The improvement was instantaneous and yes, remarkable
I had been using (and enjoying) a Bluesound Node 2 as a Roon endpoint via digital coax to my Emotiva XMC-1. The sound was “nice”, but not really remarkable. A few months ago I began noticing posts on Internet forums about R2R DACs in general, and Denafrips DACs in particular. The results people were getting were intriguing and seemed they’d be a huge leap forward for my system, so I decided to test the water and ordered an Ares II.
On arrival I inserted the Ares in between the Bluesound and Emotiva, feeding the balanced analog inputs of the latter. The improvement was instantaneous and yes, remarkable. To paraphrase Frank Zappa, trying to adequately describe sonic differences and improvements is a bit like “dancing about architecture”. Suffice it to say that the sound, while not losing any definition (in fact gaining) was smoother, with any harshness vanquished. This was the sonic allure I remembered from many years ago (on vinyl) that first drew me into the pursuit of better audio to start with, but now with no clicks or pops plus the added convenience of digital via Roon.
I could have, and WOULD have been completely happy with that arrangement, but kept reading that the other Denafrips DACs didn’t deviate dramatically from the sound I was loving from the Ares, but instead built on it with increasing refinements. The Pontus II, while pricier than the Ares, sounded like potentially the best balance of cost and results. After only a few weeks with the Ares I ordered the Pontus. Again, it’s hard to describe what I hear, but the differences are there. They’re certainly not as dramatic as when first installing the Ares. They are much more subtle, but DO now have me MAKING time most evenings to just sit and enjoy music again. The Ares has now found a new home and I expect I’ll be enjoying its big brother for years to come.
Credit: Al B. @ Mississippi, United States