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Pontus DAC @ New York

December 10, 2018

"I think that I have about 100+ hours of burn-in on the Pontus now and last night the DAC turned the corner.  A revelatory listening session.  Gotta love it.  Anyway, I felt ready to pen my thoughts on it for you at this point.  Find them below, along with a couple of updated photos of my system.  I hope that this helps.  Thanks so much again for all of your assistance."  Best - Michael Greene

 

 

For several months I had been researching external DACs for a potential purchase. I had been using the internal DAC of my Simaudio Moon player for CD playback, and the internal DAC of my Bluesound Vault 2 for stored music files and streaming.

 

The DACs in both units are pretty impressive, but my curiosity had been piqued by all of the talk concerning new R2R DACs recently hitting the audio market.

 

During the past year I had been fortunate to audition a couple of highly regarded R2R DACs in my own system. These included the Holoaudio Spring Level 3 and the Schiit Yggdrasil. Both of these DACs were quite impressive in their own distinctive ways, and I would have been quite happy to have kept either one in my system.


However, during my DAC research, I was distracted by glowing reviews of an integrated amp.... I purchased the amp, the Kinki Studios EX-M1, with the assistance of Alvin Chee of Vinshine Audio and Mike Powell of Mike Powell Audio. I'm exceptionally pleased with this addition to my system and shared some thoughts that can be found here:

 

https://www.kinki-studio.com/news/ex-m1-magnepan-1-7i


While in the process of buying the EX-M1, I noticed that Alvin and Mike also represented the Denafrips line of R2R DACs. This prompted me to seek out reviews of these products, and what I read sounded quite promising. Most reviewers compared the Denafrips models favorably to similar R2R units, including those by Holoaudio and Schiit. I decided to take the plunge, and I ordered a Pontus!

 


Let me begin my thoughts on the Pontus by saying that I appreciate that new components generally need a burn-in period. Some require more time than others, and some components benefit from burn-in more than others. The Pontus is one of those components that has benefited the MOST from adequate burn-in time in my system. My first week or so with the Pontus was a bit of a sonic roller coaster. It took about 100 hours of signal passing through this DAC to have it begin to settle in. I also found that it is quite sensitive to cabling, both digital and power cables. Be sure to provide decent cabling for this DAC, and you'll probably benefit from experimenting with various cables to get the best sound from the Pontus in your particular system.


My final verdict?

 

I highly recommend the Pontus DAC. The musical pleasure that it's providing me was worth the burn-in time and cable experimentation. It presents a large and airy soundstage with excellent imaging. Its bottom end is practically seismic. Resolution is impressive, even at lower listening levels which is unusual for my Magnepan speakers. This level of resolution is achieved without sounding sterile or etched. This DAC has a smooth presentation, tilting just a bit to the “warmish” side. I read one reviewer mention that he found the sound of the Pontus to be “well sorted”. That's an excellent description. The sound stays well sorted even when dealing with complex musical passages. Images remain nicely defined, and all aspects of the musical presentation can be easily distinguished without strain. This is a musical DAC, and musicality is what I primarily seek in all of my audio components. Well done.


Happy Listening - Michael

 

 


My System:

Magnepan 1.7 speakers, Kinki Studio EX-M1 integrated amp, Rega RP6 turntable, Budgie Hybrid phono preamp, Simaudio Moon CD transport/DAC, Bluesound Vault 2 server/streamer, Denafrips Pontus DAC, PS Audio AC regenerator, and some of the usual suspects for cabling & accessories (e.g. Transparent Audio, Clear Day, Shunyata, SignalCable).

 

 

 

Credit: Michael Greene

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