Back in June I purchased a Denafrips Terminator II. I had been using a Denafrips Venus for two years and loved it. I had always wanted the Terminator and when Denafrips introduced the updated Terminator II I decided to take the plunge. I am ecstatic over the upgrade and over the performance. One of the things I noticed right away was the ability to connect the clock output of the TII to a DDC and sync the clocks on the two devices. I knew at that minute that a Gaia was in my future. I was able to make it happen and I acquired the Gaia in mid-July. It is amazing. I wanted to put a little time into breaking it in before I posted any impressions. Now after 100 hours and many hours of listening I feel as if I have a good idea of how the Gaia performs and it performs fantastic.
First thing I noticed was the snap of a snare drum. It snapped my head up a few times with how realistic is sounds with the Gaia. I listen almost exclusively to Jazz. Now the players seem to be standing in my room. Bass is deeper and more authoritative. Amazing soundstage. More snap to the drums. The entire system got taken up a notch. To me it’s like the difference between HD video and 4K. HD is great but 4K is awesome.
Installation was simple. Previously my streamer, the Auralic Aries G1, was connected to the Terminator II via USB. I moved the USB cable from the DAC to the DDC and then connected the DDC to the DAC via an I2S cable. My CD transport was previously connected to the DAC via I2S but because I used that cable to connect the DDC to the DAC I then used an AES/EBU cable to connect my transport to the DDC. Now the DAC always stays on the I2S input and all switching is done via the Gaia. I then connected the two clock cables and followed the instructions in the user manual on how to configure the clock output and input.
I listened to the Gaia/TII combination for a few days before I noticed that I could not play any 24/192 files without distortion. It was then I noticed that I was also unable to play any DSD at all. I was sure I had a bad Gaia. But that was not it. When I configured the clock inputs and outputs I made a mistake and used the incorrect frequencies which caused the Gaia to have difficulty with the higher resolutions. I took the Gaia out of the system for a day while I pondered my situation. This was before I figured out the clock situation. Without the Gaia in the system the entire system now sounded flat and unexciting, so I decided to try the Gaia one more time. I started from scratch on configuring everything. It was then that I noticed that I had configured the clock output on the TII incorrectly. It was after I made the corrections that the system played all resolutions without any issues. I could now play files all the way up to DSD512 without issue. No problems or issues since I fixed the clock configuration. I am not great at following directions (is any guy?) but I should have done a better job at following these.
So now everything is configured correctly and the system is working perfectly. This is an amazing combination. It is mesmerizing how great the system sounds now. Besides the cost, and it is modest compared to other high end systems, I can find no downside to this upgrade. I feel so much closer to the music. It’s as if my seat was upgraded from a good seat in the audience to the best seat in the house. I am so happy I was able to make this happen in my system as the enjoyment level has gone up several notches. Very highly recommended.
Ayre AX-5 Twenty - Integrated Amp
Dynaudio Special 40 - Speakers
Jay’s Audio CDT2-MK2 CD Transport
Denafrips Terminator II DAC
Denafrips Gaia DDC
Auralic Aries G1 Streamer
Schiit Magni Heresy Headphone amp
PS Audio P10 Power Regenerator
Cardas Clear Interconnects
Audience Au24 SE Speaker Cables
PS Audio Power Cables
- John @ US
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