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