recording, but it was so good that it turned Analog Production into a vinyl. I have both version, in fact, the cd has very pretty sound.

 

 

Busy days, exhausted at night, did not have chance to write more. 


Continued: the sound of music leisurely called, I played the same CD again. In fact, every time I buy a new machine or cable, my heart always has expectations, otherwise I will not buy it. Expectations are generally price-linked, the greater the price, the greater the expectation. After reading the 6moons comments, it is looking forward to having a good time with Terminator. The DAC was playing a local composed CD called The tube Hi-Fi Cello

 

These are the music when you relax yourself in the night, not very particular about, just a casual playback, but when the music sounded, in less than ten seconds I was already stunned. Is this my late-night music? Seems not very like. Why is the cello so sweet? The piano never seems so real before. Probably a psychological effect of it. But after some time, unknowingly kept listening, there is no desire to change the disc. Cello is the closest instrument to the human voice, that song's charm was so attractive played with the Terminator. Listen to some often listen and familiar musics, the realism does not seems like an illusion, ah, each CD played was giving me a feel of new discovery, I was pleasantly surprised! 

 

Coincidentally, we arranged a Hifi gathering that night. Because the Terminator was amazing, invite all my friends to listen to the Terminator (of which was played for less than an hour - the manufacturer said that it had been 100 hours before delivery). This is a never-before-seen thing. Compared with the super highend system of my friends', my setup is a much simpler one, but everyone is interested in listening. It also caused the poisonous friends to make "another gigantic killer" forum thread. However, this is only the initial impression, and Alvin communication back and forth, knowledge of the DAC also become more ⋯ 
 

 

Terminator panel on the middle of the power system, the left is the input selection buttons and lights, the right is the function selection and indicator, followed by the NOS / OS, phase, mode button. Those red light is the smallest I've ever seen, not to mention listening position, even at close range, can not see clearly. I used to the large display of the Holo Spring, this tiny display of Terminator is new to me. However, because Terminator does not have remote control, this is not a problem. Or, perhaps, this design is to minimize the interference of the LED and the sound.

 

 

But it's necessary to understand the meaning of the LED on and off. When NOS is on, it indicates no up-conversion. Phase lights, it is positive. Mode button is to control the I2S output pinout, if you do not use I2S, this can be ignored. Remember, the panel only shows the frequency of the input, not the output frequency. 


With Holo Spring up-sampled to DSD512, it was really better than the PCM. DSD has have better sound, more smooth, more musical, closer to analog sound. This impression has been in my mind, so never mind, I put the HQPlayer up-sampled to DSD256 output to the Terminator, and the sound was indeed good, so initially did not want to use PCM. However, communicating with Alvin several times, he emphasized that Terminator's PCM is an reference class, and when in OS mode any input goes up to 705.6 or 768. Since Alvin said so, I gotta try it anyway. 
 

 

 

Terminator's strength is the sense of musicality. Its ability to produce high resolution is of top reference class, but in the high resolution at the same time, there is no overwhelmed details or digital noise. When the details of the music is natural reproduce, it is easy to follow and dive into the music, and I can listen for a long time without tireless or fatigue. Even more surprising to me is that some of the previously considered below average recording CD, has even become very nice.

 

 

 

This set of Callas recording studio, I has always felt sound effects, lack of high-pitched, orchestra poor level, not enough solid three-dimensional. However, listening to music not only listen to sound effects, from time to time I will be random playback to enjoy Karan's unique vocal. As soon as the sound came out, I was surprised to find out that the original 'problem' was not on the CD. The original separation of the string was very good, and the vocals were very solid and full of magnetism. Unconsciously a disc on the playback is finished. 
The sound that ordinary sounds can be so pleasant, then what is the realm of great recorded disc playback using the Terminator? 

 

 

This piece of Chrysostom's work is presented by Mr. Remington in the early Hifi audio magazine. The main work is a piano quintet and seven romances inspired by a Danish poet. The romance was composed by composer Rostropovich and his soprano wives Vishnevskaya, Oistrakh, and Richter. The soprano vocals, followed by the cello, the piano, the violin, the two instruments and the accompaniment of the last three instruments. This disc has probably been heard hundreds of times over the years, the first seven romances to playback well is not easy, but for the Terminator it is no difficulty, stereo and musical instrument texture is better than ever . However, this is not a music that will fall in love with you at first sight. On the contrary, the piano quintet is much easier to hear and does not follow the traditional melody but also make a harmonious and beautiful effect. Nearly perfect recordings are demonstration-level, with more than five instruments appearing as a form of dialogue, just as five old friends gathered to enjoy a rare peace in troubled times. The two quartet on the head are not important composers, but the first cello melody is very beautiful, while the second is the passionate lover, dynamic and bounce force with the novel melody, hear Very enjoyable. 


Preliminary summary, the Terminator's strengths is a strong sense of musicality, the immeasurable strength of the resolution and very close to the replay of the analogue vinyl source, can definitely end my constant search for a better digital source mentality. The manufacturer's webpage says the Terminator will be the flagship of the next decade. If the manufacturer can keep progressing with the times and continue to provide firmware updates, this may be a credible declaration. What I most wished to have is a firmware upgrade to DSD512, that will make any request. 

 

Back to the title, the end of digital itch, then began to listen more seriously to the music, hoping to enhance the ability to learn and enjoy music. As for the DSD and PCM formats in Terminator interpretation and distinction, you need to listen more and wait for the terminator who has enough burn in then follow up. 


Another younger friend of mind, with better listening ability, and much deeper understanding of music, have just bought the Terminator. Fortunately, he very much agreed with the impression of mine, that the Terminator is definitely one of the top DAC today. That is the conclusion of the first day after his purchase. The only thing he felt was that bass performance was not yet reaching his ideal level, but he also understood it might not have been enough burn in.

 

 

Holo Spring is Hong Kong Wildism audio Level 3 fullly modded version, the price is only about half of the Terminator. If you do not mind the mainland products, its price is absolutely a great choice, a very good value DAC (especially if used with the HQplayer up-sampled to DSD512). In today's advanced audio systems, the price is not equal to the performance, so as to double the cost, and 20% of the progress has been very good. 

 

However, Terminator is an exception, the difference between the Terminator and the Holo Spring, can fully reflect the price difference, Terminator another league. 

 

 

Good music can never stop. Sometimes audio enthusiasts will ABAB tests all day, the music can not be heard for more than a minute, left for the right, to see A cable or cable B is good, yesterday is still the invincible combination of the world,  today is still can be improved. This will never be content with the status quo, forgot the music is the pursuit of purpose. 

 

The system can make a good sound, is to sit down and listen to music, enjoy the time, for now do not care what the high resolution DSD, PCM is. 


This two-disc set is a surprisingly good 1952 and 1953 mono recording. Furtwangler directed the Philharmonic Orchestra, Dieskau performed Mahler's Young Rovers song, and Furtwangler piano accompaniment Schwarzkopf sang Wolf's songbook. I have to admire Japanese sound engineers, turning such old recordings so wonderful. You do not mind if this is mono, because as soon as the music sounded, you would be attracted by the wonderful music, not paying attention to how many channels. Full of emotion singing, real texture of the instrument, quite three-dimensional piano, it is hard to imagine this is more than 60 years ago recording.

 

 

When i just received the Terminator, I connected the USB cable straight from the computer, I wanted to hear the capability of a single DAC without the USB enhancer, and secondly, worried that additional device in between the computer and DAC may cause problem. Since a few days of hearing has been very satisfied, I was too lazy try more or, AB test. However, the nature of audiophile fever can not be changed, and enthusiasts will never meet, how can we not try the existing supplements? 
 

USB signal conditional accessories, I have tried such as jitterbug, slightly expensive uptone regen (first generation) and Intona, each with its own characteristic. Among the three, Intona is the most effective (the most analog) one, but its use is also the most unstable, often frustrating to lose signal lock from the computer. But in the end, I still reluctantly bought a Sotm UltraUSB plus 10M cybershaft atomic clock, as heard in the highend setup of an old friend, it is another level of sound enhancement.

 

 

Recently I was busy, only leftover energy was spent to listen to music at night, writing review in in the forum is not my profession, once stopped, I was just too lazy to continue. 

 

However, the performance of Terminator is getting better, could not help but give it a write again. Although the performance of the Terminator itself without the USB enhancement has been very good, with the SOTM USBultra added an effect to bring its performance to a higher level. However, because of added SoTM, you need more than one USB cable. If the same cable, is not a problem. If different cables, personal experience is to place the best cable after (connecting sotm and dac) for better results. USBcable of mine is not very popular, is a Dutch tubulus double silver line (another one I bought based on review), independently power supply and data signal.

 

 

Added sotm, the sound is smoother, the separation is better, it is getting even closer to the analog sound.

 

In fact last night I visited an old friend's acoustics room, he is also very satisfied with the recent purchase of the Terminator. Finding a place to rest in this superb system, to get extremely sensitive golden ears, deep musical recognition and relentless old friend approval, is not trivial.

 

 

 

 

 

Denafrips Terminator: Conclusion

 

Since I also wrote some of my own impression, here is also a summary, a good start has to have a good end. It should be emphasized that this is a combination of personal audio system with my favorite music (mainly classical music and vocals) as a reference, purely personal opinion. 

 

Setup as follows: 
Windows HQplayer CD/file up-sampled to DSD256> sotm usbultra (10M clock)> Terminator> Wavac PR-T1> Wavac 805M monoblocks> Kharma mini-gallileo speakers 


Cable: CRL gold and silver reference interconnects, Elrod silver signature speaker cables. 


Power: Powerplant P10

Powercords:. Verastarr Grand illusion signature, NBS BL3, Jorma Prime, Elrod gold signature, Lessloss Marc 


Accessories: Telos GNR (upgraded), SR black box. 

Firstly, let me describe the DSD and PCM performance and distinction. In fact, the performance of both are very close, PCM I use HQPlayer up-sampled to 352.8 by Terminator OS to 705.6, this effect is better than NOS. But for a long time to listen, I still prefer the DSD a little more. Basically the sense of music and hifi sense, DSD can listen for a longer time, and the feeling of music is more intense.

 

However, PCM or DSD respectively, the differences are not very large. Compared to Holo Spring, the difference between the DSD512 and PCM352.8 respectively are much greater. But even on DSD256, The Terminator has surpassed the Holo Spring of DSD512 quite a lot, mainly in music density, separation, texture difference, the Terminator is good on a notch higher. And the sense of air and high frequency smoothness, are of analog vinyl playback quality. 

 

Here again record introduction:

 

 

This is an album from an Israeli female singer who sings ballads around the world without language. I bought the first batch of ATR CDs (recorded as EMI1972) from Germany in 1989 (printed as EMI1972). The booklet was written in German, so I did not understand the lyrics. This is a more diversified recording soundtrack, from a single guitar, simple drum, to the orchestra, more like a jazz style a little more (but not all is). The human voice is absolutely soothing sounds. To choose the most beautiful tracks, the first and seventh tracks are demonstration level. This CD played back with the Terminator DAC, you will never want to stop. 

 

 

To be continue...

 

 

 

 

 

Special thanks to jtl @ hiendy for the in-depth review. Much appreciated!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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