The perfect DAC for enjoying music.
First of all, I like to thank Alvin from Vinshine Audio for loaning me this Denafrips Pontus DAC. I own both Hugo and Mojo for both portable and transportable (in fact desktop) audio setup. I was always looking forward to owning a true discrete R-2R ladder DAC but was always put off by the high prices.
It’s the 1st R2R DAC i tried but what really captures my attention is the well solid build casing. My friends have always told me that I have a soft spot for (visually) beautiful product, and I must admit that I was captivated by Pontus when I unboxed it.
It’s worth mentioning that Pontus is a true balanced, dual mono R-2R network arrays DAC. I have seen a lot of “balanced” DAC/Amp around the market, but true balanced ones are far and few. Most of them are designed for high end HiFi market.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to test out the balanced out option as I only have my Cavalli Tube Hybrid amp connected via RCA. However, I plan to own the Massdrop THX 789 amp & Liquid Platinum in near future.
One key feature that captures my attention is the inclusion of the linear power supply. For folks (like me) who appreciate the differences in having a LPS in your audio setup, this inclusion really saves you the trouble of finding one that is suitable for your DAC. Adding a LPS can easily add on another 10% to the cost.
For my setup, I have it paired with CTH and my Kennerton Odin headphone. Source is from my macbook air playing both wav and dsd music files via Audirvana Plus.
As suggested, I turned both the DAC and Amp for 20-25 mins before trying to listen. My first impression listening to it - very large and wide soundstage. Hugo 2 is capable and known for its soundstage and transparency but Pontus brings it to even a higher level. When comparing the two, Hugo 2 is like listening to music in a room while Pontus makes me feel that i am in my hall.
Both Hugo and Pontus have excellent dynamics, transparency and details. It's hard to say which is better but there's definitely a difference when I listen to it for long. I often get a bit of fatigue with my Hugo 2+CTH setup when I listen to it for more than 30 mins. With Pontus + CTH, I was so immersed in listening to the playing music and often forget how many times have the album repeated itself.
Bass wise, it's obvious that Pontus has a clear edge over my Hugo 2. The bass hits deeper and sound much less "digital". I had the habit of putting my fingers
Overall wise, I am able to truly enjoy listening to my favourite songs and albums and not having to worry when I should stop for my ears to take a rest.
Last but not least, Pontus is a very affordable R-2R dac considering the features and price (SGD$2298 : ~US$1670). The inclusion of various digital input options (i2S, USB, BNC/Coax, AES, RCA) makes it so easy for me to plug and play any source in future!
Credit: jasonho @ Headfi