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what is it you want improved over the sound you hear from your ares?
if you want the same basic sound signature, with more refinement in the treble (my problem with the ares was the sibilance) and more dimensionality and bass impact, the pontus would be the natural move - the improvement is pretty substantial
if you want more sweetness of tone and subtlety and bloom, you would head in the direction of some tubed dacs
i have not heard the musician draco, but i would advise doing considerable research into the musician brand - their pegasus dac has had some documented issues... be wise to look very carefully on this one before you leap
i have also not heard the audio note dac 2.1, i know one is offered for sale on the used sites currently... i will say that i have the big brother 4.1 and it is a wonderful, wonderful dac... very vivid, yet beautifully saturated, a notch above the dena dacs in 'analog-ness' of the presentation imo
good luck, and enjoy the hunt!
Ok thanks jjss49! I didn't know you owned the AN 4.1 dac. That's out of my budget. I might inquire about the SW1x dac that are similar to to AN. Btw from Ares II to Pontus II do you lose warmth of Ares for Pontus resolution? Or is Pontus more of everything that Ares offers including a better treble performance?
pontus has a slightly warmer tone than ares and also better clarity - it is the warmest of the dena dacs in midrange and midbass that i have tried (ares, term, pontus - i have not yet tried a venus) the terminator provides more deep bass and a forward but still refined treble, the ares has the least clean treble, a problematic sibilance no matter what mode and what filter is used, and a somewhat ill-defined bass compared to the better ones - thus i have kept the pontus which is my favorite among the dena dacs
one other thing to note is that the pontus dacs received running changes over cy 2020 and 2021 before they officially marketed it as a version ii unit in spring 2021 ... thus many that are not marked as pontus ii on the faceplate have the ’version 2’ upgrades -- wima caps in power supply, new dsp board, tripod feet denote the pontus 2 essentials
I am narrowing it down to Pontus II and AN 0.1x or SW1x dac 1 special. Both those dacs use the Phillips TDA 1543 chip with a tube inside. My question is can those units sound as full and resolute as the Pontus?
sorry i can’t help you there, as i have heard neither the baby a-n dac nor the sw...
my advice in general on dac selection is don’t make too much out of the specific dac chip or topology... what matters is how it all comes together, there is so much more to how a dac sounds than the d-a engine
for example the weiss dac 501 is one of the best dacs in the world regardless of price, daniel weiss uses ess sabre dac chips in it... he has worldwide acclaim, won grammy awards for his recording and sonic excellence, he knows how to make the whole package sound truly wonderful
Ok thanks jjss49! I will probably stick with Pontus II. So for sure with Pontus II you don't trade resolution with less warmth compared to Ares II? I read most reviews like Calvin Hobbes and of course your impressions it's a win win but only one review on Twittering Machines hints Pontus II gives more resolution but at the expense of sounding less analog like Ares II! Would you agree?
yes - but it is unclear that the scaler + dave is markedly superior to the dave itself
the scaler was co developed generationally with the hugo tt2, i understand from rob watts that those two are truly the most synergistic
anyhow, they are all up in the stratosphere of the best performing digital front ends out there, regardless of price
Yes true jjss49! Someone reported that listen to TT2 and Mscaler and actually prefer Pontus II! That's how I feel when I compare my Ares II to my Qutest. Qutest had a bit more resolution but overall sound thin on my system. I wonder if due to the external wall power supply plug. Thanks for all your help! I will be taking the leap later this week!
How many in this thread who are responding have actually owned a Tambaqui dac? I have…. It is a superb solid state dac- extremely low noise floor with excellent purity. Would I own it again? No question.
However it was handily beaten in an A/B comparison in my buddy’s system against an Aries Cerat Helene. The Helene was more open on top and greater musicality in our panel’s opinion. He has since upgraded to the AC Kassandra II- an amazing dac…. Now keep in mind, these ARE tube units- Tambaqui is solid state, however superb in its own right.
I have a Kula with built-in Tambaqui. It is fantastic, no doubt. Its transparency, clarity, and spaciousness stand out while also sounding relaxed, effortless, and in no way hot up top. I prefer my dCS Paganini + Network Bridge combo, though. To me it sounds a little more natural in tone and presentation. At this level there are no losers, though. It's all a matter of preference and I find it silly when people proclaim this or that piece to be THE best in the world. I also have a Boulder 866 with built-in DAC and recently had a Lumin X1. All very high performing and enjoyable DACs. But for me, it's dCS.
The Tambaqui dac quickly showed other dacs we had on hand their performance ceilings. There are five of us we share components and each of us take turns on hosting others with drinks and great music ,
We each use different sources hand dacs we have Audio Byte Hydra Vox ,Denafrips Termintor , Chord Qutest, Holo Audio May KTE , Musician Audio Aquarius , Rockna WaveDream XLR.
The Mola Tambaui was borrowed from a local dealer it convinced me . Using various sources ,streaming and ripped CDs what is fed to the dac will scale up with noticeable sound quality .
A very recent purchase of a used Innuos Statement server clearly points this out so my next step after my wallet recovers I will be purchasing a Mola Tambaqui.
My Tambaqui replaced my Vega G2 which replaced my PS Audio Direct Stream.
As others said, no regrets! And I think more affordable than you think because I use it as streamer and DAC; So no additional Streamer, Power cord and (USB) cable. Love it with my Audionet electronics and YG Haileys! I also use EtherREGEN which improved everything a bit more.