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Firmware Updated: Was it worth the effort?

Denafrips FPGA Chip Firmware Upgrade

I recently received an email alert for Alvin at Vinshine Audio, they were about to roll out firmware upgrades for their Dacs. An email to Alvin resulted in my being asked to supply a picture of the chip in my Aries ii dac. The chip has undergone various model changes during production runs and they need to confirm the chip to supply the correct firmware and loading program.

The process will require removing your dac from your audio system and removing the case cover to photograph the FPGA chip. An email was sent with picture attached and about one week later I received a reply with the appropriate files for my particular chip. Together with a link to a step-by-step guide. Unlike me please read carefully. I didn't and it caused a great scratching of my head, light cursing followed by profanities.

Before you attach your dac to the computer you need to download two files from the Denafrips site. In my case a Windows OS driver file and a config file.

I do think these should be bundled with the upgrade email to make the process easier.

(Vinshine: Revised firmware update guide in detailed)

Once you have installed the Windows file you will be able to connect it via USB cable and proceed with the upgrade carefully following the instructions. Being a genius I saw what I expected to see not what was written. The final stage is counterintuitive and threw me completely ie you put the dac back into standby mode for the firmware to install. I assumed it had to be on for it to work. DUH a Homer moment.

But what you want to know was it worth the effort? Oh was it ever, the sound has been elevated by a large margin. First impression was smooth then as I played my favourite tracks it became apparent that detail and separation had gone to another level and dynamic shading is hugely improved, this having a big impact on the musical interpretation. The finger picking on Nils Lofgren Keith Don’t Go has been transformed, and nuances of shading expose his lovely phrasing.

System is as follows

  • Ming Da preamp and 845 mono blocks ( extensively upgraded by Mark Mainwaring Wright UK Ming Da importer and designer).

  • Innuos Zen mini with power supply.

  • Denafrips Aries ii with firmware upgrade

  • Turntable is a self build Lenco with Scheu 12” arm and ZXY R100 cartridge. (pic attached)

  • Speakers are Qacoustics Concept 500

Thank you Alvin for supporting your products long term. I can think of a few firms that would charge no small amount for an upgrade like this, insisting that we take the item to a specialist dealer and thanking them for lightening our wallet.

Credit Gwyn M. @ UK

Project x FPGA Firmware Update



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