The case to go I2S into the Terminator keeps getting more compelling! : )
My system is coming together as a final whole. I'll update with another writeup (more system specific than Terminator specific) in a few weeks.
One standout takeaway from my recent gear evaluations is that the Denafrips Terminator has held it's own across amplification, cabling, and power change-ups. It has scaled exceptionally well.
Final major cable (my IC) is close to full break in. System sounds terrific.
I have a new Roon only (Core) server with ethernet direct to my Roon player coming in shortly. This will allow me to bypass the network switch and season with LAN cables. I have upgraded DC cables for my LPS to the router, switch, etc. coming at the end of July.
I'll post an (evolving) review of my system, with the Denafrips Terminator as a core / fundamental component in it, in a couple of weeks, with appropriate updates on the impact of the front-front end of the system as they arrive and settle in.
For those of you considering the Denafrips Terminator, my findings through my ongoing system upgrades are supportive of how truly capable this DAC is.
jayctoy wrote: Since my Ares is broken in, when I bought it.i am hearing the imaging of onyx Metrum which is excellent.slam and transient good as well. Layering is very close to my Gumby in my second system.
@jayctoy, quick question. What kind of preamp or monitor control are you using with the Ares? Thanks.
System performance update. I've had the new streamer (Roon Core) in system for a day now. It has eliminated my Network Switch, and I am using one Supra CAT8 LAN cable (instead of two). This streamer has a LAN Bridge which allows me to go LAN In and then LAN Out to my player (Roon Endpoint).
System (SYSTEM - for emphasis) impact on sound performance was immediately apparent and positive (across the metrics / areas we typically discuss) in ways I appreciate and value. I've highlighted some below.
A shift in Bass performance (previously quite good): tighter with impressive palpable tautness AND / WHILE also being fuller / rounder (remarkable since usually we get lean and tight OR full and round but not both).
Greater emotional tension and energy in how music is conveyed. The extra Body, Weight and Fullness extend through the upper midrange. The system is now even more resolved and transparent --- bursting with additional musical information and energy deep into the 'window.' Resonance, decay, air, etc. have increased. Greater Aliveness. Greater dynamic impact. Palpable and Natural.
I find computer peripherals break in fairly quickly (all cabling and the power supply were already fully burned in) and though I expect some improvement I'm comfortable posting about the upside of this piece in my system, now. If there are any major or unusual changes, I will report back.
How does the Denafrips Terminator fit into this? It's where all that digital effort upstream gets converted. Without it, those gains and improvements don't get expressed downstream. Needless to say I'm very impressed with it's performance.
I believe it's "the system" and the synergies within, rather than the 'single' component or 'item.' I realize it's easier to discuss differences within the context of 'A Change' we make...however, I'm trying to move away from that.
The streamer is the Small Green Computer i7 Kaby Lake Roon DSP unit. The player is the Sonore Signature Rendu SE. I am using SoTM LAN cables and filter for the final leg between the streamer and player.
Amplifier is the T+A PA 3100 HV integrated amp. Speakers are Tekton Design Double Impact SEs. 100 percent Tidal/Roon.
Another Blue Moon Award from 6moons bestowed on the House of Alvin!
Congratulations to Alvin and Vinshine Audio for this recognition for the Kinki Studio EX-M1 Integrated Amplifier.
@philipwu wow didn't realize how bad it was, I would figure a power cable is a power cable for that rating of 10A 125V, while a regulated power supply would be the only upgrade I could make for a difference in sound quality. If @jayctoy uses another cable that works I would be happy to consider it.
Would you guys advocate for replacing this power cable to claim that a better linear/regulated power supply can improve the accuracy of the internal clock of the DAC? Or such as to improve the analogue output by various means?
If a linear power supply doesn't seem like a necessity, I'll be more than happy to replace it with a better power supply as recommended.
I suppose, it would have been shame and unprofessional to include one with the reference model. If the customer is supposedly going to spend as much as $6000, they will surely be scrupulous on the power supply they choose. So I get it. Whether it really makes a difference even for the top model I have no claim on that, you'd think though it would be worthy of something better than the generic one.
So OK, even for the Ares I suppose to keep costs as low as possible you would also tend to ship a generic one, not that I thought it was a bad choice in the first place. I have yet to get responses and research on the alternatives although it does sound silly to hunt for something that could better it.
Reggy sorry iam late answering your question, with Ares the better the power cord , the better it will sound, When Iam using my audio magic $49 pc it did sound good, when I tried Kimber Pk 10 And Marigo ultrA I was shocked it sounded almost very very close to Terminator I listen at Axpona, the smoothness, the black background , 3D , slam, palpability all showed up.My guest Audioquest NRG model will make this Dac even sound better, It’s worth spending to get good pc for the Ares...you will be surprise ,how good this DAC with good pc...
Reggy any pc you will connect on Ares give time until it settle down 3 days minimum , maximum 6 days....be patient this Is an amazing DAC , I was about to buy the Yaggy when I heard the Ares I forgot about the Yaggy...maybe someday I will buy a used yaggy...not now...the Ares and my Gumby using good pc , they perform at their best....
Ok thanks, I'll take a look into those, so where power cables matter the most is in the DAC right? Just to let you know, I'm not looking into lowering the noise floor so to speak although if it does that for the DAC and the music it outputs and overall clarity then that's great. I'm more interested in providing more dynamics and contrast within the music itself from the DAC doing it's job.
To let you know my active studio monitors (Genelec 8040B) are the ones I am using, I just checked and surprise surprise they came with QP-007 C13 18 SVT, SVT Shielded, SJT, SJT Shielded, SJTW, SJTW Shielded flexible AWG power cables each. http://productspec.ul.com/canada/document.php?id=ELBZ7.E183417
Made by QUEEN PUO ELECTRICAL CO LTD in Tawan.
Now I'm deviating a bit now - From an average person these speakers rock, for an audiophile in the music industry they are mid grade speakers, good none the less.
When I turn the speakers on with only the power cords connected they have a particularly low noise floor to my ears, obviously if I put my ear to the cones at about 2 ft I begin to hear the static albeit perfectly fine.
So already my speakers have generic power cables. To upgrade the DAC's PC and not the speakers would not defeat the purpose right?
So thanks for the recommendations and I'll do my research and perhaps take them up for the future, all that I'm skeptical about is, will I really hear a difference in my setup? I certainly won't be in the business of replacing the power cords for my speakers and I am just wondering in my mind will the only power cord replacement be worthy for the DAC? If so that's great. But if it is about being all OCD about certain components of my system, and given the fact that the Genelec's are to be robust in many listening environments the conclusion might be that other audiophile setups will be particular sensitive to the DAC, unlike mine and will show to make a larger impact on hearing the performance of the cable.
It's all relative, I think my speakers I great, but if your setup is a mile ahead than I believe you would be able to hear more of a difference than mine.
So in the end my question was other than noise floor of the speakers, what overall differences could I potentially hear, and if I could still hear them if I decide to (keep no matter what) the generic power cables connected to the Genelecs?
Reggy do one thing at a time, get good pc for the Ares , be patient to let the cable settle.Enjoy it, After a month you know how the pc sound already.To be honest I used to own Martin Logan Speakers , I replaces the stock cord with Kimber midprice pc about $100 a piece forgot the model, tried the MIT z cord one , both work good, made the Logan more musical and dynamic....speakers do improve with the right pc.
the debate whether power cable or any cable make any difference has being going for decades.
some people claim they couldn't notice any difference, perhaps, IMHO they were listening for the wrong things or expect some dramatic changes in sound which isn't going to happen. There are also many occasions whereby audiophile's wife / friends notice minor changes in tones / dynamics etc.. these people are not audiophiles, but just maybe knows better than others in appreciating music.
one analogy i could draw from is :
the same piece of music /classical song being conducted by different conductors. i guess there would be slight differences in presentation of the same song, and if we are not careful enough, we won't notice what had changed within the song that being conducted by a different conductor.
Very well, I'll take that into consideration for the listening process.
I did my research and went for this one:
Pangea Audio AC 14SE MKII Signature Power Cable 3.0 Meter
I'll do an ABX test and let you know, there seems to be a lot of claim off Amazon that it makes a difference, although from experience with computer reviews the reviews didn't help me off Amazon.
I also bought a Monoprice USB-A to USB-B 2.0 Cable - 28/24AWG, Gold Plated, Black, 3ft 6ft and 10 ft cables.
Will let you know after extensive listening if these make a difference!
I have replaced the following configuration ahead of my Small Green Computer i7 Kaby Lake Roon DSP unit, with ethernet bridge (Server)...
FROM: Router > Supra CAT8 LAN cable > Server
Router > Supra CAT8 LAN cable > SoTM iso-CAT6 LAN filter > SoTM ’Black’ LAN cable > Server
With the Denafrips Terminator in the system, there are notable improvements across the board. These include richer tonality, greater weight and body, heightened resonance and decay and richer harmonic energy with increases in detail, image solidity, musical insight, venue information/ambient cues, etc. Stage has moved forward and is fuller and larger. 3D spatial positioning remains excellent.
In summary, I’d say it’s less about the ’mores’ across the board (which is true) BUT RATHER about the overall presentation being musically and emotionally ’ENHANCED,’ and therefore more pleasurable and enjoyable.
The filter shouldn’t take long to settle in. The Black cable will likely need some break in time.
I have tried two Supra CAT8s in the chain (supra > filter > supra). The access to my router’s LAN output is restricted, which means I will not be able to test the SoTM Black cable from the router out.
I will also be testing other LAN cable combinations in the future.
For reference, I also use SoTM LAN products from the Server to the Player/Renderer. Specifically: dCBL-CAT7 > iso-CAT6 filter > Black
I’ll report back in a week.
Approaching ten days from insertion of the LAN filter and LAN cable. Both have settled and the highlights mentioned in the above post hold. More correctness of body, weight, ’organic-ness’ as well as added emotional connectivity and musical insight, nuance, subtlety, etc.. System sound has tightened up, is more resolved and is more natural (less ’ripe’) than when the cable and filter first went in.
I believe the break-in has run it’s course, If I pick up on any changes, I will add to the above. I should also have a special design DC cable for the LPS to server connection in-system within a week or so. I will be testing it against the LPS’ stock DC cable.
Bottom line, the Small Green Computer server, DC cabling changes, and the addition of the LAN filter + cable have resulted in another leap forward, with respect to system performance.
Given the thread topic, these upstream changes are converted into an analog signal by the Terminator, which continues to be up to the challenge and continues to impress and amaze.
I was in a conversation with an excellent mfg of high end speaker cables. And he said "Charlie try the Denafrips". Having no mind of my own I thought ok? So which model to try and if I like a junior version how would I go about auditioning or if I cant audition the DAC can I try a mid level Denafrips and if I like it can I upgrade for no loss?
Thanks for the help!
@char2 Not sure if this is even an option but I'd reach out to Alvin of Vinshine Audio to see if there are any demos available.
There used to be a list of models and locations around the world...perhaps Alvin can check if there is one close to you with an owner willing to have you over for a listen.
If you do purchase, they are relatively easy to resell.
Hello fellow Denafripsers,
Anxiously waiting for delivery of a Terminator according to tracking which should arrived my door in less than 24 hours. At the same time not sure how it's going to sound in my own set up. Finally before this never imagined myself wiling to pay a rather dear price for a ... MIC audio product.
Got it into the house together with Singxzer SU-1 (512DSD version). Thanks! The workmanship is top notch and the heft is like a decent power amp :)
However, can't seem to get the SU-1 i2s working properly with the dac. Inside the SU-1 came with a piece of paper with HP settings for various models ( but not Denafrips), sound come out clean but each HP setting together with the "MODE" button when playing a dsd file the dac reads 44.1/8x at NOS or OS mode meaning it's reading pcm files. Also the SU-1 "DSD" light is not lit. Tried to dig around the net for correct setting but surprised there aren't any articles out there about this. I do noticed quite a few Denafripsers are using this combo to enjoy i2s. Is there a quick guide for idiot like me? Thank you very much!
@geekee If you haven't already done so, take a look at the Manual, page 5. I've linked the manual here:
Otherwise, check with Alvin.
Congratulations, by the way!!! Looking forward to hearing how it all works out.
Problem is not the Terminator. Not sure if it's a problem but the pi 3b set up has to be DSD(dop) for the Terminator to recognize as DSD. Set at DSD Direct (native) the SU-1 unit's led just pcm and the same with the dac as well. Don't want to start a debate dsd direct vs. dop but first impression the SU-1 is not that "smart".
Just a side note, pi set output at dsd direct and usb cable directly to the terminator not using the SU1, the dac recognize up to dsd256 no problem
I had the Terminator for about 4 months. As it goes through the break-in process, the sound gets better and better. Beyond 2000 hours of use, it sounds very good, sometimes better than vinyl.
But today I had the biggest ’aha’ moment in my hifi journey. After 3-week wait, I received my Marantz SA-10, a CD/SACD player with USB Audio, USB flash drive, and coax inputs, can be used as DAC even thought it does not have a conventional DAC (all signals upscaled to DSD 4x and sent directly to analog output stage with filters). Wow, out of the box, it terminated my Terminator and vinyl rigs. The SA-10 costs about 1.5x of Terminator, but the sound difference is a lot more than that. Each of them (Terminator and SA-10) costs less than my AR phono stage.
When my SA-10 is fully broken in, I will share my impression.
@david_ten thanks. My system is described here: https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/2598 even though the pictures are outdated. It starts with Torus AVR30 wall mount. Power cables either Furutech or Supra. All IC XLR. 3 x 1.5m Organic Cable plus 2 x DIY DH Labs Silver Sonic BL-1 used between sources to preamp. But for comparison of SA-10 and Terminator, Organic Cable XLR were used. Preamp is semi-DIY fully balanced pure silver passive autoformer using components from John Chapman. The output goes into Bryston 10B-SUB active crossover, then to my amp and JL f113 subs. 2 x DIY XLR interconnect (Swiss-made Audio Consulting 0.5mm pure silver solid core 0.5mm internal dia with cotton sleeving) used from preamp to 10B and 10B to MC452. The internal hook-up wires inside the DIY passive preamp are also Audio Consulting silver wires.
I've listened to the Terminator in two systems and against several DACs. I definitely prefer it to my Yggy Analog1 in my system but am sending my Yggy to be upgraded to Analog2 next week. I definitely preferred the Ayre QX-8 to it in my friend's headphone system (Sennheiser 800 with Cavalli Liquid amp). The Terminator sounded tilted to me instead of neutral.
My system: Magnepan 3.7i, Audio Research Ref6, Hegel H30, Innuos SE, Mutec Ref10, SOtM tX-USB Ultra, dX-USB Ultra. Tests were done with AES on Yggy and Terminator.
It’s been almost three weeks now since I have received my Denafrips Terminator in black, from Alvin at Vinshine Audio, Singapore. They are the sole distributer of Denafrips, in order to keep the prices lower for us, consumers. I like the idea that a dealer wont get 50% margin for being in between!
My experience started with Extreme care from Alvin the moment I started asking him questions about the DAC and the lineup. I read almost everything related on the web, but I had few questions still. he was very responsive, and extremely helpful. With a product that has such amazing reviews, he didn’t need to be, But he was! Even after I made the purchase and he has got the money, he kept checking with me till the Denafrips was at my door step, delivered by DHL in two days! (the cost of which is included in the price, and I bet you it ain’t cheap at 22kg that this monster of a DAC and its double thick cartoon box measure up to.
With little struggle as I was alone at home, I managed to place the 19 kg Terminator on my rack. Connected my Aurender N10 to it via AES 1 input. the terminator actually has two AES inputs, but unfortunately, they can’t work together for higher bandwidth when connected to a streamer like Aurender W20 by multiple AES cable, one for each channel, enabling DSD128 over DoP. Maybe a future update/upgrade Denafrips?
My setup - in case you were curious, consist of an Aurender N10 – AES – Denafrips terminator (previously questyle CMA600i with built in balanced Preamp via coax) – XLR - temporary preamp (custom one on the way) –XLR - fully balanced custom monoblocks power amps (200 watts class A, then 300 watts class AB, total 500 watts @ 8 ohm) - acoustic zen satori speaker cables to a pair of Wilson Sabrinas standing on isoacoustics gaia ii isolation feet, powering all this a custom power conditioner.
Being frankly honest, the way it sounded straight out of box, I was not impressed much. It was confined, a bit harsh. it didn’t sound that great, Especially the bass. It was kind of loose and accentuated. But I didn’t panic at all. A friend of mine does have its little brother (not so little!), the Venus, which I was impressed by it performance and tonality. He told me such true R2R DACs require hundreds of playback hours to break in and shine. I’ve also read multiple threads about that. so, I listened for like an hour, let it play then came back to it the next day. In 24 hours, that slight harshness was gone, and the sound has quiet improved to an “okay” listenable SQ. Excuse the lack of description, as I’m no expert in Audiophile terms, I’m not a reviewer by any means. I’m just someone who enjoys High end audio. The better the sound the more joy I get. That makes me an audiophile minus the knowledge of describing in words how things sound. I will try my best but I can’t promise you much!
Over the coming days/weeks, the DAC was on with a signal passing through all the time. when I'm not listening, I will just power off my monoblocks while keeping a long music playlist on repeat. By about 300 hours, I could say the SQ became truly impressive. it was a day by day improvement sort of, but I could sense it. Mids became the best I have ever heard, tube like mids. Highs are so detailed but never harsh/annoying. Bass has tightened up and its just of the right amount, Never covering up lower mids as it was slightly doing so earlier. I have many friends who had a listen when it was a day or two in. coming again after a couple of weeks, not listening to it in between, knowing that nothing has been added or removed from my system, they could not believe what they heard! We did compare to many other DACs (not R2R, but what we had in hand. And none did cost as much to be honest) but none was able to keep up. What are my observations about the sound at this point? Well;
it sounded so rich and detailed even at low volume, which is a first to me. I used to crank my system volume up to hear all the little details and to get a large sound stage. Well, No more!! The sound stage also doesn’t collapse at lower volume. Vocals are warm, magical, focused and floating at the same height in the middle of my expanded sound stage. instruments are layered across with unbelievable separation. regarding tonality, I can say this DAC is slightly on the Dark/Warm side but just a notch. The PERFECT amount of warmth. If a recording was bright, it will still sound bright anyway but slightly less bright. So its not an extremely warm and “boring” kind of sound by any means. And with this slight warmth, there is a ton of details and dynamics! How could these opposites be found together is mind blowing. The person who has calibrated the sound on this beast is certainly someone who knows what to do exactly. A true expert.
I have been told the Denafrips Terminator really shines and “opens up” by 1000 hours. That would be towards the end of September 2018 for my unit. I truly can’t believe anything could sound better than how it sounds now!! I look forward to witnessing further improvements which I will write again about, if proved to be true and worth noting.
I have done a fair amount of research before I pulled the trigger on this one. Some reviews claimed that other 20k USD DACs are slightly better. But I ain’t crazy, nor I have the money to buy a DAC that cost as much, just cause its better just a little. The Denafrips Terminator at its price point is probably the highest Value ever for an End game DAC without totally wrecking your bank account. Its not cheap, yes, but its Priced fairly for a flagship in a world where audio companies put on crazy margins, just cause audiophiles are willing to pay. I personally believe in the law of diminishing returns. And I never aim for that last 2-3% improvement that would cost me an arm and a leg. With this DAC I was convinced that I’ve got the most bang of my hard-earned bucks. But that is my own opinion for you to consider. I have never wrote a review before, like ever, and I don’t dare to call this write up a review – even a mini one. Its just a shout out to anyone out there who is interested, curious but still skeptical. I assure you I'm more skeptical in general about anything more than you. I do not believe many of the audiophile world myths and I’m extremely careful of snake oil while exploring the horizons of this costly but amazing hobby. I can say in confidence, If you are searching for an end game DAC, then search no more. Buy a Denafrips terminator today. then have a some faith until it breaks in at least initially for 300 hours. You can thank me after for this recommendation!
P.S. I do also highly recommend Aurender N10 server. This is thing is Magic, Provided you take its output via AES (Coax is fine but AES is way better). Forget all about USB cables even the N10 a USB out. You need your signal to pass through the N10’s OCXO clock, USB out doesn’t as it has a different protocol. Your jaws will drop of how heavenly this combination sound. I initially thought the N10 is way expensive compared to the N100h, its almost 3 times the N100h price. but that clock inside the N10 does wonders and its worth every penny. A friend of mine who bought the N100h at the same time, is currently trading it in for an N10 himself. Truly, A combo of Aurender N10 and Denafrips Terminator is the best thing I have heard to date, and I have lots of audiophile friends who has been in this hobby for years, I did listen to all of their setups. sure a great turn table and a good record will beat this combo, but the main advantage is it opens a world of convenience/savings for you without a noticeable compromise! If you thought earlier Tidal doesn’t sound good vs CDs or CD reps, even DSD, such a setup will make you rethink everything totally. and don't get me started on how good WAV files from CD rips, stored on the N10 internal storage sound like!! it did actually beat a physical CD player, playing the same track from CD. I know now that such a great clock is not just about eliminating jitter, but a whole lot more. its a holographic presentation that you will only understand if you get to listen. I can tell you with extreme confidence, it’s your laptop and USB cable that is hindering your “computer” based audio listening experience. You need a good source, the N10 (or equal), a great analog sounding DAC, the Denafrips Terminator (or equal, but where to find an equal at same price point?).
I have been happily terminated myself! Maybe its your turn next Happy listening everybody!
Congratulations on your purchase and thank you for posting your feedback on Terminator. I don’t own the Terminator but I can certainly echo your positive experience with N10. It’s worth every penny.
May I know what brand of AES/EBU Cable you’re using?
Glad to hear you’re enjoying your system.
@limniscate , I can't wait to hear your impressions of the upgraded Yggy 2 to the Terminator. I have the Ares, and I can readily be impressed my the emotion and musicality. That aside, and as engaging and nice it sounds, it still is lacking in the microdynamics and overall technicalities I believe, and can be largely mistaken as great sounding when the neutral landscape of all the music is tilted towards the emotional and musical aspect when I play over my speakers.
I am curious to see how much better the Terminator is, and whether people really know what they are talking about when they say it is that good. I'm sure it sounds really nice however are we missing some of the microdetails and subtleties when compared to a bit perfect Yggy?
Please let me know your impressions for your enjoyments, as well as the technical performance compared to the Terminator when you get it.
Darko on the Denafrips Terminator:
Video Review from John Darko (20 minutes):