DENAFRIPS DAC ---- Owner Impressions, Feedback, General Discussion, Questions and more....


Thread for OWNER IMPRESSIONS, FEEDBACK, QUESTIONS, ETC. regarding DENAFRIPS DACs.

DENAFRIPS lists the following R2R DACs:

Ares, Pontus, Venus, and Terminator (in increasing price order).

"DENAFRIPS incorporated in year 2012, focus in developing high end audio equipment at a very affordable price. Throughout the years of intense Research & Development, and continuous improvement of the product lines, DENAFRIPS had finally settled with the current product range equipped with R-2R ladder DAC technology. The reason behind this is the designer strongly believe that R-2R DAC is the best way to reproduce music.

The name, DENAFRIPS, stand for:

D-ynamic
E-xquisite
N-atural
A-ttractive
F-idelity
R-efined
I-ntoxicating
P-ure
S-ophisticated

This mean a lot and it is the house-sound of all DENAFRIPS products." [Copied From Denafrips About Us section]
Ag insider logo xs@2xdavid_ten

Showing 21 responses by bube

Yes it was a fun session at my place.  Good sound, good food, better company, what more can a guy ask for! :-).
Anyway, the analog vs. digital comparison was not really a fair fight, given that my analog rig costs 5 times the Terminator.  Anyone want to buy a great analog rig :-)?
Vinh Vu
Gingko Audio and Danacable
I plan to set up a test run of the AXPONA demo comparing the 4 Denafrips DACs switchable in a real-time demo in Farmingdale NJ in early April time frame.  PM me if you can attend and be among the first to hear it.
Vinh Vu
Gingko Audio and Danacable
@jayctoy to be clear Denafrips are NOT my products. I represent Gingko Audio and Danacable and we are the main exhibitors in Room 1524 at AXPONA.  Denafrips are made in China and sold exclusively worldwide by Vinshine Audio (Alvin) in Singapore.  I am just a happy Denafrips customer who bought the Terminator sight unseen strictly on recommendations from Dana Robbins (of Danacable fame).  I was so impressed with my Terminator I convinced Alvin to be a partner in the room at AXPONA.  Then I came up with this crazy idea of showing all four of his DACs hooked up to the same system so we can switch among them in near-real-time (details are still being worked out).  Alvin was gracious enough to agree to loan me all four models for the demo and I am expecting to have them in time to break them in and stage them in the system that I am bringing to AXPONA.
So I hope to have a working demo for the early April time frame.  Stay tuned for more details in the days to come.
Vinh Vu
Gingko Audio and Danacable
@jayctoy I am just happy to introduce fellow audiophiles to a nice product.
Having been in the business for 20 years, I know how difficult it is to break into the market with new products.  I have been fortunate to have had helps along the way and am just looking to pass it forward.  I had a recent session at my place to show off the system I am bringing to AXPONA (including the  Terminator) and everyone seemed to like it.
@ david_ten glad you are enjoying our Danacable Lazuli Reference on your Utopia.  The Ultra is better but at a cost.  There will be an upcoming review comparing the full Lazuli line (Lazuli, Lazuli Reference, and Lazuli Ultra) on the Abyss Phi headphones.  That should give you some info about how the Lazuli Reference fares against the Ultra.
Vinh Vu
Update on the AXPONA Denafrips demo. The Venus is in the house (thank you Alvin) and I was able to set it up to play in parallel with the Terminator.
I can do real-time switching between the two for comparison so the demo will work. Having all four models in the chain will take a little more coordination but it should work fine.
I am expecting the Pontus and Ares soon.
Vinh Vu
Gingko Audio and Danacable
Another update on the Denafrips demo at AXPONA.  I am expecting the Ares and the Pontus this week and am planning on a dry run on Saturday afternoon March 31 in Farmingdale NJ.  I can hook all 4 DACs and playing them simultaneously for comparison but I think pairwise comparison between two DACs is more effective and practical (it gets too confusing with more than two).  I can also compare the Denafrips with any other USB DACs with a passive level-matching device.
PM me if you are interested in participating in the session.
Vinh Vu
Gingko Audio and Danacable
Those of you who want to attend the session will need to contact me through the Gingko Audio website and give me your email so I can be in touch with details.
Vinh Vu
I am looking forward to it.  I hope to learn from the dry run to make the demo at AXPONA better.  I hope someone on this board will be able to attend and give you all an unbiased report. 
Vinh Vu
Update on the Denafrips demo at AXPONA.

I got all 4 Denafrips models running in my system, hooked up to the preamp inputs to allow for real-time switching among them. To ensure that the comparison is as valid as possible:

·         Each DAC is connected to the server with a USB cable

·         Selection of music tracks are done via an IPad user interface

·         Fast switching between preamp inputs is done via a remote to minimize delay

·         Volume levels are matched by using an SPL meter measuring a pink noise track

·         If the two DACs have different output levels, use a high-quality passive attenuator to dial down the higher level until the SPL meter reads the same for both DACs.

·         The inputs of the preamp are set up for the DACs without knowledge for the test audience

·         Although not quite a double-blind test, this allows for a fair comparison between the DACs.

Using Roon, the music tracks can be synched perfectly but I found that quick successive switching back and forth between many DACs is too confusing, especially to others in the audience. I found that the best approach is a pair-wise comparison between two DACs, repeating a familiar musical passage on one and then the other. That way, the audience hears the musical performance as a whole and each person can zero in the aspect of the sound he/she is focused in to look for differences without losing the perspective of the whole musical performance.

The demo dry run is scheduled for 2:00 PM Saturday, March 31, in Farmingdale NJ.

Send me your email if you want to participate in the session and I will send details about the logistics.

Promises to be a fun event! And you can legitimately claim to be at the true world premiere introduction of the full line of Denafrips R2R DACs. Bring your own DAC and if we have time we can do a head-to-head shootout under the same controlled conditions described above.

Vinh Vu

Gingko Audio and Danacable


@Jayctoy, If you bring your Gumby, I can set up an after hour comparison with the Ares, which is around the same price range.  Which driver does the Gumby use?  All Denafrips uses Amanero which simplifies the interface with my Salk Stream Player.
Vinh Vu
@jayctoy Show hours are Friday and Saturday 10-6, and Sunday 10-4.
If you bring the Gumby we can hook it up Friday after 6 to compare with the Ares and Pontus.
Vinh
@jayctoy Yes bring your CDs.
@1markr  Believe it or not, as I didn't want to use copyrighted music, the track I used on the demo was a recording of a Middle School Band my son played in when he was 12.  Not only the performance was great, the recording (unfortunately in mp3) was actually very good too, with good dynamics and clearly delineated soundstage.  I will bring it to AXPONA as one of the sample music tracks.
If you are interested in it, email me and I will send it to you.
If there is enough interest, I can make it downloadable from the Gingko Audio website.
Vinh Vu
Another update on the Denafrips demo at AXPON
Now that I have had a week with all four Denafrips models in my system, I thought I should summarize the goals of the demo to set the right expectation for participants.
I have taken care to ensure that all four models have had at least 200 hours of break in to make their performance comparable. I have measured their output levels to ensure that they are the same. All four are connected to the server and preamps using the same cables (Danacable TruStream USB and Diamond RCA ICs). Music control is via an IPad using Roon so that all four DACs can be grouped into one Roon zone allowing perfectly-synchronized music. So switching among the different models can be simply done via a preamp remote.

With that as the background, here is what to expect and what not to expect:

-         I call it a demo instead of a shootout because I dislike the term shootout. Shootout seems to indicate something is going to get shot down and the expectation is there will be a winner - the last one standing. Even if you compare among many makes with different sound signatures the concept of winners and losers requires a unique and definable set of measurable standards. In all my years in the business I have yet to figure out what these standards are. All I know is everyone listens differently and like different things, and each has his/her favorite sound, just like his/her favorite color. I assume that all of us listen to enjoy the musical performance and hopefully are moved emotionally by what the performer tries to communicate to us. High-fidelity is just a means to that end in that it seeks to recreate the original performance most truthfully.

-         A demo is meant to outline differences if they exist in the way the DACs sound. The difference maybe so subtle that they essentially sound the same. Where there are differences significant enough, one should be able to describe them. That is more important than whether one likes one DAC over the other as that is a totally subjective judgment.

-         As such, I find that it is more difficult to discern differences among DACs from the same manufacturer. They may all have a common “house sound” that fits the designer’s ear and any differences tend to be difficult to define. So I expect the differences are less pronounced among the different Denafrips DACs than between a  Denafrips and a comparably-priced competitor’s DAC .

-         So the results of a demo are only useful if the subjects can clearly define the audible differences so that they can be used to guide the determination whether one may like or dislike the DACs in question. One must use this information judiciously especially when the number of subjects in the test is small. A broad conclusion that one DAC is superior than another has to be based on clearly defined and universally accepted set of criteria.

-         So if the intent is not to shoot down any particular DAC but rather to describe their differences then a pairwise comparison is better than comparison among many DACs at once as it gets too confusing with more than two things to focus on at a time.

With all of the above considerations in mind, I plan to conduct the demo this way today:

-         Draw lots to assign the different Denafrips to the different inputs of the preamp so the audience does not know in advance which model they are listening to.

-         Again draw lots to select the two pairwise Denafrips models to compare first, then the other pair.

-         Play a selected music track for about one minute so the audience can get a mental picture of the performance, then repeat the same passage on another model immediately. I find that this is better than switching in real time as it is difficult to synchronize everyone’s brain to be ready at the time of the switch. Also, you will be listening to a different passage after the switching so it is difficult to correlate the characteristics of what you have heard before and after the switch.

-         Ask the test subjects to keep notes for each pairwise comparison as to whether they heard a difference and if they did to describe it.

-         After enough pairwise comparisons to discern the relative performance of the different models stop the demo and ask the audience to share with the group their findings.

-         Again, the goal is to see if there are differences among the models and if so how to describe them.

I will report findings of the session later on. They will help us decide how to streamline the demo at AXPONA so that it is most informative and helpful to the audience.

Vinh Vu

Gingko Audio and Danacable


The dry run of the demo was a successful and fun event for everyone involved.  The process I had planned on went without a hitch, the feedback was plentiful and helpful, the food was good, the music was great, and the company was even better.  What I got out of the meeting were:

- All four models have a similar Denafrips "house sound" that was enjoyed by all
- Even though it was a blind test (none in the audience knew which model was playing until the end when they have already formed and written down their opinion), the results were as expected, with one (explainable) exception - everyone picked the Terminator as their favorite and the models' performances were commensurate with their price points, except the Venus, which sounded a little constricted (less open-sounding).  That is probably due to the fact that the Venus had the least number of hours of break-in as compared to the other models (I have had the Terminator for almost 2 months and the Ares and Pontus were review samples).  So the Venus needs some more break-in time before AXPONA.
- For the demo at AXPONA, a pairwise comparison between the Terminator and whichever model has the most interest from the audience - e.g., its price point is right - playing the same musical passages in quick successions would be best to show their respective performances.
- The system sounded right with all genres of music and is primed to show off well at the show.

Thanks to all participants, who came from NJ, NY, PA, and MD (whose representative drove 3 hours each way to attend the event, thank you Richard).   AXPONA here we come!
Vinh Vu
Gingko Audio and Danacable
@austinpop We plan to the demo at least on the hour but we are going to be flexible.  So if we have a full room and the attendees would like a demo we will be happy to oblige.  The demo will be an abbreviated one unlike the session we had which took more than an hour.  For the sake of simplicity, the demo at the show will be between the Terminator and another Denafrips model of the audience choosing and it will not be a blind test.  We can switch between the two models but you will know which one is playing. To be sure to see the demo come on the hour, or just show up and hope for a full room :-)
See you this weekend.
Vinh Vu
Update from AXPONA:
We worked all day to get the system dialed in and it is sounding mighty fine!
Besides the Denafrips, we also have the world premiere of the new Wells Audio Commander preamp that takes the system up a notch.
Can't wait to the show opening tomorrow!
Vinh Vu

Update from AXPONA:
We had a pretty busy day today, unusual for a Friday at the show.  Foot traffic was steady all day and we were able to hold quite a few demos with very attentive and responsive audiences.  As the pre-production Wells Audio Commander preamp has only two inputs we ran the demo for just two DACs.  So we let the audience pick one of the other models to compare with the Terminator without telling them which one was playing.  After a couple of minutes playing the same musical passage we asked them to describe any differences they heard.  Amazingly most of them can describe the differences readily even though they were subtle, as all the Denafrips have a familiar "house sound".  We had fun doing the demos and it seems that the audience did too.
We expect a very busy day today and plan to run these demos as planned on the hour but will accommodate with impromptu on-demand demos if the room is full and the audience is game.
So show up with your best ears for a fun time.
Vinh Vu
PS.  By the way, we are running a show special of the Gingko Audio ARCHs for the duration of the show.  Use the coupon code AXPONA18 to get 18% off retail on ARCHs on the Gingko website.
@ jayctoy Thank you for your kind words.  We had a blast with the demos.  They made the day go fast.  Looking forward to another long but exciting day today.
Vinh Vu
PS. Thanks for the tip on MingHin Restaurant.  The food was delicious!
@randyballard Yes we use the same Danacable TruStream USB cable on all Denafrips.  We also use the same Danacable Diamond RCA ICs on all four to ensure a fair comparison, although most would not use a $1000 interconnect on a $700 Ares DAC :-)
@Alvin1118 You're welcome.  It was great fun showing off the Denafrips.  The combination of the Denafrips with Gingko Audio ClaraVus/Triode 300B monoblocks/Wells Audio Commander preamp/DanaCable was magical.
Vinh Vu

More coverage from Stereophile:
From "Jason Time-Travels to Day Three" by Jason Victor Serinus / Stereophile

"In case you haven't guessed what I'm going to say, the 15th floor's Gingko Audio system continued the trend of fine albeit warm sound. Whether on a Bach Three-Part Invention by Bela Fleck, Joshua Bell, and Edgar Meyer or the "Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers" from Brian Bromberg, I heard a lively top and all-pervasive warmth. Ditto for a 2L hi-rez track from Britten's Simple Symphony, where admirable liquidity was tempered by sweetness and warmth.

Heard: Gingko Audio ClaraVU 7 Mk. 3 system speakers ($9000/pair), Triode Corp of Japan TRX-P3M monoblocks ($6500/pair), Wells Audio Commander preamp ($4000), Denafrips Terminator DAC ($4500), Salk Stream Player Gen 3 server ($1700), Danacable and TruStream cabling, and Gingko Audio ARCH vibration-control devices ($200-$400)."

There is also coverage from the Audio Bacon site
Vinh Vu