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At the price of the Ares ii, it’s quite an accomplished and refined product!

My main audio system consists of an Audiomat Opera sitting on a maple butchers block driving Martin Logan Montis speakers. My source is a Transrotor Fat Bob S with a custom made mat (copper/carbon machined to fit in place of the original mat), an Origin Live Conqueror Mk3 tonearm with a Miyajima Labs Saboten L stereo cartridge.

The phono preamplifier is a Tom Evans Groove MK ii. Both the table and phono preamp sit on custom wall racks with double Birch shelves. The turntable also sits on a Symposium Ultra platform.

I have had the Ares ii for almost one whole year. I was lucky enough to receive one of the first Ares ii but with the original face plate. I purchased it as I also wanted to get into streaming hi-res music from my MacBook Pro running Pure Music and later using an UpTone Audio ISO REGEN with their linear power supply in between the MAC and DAC. I’m using an Audio Sensibility Silver USB cable and the UpTone Audio USPCB Adapter between the ISO REGEN and DAC. The ISO REGEN sits vertically.

My speaker and interconnect cables are all Actinote with the exception of USB cable and power cords are a mixture of Actinote and Audio Sensibility into two Audio Sensibility power distribution boxes.

I also use numerous grounding devices, the Entreq Minimus / Everest on the transport, the Acoustic Revive RGC-24 TripleC-FM under the amplifier and the AUdio Sensibility Statement ground wire on the speakers. I use a battery powered Acoustic Revive R77 and AR sound dampers through the room and I’ve swapped out the wall receptacle with an Oyaide and a furutech wall plate.

I originally compared the Ares ii/Cambridge Audio CXC to my Wadia 830 CD player. I used the same Actinote interconnects, Rollerblocks/super balls3 on Fat pads on stacked MDF platforms and Wadia on rollerblocks/super balls3 on Symposium Ultra platform. I swapped platforms to remove the Ultra platform advantage.

My findings:

  • 1) the Wadia had a bigger soundstage and more air around voices and instruments.

  • 2) bass was almost equal between the two

  • 3) the Ares ii had a clearer defined presentation (more tangible or solid) but with a less airy soundstage

  • 4) the Wadia was fuller sounding on complex music but the Ares ii presentation was not too far off

  • 5) both were relaxed sounding, non-fatiguing

I also had a chance to compare my Ares ii to my Chord Mojo and overall the Ares ii is more refined, and a more natural sounding DAC. It’s a bit more relaxed with a larger soundstage and less forward than the Mojo. That being said, Mojo is quite unique as its portable with a built in headphone amplifier and can be used in different applications.

My favourite settings with a CD source on the Ares ii was NOS and slow slope filter. I also replaced the fuse with a ceramic filter, there was only a little sound difference but still a slight improvement.

In the end, I decided to keep the Ares ii in my main listening room and move the Wadia downstairs to my secondary system due to space considerations of the two box setup.

At the price of the Ares ii, it’s quite an accomplished and refined product!

The company runs in the products for at least 100 hours prior to shipping and they also offer a 3 year warranty which is transferable.

Thanks to Alvin for all his support! You can’t go wrong with the Denafrips products and you can buy with confidence!

Now having lived the Ares ii for almost 1 year, I’m deciding to where bring up my digital performance up to my analog performance and I’m trying to decide which Denafrips DAC is next in my future.

Happy listening to everyone!

-- Joe


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