I have never done an audio review except to judge my own system in my mind. This is my first write up, and with Ares in my system is a fantastic upgrade and hence I thought let me try. Also the upgrade is from Modi to Ares which is an in-correct comparison (Why Schiit-Modi : because I was frustrated and wanted to cool down a bit, spend less now before I decide on a good DAC). I had Devialet a long time ago and I don’t remember for comparison, however I liked it at that time. One of my Friend on Roon Community had already used high end top brand DACs (Can't use names without permission) and he loved them too but the latest ones with top model from few more companies were also used however after Denafrips, he gave up-ward reviews on Denafrips. Some of my shortlisted DACs were covered by him and saved me money. Here I'm with Ares and very happy.
Loud enough? : My volume knob is now around 60-70%, with about 55-60db on dB Meter. In my small (18x16) Room this is all I need to hear everything. Low Volume sounds decent enough to hear all aspects! Big Help for me during quiet evenings.
Highs: Is it little forward ? ( because someone told me so on youtube reviews). However I like it very much and for my ears it sounds great! On Roon I occasionally use Equalizer but no need anymore and sounds better without Eq. Heard for long sessions and no sign of fatigue, and did not want to give up listening. It’s very addictive too. Guitars sound very nice and delicious to my ears. First track I played was Mark Knopfler’s “Private Investigation”. And yes I confirm it is not at all forward and sounded excellent and superb resolution and I did not find any sharp edging at all. Indian tracks by Pt Shivkumar Sharma's Santoor could at times sound sharp, and those sounded very enjoyable and simply loved those!
Mids: I’m now mostly playing my fav instrumentation (including Indian classical too). I played Antonio Forcione - all albums. I loved all musical instruments notes, with clear separation and all the nuances. I can’t really say it's forward or pulled back but I simply forgot that I’m reviewing my system and it just made me enjoy the music. Full marks to Mids and I’m done saying anything more. Could not be better than this for me. I’m sure Pontus or Venus are better, but for now! I’m fully satisfied and very, very happy!
Lows: I had seen a few reviews on youtube on Ares and one of the reviewers says Lows can be better but depends on the system where Ares is used. Good or bad, I have a Class-D amp (Wyered4sound STI 500 Integrated) and I simply loved the bass extension and filling my room to entirety. Very good Bass, tight and very quick as some of Indian tracks involve tabla (Indian instrument, table top drums), which could be very very fast and its separation between each beat is very difficult to reproduce. Well, it is superb to hear and very enjoyable and simply made me to take deep breath and stand up (well I did not, just figure of speech)
Staging : YES. I can confirm with authority that the staging is excellent. Indian Classical are recorded with staging being key, and Yes! IT IS PERFECT with Ares and never heard this good. Coming to known tracks, I played Doors “This is the End” and Oh My God, i just realized I have been missing on good DAC on my system. Superb staging and literally instruments well placed at its right place! Currently I'm enjoying Jazz (Recently I downloaded some multi artist tracks from HDTrack 2020) and apart from all instruments I liked, the Cymbals are “extreme” good and felt room filling.
Air / Holographics : Well I have no clue what it means until I heard few reviewers rave about it, while using Tube amp/pre in the system. However everything sounds much much better, filling my room and ears. Everything Sounds new to my ears and enjoying!
Setup : Roon Rock on NUC -> AQ Jitterbug -> AQ USB Cable -> DAC Ares II -> XLR -> Amp: Wyerd4sound ii STI 500 -> KEF Reference 1
Ares on OS mode with Slow Filtering option is what I liked most. After many hours, I moved back to NOS, especially on India classical tracks NOS sounded good too. Whatever, I have options now :) . I was totally not happy with my amp (little ugly looking) but with Ares my respect to my amp grew once again and SQ is way too good and the amp is also performing really well. Little emotional though that I was ready to check out my amp. For now it stays!
Just to conclude, Ares has upgraded my system (Amp, Speakers) to the next level! I will look forward to upgrading to Pontus but that’s next year but wanted to get a feel of the R-2R signature and without regrets, patting my back for a good decision.
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