Exactly what I was looking for
I am primarily a vinyl listener by necessity – many of the bands I support put out vinyl and may or may not have digital files available. I love vinyl for all of the typical reasons although Digital absolutely has many advantages.
On the digital side of my system I have been using the internal chip-based DAC in my 2 channel pre-amplifier (Parasound P6) for the past several years, believing it was ‘good enough’ for the majority of my content: mainly street rock ‘n’ roll at 16-bit/44.1khz – nothing high-res and often low-fi, recorded in the DIY spirit.
Running the P6 DAC, my speakers sounded a bit congested with digital sources, demonstrating 2-dimensional sound with a narrow and shallow soundstage and passable separation of instruments. Dedicated room treatments helped immensely, but surely the Sopra 2’s were capable of more. An external DAC was in order and after 2+ years of research I finally settled on the Denafrips Pontus II.
Frankly, I was very skeptical on the improvements with low expectations – believing any gains would be small since ‘I’m not running high res files’ and ‘all DACs are more similar than they are different’. Resale on Denafrips products is excellent though so if I were correct in my assumptions the cost to try it out would be low.
Immediately after putting the Pontus II in my chain the sound opened up considerably: soundstage got wider and deeper with every instrument clearly defined. The sound was bigger than room. This was exactly the 3 dimensional sound that I knew the Sopra 2 were capable of. Surprisingly resolution also surprisingly got sharper as I started hearing details that were inaudible with my previous DAC. Reviews of Denafrips DACs mention the analog-type sound. I tend to agree with this as the sound is immersive, warm and organic sounding yet crisp, sharp, well defined and 3-dimensional. Perhaps it really is possible to have it all.
After having the Pontus II in my system for a few weeks now, I can say that I am listening longer and just enjoying the recordings rather than focusing on the suspected (and real) faults with my preamp’s internal DAC. Overall this was a smart upgrade and *exactly* what I was looking for. I am really enjoying this DAC which will be staying in my system for years to come – no returns on this one! I am happy to be part of the Denafrips family.
Ben in California
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