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Imaging is precise and sound-staging is as holographic as I have ever heard.

Equipment list:

  • Streamer- Aurender N100H

  • DDC- Denafrips Hermes (USB in/ I2s out and using clock sync)

  • DAC- Denafrips Terminator II

  • Preamp- Denafrips Athena

  • Amp- Denafrips Thallo (soon to be Apollo)

  • Power conditioner- Isotek Aquarius (front end only)

  • Speakers- Tekton Double Impact SE

  • Stands- Timbernation

Room Treatments:

  • GIK Alpha corner traps x8 and Alpha 244 panels x5

Background and personal taste:

Having owned a HiFi shop and hearing many systems that I have owned or got to demo at

shows, the only ones that impress me can move a lot of air and deliver the realism of live music

and always have components with massively overbuilt power supplies.

About 20 years ago I recall the first time that I heard a brand where their DAC and preamp each

weighted in at about 40lbs and used high quality components. That changed me forever

because the system sounded like real music and not an audio system. You know what sounds

right when you hear it and then you can never go back. Well that brand is no longer in business

but I found Denafrips who appears to share some similar design philosophy.

My experience with Denafrips:

I started with a Venus II DAC. Night and day better than the other delta sigma DAC that I

previously owned. Fuller, 3D, holographic and much better bass. After that I picked up a Thallo

amp and Hestia preamp and that took my system to the next level. Going back to my prior

gear the soundstage collapsed, vocals were no longer spooky real and bass was not as deep.

You know how these things go… you wonder how much better can it get and that idea

simmers in your head for a month or so until you email Alvin and ask about a Terminator II and

Athena. Well I did just that and a few weeks later they arrived and you just get more of

everything that the Hestia and Venus II deliver.

Last but not least I added the Hermes and the sound elevates again to be the most clean

analog that I have ever heard from digital audio. No question that an Aurender transport to

Hermes and Terminator II is where it is at.

You might be wondering what I did with the Venus II and Hestia. They will be joining the Thallo

in my living room when the Apollo arrives in a few weeks. The gear is just too darn good to sell

and the value is unbeatable.

Listening impressions:

In an 18’x30’ treated room the bass is shocking both in terms of depth and accuracy. Midrange

and Treble are spot on, incredibly smooth and organic sounding. Imaging is precise and

sound-staging is as holographic as I have ever heard. As you turn up the volume the sound

completely envelops you 360 degrees.

I could have totally been happy with the Hestia and Venus II but once you hear the Athena and

Terminator II with the Hermes DDC it is game over.

One of my favorite things to do is have friends that know nothing about HiFi take a listen and

they all describe what we would refer to as a layered soundstage but they don’t know what words to use having never experienced it before. That said I highly recommend any of the

Denafrips gear and the service is top notch.

Credit: Bryan I. @ North Carolina USA



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