I don’t know, but from what I’ve read the Pegasus looks to be more on the level of the Pontus than the Aries in terms of build and sound quality. I think the Aries would be more comparable to the Musician Draco, but these are all just semi-informed guesses. Frankly, I think you’ll be happy with any of the above. Hope this helps, and best of luck.
Musician is a spin off of the Denafrips line of DACs. I read an article on it a while back when a reviewer did some research and refused to review the Musician.
It appears that the owner of Denafrips was given an offer he couldn't refuse and while building DACs for the Denafrips line sold by Vinshine, he made the same devices for Musician. They even had Denafrips name inside them for awhile. They capitalized on all the work Vinshine did and ran with it.
It was contentious and the people behind Musician created a "history" of their audio journey and denigrated Denafrips in the local press. Seems that Vinshine took the high road and wouldn't comment further on the matter.
All the best,
The Musician company may be one you want to be careful of Apparently, they don't just lend a product for review to youtube reviewers, they give them the DAC to keep. That's way outside the norm. Perhaps that helps to explain the nothing-but-platitudes reviews I've seen. Also, one reviewer could not get any support when their DAC misbehaved.
Meanwhile, Vinshine, Denafrips' distributer has gotten nothing but praise here and elsewhere.
I suggest you do some serious research before sending your money away.
As for the Pegasus being on the level of the Pontus, I don't know what @soix is smoking. There seems to be a lot of smoke regarding this brand.
Ok @melm, fair enough. I can just tell you that my Pegasus works fine, sounds excellent, and is built like a brick sh*thouse. Perhaps you can explain to us — specifically — what build quality and sonic characteristics make the Pontus superior? Have you even heard the Pegasus? Read the review on Soundnews.net and others. Either they’re all smoking something or they’ve trashed they’re credibility. As a reviewer myself, I know reputation is everything and that’s not worth ANY free product (and yeah, I got some free stuff but wouldn’t give a positive review for it), but you may not understand that. What reviews have you written/published? Know of what you speak before you try to trash a manufacturer or reviewer. Come on. Pony up. What’s your basis for any of your assertions? Writing crap online with no justification is one thing, but when you have real accountability as most professional reviewers have, well, it’s a bit more involved. So please, regale us with your evidence and/or actual listening experience to support what you’re asserting. Otherwise, your post is worthless.
I want to hear all aspects about both DACs built, service, who to buy from, and most imp. sound quality. Not interested in hearsay. I have read about both products. Made in the same manufacturing building, not unusual for China. compared to this and that. Also about reviewers been paid for a good article. Maybe @soix can chine about that. But what interest me more is real experience and comparisons. And BTW I'm using my Node 2i as streamer vs replacing the Node with a streamer/DAC unit.
Well, your DAC may be "built like a brick sh*thouse" and it may sound OK. But as for your ridiculous comparison with the Denafrips Pontus, I'll just inform you that for one thing the Pontus has a far more serious power supply, really supplies. The Pontus has DUAL O-ring transformers. One is part of the digital power supply; one is part of the analog power supply keeping those two very different systems completely separate. This compares to the single transformer in the Pegasus serving all circuits digital and analog. Moreover, in the Pontus these transformers are completely screened from the sensitive electronics in the upper chamber. The transformer in the Pegasus, by contrast, is open and in proximity to all the circuits. I could tell you more, but if you didn't even know this, and it's very easy to know, and value the difference I'd be wasting my time.
As for reviews, I usually have little use for them. But as for Vitalie reviews in Soundnews.net, I was once convinced to waste my time reading his 8000 word "The One to Beat: Gustard X26 PRO DAC Review" wherein he claimed this is the world's best DAC. It wasn't then; it isn't now. Perhaps he says this about every DAC. I don't regard Vitalie or his one-man rag to be a serious factor in the audio world.
As for the ethical failure in giving DACs to reviewers to keep, and the lack of support even to reviewers, you might have a look at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH0MY044X8Q&t=3s. These guys really know their stuff.
Now tell me @soix, really--just between us, what were you smoking?
You might find this video interesting. If it were my money I’d go with Ares for the stellar reputation of Vinshine Audio and the amazing resale value of Denafrips dacs. I’ve been trying to buy a used Ares 2 for my home office. Even the ones listed at only $50 less than retail are snapped up in less than a day. Sometimes the used market speaks more truth than any reviewer Just sayin’
Well @melm, I’ll give you the power supply, but the Pegasus benefits from using the same resistor ladder that’s found in the considerably more expensive Venus and Terminator DACs. Oh yeah, and the Pegasus is $700 cheaper than the Pontus ll. I can’t speak to the YouTuber’s experience, but if you read the feedback from people who actually bought the DAC and needed service, Aoshida (the importer) has been very responsive and has received very high marks.
As far as the Soundnews.net review, as far as I see he never called the Gustard the world’s best DAC nor is it the highest rated DAC he’s reviewed, so you’re just misstating facts here. “The one to beat” was only used in the tag line, and if you read the review that pertains more to oversampling delta-sigma DACs at the price and not DACs overall. Regardless, trying to discredit his reviews on this one minor point is just silly and indicative of you not knowing a rigorous and useful review when you read one. You obviously have never written a professional review, so I wouldn’t expect that you’d know a good one when you read it. Plus, the OP is looking for people who’ve actually heard/used the products in question. Have you?
As far as paid reviews, that’s non-existent as far as I know. Having written reviews for over 15 years for the Soundstage Network I’ve never heard of such a thing. If I ever got a review product for free I didn’t know about it until after the review. I’m not thrilled that Musician offered those Youtube yahoos a free sample (I’ve seen their reviews, and if you buy anything based on their so-called “reviews” you deserve what you get), but the fact is that a reviewer’s hard-earned reputation is paramount, and I highly doubt many would sacrifice that for a “free” product. That’s the bottom-line reality of it. Those who think product reviews are largely corrupt are, in my experience, sorely mistaken. We do it because we love listening to fun gear and writing hopefully useful reviews, not to get free samples.
Yes, the Pegasus is cheaper than the Pontus because it's made cheaper. Much cheaper. Half the cabinetry. Half the power supply. Just for openers. And as for the resister ladder: Is it the same? How do you know? Just because they look the same? Did you put a meter on each of the resistors? Could the resister ladder be Denafrips rejects? Is the FPGA programming that controls the conversion exactly the same? Are the clocks identical? What do the analog sections look like? Are they identical? And exactly what is the exposed transformer radiating?
The reason I pay such little attention to reviews is that they are written by people like you. People who know little about what's actually going on inside a component. And if you're any example they are willing to overlook what is a clear breach of ethical standards. I give you clear evidence of a payoff and you ignore it. Finally, most commercial reviews these days are simply recitations of multiple audio platitudes. To me that boils down to: "This week I really like this one."
Looks like you're still smoking from the same stash.
Well, @melm as a long-time reviewer I’ve long since learned to not wrestle in the mud with a pig, because the pig likes it. So, I’ll start with this from Soundnews.net with the assertion of the resistor ladder architecture...
Now, I’ll plead mea culpa for not doing the primary research on whether this is true or not, but if I’m a betting man I’ll put my $ on him versus you. Why? Because he’s a legit reviewer who has his rep on the line with everything he says, as opposed to you, who brings no primary research to the party and just spews out whatever he thinks with no accountability. Where’s your proof? And, as per the power supply, it’s not always how much you throw at it but how it’s implemented, so I’m taking that away as a deficiency. Even the Musician Aquarius and other much more expensive competitors use one toroid as a power supply. It’s more about total implementation than the number of toroids included in a power supply.
Now, as to your assertion that reviewers are compromised, the Youtube yahoos that were apparently given a “free” sample actually called them out on it and didn’t hide it. So, to me, that actually shows the credibility of the audio reviewer community. And if you think reviewers are all compromised, why don’t you get off your ass and start writing reviews that are “superior” to everything else out there. Oh wait, lemme guess, because it’s SO much easier to sit back and be an armchair quarterback and criticize everything else out there. But, that aside, I encourage you to even try to become an actual reviewer at an accredited site. Go ahead. My bet, they wouldn’t even consider you given your proclivity to ignore objectivity. And, oh yeah, have you even heard one of these devices? Yet you have such strong opinions. Not what the OP was looking for here — bottom line.
Well, I have to say that this thread took an unexpected direction. Although some tech info was revealed, I still would like to hear from real owners of both DACs. Even more valuable would members that have been able to listen to both.\
So, what I can gather is that Denafrips enjoys a growing customer base. They must be doing something good with all of their products. If the MP is really as good as the Pontus, then the extra $ is worthy, if not, then the Aries is the logical choice.
I was in the same boat recently...I listened to both dacs, on different systems at different times so my impressions could be meaningless.I thought the Musician sounded somewhat disjointed in the mid to upper register. Just something about it sounded wrong. The denafrips to me seemed like it was a better build quality and came across more musical,again to me.....so I bought a Denafrips. Very pleased with what it's doing so far.
@lobinero My recommendation is to keep your DAC and streamer separate. You'll have more flexibility in the future, i.e. you can upgrade DAC and/or streamer separately if you wish to. Having said that, Auralic makes some fantastic products and never a bad choice.
+1 @arafiq I’d keep DAC and streamer separate. Find the DAC that works best for you then upgrade the streamer when you can — the Node’s not an awful streamer so with a good DAC you should still enjoy some pretty good overall performance. That’s what I’d do anyway.
Soix, the reviewer you mentioned only states
"This is exactly where Musician didn’t spare a dime and put the highest grade 0.005% precision resistors, the same ones you will find in the flagship Denafrips Terminator (~$4500) and Venus DACs (~$3000) and also in the uber-high-end Rockna Wavedream ($6600).
The Pegasus uses the same high quality resistors as the Pontus II,Venus II, and Terminator Plus.....and it's a R2R ladder DAC with balanced setup throughout.....that's a plus.
But one look inside the Denafrips DACs, and you'll see that is where the comparisons end. The Pegasus is closest to the Pontus II, but the overall comparison to the Pontus II, Venus II and the Terminator Plus is a non starter.....you'll find major differences in the number and quality of the resistors (as each resistor is inspected and tested by hand to determine quality), number of R2R ladders (four instead of two), capacitiors, crystal oscillators, upgradable DSP, multiple O ring power supplies, and separation of the power supplies and the main circuit board into separate cabinets within the DACs for isolation purposes.
Now I have never heard the Musician products, so I cannot give an opinion as I have not experienced them in person. I'm also sure that if the same people make the Musician and Denafrips products, that they are well made. I am also sure that many people love the Musician products (as do Denafrips followers), as both Musician and Denafrips products punch WAY above their weight and cost.
My Pontus II was better than every DAC up to $6,000 that I tested or heard.....including the more expensive Venus II. The only other DACs I gave serious consideration were the Holo Audio Spring 3 (version 2 and KTE) and the Holo Audio May DACs which were double or triple the cost of the Pontus II which comes in at $1,800 US dollars.
I hope everyone is happy with their decisions, be it Denafrips or Musician (or Holo Audio, Chord, Schitt, PS Audio, and on and on and on).....that's what this is all about, our personal journeys to find what sounds best to us
@vthokie83 Yeah, I recognize there are some superior parts/design advantages of the Pontus ll over the Pegasus (not to mention resale value) and would have preferred it, but alas it just wasn’t in the budget so I had to compromise. I think running a Pontus ll with their DDC and using the i2s input would be absolutely sublime.
I understand, I too own a Pontus II instead of the Terminator Plus or the Holo Audio May DAC Kitsune edition, in large part because I am a "bang for the buck" guy, without unlimited resources.
Funny you should mention the DDC with Pontus II, I have a Denafrips Iris DDC ($550) in my possession that I have not yet installed.....but will in a couple of weeks. Right now am burning in a couple of HDMI cables (Audioquest Vodka 48 8K and Supra 2.1 8K), before attempting to add the DDC into the mix. I will try to update here with what journey.
@vthokie83 Please do update. I’d be very interested, and frankly I’d be surprised if this doesn’t produce a relatively large improvement that results in near end-game performance. But that’s just a guess.
@steven5737 I wouldn’t look at it like that. If you read reviews the Pontus ll is more than capable of standing on its own as is my Pegasus and I’m very happy as is. I just look at i2S as a future and meaningful potential upgrade for not all that much $$$, at least in audiophile world. Just my $0.02 FWIW.
These are my opinions based on my system, in my home, with my ears. I am also a HUGE fan of Denafrips products, as I own the Iris DDC, Pontus II DAC, Hades pre-amp, and Thallo amplifier.....so take my opinion as a committed Denafrips owner, and maybe a grain of salt. My speakers are Buchardt Audio S400 MkII, and Anti-cables 3.1 speaker cables.
Bottom line, the Iris is absolutely worth the $500....but the Pontus II does not need the Iris to sound incredible. The Pontus II is the best sounding DAC I've heard in it's price range or even near it. For me the only DAC that I would buy as an upgrade (that I have heard) is the Holo Audio May DAC two piece system, but that starts at $4,000 and goes up from there to more than $5,400 for the KTE version that I want.....as SOIX pointed out, refer to any of the dozens of written and video highly positive reviews for the Pontus II.
So why consider the Iris? Well I had spoken frequently with Alvin Chee (owner of distributor Vinshine Audio) about ways to maximize the Denafrips stack (cable types/which connections/filter settings/etc), and when I asked him about the DDC products, he did mention the Denafrips DDCs as a probable improvement. For $500 why not give it a go, and if not I can always sell Denafrips products easily. Here is some of the technical jargon:
(1) The Iris has both galvanic isolation (magnetic) as well as optical isolation (fiber optic), thus the signal is getting purified and reclocked along the way. The Iris uses TCXO (temperature controlled crystal oscillators) to reset the clock prior to sending it out to the DAC. The best input to the DDC from my Node 130 is USB (I use a 1 meter Supra Audio Excalibur USB cable)
(2) Because of this I can take a clean reclcoked and jitter free signal, and transmit it to the Pontus II via I2S HDMI (I use an Audioquest Vodka 48 8K cable). I2S is the native signal used internally in most signal components, so there is no conversion of that native signal to the DAC.....as would happen if I used any of the other outputs from the Iris. In this scenario, the higher end clock in the Iris is controlling the timing as opposed to the internal clock in the DAC.
(3) Because of the above, I would also suggest that any DAC with an I2S connection would get a performance boost from using a high quality DDC that has a high end crystal oscillator.
Sound improvements; please bear with me as I am not very good at verbalizing what I hear. And remember this is with an already amazing Pontus II.
I hope this helps a little. I’ve been loath to do a review, as I wasn’t sure I could do the Iris justice while at the same time not indicate that the Pontus II needed the DDC…..it is simply an amazing DAC, even more so at the current $1,730 price point at current exchange rate.
@vthokie83 Well done and very interesting and useful insights. I’m on the verge of finally getting my system back up and running with the Iris feeding my Pegasus and will report back here if any interest.