David , thank you for putting this thread, because of it I end up with a excellent Dac, A guy who was in the room listening next to us. He own the yaggy, He got so interested on the terminator, Guy from Michigan bought the Pontus too.Yes David I will add more by next week, Your beer and pizza will be upgraded to more expensive one😜lol
Vihn - I was in the room 2x on Friday. Enjoyed the presentation and great sound! I am the guy who has a Terminator, and had not gotten a chance to get it set up at that time. Now I have! Wow! Great sound! The buzz on the web is not exaggeration!
Were you using the Danacable USB cable to connect the Terminator at the show?
@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.
From "Day Two with Herb" by Herb Reichert / Stereophile.
"I always enjoy visiting Vinh Vu, president of Gingko Audio and Danacable. He plays music I like, always gets good sound, and helps me understand the sometimes-unusual lineup of products he demonstrates. This year was no exception.
The $9000 Made in America Gingko Audio ClaraVU 7 Mk.3 modular speaker system consists of a top-mounted monitor speaker with a 6.5" paper cone bass-midrange plus a 1" slightly horn-loaded silk dome tweeter, combined with a horn-loaded ribbon super-tweeter that Vinh Vu said crosses over at 20kHz. "But Vinh, my ears cross over at 10kHz!"
The bottom (bass) cabinets feature compound-loaded 6.5" cones, and stack neatly and handsomely below the monitor cabinets. Impedance is nominally 10 ohms with a specified minimum of 8 ohms. Sensitivity is 85db/1W/1m.
The $6500/pair Triode Corp of Japan TRX-P3M amplifiers employ parallel single-ended 300B tubes, which Vinh says put out 20Wpc, and I believe these handsome-looking monoblocks were the core reason every recording sounded so pure and unaffected. The longer I listened, the more I felt these amps were generating some form of distilled magic. Therefore, curiosity roused, I asked for a review sample.
The preamp was the Wells Audio Commander ($4000); the DAC was the Denafrips Terminator—a $4500 ladder DAC that I have heard a few times and also rouses my curiosity. The refined-sounding Gingko room system also included a $1700 Gen. III Salk Stream Player and, of course, Danacable's Sapphire and Diamond cabling.
Vu's system had one more very intriguing (to me) product: Under the speakers were Gingko Audio ARCHs—compact layered-wood vibrational-control devices shaped like automotive leaf springs. They come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses and look like they might actually work better than pointy spikes, pliant silicone, or hard roller-ball bearings. There was a lot to study and think about in Vinh Vu's room."
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
Glad to see this level of enthusiasm for Vinh's room, including the DENAFRIPS.
Now that there's some distance between the show, I'd like to hear more perspectives.
As for me, my opinion remains the four products slot far closer than one would expect or believe. As stated previously, I needed to work at distinguishing them, including the entry level Ares from the statement Terminator. You do get more from moving up the ladder: more solidity, more heft, more extension, more liquidity, more clarity. But the improvements were, for me, subtle, only identifiable in direct comparison, and even at that, requiring my full attention. It seemed to reflect what spending more time, effort, and funds on a power supply typically yields. And after thinking on this, I don't see the value of the four products, and wonder if there's any sense in combining the middle products into a single offering.
Finally, I'm not currently up on the SOTA digital, but the DENAFRIPS products certainly show me how much things have improved over the years. Still, to my ears, the sad conclusion is we're still not knocking on the door of what analog provides
Trelja (Joe) If I have extra money I will get the terminator, or even the Pontus, to my surprise my ears prefer the Ares , for my taste it’s more lively, bigger sounding, but less black background, As good as Vinh set up at Axpona I did have a hard figuring out which DAC is playing.I heard all three except Venus.i can strongly recommend Denafrips dacs...you have four dacs to choose from...Joe digital will never beat vynil, why I decided to have vynil and digital..vynil is a lot of work but the music and sound it’s all worth it.....
To me when a system get really good at resolving, it a bit like big screen tv’s. The flagship tv models are magnificent with HD input but are worse than the same size low end model with SD input.
Same to me goes for audio, the better the component the better it is on great recordings, but they sound rubbish on bad recordings.
It’s like the other not so great component, throws a ban-aid on the music to equalise good from bad recordings like the low end tv above does.
This statement from the reviewer kind of say that to me.
" The Denafrips won the award for the most confusing DAC as you never knew what you’d get from a recording when played through it!
Read more at https://www.audiostream.com/content/great-dac#6OCdCOe5RwkRDQJ9.99 "
milpai & georgehifi---interesting comments. I have found pretty much the opposite--the better the DAC (or perhaps any link in the chain) the better the marginal recording sounds. I am now listening to the Denafrips Venus, and compared to my previous DAC, the MHDT Stockholm 2, I find more detail, much better sound stage, more dynamics, a slight loss of warmth. My general sense is that the more your system can "get out of the way", that is, the less noise your components add to the stream, the better the recording sounds. Overall, I think that playback gear is catching up to digital recording and allowing a more representative image of whats on the disc. Just my $.02
Rich I agree, with my Ares Denafrips and my Schiit Gumby same results regular CDs got better also.My experience bad recording will most of the time sound bad, especially on bright. I think the Venus is not yet burn in why Vinh did not really played it when I was in the gingko room....according to him it’s very close to Terminator....I believe Him ....
@drrnc2 I have found pretty much the opposite--the better the DAC (or perhaps any link in the chain) the better the marginal recording sounds.
Well said, Rich. During our get togethers at Vinh's that assertion held up. We listened to recordings of differing quality, and in every case, the better conduit sounded better.
@jayctoy You made a wise move with the Ares. Along the lines of the 4 products lining up so closely, the sub $700 one is the absolute no-brainer, and most obvious choice. One gives up very little, even to the Terminator. Of course, the chassis and overall aesthetic step forward as one moves up the ladder, if one considers those attributes critical
Trelja (Joe) When I listened I just knew the Ares has many character sound that I did like. I was gonna purchase the Pontus but the Ares is very involving to my ears, either of those DACs you can’t go wrong. Iam also fortunate when I hooked the Ares it is as good as the Metrum Onyx DAc $1900 and my Gumby $1279 with shipping....Iam getting good 3D , slam, speed, excellent vocal, transient is excellent...this is in my second system...,
Thanks David aka @david_ten for this thread. For my review of the mighty Terminator fed by the Jay's Audio CDT-3 MK2 CD transport please see:
And my speaker system features a Lightspeed Attenuator. Thank you George aka @georgehifi !
Hi bluewolf, had a look at your very nice system in your bio, and can't see where your using my Lightspeed Attenuator, this would be the 3rd set of Pioneer Tad's it's being used with that I know, have you done some changes to it and not updated your pic?
Hi David, Many thanks. I would be happy to be buried with them! I do indeed need to update my photos. However, I am not using either of my two sets of CDT-3 / Terminator in my TAD system due to space constraints. I must one day connect one set up on a temporary basis.
Hi bluewolf, had a look at your very nice system in your bio, and can't see where your using my Lightspeed Attenuator, this would be the 3rd set of Pioneer Tad's it's being used with that I know, have you done some changes to it and not updated your pic?Hi George,
I am using your very nice Lightspeed in my Rey Audio Kinoshita speaker system, not in the TAD 2404 analog system where I am using an Acoustical Systems Omnigon Phono Preamp. I do need to get around to putting up my digital system in Virtual Systems. There is a photo which includes the Lightspeed in the same review which I also posted on head-fi as 1note in the Dedicated Source Components forum.
Did you try coming out the Omnigon's tape out into the Lightspeed then into the poweramp.? So you only use the Omingon's phono stage?.
As that's what my other TAD customers do with their Lightspeed's and their phono preamps, they say this way the sound is to die for, much more transparent and dynamic, with a black ground, so black you think the systems switch off in between notes and silent passages..
@bluewolfWow, that's a pretty esoteric looking second system, what are the Acoustical Systems battery amps and their input impedance. I can't find anything on them?
david_ten @bluewolf Your write-up and system and music photos look terrific!Ditto on this.
Hi George, @georgehifi
Thanks for your kind words on my system and review. And thank you for the excellent Lightspeed Attenuator.
My understanding is that the Acoustical Systems battery amps never went into production and there were only a handful of pairs made. I guess the company wants to concentrate on analog front-end components and phono preamps. I was told that their input impedance is 100k ohms and that there is only one MOSFET per mono amp. Your Lightspeed Attenuator is sounding very nice feeding these amps. I very much appreciate that the Lightspeed is outstanding value for money, and so I understand the reason for the wall wart PS that is supplied. My My next point is in no way intended to be a criticism given the outstanding value proposition that the Lightspeed is, but rather the opposite as to what an excellent design the Lightspeed is. I would like to note that it scaled up beautifully with the custom silver wired power supply unit I managed to get for it.
All the best!
Battery is even better again for the Lightspeed, I recommend this Lithium-Ion rechargeable one, you can get up to 2 weeks listening in between a recharge, it has the blackest back ground (as if your system has switched off in between notes/tracks)
Long time ago an amp that used Nelson Pass Class-A circuit used battery, which was highly regarded call the NEW-Class-A CD33 or something.
@viablex1 I'm copying your post from a thread you initiated:
Per Denafrips Warranty policy (referenced below) there should be no cost for you to ship back for warranty work within the first 30 days.
"36 Months Warranty, Peace of MindComprehensive Warranty Coverage:
All DENAFRIPS products are covered under this policy. Warranty covers non-man-made defects. Customer shall bear the import duties and taxes whenever applicable.
30 Days: DENAFRIPS to bear both way shipping fee.31-365 Days: Customer to bear one way shipping fee. DENAFRIPS to repair and cover return shipping fee.
366-1095 Days: Customer to bear both way shipping fee. DENAFRIPS to repair at free labor and parts at no cost.
1096 Days Onwards: Customer to bear both way shipping cost. DENAFRIPS to provide repair and/or maintenance services at cost."
I'm late to the Denafrips party as I hadn't heard of this brand until reading a review of the Lampizator Atlantic of which I own. I've read from a couple places now that some who have heard both the Atlantic and the Terminator have preferred the Terminator. Here's the link to that review in case anybody hasn't seen this...
Referring back to our auditions with the DENAFRIPS products at Vinh’s, I just wanted to summarize a few things:
The DENAFRIPS products, from the Ares all the way up to the Terminator are excellent sounding DACs. I believe at less than $700, the Ares represents tremendous value in the marketplace, and isn’t far from the Terminator; certainly not as far as one would expect. World beaters or game changers? I wouldn’t use those terms. In fact, in comparison with Vinh’s (incredible) vinyl rig, the Terminator did not come close. Would I consider one for purchase? Yes, absolutely. But do I consider them without peer? No.
At this point, DENAFRIPS has NO North American representation. Although Vinh has bent over backwards in helping the brand through efforts like our get togethers and featuring the products at AXPONA, he is not the importer / distributor, and from the time we spoke about it, considered it too big an undertaking for him at this point in his life. In other words, although Vinh is an exceptionally good man (I know that because he’s been a good friend of mine for 20 years), to the best of what I know today, he has no financial compensation in this whole thing. Thus he is not here to help anyone should they require it beyond what he provides through his own kindness and grace. Likewise, there is NO North American repair facility / personnel or product support.
I believe the establishment of a foothold in North America, or not, rests with the leadership of DENAFRIPS finding a capable entity to represent them in this market. If that does not happen, understand that if you consider purchasing the product, you essentially are on your own.
As of today and unless and until what I just mentioned changes, you buy a DENAFRIPS product, YOU assume the risk as well as the responsibility for dealing with the offshore based company if anything goes wrong from A - Z, from the transaction itself to day you or it goes away
While I share your frustration regarding the lack of promotion and active presence in the US marketplace from Denafrips themselves, your post reads as if you have an axe to grind beyond what you wrote here. Sour grapes as it were.
Today, quite a few non-US manufacturers have little to no "on soil" representation. Not a desireable thing for us here IMO, but a reality nonetheless. Alvin at Vinshine Audio does a very fine job covering the bases on customer support for Denafrips products across the globe.
As for the differences in sound quality between the Ares and the Terminator, there are numerous testimonials from owners on the Facebook Denafrips Owners Group forum, some of whom have moved up the line from the Ares to the Pontus, some from Pontus to Venus, some from Venus to Terminator, and some from Ares to Terminator that describe very large improvements in sound quality as they moved up, particularly the latter group. Your opinion counts equally, but is an outlier among the field.
I have a close friend that attended Axpona 2018 and spent time in the Gingko/Denafrips suite. He was initially gracious in sharing his opinion with me but it is clear that he found the sound largely underwhelming due to the chosen speakers perhaps. Upon hearing the Terminator in my system, he was in disbelief that the same DAC was in play in both systems. The sound quality from the Terminator was that much better here to his ears.
No doubt that Denafrips and Alvin need to do a much better job with hands-on participation at these shows and also with their promotional efforts in general, but what your wrote above is overly heavy-handed IMO.
@dlcockrum thank you for your perspective, Dave. I do appreciate hearing feedback so I can consider and adjust.
I have no axe to grind, nor is this a situation of sour grapes. Those things are certainly NOT my intention. As this thread details, I’ve taken part in the DENAFRIPS evaluations, as Vinh and I go way back, and I’m fortunate enough for him to trust my opinion enough to include me in things like this, in addition to getting to spend time together.
I have a high enough level of confidence in the resolution and overall capabilities of Vinh’s system to know it didn’t blend the products into something that prevented us from providing an accurate assessment. Having heard other DACs and other front-ends during our times with the DENAFRIPS products bolsters that.
My opinion holds in that the DENAFRIPS lineup from top to represents a strong group of DACs. Again, not world beaters or game changers, listening to the Brooklyn DAC in the same setting showed that. But without question, worthy. In fact, the Ares is so strong and so close to the Terminator it’s a flat out screaming bargain and no-brainer. So it DEFINITELY wins my recommendation, as I’ve stated several times. Restating the house sound and lack of distance between the products, I do get confused when it comes to the middle two products. For me, it’s a question of the value of the lower cost one balanced by the improved aesthetic of the more expensive. The Terminator certainly represents a strong statement at the top of their line. I CONDITIONALLY recommend it, and have given it for myself consideration.
Now, comes the area we disagree...I’ve seen far too many instances of folks getting burned in the long run by BOTH domestic and foreign high-end audio and all manner of other industries, by spending good money on what they considered an excellent product at the time only to be left holding the bag in the end because the manufacturer, importer, or seller did not invest in any degree of infrastructure and end-user support. Using past as prologue, I have little tolerance when that happens in real time, and I call it out to ensure folks understand everything. Forewarned is forearmed.
Electronic components, audio and otherwise, break. When they do, the customer requires and deserves support. Though the world has shrunk exponentially, it still costs hundreds of dollars to ship a DAC between North America and either Singapore or China. In fact, a two way trip may exceed the cost of an Ares itself. That means, it’s now a paper weight. Unless a North American support entity rises up, eventually people who buy these products WILL find themselves getting burned in the end. That’s also why the Terminator gets only my conditional recommendation, for now.
In the end, I am actually rooting for the company. A lot of what lies behind this and my previous post is to spur the company on to doing this thing the right way. I like the product, and again, am considering a purchase. No doubt DENAFRIPS has generated sales of late, at least some directly from Vinh’s efforts. Does the temptation exist to not buy the cow when you get the milk for free? In other words, why not make a few bucks selling however many get sold direct, invest as little into the customer as possible, and get out when the output no longer exceeds the input? If so, I feel that’s short-sighted, and ultimately lose - lose
Good point Trelja ,certainly thought should be given to these realities before making a purchase.
I understand in the event of a failer like example one of the multiple capacitors that are in the Terminator the boards are pin connected not soldered for easy removal and installation not to mention the distributors fabulous customer relations including a 36 month warranty which includes a round trip shipping covered by Denafrips if needed was enough to satisfy me to purchase the Terminator.
Thank you trelja for the nice response. I cannot argue that there is not some risk involved in purchasing from a young company located in China. Anything can happen and groundless speculation is really pointless. I would have never dreamed that Thiel and Classe, both well-respected North American manufacturers with a strong US dealer network for decades, would cease to exist by 2018 back when I bought their top products in the 90’s. Oppo just folded despite a rabidly faithful customer base.
I think the Terminator is a game changer in my system. At under $5k the value is ridiculously high. I have not heard the Mytek Manhattan but understand that it is a fine DAC. Personal preference makes the audio world go round!
It’s all good, trelja. :)
I think Alvin will honor whatever promise warranty and shipping wise, As good as the Terminator for the price, compare to Yagdrassil almost half the price, I will probably get the yaggy first, Remember I love my Ares Denafrips , I heard the Yaggy on headphone only Iam impress, I did hear the Terminator at Axpona at Gingko room it sounds amazing, a guy who own Yaggy got interested on Terminator , I am not sure if He bought the DeMO, he was talking to Vihn when I left.....
Our warranty coverage is comprehensive.
- Defective within 30days, we cover both way shipping fee
- Within a year, we cover one way return shipping fee
- Within 3 years, client to cover both way shipping fee
DENAFRIPS DACs are rather easy to be serviced, in most case, it can be done by swapping the board. If you’re a hands on person with electronics knowledge, the board can be replaced easily with a few screws and a little soldering. The PSU and the DAC board are modular, it’s almost plug and play (except for Ares). We will work with the client to decide mutually the best economical way forward.
All these policies are in place. You’re well covered.
Alvin @ VINSHINE AUDIO
@alvin1118 thank you for clarifying.
The terms fall in line with what the typically reputable company provides, and I believe that’s fair.
Coincidentally, just as you posted this, I followed the link you provided earlier in this thread to read through the terms. One benefit folks should consider is the TRANSFERABLE warranty.
Having shipped a lot from China and Singapore, I’ve found FedEX and DHL two of the better options, though FedEX costs a fair amount less. For those at home and for sake of convenience, I’m providing a few (3 shipping options exist, with delivery times listed as within 2 days of one another) rates to Singapore for packages ranging from 15 - 50 pounds, as I would think the DENAFRIPS products fit in somewhere close to that range. Interestingly enough, pricing did not change from both the East and West Coasts of USA - perhaps related to FedEX using their hub in TN regardless?
15 pounds: $267 - $357
25 pounds: $333 - $389
35 pounds: $486 - $592
50 pounds: $584 - $753
Well, I've been waiting for everything to settle in before giving my thoughts on the Pontus. I bought the demo at Axpona after hearing the all four in the Denafrips room. The Terminator was out of my price range and the Ares was gone, but the Pontus was right in my wheel house. My system: Amp: ATI 1807
Preamp: Modwright swl 9.0
Speakers: Usher Audio CP-6371
Computer: Asus desktop.
Once everything was plugged in I fired up one of my playlist on Spotify. I was not impressed. Everything sounded dull and lifeless. Cd's sounded just ok and I was wondering why this thing didn't sound like it did at the show. I changed ic's ,power cords and usb cables. I let it play for a week straight and no change. Then I read the manual. The button for NOS/OS was set to NOS(no over sampling) I changed it to OS(over sampling) and it made all the difference in the world to my ears.
The Pontus is a very good dac. The sound leans ever so slightly to the warm side with a neutral presentation. Micro detail from the Pontus is so good , you will here new music in old music. On some familiar tunes I heard things way back in the mix. I'm a jazz guy with a good amount of classical thrown in, and the amount and sound of bass is perfect for me. You can hear the timber of the instrument whether plucked or bowed. Cymbals sound like cymbals, not white noise. Pianos are real and dynamic. With it being such a quiet piece of gear, you can hear the venues on some live classical recordings. I've never heard this in my room before.
I started out using my Acoustic Zen silver ic's from the dac to the preamp, and it sounded fine. But Vinh and Norm with Gingko Audio gave me a pair of Dana Cable Onyx interconnects. I took out the Zen's and in went the Dana's. The Zen's gave me more air, but the Dana's made everything sound more natural and real. They will stay.
Some things I don't like about the unit are the tiny lights. Unless you have the dac setting at eye level you can't see them. So I moved in my rack so I could see them. Also a remote would be helpful in switching between sources instead of getting up to do it. All in all the Pontus is well worth the price. The music it makes will make you smile and listen. What more could you want.
We have had someone in mind for months now but wanted to make sure that person was up to our standard of service. After a couple of repairs were done very well, we are happy to announce the US service center in Atlanta GA, Mike Powell Audio, a 15 year veteran in the Hifi industry with the background in modification and repair as well as design and manufacturing.
Henceforth, for US customers, you do not need to ship the faulty unit back to us. Mike offers 'white glove' courier service. All you need to do is to pack the unit back in its original packaging, tape it, and wait for the courier to pick up from your doorstep.
The turn around time is approx 1-2 weeks. Once fixed, the unit will be returned to you, door to door delivery.
More details here: USServiceCenter
Alvin @ Vinshine Audio
@alvin1118 Alvin, Terrific response and support!
Just for clarification: owners will still need to contact you (Vinshine Audio) to generate the 'RMA' or equivalent, along with the resulting shipping labels, etc., correct?
I ask because many of us know Mike Powell and I imagine some may think to reach out to him directly.
Hello @david_ten ,
Thank you for your kind words. Yes, owners still need to contact us for RMA. We will be the front line to determine the type of fault, thereafter, engage Mike to make the necessary arrangement: Pick up - Fix - Return
Meanwhile, an interesting review of the Terminator: here.
Enjoy the music!
Alvin @ Vinshine Audio