I’ve been flip-flopping between the BF2 and Ares II for the past several months. I knew that my two DACs for the past year or so (SDAC-B and Modi Multibit v2) were the bottlenecks in my system (Liquid Platinum and Marantz MM 7025 [HE-6 drivers, hehe]). I had a taste of the high-end before when I had a weeklong loan of Chord’s Hugo TT2 (MSRP ~$6k) courtesy of TTVJ’s HF loaner program.
The SDAC-B is an enjoyable DAC, but the TT2 blew it out of the water in almost every category except for tonality, as the SDAC-B’s (imo) is pretty damn good on that front without suffering too much digititus. However, the TT2 had better detail retrieval and space/depth in its soundstage. Moreover, there’s that punch, visceralness, or tactility that was clearly several levels above the SDAC-B and the Mimby. I was sad to see the TT2 go, as it made my HE-6’s approach David Maher’s description of the HE-6 in his flagship shootout post from years ago.
Now, hold that thought while I circle back to my BF2 vs Ares II decision. I asked a few here about their opinion between the two and I decided to go with the BF2 because of its supposedly more correct timbre and depth to its soundstage despite not being as wide as the Ares II. Almost as important in my mind was Schiit just being a 45min drive away, so any service or repair can be handled in a relatively straightforward manner. On the other hand, the Ares II would require me to ship the unit back to Vinshine all the way to Singapore and possibly pay both ways ($86 to $100 each way). So warranty service with Vinshine could be $86-$200 out of pocket. So, all of the factors pointed me to the BF2.
I think @WaveTheory did an excellent job describing the BF2, and I have to say that my experience with the BF2 is similar. The most noticeable thing was the presence of tactility from the BF2! Finally, notes had more weight to them. A flamenco guitarist tapping the body of his guitar can be now be heard and felt, somewhat similar to that of the TT2. It has been too long since I’ve listened to the TT2, but the tactility that I missed from it is now happily provided by the BF2 without the $4.8k premium of the former.