Denafrips Pontus *15th* ?

Hi guys, 

I'm confused (doesn't take a lot 🤔)

I ordered a new Pontus 12th-1 direct from Vinshine about 8/9 days ago; it was delivered this morning, but, it wasn't a Pontus 12th-1 I unboxed - it was a Pontus 15th????

I had no idea, and haven't come across, or read anything that there was a new version coming.

I've emailed Vinshine, but with the time difference, they're probably all tucked up in bed right now in Singapore; while I wait for a response, does anyone else have a clue about this "15th" version?

I'd post a picture of the front panel, but I have no idea how to upload photos on A'gon

Thanks for reading 👍


Check the Denafrips Terminator 2 bs thread.  Seems strange but true. Please post once/if you hear back.

@marco1 thanks for this, I wouldn't have read that thread normally as the Terminator is outside of my budget.

I've had a response from Annie at Vinshine; Annie wrote "the Support Team will reply to your email".

So, eagerly awaiting for the reply 🤔😊

@audphile1 🤣🤣🤣 funnily enough, that did cross my mind for a fleeting moment in my initial confusion 🤪


If it’s anything like the Pontus ll, you’re gonna love it!  But I am definitely interested in what the Pontus 15 is all about.

@curiousjim thanks 👍

I haven't given it much of a listen to be honest; I was so confused, I wasn't really taking it in as I normally would when receiving a new component 😊. What I did hear from it was impressive, considering I only had it plugged in and listened to it for about half hour.

The Pontus replaced the Ares 12th-1 which I bought on auction on a whim in February. I was so impressed I added the Iris 12th, which was a nice uplift. But I was so impressed with the little Ares, I took the plunge on a Pontus.

I'm very interested to see what Vinshine comes back with, and also to find out what changes have been made for the 15th. I'll update as soon as I hear back again 👍


Wow, it would be a world premiere first in hifi if you paid for the most up to date version AND GET A PREVIOUSLY UNANNOUNCED UPGRADED VERSION FOR NO UPCHARGE!!!

Suffice to say I am eagerly awaiting further updates!

@kairosman yeah, I was surprised to say the least. I didn't even notice the "15th" on the front plate of my unit until after I'd configured the I2S pin out 😂.

I paid the normal 12th-1 price allowing for S$ to UK £ conversion, plus I took advantage of the offer of S$149 off for Vinshine loyalty membership. 

Damn $150 less than retail too, please post component upgrades to the 15th when published 🙏 

As I can’t easily post pics on A’gon, here’s a link to a thread I posted in a UK forum with a photo of the 15th

Yes, the archaic method of posting pictures on this site requires you to host your pictures on the internet. Circa 2000 technology.


@ozzy62 thanks Ozzy. That takes me back. Haven't done that for a long long time 🤔😊. I have vague memories of a hosting site called something like Photo Bucket, or something like that 😊

@painter24 when you get more time to evaluate it (and after say 50 to 100 hours are on it) please let us know if the Pontus 15th or whatever it is has more bass definition (or "slam") than the Ares II. I’m on the fence about getting an R2R DAC but considering the Pontus, however, "everyone" says chip-based DACs offer better bass. Well, maybe, maybe not. A Venus or Terminator are out of my price range, but something in the $2k range might fit the bill if it is a significant step up from the Ares II. Thank you and good luck. It will be interesting what they tell you about the "15".

Ah, I see on the Maverick Hi-Fi site you referenced that someone has posted a blurb from their website...So it is a 15th edition with some slight upgrades. Nice to see.

But I do kind of agree with others that small changes don't warrant an "edition" and can be off-putting for those wanting to buy and yet have their device hold value longer and not seem like "the flavor of the month". Too many "editions" too quickly smacks of SMSL's marketing techniques and "cheapens" the brand's cachet.  Most companies do small updates or improvements during production runs and don't change the "edition".   I mean, if Ford beefs up a bracket on a truck during one year's production, they don't call it a F-150 Mark 57.  It gets silly after a while. 

Save "editions" for significant changes. Maybe it is a Chinese cultural thing compared to Westerners. I'm not sure. PS Audio out of Colorado only changes editions after several YEARS, not months. 

Have had a Pontus ll 12th for 18 months and it certainly does not lack bass. Have been very happy with it. If possible to audition, well worth it. 

@moonwatcher What I did notice in the brief time I listened, was that bass notes, say on electric bass guitar were definitely more defined. I wouldn't say more bass slam, but more discernable. This was one of the things I did pick up on, plus better micro detail generally. Individual track components better isolated from each other.

Once I've put some decent hours on the unit (it'll be running Radio Paradise 24/7 for the next week or more), I'll update.

Hope this helps 👍



I’ve got the Terminator “12th” and it gets better and better.   It’s been 4 months and the sound opens up and bass gets deeper and tighter as it breaks in. I’m still wondering what the spec differences are between that and the 15th.  It’s now on their website as a 15th. This is fun 

I couldn't make out much other than silver internal wiring, and new FPGA firmware (for the Pontus 15th) but there is probably more.

Looking forward to one of Alvin's YT vids on this; he's got a lot of catch-up after his trip away 🤔🫣

when I type Pontus 15 on yahoo I get a page on the Denafrips Pontus 15, but when I go to the Denafrips website, no mention of the 15

It seems you have to go to the “Buy Now” link on the Denafrips website to see the reference to the Pontus 15th as well as other 15th models. This brings up another interesting factoid in that pricing which appears to be in US dollars on the Denafrips website differs from the Vinshine website S$ price after it is converted to US dollars. Would also seem like Vinshine and Denafrips have to get on the same page regarding both the model numbers and pricing.



It’s very strange that there wasn’t some kind of announcement of this new version as communication has been usually excellent with this company in my experience. I have had my Pontus II 3 years and have been extremely happy with it.

I've received a response from Alvin re: the 15th versions;

Good day!
My apologies for the late reply. I am currently on a business trip with limited internet access.

Pontus 15th is the latest variant. You're one of the lucky customers who received it :) More details will be shared by the DENAFRIPS team soon!

p/s: We're currently on a business trip, so there may be a delay in our response. Thank you for your patience.
Many thanks.


Yours sincerely,

Alvin Chee

Looks like Denafrips/Vinshine will release more comprehensive details soon. Keen to find out what they are 👍




Does anyone know if there will be a Venus 15th in the near future?  There is no mention of it on the Denafrips website.

@audiostick on the top banner on the Denafrips webpage, at least when I looked yesterday, it features only the Pontus and Terminator as having 15th versions at the moment. I'm sure the Venus will get the same treatment eventually 

Just a quick update on the Pontus 15th

After 24hrs, not much change from initial power-up; some nice things going on - as mentioned, bass was tightening up with greater definition

After 48hrs - Meh! Just sounded all over the place, a bit of a hot mess

After 72hrs things settled back down again, bass a little tighter, micro parts like light cymbal taps and hits coming more to the fore and stand-out

After 96hrs - more if the same with a greater sense of the ambience of recordings. Spaces between notes are palpable if that makes sense.

Bass seems to be the stand out at the moment though; I have bass traps in either corner of my room behind and to the side of my speakers, but was still having some residual bloom. This seems to have almost disappeared in contrast to how it was with the Ares 12th-1. I’m a little tentative on this aspect as I know it’s relatively early days and probably have a ways to go yet, but it’s certainly positive and promising right now

Love Alvin. Honest, open, thorough.. BUT! When they began this model of the month.. NO WAY! Now... it has created a different used market if you want a DEAL on say a Terminator, cuz due to the marketing design they are employing... A 5 year old Terminator isn't worth much to most!
Sold mine and moved on. The complete opposite of other non ChiFi manufacturers. 
Some NEVER change a model. Upgrades should be a additional model. Imagine their used market. You would have to study a while to know what you are after...
And for Chinese HiFi??? NO, No, No!
Pride off ownership??? Are you proud of your 5K Chinese DAC?
There are so many good DAC's out there... And sure $28K for a Lampizator or $14K for a Mola Mola is a lot, but I assure you they don't butcher product lines to sell more product.

@pwdmark agreed, Alvin is a good guy, he's not the one calling the shots at Denafrips, he knows most likely this is not recieved well by Westerners, but FYI culturally it's common practice in China. I sold my Terminator II last year and bought a Lampizator Baltic V4, very happy with it. Would buy a Denafrips product IF resale value wasn't an issue for me, otherwise no.


May I ask why you chose Pontus vs Venus?  Was it purely $?  I have asked Vinshine for guidance based on my system, but no reply.  I do believe that there is a point of no return.

@audiostick I’ve read that some people prefer the Pontus with a DDC over the Venus and allows use of the i2S connection.  Just another (and maybe cheaper) option to consider.  FWIW.

@soix  Yes, I have noticed the Pontus - Iris buzz as well, but since my current streamer does not feature USB, it would not benefit me at this time.

@audiostick hi, I already had the Iris 12th, which I was feeding the Ares 12th-1. I've read multiple times that a Pontus and Iris pairing takes you almost to the Venus, so I went with the Pontus. I also had earmarked money for other HiFi stuff, such as new speaker cables

Hi, I don't post on forums much but I was looking to purchase a Denafrips 12th anniversary dac in the very near future and came across this thread.. I emailed Alvin a couple of weeks ago asking for advise for which Denafrips dac to purchase, his answer was the Pontus ll would be an excellent choice for my audio system.. With all the updates with the Pontus ll in what seems like the very recent past and now a 15th addition? I have now become wary to make a Pontus purchase.. I've owned a Chord Qutest dac a couple of years back and it did sound wonderful in my main system but thought it was time for a change for no other reason then to try something new.. The Qutest hasn't had an upgrade in years and the Pontus just came out with its 5th iteration (if my count is correct) with the model 15th. I've read all the comments in this thread and I'm no longer getting a warm and fuzzy feeling about a Pontus purchase.. How long is the 15th going to be around? What's the resale value of my purchase gonna be in a year or two? I have purchased two sets of HifiMan headphones in the past which now seems to be near worthless after just a few years.. I'm done with them and told them as much.. What other dac is available in the Pontus price range or is there any?

From the Denafrips site, it states they have used silver wiring internally, and upgraded firmware for the FPGA chip. I think someone else posted some spec changes

There may be more than this of course

@grpkmp if you’re that concerned with resale buy a used model.  Quite frankly I think you will be hard pressed to hear much of a difference between a recent version Pontus II and Pontus 15th, if you hear any difference at all.

Post removed 


@marco1 unfortunately for me, I'm pretty finicky when it come to my audio gear thats why I thought I would just buy a new unit this time.. but when there are so many upgrades in the line up, it even takes away the worth of the older models.. for me it's the principal of it.. I don't like when a company does that. I understand the upgrade path, I'm in this hobby for more than 40 years. Why should there be that many upgrades in such a short span of time.. If theres not much difference in the sound quality after a few upgrades, why bother. Thats the way I feel about it.. 

The practice of launching new versions so often is a little annoying, especially if you’re someone who bought a 12th. Correct me if I’m wrong, I think the 12th versions were launched in 2022 followed by the 12th-1’s in early 2023, and now the 15th versions May/June 2024.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I’ve never heard a Pontus of any iteration prior to ordering a new Pontus 12th-1, and of course I was sent the 15th instead, so I have no way of comparing and contrasting the 12th-1 with the 15th. But, I suspect as @marco1 suggests, I doubt the difference would be significant, probably a refinement rather than a major update.

I’ve never bought a new Denafrips DAC prior to this; the 2 Ares units I’ve had (Ares II and Ares 12th-1) were both bought pre-loved, 2 or 3 years apart, and sold on at close to what I paid for them, so personally i don’t feel burnt as someone who bought a 12th, and then the 12th-1 was launched not long after.

Admittedly, I’m not someone who feels I have to have the new model of something whatever it may be, if I already own a previous model, but I know and appreciate some people do feel compelled to.

Unfortunately for us in the US and Europe who enjoy these products, this practice seems to be the norm with manufacturers in China/Asia, SMSL for example seem to have new DAC every 5 minutes (I vaguely remember a YT video by Jay’s Iyagi (spelling?) about this very issue. The focus of the video was that he felt the situation had gotten so ridiculous, that he wasn’t going to buy or review anymore of these DACs from the likes of SMSL, Topping etc)

At the end of the day, we’re not compelled or forced to buy any of these products. If for example a new Denafrips DAC was launched in the near future, say an 15th-1, or an 18th say, would I buy it? Big nope. From what I’ve heard of my Pontus 15th, I wouldn’t feel the need to, it is a lovely sounding DAC, and we know these new iterations are not major updates/upgrades but refinements which may be should be "silent" rather rather than launching new versions

Just my thoughts 👍






A couple of points as a long time Denafrips Pontus II owner

(1) I am one who directly compared a Pontus II/Iris DDC combination versus the Venus in my system....and preferred the Pontus II/Iris combo using an I2S connection. A Pontus II (whichever model it is) is just a unique DAC that is incredibly musical, fun, and engaging. Is it the most detailed and revealing? No, but R2R ladder DACs don't tend to be; if that's what's important, buy a Chord DAC. To me, the Pontus just happens to be a unicorn at it's modest price, and one that performs way over it's purchase price would indicate.

In the past 6 months I've upgraded a pair of speakers (Clayton Shaw Caladans), a preamp (Aric Audio Motherlode XL), and two amplifiers (Aric Audio Transcend EL34 "Push Pull" and SS CODA S5.5); and still do not feel that the 2+ year old Pontus II is limiting me. Will I upgrade? Of course, as I am constant pursuit of better SQ. Right now my short list is a Denafrips Terminator Plus, and whatever LampiZator I can afford.....but that's some serious coin.

(2) As to the constant updates to the Pontus (and all of Denafrips DACs), it is a two way street. Yes the updates to the naming convention could (and do) cause a stir and possibly affect resell, but personally I am happy that Denafrips is constantly trying to improve what are already great DACs. Would I be happier if they just left well enough alone and weren't evolving? No, I'd probably knock them for that

Since I've owned the DAC, Denafrips (via Vinshine Audio), have put forth a bunch of firmware updates for the DAC....some of which have been nice upgrades (some not so much to my ear).

@vthokie83 If you were not using the Iris, would you still prefer Pontus to Venus with your system?


Possibly not, but I did no do a direct comparison of the Pontus II to the Venus II.....I already had the Iris/Pontus combination set up, and wanted to see if the Venus II beat it; and for me it did not. The friend that owns the Venus that I borrowed, did prefer the Venus over the Pontus in a heads up comparison.

Compare pricing: Denafrips Pontus II 15th $1,800 + Denafrips Iris $550 = $2,350; versus $3,060 for a for me not only was the sonic signature better, but the price difference is $700.

Now will that be the case for everyone certainly not, I have heard several who prefer the Venus II (including my friend).....and maybe if I was doing a Pontus/Venus comparison straight up, I might as well.

I also know several people have other brands of DACs and use the Iris (or the higher up Hermes) with their DACs.....particularly Musician and Gustard which have I2S inputs. Hope this helps a bit


I am using the Venus II and Hermes combination via I2s and it's pretty damn good. I also updated the firmware to the latest, I feel I am not missing out either. These DAc's are really good for the money. I like using the Hermes as the source switch as i have coaxial, USB and AES all connected and still take advantage of the I2s on the Venus.  I also have considered the Terminator and also the Lampizator Balic 4, maybe in the future. But I want to get a tube pre amp first.


I thought you had that combo, and glad to hear your experience. Good luck on the preamp, my new Aric Audio Motherlode XL has showed me how much a great preamp can tie a system together.

Seems like the noise has died off pretty quickly.  I remember when the 12th edition came out the rumbling went on for quite some time.  Also seems very strange that no “official” announcement about the 15th has been issued here or anywhere else that I’m aware of.  The last time Alvin jumped on things pretty quickly.  It’s been over a week since this first surfaced and the only response has been that everyone’s on a business trip, lol.

I have an "original" Pontus II (so no 12th or other numbers involved) and I very much enjoy it. Purchased it new a few years back and always felt it was a really good deal for the money.

But I don't think I will be purchase anything else from Denafrips in light of the constant stream of updates. It's hard to keep track of, and seems to tank the resale value of prior models. I fully realize that a DAC is a depreciating asset but even so, this behavior really accelerates the process. 

On the flip side, those shopping on the second hand market for a great DAC will benefit greatly from this. But I don't think that's a bragging point for Denafrips to be proud of. 

The situation reminds me of Audio GD if anyone is familiar with that brand. I was a big fan back in the day, but things went sideways when they started "upgrading" models every 9 months, and the naming conventions were absurd. I got off that train and never looked back. 

It may very well be they are forced to make new versions, many parts have become obsolete during the recent years. Several Nichicon and Elna capacitors not to mention many chips are not manufactured anymore and their prices have risen tremendously. I’m a pessimist and believe it’s about cost rather than quality.