There are a couple of brands that appear to be more Euro-centric but are supposed to make excellent R2R DACs for PCM encoded content. Soekris is another one. Lots of chatter on other (Euro) forums about both. Look at Soekris dac1421 as well. I haven't heard any of their gear but I'd give a bit more edge to Soekris mainly because they also make computer network LAN gear so I expect their products to be more refined and better made.
So I have been reading about the R2Rs hitting the market and now the DACs with the new Sabre 9038 chips too. Consumers have a lot of new choices for sure. Which type is best probably depends on implantation and is surely subjective. If I were in the market, I'm not sure what direction I would be looking.
It's so confusing, right now. Especially if I think about a DAC/streamer combo. Thought it might be easier to just go with a DAC, first.
Kalali--that Soekris looks nice, but not sure if it's available in the US at US voltage, yet/still?
kclone--yeah, was possibly thinking an Oppo Sonica, too, but want to try an R2R in my systems.
4hannons--I just saw your other post. Ares survived, but a few others were eliminated?
I own Ares and Mimby (Modi MB) at the moment. Used to own Bimby (Bifrost Multibit) and to my ears it was not an improvement over Modi MB, so I kept Mimby instead. I actually owned bimby twice and sold two times.
Recently I've bought Chord Hugo to compare it to Mimby and Ares and I found Ares to be superior to both Mimby (by default to bimby as well) and Hugo. The difference, like with majority of DACs, is not day and night, but it is audible and noticeable, especially during longer listening sessions.
My chain is Laptop (tidal hi-fi) --> Singxer SU-1 -->coax to Denafrips Ares --> Schiit Jotunheim --> Forstex TH900
P.S. How do I post pictures here?
Singxer SU-1 is an audio bridge and it converts USB signal into multiple outputs like coax, optical, AES, i2s. It looks like USB input on DACs is the most crapy (noisy) one and many people prefer to feed their DACs through different than USB inputs. My system definitely sounds better with the bridge.
I have the KTE level 3. I believe it is the top level.
If you're needing ultimate performance the Holo has the edge.
If I hadn't heard the Holo I would have been very satisfied with the Ares; they sound very much the same. The Holo has more presence, more fullness, it seems to fill the room better. Both have very nice percussive, chest thumping bass, perhaps a slight edge to the Ares on bass as it punches hard. But honestly the difference between them is closer than it should be given the price difference.
For the money, the Ares represents an amazing bargain, I think you can build a high level system around it.
Like I've said before, I agree with all the good things written elsewhere about the Holo and all the good things written about the Ares. Both sound very good. Some have said the Ares competes with Level 1 Holo, I don't find that statement hard to believe.
For its asking price the Ares is a bargain, bought one just to try it. It has a few shortcomings in its interface, the red indicator LED's are only 1mm diameter and almost impossible to see, and the legend is dark gray printed on black. Re-did the Faceplate with 3mm blue LED's and a new White legend SilkScreen.
As far as its sound quality and overall build quality it is excellent.
@4hannons Thanks a lot. That's really helpful. Coming from Schiit's Multibits (Bifrost and Modi) I found Ares to sound even more natural and be overall a better DAC especially with Singxer SU-1 in place.
What really stands out is the fact that $600 DAC can bring such a performance to the table. I can say the same about Modi Multibit - an outstanding value at $250.
Here is a photo of my modest setup by the way. Headphones are Fostex TH900.