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Denafrips Pontus II vs Chord Qutest impressions (as well as the Denafrips Ares II)


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In summary, you really love the Pontus and prefer it to the Qutest. Thanks for all the insights.

Tidal / Qobuz--> Roon--> Fios Gigabit--> Netgear Prosafe GS105 --> Supra 8-->EtherRegen --> Fiber--> opticalRendu / CI Audio LPS --> Curious Evolved Link --> Chord Qutest--> AQ Water --> Belles Aria Integrated--> AQ Robin Hood--> Kudos Super 20's

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4 hours ago, Calvin & Hobbes said:

 

100%. I was quite surprised to hear that the Pontus not only sounded more natural and fuller, but also had better resolution to boot.

 

Thank you for sharing your listening impressions. I appreciate very much that you value musicality over audiophile aspects.

Please, can you disclose your devices for streaming with Qobuz upstream to the Pontus and if you prefered the Pontus in NOS or OS mode.

 

Thanks again

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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On 4/13/2021 at 2:43 PM, Calvin & Hobbes said:

Hi Matt, I'm streaming from the following source:

 

TP-Link RE230 Wi-Fi Extender > Supra Cat 8 Ethernet cable > Pro-ject Stream Box Ultra S2 (Wi-Fi & HDMI outputs turned off) > Audioquest Jitterbug noise filter > Phasure Lush USB cable > Pontus II DAC

 

Music sources are WAV & FLAC files on a memory stick connected to the Pro-ject & streaming via Qobuz

 

So far I seem to prefer the Pontus in the OS - Slow filter mode.  The OS mode seems smoother than the NOS mode. The Slow filter mode seems to add a touch of warmth versus the Fast filter mode. I will admit that I haven't listened extensively in the NOS mode after an initial decision on which mode to start listening in, so I may live with the Pontus in NOS mode for several days to see how that sounds.

Can you give more details on the Ares II vs the Pontus? In addition, do they all have the same family sound (like Metrum for example). I’m considering Ares II to see if I like the Denafrips sound. Also, I’m very sensitive to harshness.

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I just noticed @Calvin & Hobbes and @OldBigEars both use Cat 8 Ethernet Cables which I believe are shielded. At least with my experience from Chord DACs, the Cat 8 shielding (or any shielded Ethernet cables) tends to leak RF noise into the Chord DACs and affect its performance. I think this phenomenon affects other DACs too but can sometimes make dull sounding DACs more exciting.

 

That said, @Calvin & Hobbes is one of many who prefers R2R DACs to Chord. I think it’s mostly a preference thing depending on type of music people listen to and system synergy. Ultimately, what sounds good in your system is what’s good.

Roon (convolution filter using Acourate) > ultraRendu > Peachtree X1 (Toslink) > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Chord DAVE > Chord Etude > Dynaudio Confidence C1 Signature

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I need to update my signature but I recently upgraded my microRendu 1.4 to the opticalRendu.  I was really rather dubious as to the benefits of doing so, as the Etherregen was arguably cleaning up the signal in any case.  But anyway the outcome has been a sonic improvement way beyond my expectation.

 

With the opticalRendu now fully burned in I find I'm using the white (Incisive) filter almost all the time, except with poorly recorded music which occasionally has me switching to the orange (Smooth) filter. But as my musical preference is mainly jazz, most recordings are high quality and the Qutest delivers them beautifully. When I put on some old classic rock albums, I occasionally have issues.

Tidal / Qobuz--> Roon--> Fios Gigabit--> Netgear Prosafe GS105 --> Supra 8-->EtherRegen --> Fiber--> opticalRendu / CI Audio LPS --> Curious Evolved Link --> Chord Qutest--> AQ Water --> Belles Aria Integrated--> AQ Robin Hood--> Kudos Super 20's

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33 minutes ago, OldBigEars said:

I need to update my signature but I recently upgraded my microRendu 1.4 to the opticalRendu.

But anyway the outcome has been a sonic improvement way beyond my expectation.

Yes. I have found it’s very difficult to completely eliminate these types of noise from entering DACs. So for Chord DACs, because the jitter immunity mechanism is different than other DACs, I find the reference sound per the designer is to simply feed it Toslink despite the high source jitter. OpticalRendu is another fantastic way to achieve this too.

Roon (convolution filter using Acourate) > ultraRendu > Peachtree X1 (Toslink) > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Chord DAVE > Chord Etude > Dynaudio Confidence C1 Signature

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1 hour ago, ecwl said:

I just noticed @Calvin & Hobbes and @OldBigEars both use Cat 8 Ethernet Cables which I believe are shielded. At least with my experience from Chord DACs, the Cat 8 shielding (or any shielded Ethernet cables) tends to leak RF noise into the Chord DACs and affect its performance. I think this phenomenon affects other DACs too but can sometimes make dull sounding DACs more exciting.

I've got an AmazonBasics Cat 6 cable on hand. I'll switch out the Supra Cat 8 cable for the AmazonBasics Cat 6 cable into the Qutest DAC today and report back on what I hear.

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You've listened to the Qutest for a 2-months... and the Pontus for a week. Thinking back to when you first put the Qutest in your system can you comment on how you initially felt about your music via the Chord DAC? Were you once as enamored with the Qutest as you are with the Denafrips? Perhaps say, after one week of listening?

Analog: Rega P8 > Ortofon Cadenza Black > PS Audio Stellar Phono Pre

Digial: SoTM SMS200 Ultra > SPS500 > Chord Qutest

Sound: Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II > Harbeth P3ESR

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  • 1 month later...

I think the deficits of the Ares II are largely with its  USB implementation.  Used as DAC with coax from a Linn Genki HDCD player  it sounds terrific,

doesn't have the "digititus" that I  would hear with Schiit multibit Gungnir, Metrum Octave, and Chord Mojo. I've found its USB sound so far pleasant

but perhaps a little blurry... feed it from a Denafrips Iris DDC and all comes into sharp focus for transients. Nice to have a DAC that allows you

to like what your hear instead of wince at digital imperfections.

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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I picked up an Ares II recently and was greatly disappointed with the thinness of its sound. Based on the hype and reviews I was expecting a warm rich sound, what I heard was quite detailed but totally lacking weight and fullness. System synergy? To an extent maybe, but even my 10 year old Sabre based Minimax has much more meat on the bones. With a no return policy it has made me wary of trying any other Denafrips products fearing I'll be getting more of the same and will once again take a hit after reselling it.

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  • 1 month later...

I've been realizing how good the Pontus really is as I listen to more music. I have listened to the Qutest again twice, but the Qutest is no match for the Pontus in terms of the richness and complexity of its tone quality, its resolution, and how natural it sounds. I'm very happy with the sound of the Pontus.

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  • 1 month later...
On 7/20/2021 at 8:00 PM, Calvin & Hobbes said:

I've been realizing how good the Pontus really is as I listen to more music. I have listened to the Qutest again twice, but the Qutest is no match for the Pontus in terms of the richness and complexity of its tone quality, its resolution, and how natural it sounds. I'm very happy with the sound of the Pontus.

Have you tried either a Mac laptop or Windows-based laptop with the Pontus? If so, do both work properly? I had a Qutest, which sounded great with my MacBook Pro, but PCM 192k or any DSD files were terribly garbled/distorted with my HP Laptop. I ended up returning the Qutest. (By the way, Chord send me a newer Windows driver, but it wasn't any better. I also tried both JRiver and Audirvana on the HP--no joy.)

B&W 803D3 speakers

McIntosh MA9000 integrated amp

Esoteric K-03 SACD player; 

VPI Prime Signature turntable/Ortofon Cadenza Bronze cartridge

Sennheiser HD800s, Audyssey LCD-xC headphones

 

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23 hours ago, DeathFugue said:

Have you tried either a Mac laptop or Windows-based laptop with the Pontus? If so, do both work properly? I had a Qutest, which sounded great with my MacBook Pro, but PCM 192k or any DSD files were terribly garbled/distorted with my HP Laptop. I ended up returning the Qutest. (By the way, Chord send me a newer Windows driver, but it wasn't any better. I also tried both JRiver and Audirvana on the HP--no joy.)

No, just a streamer.

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@Calvin & Hobbes The one thing I've observed comparing a Mojo to the Ares II is that the Ares II can be a bit of a Pollyanna... it doesn't do nasty well whereas the Mojo can.

I'm curious whether the same difference is true between Qutest and Pontus? Some example test tracks below

 

Man of La Mancha (2002 broadway cast) Track 3 "Its all the same"

The Lion King Legacy Collection (original with Jeremy Irons) Track 8 "Be Prepared"

 

Both should drip with sarcasm/contempt in the voice of the lead singer

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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2 hours ago, davide256 said:

@Calvin & Hobbes The one thing I've observed comparing a Mojo to the Ares II is that the Ares II can be a bit of a Pollyanna... it doesn't do nasty well whereas the Mojo can.

I'm curious whether the same difference is true between Qutest and Pontus? Some example test tracks below

 

Man of La Mancha (2002 broadway cast) Track 3 "Its all the same"

The Lion King Legacy Collection (original with Jeremy Irons) Track 8 "Be Prepared"

 

Both should drip with sarcasm/contempt in the voice of the lead singer

I was unable to find the Man of La Mancha album via streaming, but Jeremy Irons sounds positively evil via the Pontus. I don't have the Qutest anymore so I can't provide a comparison via the Qutest. An analogy I can provide is that Jimi Hendrix sounds amazing via the Pontus with an appropriate amount of edge to the sound of his guitar.

 

The Ares sounds both harsher but also less impactful in sound than the Pontus. 

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@Calvin & Hobbesdid you ever try your Qutest with a good optical feed?  I switched over from USB a few weeks ago, with a cheap Chinese converter no less, and the improvement in SQ has been game-changing in my system.  I hate to say it, but from my experience in my system all tests/comparisons of Qutest are off unless we're talking about using it this way. 

Tidal / Qobuz--> Roon--> Fios Gigabit--> Netgear Prosafe GS105 --> Supra 8-->EtherRegen --> Fiber--> opticalRendu / CI Audio LPS --> Curious Evolved Link --> Chord Qutest--> AQ Water --> Belles Aria Integrated--> AQ Robin Hood--> Kudos Super 20's

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