I’m finding the Venus II to be an exceptionally musical and satisfying DAC.
Denafrips Venus II - Michael G. (Niskayuna, NY)
A couple of years ago, I was in the market to replace my existing DAC. I was intrigued by the resurgence of R2R DACs and began to research various models. Based upon some reviews and forum postings, I finally decided to purchase a Denafrips product. However, since I was unable to audition any of their DACs, I was not prepared to invest in one of their higher end models. Compared to the Ares, I was impressed with the more substantial power supply of the Pontus, so the Pontus was my final choice.
I have been so happy with the Pontus, that I became tempted move up the Denafrips line. With the Venus being updated to the “Venus II” and receiving many rave reviews, I decided to take the leap. The Venus is just one model above the Pontus, so I was concerned about just how much of an upgrade this would be in my system. As it turned out, it has been a substantial one.
The Venus II has similar sonic characteristics as the Pontus, but it definitely takes it to the next level. As with the Pontus, it leans just a bit to the warmer, more “polite” side of neutral. It has what many folks would consider an analog-like sound. Not hard. Not sterile. Not fatiguing. For example, I find that it nicely tames the pesky sibilance previously encountered on some favorite recordings.
Normally, you would expect a warmer sounding component to sacrifice ultimate resolution. The magic of the Venus is that, even though it has a real sense of ease in its presentation, it also has superb resolution and clarity. It’s that old story of hearing things in the musical mix that never presented themselves before. Vocals are especially well presented, and even eerie. It’s like having the disembodied presence of my favorite musical artists singing in multidimensional space in front of me. Full, ripe, holographic images. Just a fantastic midrange presentation. And, by the way, the bass extension and impact are seismic, with excellent pitch definition and no trace of bloating.
Another aspect of the Venus that I appreciate is the soundstage it presents. One thing that I have always worked toward in my audio systems is a sense of “air”. I like a soundstage with lots of perceived space, not just side-to-side but three dimensionally. The Venus fills my listening room with sound, and with beautifully rendered images within that space.
Of course it’s important that a stereo system has good synergy between its component parts, including things such as cabling. The Venus is a truly high end DAC and I’ve found it to be quite sensitive to the types of cables and connections used with it. I’ve used both the coax and I2S connections when playing from my Jay’s Audio CD transport. The coax connectivity, with a very good quality digital cable, has a somewhat fuller and warmer presentation. Using a good quality HDMI cable via the I2S connection opens up the top end a bit providing more sparkle, as well as somewhat enhanced dynamics. Your mileage may vary with specific cables being used, but both presentations are excellent depending upon your personal preferences. In addition to the Jay’s transport, I also have my Bluesound Vault 2 streamer/server feeding the Venus, and I listen primarily to the hi-res Tidal service. It is connected by a nice quality cable (RCA-to-BNC) with excellent results. I feel that the Venus will perform admirably in any system assuming that care is taken with component and cable matching. In my opinion, you’ll never find this DAC to be the “weak link” in pretty much any audiophile setup.
I’m finding the Venus II to be an exceptionally musical and satisfying DAC. This is truly a high end product, and I couldn’t be happier with the purchase. Highly recommended for any revealing audio system!
Finally, my thanks go out to the folks at Denafrips for designing and manufacturing such quality DACs at very reasonable price points. I also want to thank Alvin Chee of Vinshine Audio, the distributor of Denafrips products. Alvin is always a pleasure to deal with. He’s knowledgeable, responsive, and has some of the best customer service that I’ve encountered among audiophile dealers. Kudos.
Magnepan 1.7 speakers
Kinki Studio EX-M1 integrated amp
Rega RP6 turntable
Budgie Hybrid phono preamp
Jay’s Audio CD transport
Bluesound Vault 2 server/streamer
Denafrips Venus II DAC
PS Audio AC regenerator
And some of the usual suspects for cabling & accessories (e.g. Transparent Audio, Clear Day, Shunyata, Cerious, SignalCable, Wireworld, IsoAcoustics, Sound Anchor).
WHERE TO BUY?