We live in fine times when it comes to digital audio. Converters that convert digitally stored music to analogue signals for us to listen to are getting better and better. For around 500 euros you can really get a decent device in the hifi rack. We are going to see what the Chinese Denafrips has to offer. We put the Ares II, Venus II and the Terminator Plus side by side Denafrips… it has a nice ring to it. But when we searched for a meaning of the name we came up with nothing. Except that it is a kind of abbreviation:
A bit far-fetched perhaps, but anyway, this is what the name stands for. Now you know that too.
A flight of stairs
It is always interesting to hear how a series of devices performs. How does the entry level perform? And what do you get if you invest more? Does it really get better? Or is it just different? Does the signature stay the same? Or is each dac a different kind of beast? We look at three converters from the Chinese brand Denafrips: well known in the hi-fi world. We have previously examined the Ares II and Venus II. Geoffrey has had the Ares II in his system for a while. And the Venus II participated in the live test of dacs. Now we have the chance to put the Terminator Plus next to these converters. Hey: that’s always fun, isn’t it?
Ladders – R2R
Denafrips uses resistor to resistor ladder converters in all of these digital-to-analog converters: R2R ladder dacs, in other words. That is simply explained a network of resistors that in a certain combination provides a certain voltage. In many cases a chip drives these ladders; think of an fpga (field programmable gata aray).
You can then get a signal path that is as follows: The digital signal gets to the input receiver. That then forwards the signal to the fpga which decodes it and drives the ladder. This then sends the voltage out. Of course, a decent clock ensures that the digital signal is clocked correctly throughout the dac.
Now the fpga plays a fairly important role in this whole thing. The way of programming can provide a certain signature. Rokna is an example of a special control. dCS as well. Sonnet and Metrum Acoustics also take a different approach, as we have written about many times. We don’t know exactly if Denafrips applies a few tricks, but that could be the case of course.
NOS and OS
The Denafrips dacs can work in Non OverSampling and OverSampling mode. So depending on taste you can choose a setting. Both have advantages and disadvantages and influence on the reproduction. NOS comes across to us as slightly more pure and direct. Perhaps even a little more rhythmic. Oversampling can sound a bit smoother and more sweet. We have listened to both modes.