I’ve previously posted a number of comments and questions relating to system performance. The problems I was dealing with were piercing high frequencies and a lack of tonal richness. Over the past year or so, I’ve made a number of changes in my system including cables and room treatments which have all helped, but the problem still persisted. I use a laptop running JRiver as my digital source, USB to DAC.
I started looking at tweaks to the digital source and until then I had never even heard of Denafrips. Based on feedback on CAM regarding DDC’s I took the plunge and bought a Denafrips Hermes from another CAM member. It’s easy to set up, just download the Denafrips driver and away you go. I started with an inexpensive SPDIF cable with RCA’s. I knew I wanted to try the AES input on my DAC (Bryston BDA-3) so I wanted a comparison to a SPDIF cable. The first thing I noticed was the Hermes had a stranglehold on the bass. It did all the other things other members have said: slightly wider soundstage, better depth and separation of instruments, especially in large orchestral works. Overall, there was still a slight edge to the music that persisted most easily heard on vocals. The high frequency piercing was slightly reduced but was still there. Overall, it sounded lean.
Changing over to the AES cable was problematic to start with, but with some assistance from Alvin at Vinshine I got it working. (Alvin: Dual AES mode was enabled, assisted Kevin to disable the dual AES mode)
Now were talking – wider soundstage and depth yet again, the bass was fuller while still maintaining the focus, the tonal richness I was seeking was now there and the screeching highs were banished. Certainly a worthwhile purchase for myself. There are a lot of variables dealing with a digital system and you may experience slightly different results. All DAC digital inputs are not created equal! The Hermes is definitely more of a component than a tweak.
Credit: kevin j @ Canada