I really like analog audio, however I’ve by no means complained that digital audio sounded disagreeable or shiny, just a bit boring, and it does not pull me in like an honest turntable. Music on LP connects higher, and to my delight that is what’s occurred with the Denafrips Ares digital converter. Digital sounded a number of steps nearer to vinyl, and if that interprets as extra “analog-like,” so be it. With the Ares I heard the whole lot deep down into the combination, like by no means earlier than.
The Ares is competitively priced at $680, Â£550 and AU$980 however what makes it uncommon is that it makes use of a financial institution of resistors to carry out the digital-to-analog conversion.
The sound is large, however Ares is good and compact, simply 2.four by 8.four by 9.9 inches (45 by 215 by 230 mm). The entrance panel has a big Standby button, then a row of a lot smaller digital enter selector buttons for USB, coaxial and optical digital inputs, plus Section and Mute buttons. A collection of extremely tiny and not-at-all-bright pink LEDs point out the chosen supply, the pattern price and whether or not the converter is enjoying DSD recordsdata. No distant is included.
Judged from the surface it is a neatly designed, however no-frills fundamental black part, however I popped the duvet and took a gander at what the Denafrips engineers crafted. The Ares does not use an off-the-shelf digital converter chip like most converters do. The Ares innards as an alternative home a Denafrips designed discrete, high-precision resistor ladder (R-2R) digital converter. I’ve by no means earlier than seen one like that in a lower than $2,000 converter. Ares decodes high-resolution PCM recordsdata as much as 24 bit/384 kHz sampling charges, and as much as 11.288MHz (4X) DSD native recordsdata. The inner energy provide boasts a big custom-wound toroidal transformer and a financial institution of 72 small capacitors.
The rear finish has a USB, two coaxial RCA and two optical digital enter jacks; and stereo RCA and XLR analog output jacks. The underside panel has 4 rubber-tipped conical toes, and a slide swap to pick 115- or 230-volt operation. Construct high quality feels sturdy, and the guarantee runs three years.
Listening to the Ares
The Ares sound wasn’t something like every other digital converter I’ve tried at residence; it had extra physique and dimensionality, and the sound broke freed from myaudio system. The music had extra guts and energy, sounding much more like LPs, or to place it one other manner, the sound of dwell music.
To place the Ares in context I introduced out a Schiit Bifrost Multibit converter ($599), which sounded brighter and crisper, however extra uptight, and dimensionally flatter than the Ares. With the Ares the sound opened up, it was easy, the Ares let the music come by means of with better ease. It was an even bigger sound, with extra soundstage depth, and low degree, quieter, extra delicate detailing was enhanced. This type of decision was unprecedented for the cash.
Subsequent, I introduced out atube digital converter ($1,350, Â£1,046 and AU$1,804). I like it for its candy sound and soundstage depth, however the Ares’ purity and superior readability was in one other league. The music popped into focus, as if veils had been lifted. The Border Patrol SE sound was attractive, nevertheless it sounded a tad sluggish after I spent a while with the Ares.
Although I attempt to keep away from utilizing the time period “musical” to explain the sound of parts, that is precisely what made the Ares particular. There was a dwell high quality to the sound, extra bounce to the rhythms, extra visceral impression within the bass. I used to be shaken by this little converter, the entry-level mannequin from Denafrips. I hope to get my arms on one among its higher-end fashions within the coming months.
Vinshine Audio is the worldwide distributor for Denafrips; all merchandise are direct shipped from Guangzhou, China, to every buyer. The Ares present value is $680 within the US, Â£550 within the UK and AU$980 in Australia.