I can say no greater accolade for Venus II than it is - INSPIRING
The first thing that comes to mind when considering how I feel about Venus II is that it has inspired me to discover. I've sought out new music - Jazz fusion, Piano Concerto, Symphony. This is important because I am, first and foremost, a metalhead. It started with Metallica and it continues today with Blood Incantation and Mare Cognitum and Omnium Gatherum and Thy Light. Or variations of "metal" including Persefone and Caligula's Horse. And while I still find that music inspiring and provocative, Venus II is also so adept at conveying space and realism that suddenly, playing Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 or Rachmaninov Piano Concerto #2 suddenly transform my room not into a punk metal cave, but a sprawling, reverberant, harmonically-infused space which belies my room's actual dimensions. All this is being played back through a set of Dynaudio Confidence 2 Platinums - speakers I feel are capable of revealing the minutiae a device like Venus II is capable of conveying.
But it's not just new music I've been inspired to find. It's also upstream changes that Venus II seems to desire. If it could talk, I believe it would be saying "wait is that the best you can give me?" So I've started to improve my network. Power supplies for my streamer and my optical Ethernet converters. A dedicated HQ Player PC spec'd like a gaming machine to feed it the best DSD256 modulator available. Better tubes for the downstream linestage. These are all things that feel worthwhile because Venus II can communicate them and offer witness to even subtle changes, which only invites further discovery.
From an operational perspective, I have Venus II in "NOS" mode because I am an avid HQ Player user. This allows Venus II to operate at its most basic - as a strict R2R DAC with no other conversion taking place inside. So far I am feeding data in via USB through a modestly-priced dual-head cable from Ghent Audio. I have long been a USB audio detractor but with Venus II, I take that all back. USB has obviously come a long way.
To me, Venus II's primary sonic strengths are spatial rendering - holography, 3D imaging, stability of instruments within an image - and it marries that convincing illusion to a hefty yet taut and precise foundation. It lacks for nothing on the low-end yet offers an extended, fatigue-free experience out through the highest of the top-end. I challenge it with complex theatrical scores - it delivers an untangled, coherent view of the performance. I ask it to grunt out the visceral and angry guitar tone of early Metallica and, provided I give it a good mastering to play with, it delivers.
I can say no greater accolade for Venus II than it is inspiring. I've truly tried to expand my musical tastes because of it. I've tackled complex network and layout challenges to offer it the best and quietest foundation possible because it rewards that effort. I started with an Ares II and quickly realized I really enjoyed the sound but wanted an extra layer of refinement, the ability to use i2S eventually, and the better clocks and power supply isolation Venus II offers. I made the correct choice. And beyond just a better listening experience - I've grown as a listener as well. What a remarkable DAC this is.
Credit: Todd R. @ USA
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