It was worth the wait and this made my day!
Denafrips Pontus II A genuine review by a French Audiophiliac Never Cease to Tweak Things The never ending quest to obtain a better sound quality in your system. As an audiophile, we never cease to tweak things; whether it’s swapping a power cable, an interconnect or add an external DAC in your setup. Just to get things out of the way: I am very happy with my current equipment; however I’ve always wanted to bypass my CD player’s DAC because I had heard and read somewhere internal DACs can be bypassed and usually will result in better sound quality when using an external DAC. With this in mind, I researched many DACs and heard many reviews of a company based in Singapore called Denafrips. YouTube channels evangelists such as John Darko, Steve Guttenberg Audiophiliac and others have given high positive reviews of Denafrips’s line of audio products such as the Ares II, Pontus II, the Terminator DACs etc… so I decided to try and hear whether this DAC could bring some improvement in my system.
Could the Denafrips Pontus II elevate my current setup? Let’s find out below but before that, let’s briefly take a look at my audio setup.
Current System Setup
From top to bottom:
Clearaudio Concept MC
WhestTWO.2 dual mono phonostage
MCRU Linear Power Supply for Clearaudio Turntable
Denon DBP-2012UD Blu-ray player
Denafrips Pontus II
Marantz PM-KI Ruby integrated amp
Hi Fi rack 5-tier Omnium
Audience Ohno speaker cables and Interconnects
Music Tracks Used
Diana Krall - Where or When Ennio Morricone - The Mission Al Jarreau - Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive
First Critical Listening Session
Burn-in period: 72 hours
I first started with Diana Krall simply because I am very familiar with her timbre and how her voice effortlessly projects in the center soundstage and was keen to hear any improvement. I have to point out in my critical listening endeavour, I first started to bypass the LUMIN T2’s DAC and noticed no significant improvement. However, I did notice a lower volume output, the track seemed quieter too. I also tested the CD version of Diana Krall but nothing had really changed critically speaking, at least to me, so I decided to put the listening session on hold until more burn-in was attained. As a side note, I contacted Alvin (always available to help with any questions or issues) from Denafrips and told me about 10 days, which is roughly about 240 hours of burn-in is required and preferred. Interesting things started to reveal in the second listening session. Second Critical Listening Session
Burn-in period: 240 hours
More than 240 hours of burn-in so far and I decided to give it another critical listening session. In addition to the tracks I had chosen, I listened to many other tracks from all genres. On the LUMIN T2, I noticed a better separation of instruments, more focused and a wider soundstage. I also felt the bass was more relaxed overall.
For some reasons, when listening to the same tracks bypassing the CD player’s DAC, I found no immediate improvement and that did got me thinking perhaps the internal DAC inside the CD player may already be of high quality. I also thought perhaps I needed better speakers… With this in mind, I decided to burn-in the Pontus II for a little longer. Finally after nearly 300 hours of burn-in, I put on Zhou Shen’s first CD album, which by the way is incredible, superbly recorded. My wife came back home from work that day and asked me if I had changed anything in my system. She very quickly said his voice sounded clearer, felt closer to the listener. You can imagine my facial expression, a “huge” big smile. It’s not everyday my wife shares anything like that and it definitely brought some joy! I realised, only then, this incredible DAC, the Pontus II, finally reached its potential, it just opened up!
It was worth the wait and this made my day!
My Final Thoughts - the Verdict
It’s been a long but exciting journey and to be frank I was a little adamant about the whole experience and process, however with patience and a long burn-in period, I feel this has in some way brought some improvement to my current digital setup… by how many percent? I don’t know, perhaps 5% better? The good thing is there’s still room for improvement, perhaps by another 15%… the never ending quest to achieve a better sound!
Next steps to get there? Better speakers, a bold pre-amp and a pair of monoblocks :-). Finally, should you avoid the Denafrips Pontus II, consider it, shortlist it, or go right ahead and buy it? Well, I reckon and based on my own experience, you should definitely buy it!
(Reference to @Mat Watson). All the best in your quest, Benjamin
A French Audiophiliac
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