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REVIEW

Credit to Seungyun Lee @ Japan.

Amplifier : Yamaha A-2000 (Integrated Amplifier)
Speaker : JBL 4312SE (70th Anniversary Model)
DAC : Denafrips Terminator (R2R DAC)
Player : Aurender N100H
Recording : iPhoneX with Shure MOTIV MV88

Watch it on

It is difficult to say to the right now since I haven’t enough time to listen it so far. However I can say my first impression. Here is my short thoughts when I meet the Terminator.

In general, it is often mentioned that one of the first things we can feel from the top class high-end dac like MSB is that the background sound and image is very clear and black. Of course, this is not enough feature of high-end dac we can get, but it should be accompanied by a high fidelity sound with great musical sensitivity which should not be colored sound too much as well. In addition, it needs to have a proper sense of depth while maintaining its delicacy and details, and finally it is said that all the elements are combined to lead to musical pleasure for listener. I am honestly wondering how many DACs can properly determine these factors rather than speaker and/or amplifier.

Recently I have tested a new DAC called RME ADI-2 Pro. It is definitely a DAC that gives a sophisticated sound and I think it's a really excellent DAC equipped with the high technology engineering and it keep the quality of the sound above a certain level. However, when I hear Terminator, I firstly feel that the depth of the sound is quite different and its great delicacy. Also I can continuously listen to the music without any tiredness or fatigues. So my simple word for the first impression of Terminator DAC was "very deep and clear with great musical fidelity”. I need to run more but It looks like that the DAC drives the amplifiers and speakers to the maximum performance.

Initial impression. Terminator beat the Esoteric K03 and Weiss DAC202 in terms of sound stage, bass, vocals and separation. More lively music. The Esoteric has this sparkle in the highs that won the Terminator by a noticeable margin. 

Due to the short time spent for my home audition of the Lampizator and Weiss 502, i am not sure if my below comments are fair. 

Weiss 502 has a very modern sound. It is very capable and extremely versatile in the sense that there are tons of configurations that you can play with. Terminator is more romantic when matched with my system though. It did not lose out on anything compared to the Weiss. It just does things differently. 

Lampi wise, i heard at local dealer's setup and also home audition. At dealer's place, it was one of the most exciting and impressive experience i had. Not sure if it is because of his Altec Living Voice A7s. But just sound so huge and live. At my home setup, the Big 7 sounded very very smooth. Vocals are syrupy sweet. Details are good and strings decay excellent. However, there is this resonance that bothered me a little. Not sure if it is too tubey for my full tubes system or just due to improper setup/matching. Terminator did almost everything the Big 7 does in my system. Losing slightly on the vocals and sparkle. However, it did not create the resonance which is a winner. 

Not forgetting that the 502 and Big 7 cost more than double the Terminator. It is money well spent for now.

Credit to krell1967 @ headfi

Have you ever had the inclusion of a new component in your system literally upset any of your certainty that, until then, had you laboriously realized? And I do not mean differences that are comparable to nuances, difficult to perceive situations, but rather to a very marked difference, in all reference parameters, to listening.

This is exactly what has happened since I entered the Dac Terminator, a flagship product of the Chinese manufacturer named DENAFRIPS, in my chain of listening. Everything started a few months ago when, during reading a thread on head-fi forum about a dac, I embarked on the enthusiastic comments of a russian user who magnified the dictates of a small dac with R2R Ladder technology named Ares, which is the product entry level of DENAFRIPS. The investment required for its purchase was pretty modest if compared to the figures that run in our hobby, just under $ 600 and bought directly from the only authorized worldwide distributor, Vinshine Audio Singapore, and I launched in it. Already after a few dozen hours of burn-in, strongly recommended by the manufacturer, the little Ares has begun to unlock absolute performance, unthinkable for an object of that price and comparable to dac more expensive.
And as the appetite is eating, I decided to challenge myself considering the purchase of the top range Terminator. In fact, I said to myself, "Claudio, if the little Ares already sounds better than that, what can be the performance of his big older brother?"

And so just over two months ago I ended the Terminator purchase, of course always online, which affectionately, I renamed Arnold, is so massive and heavy.
The Terminator is a dac R2R with four counters of 500 high-precision 0.005% laser-cut resistors, with a nominal resolution of 26bit, capable of reproducing both PCM format up to 384khz and DSD up to 11.2Mhz (DSD256) in native mode. Of course all the components are at the top, Cristek Femto Clock oscillators used with FIFO technology to ensure that the dac clock is independent of the input signal, Amanero usb input, power supplies with two toroidal transformers of 250VA and 60VA low noise , Elna Silmic capacitors, M Cap and Stargest at very low ESR, WALT Jung voltage regulators with very low ripple and many other high quality components. The digital inputs are 9 so distributed: 1 usb, 3 i2s (1 on hdmi and 2 on rj45), 2 AES / EBU, 1 toslink optic, 2 spdif (rca and bnc). I think a few dacs for sale, if not anyone, can have such an entry input that can satisfy any kind of connection. The outputs are the classic XLR and RCA, the dac is native balanced.

On the thick brushed aluminum front, like the entire frame, we find the Standby button in the center and then left to right the two input selection keys, the Mute button, the OS / NOS, the Phase key, and finally the Mode key that serves to select the two Slow and Sharp digital filters as well as to activate some special features, including the firmware update. No control of the volume or even the remote control, DENAFRIPS wanted to remove all the accessories that could have affected the sonic result in any way. All components are mounted on FPGA cards, wiring is absent. The Terminator at the balance test pays a weight of just 19 kg, demonstrating that you did not want to save on anything.

The Terminator was inserted into my system liquid consisting of two-pcs fiber-optic connected server-naa player, preamp Spectral DMC20 balanced series 2, amps Gamut D200i and M250i endorsing, in my mood, an Infinity IRS Beta in active biamplification or a pair of Magneplanar 3.6R in passive biamplification. The connection to the preamp was made using the XLR connections. To avoid misunderstanding I want to specify that I'm an Italian audiophile with more than 30 years of listening experience.

The Terminator, in contrast to the Ares, does not need a long run, since it has been factory-burnt-in for about 100 consecutive hours, and in fact has unveiled superb performance right away, I would say to the limit of excellence. The earliest feature of the ear is its ability to extract from the files that are given to him such a quantity of unthinkable informations(compared to my Mark Levinson 360S as reference), combined with a quantity of harmonics that seem to be stationary for air, so much is their decay time. As some reference discs (Marialy Pacheco - Introducing), the detail and refinement in listening to the music message reaches very high, never heard before, as well as dynamics. The attacks are of a crazy speed and the crescendo in some tracks of symphonic music (Giocchino Rossini - The thieving magpie, Alexander Borodin - Symphony No. 2 Prince Igor) seems to never end. Even at low volumes, the return of the information being transferred is excellent, with a truly remarkable intellegibility, not even a note is lost. Going to the soundstage, I have to overcome the superlatives, deep in all three dimensions, well beyond the physical limits of the bottom wall and with a 180 degree horizontal aperture, virtually wall-to-wall. It almost seems to be in the midst of the music event with a holography that only machines of quite a few costs can reproduce. Using the filters you can shape the sound according to your own tastes, I prefer using the SHARP filter also because I'm a fan of transparency and detail but it never has to end in listening fatigue; with the LOW filter you have a lightweight roll-off on the medium high that, with some systems, can be of utmost benefit. Returning to the main features of the Terminator, the bass is very fast and deep, dry enough, with no hint of rubberiness, medium frequencies, especially with female voices (Cecile McLorin Salvant - Woman Child, Roberta Gambarini - Easy to love, Maria Callas - Rossini and Donizzetti Arias) are of a shocking beauty, rich, fleshy and at the same time succinct, the medium record reaches incredible definition levels without ever going into hyperanalyticism; In one word the Terminator can be termed a musical object, one of those few hifi components that makes you forget to listen to the system, which you would listen for hours and hours focusing only on music and forgetting everything else. And of these times is not very little.

And finally we come to the "bad notes", how much does all this well of God cost? I'm telling you that Terminator has a price comparable to a good-quality hi-end cable, only $ 3980, at the current exchange rate of just over 3500 euros, with a three-year full warranty and after-sale service, tested personally and also by several friends of mine who have bought DENAFRIPS dacs in recent times, simply unthinkable for our European standards.

One last tip, if you want to find dac comparable to the Terminator, go look at the catalogs of the most prestigious manufacturers and pay your attention to 10K euros (11K dollars or more)up there, as well as possible disappointments, as happened to some of my italian friend, dacs owners of the cost of a utility car (for example DCS Debussy) , who wanted to compare its dac with Terminator.

Credit to Achille @ DENAFRIPS Facebook Group

1st Hours


The Beast! For two hours technical testing of perfection! Cold already was scary and we're only at Dawn. The terminator is not describable in words, it is too superior but what I said about pontus remains intact, for the price pontus is diabolical. The Terminator is just another category, and I'm still at the beginning, in 200 hours I could quotarlo to monstrous figures.

120th Hours

Fifth day of burnishing and I came across the
Study Master at 24-96 of Cohen - from darkness and as soon as the first track "beyond" was the apocalypse! Never heard of such a thing, the dough practically doesn't exist, real dynamics, sound pressure as if they played you in front, you can feel the air between the instruments in your face, the scary timbres and in technicolor, tactile sensations and chromaticity of the materials they are Do the tools, simply impressive and still are 120 hours from fateful 300. 

150th Hours

This morning, given the bad weather he makes from my side, with great sacrifice 😈 I did a mini session listening to a wonderful album
In version sm to 24-88, precisely fabienne cause trio - glitterwoods. I'm still in shock! I realized that my former yggdrasil was "unable" to reproduce it decently so that I'd classified the incision as just enough compared to others. It was inconsistent, vanishing, glass and little while with many other incisions the yggy was great. What came out with the termy is prodigious, the wonderful scene, Low Granite, material, defined up to the unlikely, a real joy for the ears, and then the piano piano, harmonics and refinement to go go not to talk about the dazzling dynamics. Now you're going to classify it as an engraving in the state of art!