I recently had a chance to listen to the Denafrips Ares II. Before that I pretty much believed any DAC did ‘what a DAC do’ and ‘make the sounds go’.
But now I clearly understand what is going on with DAC’s and man it’s beautiful. After having heard the Ares I’ve understood it’s most likely it’s R2R-system which makes me go ‘oh mama yes!’
So now my new quest has become to obtain this ‘oh mama yes’ a bit more permanently than just listening to an Ares for a bit. AKA. Purchasing an R2R DAC.
The Ares, obviously would be an amazing choice. Since it is the DAC I actually got to listen to… But it’s like €900… Which isn’t that cheap
I’m also very intregued by the P6 Pro but ya know… Not much better
Budget R2R DAC’s. Suggestions?
NOTE: No Schiit. I live in Europe. They have been out of stock for over 6 months and their EU-customer support is garbage.
I won’t go into my it’s not about R2R/DS thing here.
You have limited options for R2R at lower prices, Soekris, Aries, BF2, the cheapest if you can find one is the Airtist R2R DAC, but that was a drop exclusive, and many of them had issues and failed. Though if you can find a working one it would be safe.
AudioGD might have something, but they are not well respected here.
There are two “budgets” R2Rs: Modi Multibit and Airist R2R but IMO none of them are very good for the price and I’d really suggest skipping this level and aim for Bifrost 2 / Ares II level. The Soekris 1321/1221 will be also very good and slightly cheaper but they may not give you an as coloured sound as you expect from R2R DACs.
Audio-GD is a bit more controversial as some love it some hate it. The Musician Audio stuff is a semi-clone of Denafrips products.
If you’re open to portable products you can also look like Hifiman HM1000 or the new Cayin N6 with R1 motherboard which are also R2Rs.
But… IMO the reason R2R seems to make a difference is because at the sub 1k level D/S DACs just aren’t very good and they tend to sound very similar whereas with R2R DACs you have more variety in implementation. But what do I know
Most of the better <$1000 DAC’s are R2R, but as you move to higher price tiers the actual DAC component chip/R2R ladder/ FPGA etc aren’t really indicative of the result, the modern lampizators use a DS chip, but they are still extremely organic.
The high end Linn stuff, again cheap DS chips but excellent DAC’s.
DCS DAC’s use there own variant of a DS design.
Lots of great R2R designs as well higher price points.
The actual D to A conversion technology isn’t really the bulk of what a DAC is.
Maybe I am wrong but aren’t all R2R DACs supposed to be kept at operating temperature in order to sound their best? This basically means keeping it powered on all the time. I believe the Ares II is no exception to this rule. Perhaps an owner can chime in and clarify.
I believe it (and as you said, all R2R DACs) sounds better when powered on all the time as the temperature stabilises, but whether that’s some kinda subjective myth or objective verifiable fact is up to individuals to decide. I leave all my electronics on, though, except anything involving tubes.
Thanks for the response. It would make sense for this to be the case and I believe this to be true, especially in the case of R2R’s using discreet components. I remember one gentleman saying that it took 3 days for his R2R DAC to warm up and sound better.
In the case of Multi-bit units, however, this may not be as critical, which is one of the things that make the BF2 more attractive to me. However, you can’t get one right now. Well, order today, wait 8 weeks. No thanks.
You will want to do that, most smaller R2R DAC’s only take about 20 minutes to an hour to come to temperature, but they do change in sound in that time.
Most DAC’s draw minimal power, it’s just easier to leave them on.
The Schiit units are notorious for long warm ups, the exception is the BF2.
There are people who claim the Yggdrasil takes weeks to stabilize, the Gungnir is certainly longer than the BF2, several hours perhaps.