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Denafrips Ares 12 Th

I received my Ares 12 Th just over a week ago. The service from Alvin and his team at Vinshine Audio was nothing short of superb. Delivery to my door in New Zealand took only 8 days from the date of purchase. Fedex also deserve a big thanks. Local couriers in NZ could learn a lot from them.

My first digital front end was an Arcam Alpha 7, followed by Cambridge Audio 840. These CD players contained good delta sigma Dacs that played music but failed to deliver a musical experience.

I then purchased an Audionote DAC 2.1 signiture series which I spent many dollars and time upgrading. Xmos usb receiver with linear power supply. Medical grade toroidal transformer. Improved analog power supply, Brimar 13 D5 output tubes etc. I ran HQPlayer on my Mac Mini to a low power Network attached audio device with separate linear power supply. My NAS was connected via optical cable to insulate electrical noise. You get the idea, many readers would have dived down a similar rabbit hole. I lived happily with this system for many years until one day a big flash of light signalled the death of my Audionote DAC.

After a short period of mourning I began looking for a replacement. After many hours reading reviews I decided to purchase a Ares 12 Th. I hoped that it would go at least part way to matching the relaxed musicality of the chip based R2R Audionote.

The Ares 12 Th straight out of the box delivered a far greater musical experience than I could have hoped for. The improvement in every aspect of musical performance was staggeringly better. It was no contest. I could not be happier.

The Ares is connected by USB directly to my Mac Mini. The USB module in the Denafrips is so good I don’t have to go to all the lengths that I did previously to isolate the input signal.

I have tried the two OS filters that the Dac provides, using Audirvana on the Mac Mini with forced upsampling deactivated. I preferred the Slow filter. I the tried NOS mode and liked it a lot. I then set Audirvana to maximum device upsampling leaving the Ares in NOS mode. This is my preferred setting. My 2010 Mac Mini handles this level of upsampling without any trouble, barely getting warm. Audirvana allows some filter settings and I have set a reasonably slow filter and reduced antialiasing, in the (probably mistaken) belief that these values are not too important at such high sampling rates. I also have set the filter phase to 0.7, ie. more towards linear than minimum phase. I would love to hear other’s views on how they set up their Denafrips. A number of people have stated their preference of filter type, or NOS, but I can’t find much discussion of upsampling before the Dac. I realise that there are many other factors that come into which set up sounds best to each of us but would find the discussion interesting.


Carl Mawer @ NZ





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