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High Fidelity RED Fingerprint Award

A creation which resulted in Ares from Denafrips is extremely convincing. This is a sound that just a few years back one wouldn't have been able to buy for that kind of money. Though the device overlays its point of view over the music, it does it in a sophisticated way, which allows us to forgot that we listen to a "digital" music and as result we can concentrate on listening to the "music" without any adjectives.

The main advantage of Ares is how unbelievably fast it is. It's not about any kind of exaggeration but rather about the real dynamics and microdynamics - the signal buildup is immediate, making the percussion from the Art Pepper's Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section fantastically "present" and full, the piano from the QOPE live track Nocturnal having a realistic voicing, and finally causing good quality files, including those from Tidal, not being particularly slow – which is often the case with music files.

The resolution of this device was equally surprising feature of this device. You see, the tested DAC gives music its own signature, correcting the frequency response a bit and accentuating some elements – I'll get back to that in a moment - and yet it is incredibly transparent. I kept asking the same question again and again – how could it be to make a DAC at this price with such a great insight into the nature of the recordings.


The Ares by Denafrips is a surprisingly refined device available for a small amount of money. It is very accurate in extracting from recordings their true character, it offers a natural, low bass and rich treble. It is not perfect, but its lesser qualities do not disqualify it. This is not a completely versatile DAC, because it is suitable mostly for listening to not very compressed discs, without overemphasized top. It does, however, offer a beautiful bass, which will balance the shortcomings of the sound engineers in this area. It is well-made, very good sounding device regarless of which digital input is used that can be used in a more expensive system than its own price seems to suggest. Hence, a well deserved RED Fingerprint.

Credit: High Fidelity Editor Wojciech Pacuta

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