I have been around way too many years in this addictive audio hobby of ours. There were the earliest days when, at the ripe old age of 14 and much to the chagrin of my parents , I mounted 4 speakers on the ceiling over my bed. Driven from a mono clock radio, the sound was anything but stellar, but humble beginnings we all have. Through the high school and college years there were many amplifiers, speakers, turntables and the like. I found myself visiting every showroom I could find; I even had fun at one of the largest Lafayette radio stores back in the 1970’s ! Now a retired electrical engineer, I look back and realize I have certainly chased audio nirvana with an undying passion. In the 1980’s the first CDs did not impress, so I never sold my turntable. However, in the last 10 years or so I have gotten onboard with the digital revolution in reproduction. Have tried many DACs, happy but never totally satisfied.
I said all that to say this, the Denafrips Terminator R2R DAC is the last DAC I will need to, or want to, purchase . . . . period. It is simply that good, and by good I mean accurate and engaging at the same time. A simple visual analogy is in order here. It is like looking at a perfect photograph, spot on focus, nothing overexposed or under exposed, perfect color balance, realistic depth of field, etc. In short, looking at a perfect photograph transports you to the time & place where the photo was taken. It is as though you were there with the photographer, seeing what he saw.
As good as the Denafrips Pontus DAC is, the Terminator is on the ultimate musical plane. Its sound signature is definitely in the Denafrips family, it is just that it bests the Pontus in every aspect (and I assume also the Venus but to a lesser degree). With Termy (my nickname for him :)) the ease of presentation witnessed with Pontus is taken to a level where you wouldn’t even mention it, because it is a nonissue. Music just flows with no sense of struggle or limitation. It feels like when a subcompact car would have done the job, you instead have an earthmoving vehicle ! The bass definition is so good that identifying the particular bass instrument in any song is child’s play. Massed strings and harmonized voices are what really stands out for me. Just prior to writing this report I listed to The Manhattan Transfer : “Boy From New York City”, “BirdLand”, and one of my favorites “Java Jive”. All of them left me with a new appreciation for this tight knit singing group, just awesome. Next up was Joe Cocker, his soulful voice came through like never before. Every inflection and intonation was brought forth in living color !
My Termy now has about 80 hours of break-in, I know there may be a bit of improvement still left but at this point I have not complaint one. Before wrapping up this initial report I’ll leave you some photos of Termy in my system. I’ll follow up when Termy has in excess of 200 hours . . . so stay tuned ! BTW Mr. Pontus went to a good friend, he couldn’t be happier . . . or could he? :-)
Dana (aka danasam)
This first picture shows the size difference between Mr. Pontus and Termy. The Vinshine / Denapfrips websites show the Pontus & Terminator have the same aspect ratio. I assumed they were in the same chassis, boy was I wrong, Termy is a 42 pound behemoth. I was forced to buy a new audio rack. My previous rack was not up to the task !
Look how relaxed my dog is when Termy is playing :-)
My new rack with Termy proudly displayed !
Termy, top shelf all the way !
Termy, my last DAC looks good from any angle . . . and sounds even better !
*Read more users impression @ audiogon