"It breathes life into the music" keeps coming back to my mind when I listen to this combo of Pontus II dac and Hermes ddc.
Last September I bought the Ares II and I was blown away by the sound. Although satisfied with the Ares my appetite for more grew over time. I read reviews and looked at YouTubes and I decided to go for the next level and ordered a Pontus II and a Hermes.
I wanted a ddc to clean up the messy usb signal of my Windows 10 mini pc. I then also needed to upgrade the Ares because I listen to DSD files up to 512 and the Ares has no I2S input. The Pontus has this I2S input so that persuaded me to upgrade the Ares as well.
Listening to the Ares II was a pleasure but what the combo Pontus/Hermes is doing on a completely different level. It sounds so much more musical and breathes life into the music!
I can repeat of course what so many here and elsewhere have written and said: bigger soundstage, resolution, more holographic imaging and natural sound, but I want to talk about the feeling in the sound.
First, my set up is:
Tannoy D900 loudspeakers (first owner)
Windows 10 with JRiver
Proprietary loudspeaker cables and powercords
Supra USB cable
Black Connect HDMI cable
No streaming, all files are on hard disk in flac or DSD format
Second: I mostly listen to classical music and pop/rock from the 60s - 80s.
Classical music is difficult to record and reproduce: acoustic instruments combined with the acoustics of the concert hall. The Pontus and Hermes let all the instruments shine with their natural decay, string resonance and instrument sound. I have a live recording of Moments Musicaux by Youri Egorov (CD), for the first time I felt I was in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. I know the acoustics of this building so well and the Pontus/Hermes reproduced it much better than the Ares or any other dac I have tried. The quality of this combo is just exceptional. Since the Ares I started listening again to big orchestras but with this combo it is even less straining. The stereo image is clear and quiet, from bass to piccolo, not boomy or shrill. I can even set the volume higher because this.
I started buying DSD recordings after I bought the Ares but on the Ares the difference between FLAC and DSD was not that noticeable. The transparency of the Pontus and Hermes do reveal the differences. DSD files sound just plain amazing. The flac files are good+ but DSD are +++. It sounds analog but better. No vinyl can reproduce this detailed and relaxed sound. The full spectrum is audible and lively.
Compared to other brands of the same quality, I think the Pontus and Hermes are very well priced. It is still a lot of money but not expensive for the quality you get.
Credit: Rudie V @ The Netherlands
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