Denafrips TP is a top performer
In my search for a top of the line DAC for my main stereo audio system I came across the Denafrips Terminator Plus (TP). It had excellent reviewers by reliable sources; the brand actually had excellent reviews in other entry level units. The components and build quality is consistent with the very top of the line units. I have been using the Denafrips Terminator Plus for about a year. For these comments I won’t focus on what others people have said in its performance or technical aspects, instead I thought more useful to provide my impressions related to some points that may not have been highlighted including my opinion on how the unit should be evaluated.
The most important components of an audio system are the speakers, the room and the way the speakers and the room interact. A far less importance are the front end components, provided are reasonably well build not necessarily very expensive. In order to achieve superlative sound and with a remarkable low return of investment improvements could be achieved by upgrading the front end gear. In digital reproduction, the DAC is a crucial component. Reviews are full of terms that in my opinion are subjective and not well defined, but there is one parameter that for me it’s crucial, that is in the case of DACs, the capacity of resolve details with very low background noise, both are interrelated. In other words, the capacity to bring to the room as much information as possible from the mastered recording. In other words, to me the DAC is as good as is capable to bring more information into the room without adding or subtracting anything. Anything else could be tuned as the “flavor” the listeners prefers with proper speaker/room interaction, but of course such interaction cannot bring information that is not there to begin with. To me that is the bottom line of what a DAC is supposed to do, that is, again, to bring as much information as possible to the listening room. Listening to the Denafrips TP I found it has Zero noise floor with a superb resolution of detail. Via the Denafrips TP I was able to hear details of the recording that I was not aware existed compared to other DACs I had the opportunity to listen to. Obviously I have not listened to every other top of the line DAC but I doubt with today technology it will surpass the Denafrips TP in resolution of detail. To me other top quality DACs, at any price, may sound different (by adding a tonal flavor that the listener may like or not) but not better than the Denafrips TP judging by the outstanding retrieval of detail and transparency the Denafrips TP provides.
Another aspect to put in perspective is the consumer price of the DT Plus, currently $ 6500 US dollars. By no means an inexpensive unit. However considering the quality of the components and manufacturing, both comparable to the best top quality DACs retailed at two to three times, the Denafrips TP cost is actually relatively inexpensive. Moreover the unit can only be sold legally directly by its distributor, Vinshine Audio PTE. L.T.D. (Singapore) which translates in a substantial savings. Of course such savings mean the user having to purchase the unit in many cases without listening or testing it. An important reason to consider opinions of actual users of the unit.
In terms of connectivity, the Denafrips TP excels. In addition to the regular inputs and outputs it has a well implemented USB, I2S, dual XBR, and output clock capability to synchronize with DDCs and other components . All of those very important if you a plan to upgrade other components in your system. Of relevance many other top performers DACs may lack some of the above mentioned connection capabilities.
Some drawback I found in the Denafrips TP are: lack of remote control, lack of digital display, too small letters and led lights, lack of MQA decoding (for several people irrelevant) and non intuitive parameters configuration. The latter can be addressed with Alvin’s YouTube postings. Don’t know if some of these drawbacks are related to design aimed at focusing on the performance of the DAC itself rather than adding features that could be convenient rather than strictly necessary. The unit looks like a solid block of beautifully finished metal, as a traditional audio component, I would guess it is not for those interested to decorate their music room with a something like a Christmas lights. To me none of the above are really important since as said before in terms of DAC performance and connection capabilities the Denafrips TP is a top performer .
An additional point to consider is that in addition to the quality of the unit the customer support is of the crucial importance. I purchased my unit from Vinshine Auiio in Singapore and received the unit in the USA safely and on time. Also setting the unit I have been dealing with Alvin Chee, the owner. Without any doubt I would not dream on purchasing the unit, if new, from someone else. The reason is that in addition being the authorized seller and hence backing up the warranty, Alvin possesses excellent technical knowledge and an outstanding customer orientation, before and long after the purchase. He promptly responds all emails, with accurate information, explanations, diagrams and videos if necessary.
In summary the Denafrips TP is an excellent performer in the league of the bests DACs currently in the market, some of those costing several times more. It has superb retrieval of detail and transparency. It is equipped with all the connection capabilities that could be needed or desired in the future. Its drawbacks relate to convenience but not performance. My experience purchasing it from Vinshine Audio and dealing with Alvin Chee has been at my entire satisfaccion.