The 17th Annual Positive Feedback Writers' Choice Awards for 2020
The Denafrips Pontus DAC $2298 (Singapore Dollars)
The review is upcoming, but it's just too good not to mention here.
While building my new "reviewer's system," I had the pleasure of auditioning three DACS that just happened to be designed by three different Chinese engineers. The designs styles were one delta/sigma representative and two R2R DACS. Each one of the designers is highly regarded amongst Chinese audiophiles and has begun to gain recognition and a following here in the States. The companies represented were Gustard, Holo Audio and Denafrips. Besides being Chinese companies, the other thing these three have in common is that their principal owner/designers are all passionate audiophiles and I mean that in the old school, serve the music above all else, understanding of the term.
The Denafrips Pontus was last reviewed here at PF by our own John Zurek in Issue 99, October of 2018. John had very nice things to say about the Pontus and ended up buying the review sample. Since two years had passed, and there certainly had to be some refinements made, I thought I should give the Pontus another look. I had a delightful experience with Alvin Chee, of Singapore's Vinshine Audio, the world-wide distributor for Denafrips, who hooked me up with a Pontus review sample and answered, kindly and intelligently, every single question I had about Denafrips and their Pontus. One of the most important questions was, "what has changed with the Pontus in the past two years?"
Alvin's response was,
Beefed up power supply with shielded o-core transformers
German WIMA Film Caps , and
Upgraded DSP board
This was the version of the Pontus that graced my listening room and as I told Alvin last month when he asked me what I thought of it, I said that I was definitely keeping it for the long term and if he wanted it back, he'd have to "pry it from my cold, dead hands."
In my DAC rating scheme, the Pontus is number one with a bullet. It's price of $2298 in Singapore dollars, puts it at about $1700 USD and I'm confident that nothing under $2000 will come close, they won't even make it into the same neighborhood. I told Alvin that its the high-end analog turntable of DACS, no, it's the tubuliscious tube amp of DACS, no... it's both. No kidding. There is an analog like flow and suave, silky smoothness to the sound it produces that reminds me of my old VPI rig. There is a rich, textured midrange and a jaw dropping, holographic soundstage that is, to me, the antithesis of dry, flat, solid-state digital. It has that same kind presentation, that "valvular verity," if you will, that I only hear from the finest of tube amps.
My full review is coming, but I couldn't let 2020 go by without singing the praises of the Denafrips Pontus. I get really excited when I find a world class high-end product that the rest of us can actually afford. As my pal Rich Brkich of Signature Sound would say, "this is just stupid good!"
Positive Feedback Writers’ Choice selections for 2020
Special Thanks: Stu McCreary, Dr. David W. Robinson
WHERE TO BUY?