Denafrips Terminator vs. Venus

I was wondering if any members (non Denafrips dealers) have had first hand personal experience listening / living with these two DACs from Denafrips. The Terminator is universally acclaimed while Venus is much less talked about. I understand physically the Terminator has 2 transformers and better chassis separation.

I found a page on the Denafrips' site with two Youtube videos for comparison, but can't hear a difference through headphones. Anyone been able to compare them back to back in the same system?
Wondering same thing. Mike Powell Audio is the US Distributor and I reached out to him but he hasn’t had a Venus yet. Is the Venus fairly new? Sounds like the Pontus is very close to the Terminator as far as sound quality goes according to Mike. I see Mike's personal Terminator has some bypass caps he’s done from the stock unit, so wondering if he’s messed with the Pontus. Mike follows these threads so I’m sure he’ll chime in.
Hopefully Mike and Alvin will chime in.

@adg101 The Venus DAC sits between the Pontus and Terminator and the pricing steps up accordingly.
Venus appears to have the Terminator front end mated with the Pontus chassis form factor and power supply. 
Mike Powell had listed the Venus on his website. The Venus doesn’t ship with a power cable, so Mike was offering a variety of power cables as part of the sale package. 
Thanks for the reply guys. I've come across a post by Alvin that details the change from Venus to Terminator, which includes the PSU, FPGA code and chassis isolation. However, I was hoping for some first hand accounts of actual users on what the applied sound quality difference is in their own home, controlled listening environments.
I’ve only seen two video clips in which a person had both the Terminator and Venus in the same system.
I saw that too. That's the page and videos I was referring to in the OP. I listened to them and couldn't pick out any difference that couldn't be attributed to selective focus and/or confirmation bias. Knowing compressed Youtube videos are not the most definitive tool, I was hoping for some first hand experiences.
I just found this thread after reading a couple of reviews on the Terminator. If anybody following this could help me, I consider myself an audiophile, but I have no clue how to use this device, yet I'm interested in buying it.
I have never downloaded music or "streamed".

What I'm thinking is; adding this to my Oppo to make it sound even better. Could that be done?
Which Oppo player do you have? If it’s a recent Oppo, then you should have a digital output for external connection to a DAC. And yes, an external DAC will likely improve the SQ of your Oppo. 

Thank you for your reply. I have the BDP-95. I will need to look at the back of it to see if it has the external connection. It sounds pretty good as is, but you know how this hobby is...

On the back panel there is a section called: Digital Audio,
and it has optical and coaxial connection ports.
 It also has an Ethernet LAN port and "external storage E-SATA" port.
Not knowing the rest of your system I’m not sure you need to jump to a $4K DAC to improve your Oppo BDP 95 as you can do it for a lot less. If you’re interested in the Denafrips line, my guess is the Pontus or Ares will be a substantial improvement. I have an Oppo UDP 205 and my Cambridge 851c is a better machine for red book playback. 

I run my Bluesound Vault 2 through my Cambridge and am interested in the Denafrips units as well as an upgrade, just not sure with my modest system the Terminator makes sense because of the cost. For me the Pontus, maybe the Venus makes more sense. Definitely drawn to the price of the Pontus. The DAC in my Cambridge destroys the DAC in the Vault so might jump to the Venus as the Cambridge is no slouch.
Thank you for your response. Maybe your right. Spending that much to upgrade the Oppo 95.. I really wanted the 205... Want to sell yours?
So, you think the Cambridge 851c sounds better on red book than on the 205, huh? Interesting.

On another Denafrips thread, a poster said he did not get a positive result with the addition of a "Terminator" on his Oppo. So, he got a 205 and was really happy.  
The 205 is a really good all around deck, but my Cambridge is more resolving and open. The 205 is on the warmer side and I do like it on poorly recorded music. Who knows why a person throwing a Terminator on an Oppo why they didn’t like it; maybe an inadequate digital cable, power cables, or the particular Oppo was showing through the Denafrips it was the weak link in the chain.  Nope, I’ll keep my 205 as it’ll move to a home theatre setup.

If you’re looking for a 205 only for red book playback there’s a lot better out there. To be fair I did replace both fuses in my Cambridge which really cleaned it up which I’ll admit sounds silly. Might do an OppoMod power supply upgrade so I can roll in different fuses. Believe the fuses in the stock 205 are fixed or soldered in.

I’m using my Bluesound Vault 2 with the DAC in the Cambridge more than just playing CD’s through the Cambridge; in fact I haven’t loaded a CD in the Cambridge for months. Maybe look at a streamer with a hard drive and buy a nice DAC and just use the Oppo for movies which it’s probably really good at.
Thanks for your input. The streamer/DAC is something I should be taking a look at (I'm done w/vinyl ). I'm very interested in MQA.

My system deserves better. It's a little north of 60k, so an Oppo being my only source is a crime.
Very happy Pontus owner here!

I am the one who record the video of Venus vs Terminator. Frankly, it's hard to tell the difference from handphone recordings. I have both of the DAC at that time is due to my friend is buying the Venus and I have the Terminator. So we do a quick comparison.

He opts for Venus due to space and budget. He is upgrading from Pontus.

Venus vs Pontus is a big difference. Pontus is warm and smooth, Venus will give you a lot more details.

Terminator is much more refine and has the control. The power section in Terminator is the killer over Venus.

Terminator is definitely worth the extra bucks!

@eugene78, Welcome!!

Thanks for your post! I suspected the Venus would share a lot more SQ with the Terminator, but acknowledge Terminator’s beefier power supply section would give it a decided advantage in background quietness, dynamics and slam. 


Btw, have you got yourself a Venus or Terminator?
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Interesting. Aren’t Denafrips already priced far below others that run through a dealership distribution? I know Mike Powell is only working off 10 points as they’re a direct buy like Schiit Audio and others. One does have to ask are they really cutting out the middle man to lower cost for the consumer or just being extra greedy? I’d love to hear one in my own system so too bad they only offer an in store credit which I get it. Would like to see a video from Powell focusing on just the Denafrips side by side so we can see the physical and his take and the sonic differences between all of them. They definitely need more videos of the units online other than one sitting on a rack from a distance playing music only.
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@eugene78: I went a different route for my DAC upgrade.
@adg101: Alvin is the middle man in the Denafrips brand. I cannot imagine that the products cost more than 50% of their MRSP. That would mean Alvin is banking 40% and Mike is getting 10%.
DENAFRIPS adopts quasi-direct sales business model, unlike conventional hi-fi equipment, DENAFRIPS has little or no room of distributor and/or dealer margin. We wished it was the other way round, too. Industry players should know how this works but lets keep it discreet. 

The market is changing where customers can buy direct from the manufacturers, cutting the middle man (including me). My role here is to provide better communication and services to the customers. It's important to know which company and who you're dealing with when investing your hard earn money.

We are committed to our customers and make ourselves available at your disposal at all time.

I always believe: Happy Customer = Happy Business. I'm a hobbyist like you, who just want to have reliable equipment at affordable price that make the music sing beautifully.

Hope this clarifies!

Vinshine Audio

thank you so much for sharing your comments regarding Venus vs Terminator. I’m in the market for a DAC and these are what I’m looking at:

Metrum Pavane Level 3
Denafrips Terminator
Denafrips Venus
Holo Audio Spring 2 KTE
Lumin T2

Haven’t heard any other DACs mentioned above. But heard the Metrum Amethyst and loved it’s sound signature, imaging. However it lacked bass definition, had narrow soundstage and lacked speed/attack/impact. 

can you please share your thoughts on the other DACs compared to Terminator? If you have listened to any of them. 
Any comments/thoughts from other gentlemen (or women) members are highly welcomed and appreciated :)


I notice some difference in the videos from the OP. The sound signature is the same, but Termi seems to be more at ease and drives with authority. I notice the difference mostly in vocals and the chimes (not sure if chimes is the right word)