Possible Ares II replacement... thoughts please?

Hi, my current system has a Denafrips Ares II into an IotaVX stack, feeding a pair of Q Acoustics 3050i. The amp is fairly new in my system and I still need more time to getting used to the new sound signature.

That being said, I have this nagging feeling the Ares does not play as nicely in the new setup as it did on the previouse one. Speakers and amp are warm and notthe most rhythmic around. The Ares has lot of air and timbre but is also sort of soft and vague on the low end.

I saw my feelings expressed quite nicely by youtuber GoldenSound when he reviewed the Ares II. In fact, I think the negatives he mentions are even more amplified in my system. Therefore I’m beguining to think that going back to a delta sigma dac would actually be a good thing.

From the mentioned reviewer I’m pondering the SMSL D1se but the Gustard x26 Pro sounds even more what I’m looking for. Which is basically the spaciousness, air, natural sounding and wide soundstage of the Denafrips but with more grip and resolution on the low and midlow range.

Thoughts and sugestions about this would be much apreciated!

PS: Oh, and budget! The Gustard would already be over what I was thinking on spending but I could go for it. Stuff over 2k is not really an option though, I don’t think I have the system or room to take advantage of that sort of edge.

What about stepping up to the Denafrips Pontus 2 ? Under 2grand and a damn good dac. Very happy with mine. I moved up from the Schiit Bifrost 2. I run my Bryston BHA-1, My Feliks Audio Echo OTL amp as well as my Monoprice Liquid platinum. All are really good with this Dac


Ah, there’s a thought… somehow I was under the impression the Pontus was over 2K. And it is, only that’s in SGD :upside_down_face: I’ll look into it, thanks!