Denafrips upgrade

My plan was to purchase a Denafrips Gaia before the end of the year to use with a Venus DAC and K30 but I’ve since signed up for upgrades on the K30.

I know the Venus/Gaia will sound good but will I get the same benefits from the Gaia with the upgraded USB on the K30, does the upgraded K30 deserve better?
I believe the Teminator ll will be better than Venus/Gaia but factoring in selling the Venus it will cost at least twice as much.
If I bought a Tll this would likely mean waiting until early next year, I guess I need to know if the wait and extra $$ are worth it or should I just buy the Gaia?

Hello MarkR,
I can’t compare the Venus but I upgraded from a Pontus ll to the Terminator ll (12th) which brought a lot more of a refined sound.
The Terminator ll costs a lot more but you get a lot more. I kept the Pontus ll for a second system because it is still a really good DAC especially for the money.
I have read that the Venus has a more analytic sound compared to the others, but can’t comment.

Prior to the upgrades I was tossing up whereas the better demarcation or synergy point lay, either the pairing of the Terminator ll/Gaia or pairing of the K30/S20
I decided on the S20/K30 combination, then later on added an S60 and have been more than happy.

I too signed up to the K30 upgrade and am interested to see how the new USB will perform, alongside most others.
The new USB should produce a better signal, so the Gaia will be working with a better signal.
All things equal you would think a better signal then to the DAC, hopefully?

Do you like the sound of the Venus?
Maybe hear what the upgraded K30 brings and then decide which way to go?

I currently use an OG Terminator with updated DSP board , connected to K50 via AES/EBU.
I am also considering upgrading to the Terminator II .

It seems we have followed a similar path, I’ve gone from EX/Ares – S30&60/Venus – K30.
I did look at Holo Spring before I got the Venus but went the safe path and stuck with Denafrips. The Hollow May L1 is where my budget is now and would cost me about the same as a Terminator ll.
I did enquire locally and there is nothing available to demo apart from a Spring 3 which some suggest is closer to the May than the May L3?
One local retailer even said the Venus was close the May L1 and this move would not be worth doing, I’d need to go L3, not sure if this is true or if he was just trying to upsell me.
Hard to say, most of what is written/reviewed is about the L3, not much on the L1, I can see me going the safe route again…

The Holo DACs have lots of good reviews and praises but I haven’t heard any of them to comment against the Denafrips Pontus or Terminator.
One thing to consider is the upgraded software to the Denafrips DACs.
Did you upgrade your Venus DAC software ?
I upgraded the Denafrips Terminator ll and it lifted the DAC to another level but it took at least 300+ hours.

I had a Iris > I2S > Terminator Plus fed by an Innuos Statement. I bought a used Lampizator Golden Gate 1 and to be able to use USB on both I bought an UltraRendu to convert the Ethernet output of the Statement to USB. I was able to on the fly switch between the DACs with the Innuos Sense App playing Qobuz. After upgrading the TP’s firmware to 3.7 I felt the USB was better than I2S from the Iris. I have since sold the Iris and TP.
I am using USB via a FTA Sinope cable to the Lampizator. I had read SPDIF is the preferred input on the Lampizator similar to I2S being preferred on the TP and other Denafrips DACs. I bought a used S20 and S60. Now I use the Ethernet out of the Statement to the UltraRendu then USB (needs a 5V so I am using a ENO Ag USB cable which is not in the same league as the Sinope) to the S20 and BNC out from the S20 to the Golden Gate.
It surprised me that with all the cables and conversion I preferred the BNC input to the direct USB with the Sinope cable. I regret not trying the BNC with my Iris to my TP before I sold them.
One additional observation on the S60, I have an Antipodes Core that I originally used as a Roon Core with the Statement as an Endpoint. Now it is a NAS recognized by the Innuos Sense App. Replacing the standard external Power Supply on the Core with the S60 made a dramatic improvement to files played from the Core.
I was always a bit concerned about the onboard power supply of the Denafrips DDC’s. I believe the Antipodes S20/S60 combination to be far superior to the Denafrips DDC’s although far costlier also.
Has anyone compared SPDIF to I2S on the Denafrips DACs?

@Sean – I’ve done a firmware upgrade on the Venus and was pleased with the improvement it bought.
Can’t believe how many people complained online about how difficult the firmware upgrade was and if they didn’t like it they had to reinstall the old firmware, it was free for goodness sake.

Thanks @Rikkipuu I have convinced myself to upgrade the DAC and binned the idea of adding the Gaia, do it once do it right I guess.

Too many YouTube videos later and I have ordered a Holo May L2. I listen almost exclusively in NOS and this is when the Holo May is supposed to really shine, arguably better than the Terminator. Although the Denafrips range undoubtedly sound good in NOS the OCD purist in me is troubled that they reputedly do run DSP in this mode. I’ve only ever used the DSP on the Venus sparingly to take the edge off bad recordings, hopefully the smoothness of the Holo May will negate the need to do this.
May Level 2 has the upgraded USB input, this appeals as I’ll be using the upgraded USB output on my K30, I have decent USB cable and although I won’t rule out further experimentation, I can rest easy knowing I am using what would appear to be best connection between the two.

@Sean – I’ve done a firmware upgrade on the Venus and was pleased with the improvement it bought.
Can’t believe how many people complained online about how difficult the firmware upgrade was and if they didn’t like it they had to reinstall the old firmware, it was free for goodness sake.

Correct, It’s rare to receive anything free these days, so fair play to Denafrips and Vin-shine for instigating the upgrade.
I admit the firmware upgrade was a bit stressful for a computer illiterate like myself, but if I did it, I think probably anyone could with some patience and a methodical approach.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the comparison between the two DACs

I was thinking of repurposing my Edge as a NAS. It is interesting to hear even a power supply change cannbe easily noticed, which suggests the ‘conputer’ that a NAS is based on matters a great deal.

Are you using SSD or HDD in the Core?
Hiw does the sound compare to SSD inserted in your server/Roon core?

A general observation about DDC and reclocking, I’d guess every reclocking imparts a flavour, and putting more than one in series is probably beneficial. Of course, many DACs also reclock incoming signals, some double reclock!

dbastin2605, My Antipodes Core came with a 1 TB SSD. I have not tried changing it.

I am using the Core as a NAS for the Innuos Statement running the Innuos Sense App.

I agree sequential reclocking can be beneficial. I am using three Switches to clean up noise and jitter for my streaming. I have a Switch8 > Etherregen > SOtM sNH-10G with the Etherregen and SOtM reclocked with a Mutec Ref10.

I will be interest to see what you think of the L2 May. That is the one I had and despite all the favourable things online about it I just couldn’t get it to sing in my system. There is of course no reason for us all to like the same thing and the world would be a boring place if we did! (I was using a Sablon EVO usb cable which I still have and use in a different system).

“Hello MarkR,
Curiously, how did you get on with the Holo May II over the Denafrips Venus and how would you compare the K30 upgrade over the changing of the DAC’s?”

@Sean - Lead time on the Holo May was 8 weeks so I’ve not yet got my hands on it. Venus has found a new home already so any comparisons will be difficult but I’ll be happy to report back in time.

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