DENAFRIPS Terminator and Schiit Yggdrasil Evaluation and Comparison

The Evaluation and Comparison of my Denafrips Terminator and Schiit Yggdrasil DACs is posted in full, here:

Main body of my 'review' is copied and posted below.

For details on my Methodology, System and Room Information, and Music Selection please go to the second section (similarly titled) after opening the link.
"This is a story of contrasts, significant and relevant to me. A story of something new and unknown that upends and unseats something familiar and remarkably good in it’s own right.

I remember John Darko’s review of the HiFiMan HE-1000 headphones that was all of one sentence:

"The HE-1000 headphones are to music what the Oculus Rift is to computer gaming."

Sometimes the best choice is to be direct. So I will.

Similar minimalism could wishfully avoid writing. A set of two photographs in one frame, the picture is worth a thousand words approach: The Yggdrasil sitting in a corner of the room unused and the Terminator in the main system on the top shelf. One way of saying it. And true.

The Yggdrasil is a very good DAC. When heard in relation to the Terminator it is clearly the lesser DAC. Being a fan of the Yggdrasil and having lived with it for 2 plus years I had a natural bias to want it to shine and be close in performance, perhaps even overachieve. It wasn’t and didn’t. This became apparent track after track, and without exception. I kept telling myself that there would be an area or areas that I would prefer it over the Terminator but there were none. And for, me that is the most surprising and revelatory outcome. I expected the Terminator to do well but with closer differences and separation. The differences were not close and the Terminator didn’t just do well, it excelled.

This was not a case of new component excitement. I have lived with the Terminator in my system since early November and have become as intimately familiar with it as I have with the Yggdrasil. This was also not a case of listening in a vacuum or my own bubble. I’m especially careful and deliberate about not falling into that trap. My audio friends know the degree to which I reach out to them to run findings, issues and general aspects of our hobby by them, positive and negative.

I was especially concerned because of how wide the gap between the two components is for me. I went the extra step to have an audio friend listen to both the Terminator and the Yggdrasil in his system and then in my system. His impressions and findings are (generally speaking) similar to mine. He had actually been considering a Yggdrasil seriously but what he heard led him to choose the Terminator, very recently in fact. To summarize his findings, in his words: "The Terminator plays in another league."

I’ll highlight two findings with respect to the Yggdrasil. One very surprising aspect was a light haziness or grayness that I had not picked up nor realized prior to having the Terminator in system. Like how small amounts of particulate pollution affect clarity in the sky. Even more surprising was how my system with the Yggy in it, sounded like recorded music, fleshed out only due to the contrast and comparison.

The Yggdrasil is a DAC the Schiit team are rightfully proud of as are numerous owners, myself included. Their flagship DAC has had incredible success in sales numbers and sustains a happy cadre of owners. I personally like and respect Schiit’s business model and I believe Jason and Mike have done more for the hobby by bringing so many into it than most other manufacturers, many combined, in recent years. A tip of the hat to their team for manufacturing a wonderful component that has given me over two years of pleasure. When I get around to setting my office system up it will continue to be a key piece in that system. To up the ante with a call to arms, I’d love to see another all out DAC assault by Mike and Jason and I will gladly commit to one.

On to the Terminator.

When I know that ’I know’ moments aren’t common, yet when they occur they are a proverbial ’wire with gain’ shot to the brain and an effective and unfailing guide to component choice.

Additionally: What do I keep reaching for and what sits unused? What just feels right when first introduced into my system or when re-inserted once fully broken in? Do my notes with single word descriptors or short phrases repeat track after track and become thematic? Does the component have ’a presence’ in my system and does it deliver ’a heightened sense’ of being in the zone musically and emotionally? Does it elicit a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment?

The Terminator checks all of these boxes. It’s performance and place in my system was undeniable.

Music is presented as Fuller and Richer, with Denser Body and Weight yet Transients remain Fast and Leading Edges Sharp and superbly Defined and the Trails and Decays decadent and lengthy. There is a tremendous sense of Presence and Faithfulness in Timing. Harmonics are Expertly Expressed. These areas, in how and to the degree they are rendered with the Terminator, is extraordinary.

Imaging is rock solid (really quite marvelous). The background is blacker with a lower noise floor (superb). Both are remarkably better than the Yggdrasil. Soundstage is wide and deep and 3 dimensional with the listener in the audience pushed back a few rows or conversely the stage moved back somewhat (which I prefer to a more forward presentation). Soundstage is one area where I found the Yggdrasil and Terminator to be relative equals, with the Yggdrasil being more forward.

It’s abilities with Detail, Layering, Separation and Definition, are all the more astonishing given the richness and density extracted from the music and portrayed, both maintained even at the micro-detail / micro-dynamic levels of musical information. First instincts suggested a lack of resolution and transparency...but Resolution and Transparency are outstanding. I find (make that found) the Yggdrasil to be an overachiever in this area. With the Terminator it becomes obvious that the Yggdrasil does well at this with a cost exacted elsewhere. In fact, the Terminator makes it clear as daylight that it is more resolving and transparent than the Yggdrasil while not calling overt attention to this. To me this is astounding because while much more of the detail and musical information is present it is not spotlighted and I found myself slipping into the embrace of the richness and beauty of the musical whole...and this was while critically listening!

It pulses and shimmers and floats with Energy and Vibrancy and Resonance while delivering IMPRESSIVE IMPACT and DYNAMICS. Felt Tension and Emotion are the best I have experienced in any of my systems and most that I have auditioned, save mega dollar statement ones. My system is now more Connective and Engaging than ever. It makes music Alive (vs. just Live) and does a fantastic job at creating the illusion of Performance Space and transporting me THERE! Yes, as in, I AM THERE.

There is a Rightness and Truthfulness delivered with nuance, delicacy, sweetness, sadness, anger, beauty, rawness, etc. etc. all musically painted with resolute naturalness.

Simply put, it gets music and musical performance RIGHT. And in doing so, is so so very satisfying.

Closing Words.

When conducting these evaluations it is easy to focus on the component and lose sight of the whole. I take a system level view and hear and interpret these findings as system related. In other words, the rest of the system allows the Terminator to showcase itself and it’s potential. Without this system, my system, the findings may well be different. Without the guy (me) that is busy typing the letters of the English alphabet on this digital page and his unique to him musical experience and journey, the findings may well be different.

I would like to recognize and congratulate Mr. Zhao of DENAFRIPS for his STUNNING electronic creation. Bravo! Please accept my deep bow of appreciation for the joy your Terminator DAC has brought to my home and my enjoyment of music.

I also want to tip my hat to all of the manufacturers and their teams for designing and building the components and cabling and peripherals of my system, all of which allow me to experience the expression of human creativity and beauty through the musical art form.


Next Steps.

For me, there is nothing endgame about this hobby. I believe ’endgame’ is one’s personal choice to end the game for themselves. It is not bound by the component.

My journey with one DAC has come to an end and is just starting with another. Will there be other partners in the future, I sure as heck hope so. Stay tuned."

Above is copied from:
David, thank you, I hope I will hear both this two DACs at Axpona 2018...Iam waiting to see if Stereophile or Absolute sound was able to review the Terminator..
@david_ten, thanks for a very comprehensive review and I’m not surprised that it betters the Yggdrasil. Other forums posters have compared the Denafrips favourably with more expensive dacs such as from Total and dCS. If you get a chance I suggest you try a Mola Mola dac, the MM would be a step up again in performance I believe.
@jayctoy Thank you. Do you know if Denafrips will be actively shown and demoed at Axpona?

@toteapaudio Thank you for you comments. I will make an effort to listen to the Mola Mola here in the US. Where are you located in the U.K.?

BTW, I love the simple and elegant layout of your site. Beautifully done. Boenicke speakers are already on my list. : )
I don’t doubt the Denafrips sounds fantastic. However technically I have a bit of trouble with the outlandish claim of 26 bits resolution. I smell a rat that may have been released by the Denafrips marketing department. (Not unlike Yggdrasil which have dubious technical claims also - usual audiophile marketing hyperbole as some would regard this)

26 bit capability requires precision of 1 in 67 million. This resolution requires a tolerance of 0.0000015%on the resistors.

The designers claim they actually use 0.005% tolerance resistors which is technically between 14 and 15 bits resolution.

The only thing that could solve this fact of physics or mathematics is if the designer is using a very large number of resistors and randomizes the selection every clock cycle. In theory you get a reduction in noise by the square root of the number of resistors.

Applying mathematics again, to get to 0.0000015% accuracy (26 bit resolution) from 0.005% tolerance on an individual resistor would require 11 million resistors.

Can anyone with more technical knowledge about the Denafrips Terminator design confirm if they are randomizing more than 11 million resistors to create an output per individual channel? Overall the design should have at least 22 million R-2R resistors for two channels in order to meet the stated resolution of 26 bits - can anyone confirm this is what they have done?

Now that Mr Spock has fully weighed in, I wish to thank you for this review.

As with all things audio, the proof is in the listening and you have captured this in your writing. Congrats!


Thanks David for the beautiful write up, I own the Termy too

and you have put into words what I couldn't express.

I love this DAC to bits and it's definitely a keeper for me.

Perhaps one day I will give it to my son, this component is

too good to be sold.



I share the sentiments expressed above.  This is  a well written and prepared review that clearly details the differences between the 2 DACs and their individual sonic characters. The Terminator is it would seem  a superb sounding DAC. Excellent report. 
@david_ten, thank you for your kind words about our site. Boenicke are indeed beautiful speakers, both in looks and sound. They partner Mola Mola extremely well and combined with Sablon cables and fidata source, the system is stunning. Yes, we are in the U.K. The distributor in USA for Boenicke is Audio Prana who have made some very nice YouTube videos you might want to check out. Even the small stand mount W5 throw a big open sound. The W8 is the most popular, but my favourite is the W11. And they are an absolute bargain, like the Denafrips would appear to be.
Great to see my online stalker is still following and as usual has nothing constructive or useful to add.

Anyway I should also thank the OP for a great review and that my query above is genuine and not malicious, you see this design is very much like the latest ESS Sabre chip - thousands of 1 bit delta sigma converters as in the new ESS chip is little different than thousands of R and 2R resistors in the Denafrips DAC...a similar approach perhaps?
Yes, Denafrips will be in Room 1524 at AXPONA!  Not just the Terminator but the full line: Ares, Pontus, Venus, and Terminator.  What's more, they will be all hooked up to the same system and can be switched in for a real-time comparison! So come and hear them for yourself so see if they live up to the hype.  Stay tuned for more details in the days to come.
Thanks for this great review of two fantastic products that you can't typically demo at the local audio dealer.  I'm a happy owner of Gen B Yggy, but I've heard really compelling reviews about the entire Denafrips line.  I can't wait to hear impressions from AXPONA.

Thank you for sharing your in-depth experience with two amazing DAC’s that offers such exceptional value at their respective price points. 

From what I heard so far about Denafrips, I believe it punches way above it’s weight. I hope to hear this amazing DAC in very near future. 
Thanks to all who posted your kind words regarding my 'review' write-up. 

Always great getting positive feedback and it's encouraging as well.

I have a T+A PA 3100 HV integrated amplifier in system (it is a demo opportunity). System performance with the Denafrips DAC feeding it is superlative and it is different from the system sound with the Pass separates.
Thanks for your well written and carefully thought out comparison
of these two great DACs. FWIW I had the good fortune to hear
the Terminator in Singapore in an absolutely fantastic system
comprised of Shindo amps and old Pioneer horns that was unfortunately so different than my set up I couldn’t really determine
what was contributing what to the great sound I was hearing. 
I bought an Yggy because it cost half of what the Terminator cost. I was fortunate to receive one of the first
units with the Gen V USB and the new analog board. I’m very
happy with the Yggy as it’s clearly better IMO than the Ayre QB9 DSD it replaced. It is not as good as my friend’s Nagra Classic which
retails for roughly 6 times more, and I can’t speak to the effect of the new analog output stage.  Even though I’ve heard both DACs,
I haven’t heard the Terminator in my system. (CJ GAT PR 12s B&W
Sig 30s ultraRendu)  PM me or email me at if you’d like to chat further. 
Enjoy the Music 
Hi David.

Terrific review. And thank you!

Question. You mention "....with respect to the Yggdrasil. One very surprising aspect was a light haziness or grayness that I had not picked up nor realized prior to having the Terminator in system."

For clarification, I suspect your Yggdrasil is the analog "A" serial number (version), correct? Reason I ask is that by all user accounts thus far, the analog "B" serial number (version) is known/believed to rid the Yggdrasil of this "grayness" and replace it with "blackness".

Admittedly though, given your overwhelming praise for the Terminator, I wouldn’t think that even if you have the Yggy analog B your conclusion would be any different.
As mentioned before that was a great review and only confirmed my suspicions.. One only need look at the hefty power supplies underneath the main boards staring from the pontus and up to realize these are quality units...

Being an Yggdrasil owner myself I’d like to see some direct comparison between yggy and pontus or Venus as they are more in my price range...

The Denafrips DACs for there complexity  are priced very reasonably no doubt taking full advantage of cheap Chinese labour...

Again thanks for the review...
@cjlover   @gdhal  @zoophaugus   Thank you for your kind words!  Also nice to hear that you liked reading it and that it may have been helpful. 

As stated upfront in the comparison, I have the A board in the Yggy. I cannot imagine Mike and Jason implementing the B board if it didn't perform better than the previous one. I'm waiting for more owner feedback before going forward with it because it is a ~$600 (including shipping) cost to me. Once I get it installed and in system, I will post an update. [@ Hal : I'm hopeful that the finding you pointed to, in your post, will be a non issue or much less of one.]

I've had the DENAFRIPS Terminator feeding the T+A PA 3100 HV (on loan) for a number of days now and one standout finding with this pairing within my system, for lack of a better descriptor (and understanding) at this point in time, is "The Absence of a Black Background." The best way to describe it is that the space is Completely Clear, which to me is a major difference in perception than 'Black.' With the Pass Separates I still perceive the background as black. Just another twist in findings due to components and system synergy.
Update on the AXPONA Denafrips demo.  The Venus is in the house (thank you Alvin) and I was able to set it up to play in parallel with the Terminator.
I can do real-time switching between the two for comparison so the demo will work.  Having all four models in the chain will take a little more coordination but it should work fine.
I am expecting the Pontus and Ares soon.
Vinh Vu
Gingko Audio and Danacable
Another update on the Denafrips demo at AXPONA. I am expecting the Ares and the Pontus this week and am planning on a dry run on Saturday afternoon March 31 in Farmingdale NJ. I can hook all 4 DACs and playing them simultaneously for comparison but I think pairwise comparison between two DACs is more effective and practical (it gets too confusing with more than two). I can also compare the Denafrips with any other USB DACs with a passive level-matching device.
PM me if you are interested in participating in the session.
Vinh Vu
Gingko Audio and Danacable
Update on the Denafrips demo at AXPONA.

I got all 4 Denafrips models running in my system, hooked up to the preamp inputs to allow for real-time switching among them. To ensure that the comparison is as valid as possible:

·         Each DAC is connected to the server with a USB cable

·         Selection of music tracks are done via an IPad user interface

·         Fast switching between preamp inputs is done via a remote to minimize delay

·         Volume levels are matched by using an SPL meter measuring a pink noise track

·         If the two DACs have different output levels, use a high-quality passive attenuator to dial down the higher level until the SPL meter reads the same for both DACs.

·         The inputs of the preamp are set up for the DACs without knowledge for the test audience

·         Although not quite a double-blind test, this allows for a fair comparison between the DACs.

Using Roon, the music tracks can be synched perfectly but I found that quick successive switching back and forth between many DACs is too confusing, especially to others in the audience. I found that the best approach is a pair-wise comparison between two DACs, repeating a familiar musical passage on one and then the other. That way, the audience hears the musical performance as a whole and each person can zero in the aspect of the sound he/she is focused in to look for differences without losing the perspective of the whole musical performance.

The demo dry run is scheduled for 2:00 PM Saturday, March 31, in Farmingdale NJ.

Send me your email if you want to participate in the session and I will send details about the logistics.

Promises to be a fun event! And you can legitimately claim to be at the true world premiere introduction of the full line of Denafrips R2R DACs. Bring your own DAC and if we have time we can do a head-to-head shootout under the same controlled conditions described above.

Vinh Vu

Gingko Audio and Danacable

The dry run of the demo was a successful and fun event for everyone involved. The process I had planned on went without a hitch, the feedback was plentiful and helpful, the food was good, the music was great, and the company was even better. What I got out of the meeting were:

- All four models have a similar Denafrips "house sound" that was enjoyed by all
- Even though it was a blind test (none in the audience knew which model was playing until the end when they have already formed and written down their opinion), the results were as expected, with one (explainable) exception - everyone picked the Terminator as their favorite and the models' performances were commensurate with their price points, except the Venus, which sounded a little constricted (less open-sounding). That is probably due to the fact that the Venus had the least number of hours of break-in as compared to the other models (I have had the Terminator for almost 2 months and the Ares and Pontus were review samples). So the Venus needs some more break-in time before AXPONA.
- For the demo at AXPONA, a pairwise comparison between the Terminator and whichever model has the most interest from the audience - e.g., its price point is right - playing the same musical passages in quick successions would be best to show their respective performances.
- The system sounded right with all genres of music and is primed to show off well at the show.

Thanks to all participants, who came from NJ, NY, PA, and MD (whose representative drove 3 hours each way to attend the event, thank you Richard).   AXPONA here we come!
Vinh Vu
Gingko Audio and Danacable
Hi Everyone, I have had the pleasure of spending time with the Termi, and actually perform a thorough live comparison VS Metrum Acoustics Adagio, COS Engineering D1 and Rockna Wavedream Signature Balanced. This is done on Youtube under my moniker OCD Hi-Fi Guy. (not sure if its OK to post a link here or not) If you have halfway decent computer speakers or are listening on headphones even with just a smart phone I can clearly discern the differences. Termi clearly betters Metrum and COS, yet Rockna is a heavyweight not to be pushed around. At this point there has been no final judgement since I agreed to ship my Termi for review and its not back yet. but I will spend more time to determine how things shake out in the end. At this point with maybe 3 days in of comparing before I shipped Termi out, it seems Termi sounds more "analog" for lack of a better term, and Rockna breathes presence and life into recorded music like I have never experienced. Only time will tell how things shake out.  
It’s been almost three weeks now since I have received my Denafrips Terminator in black, from Alvin at Vinshine Audio, Singapore. They are the sole distributer of Denafrips, in order to keep the prices lower for us, consumers. I like the idea that a dealer wont get 50% margin for being in between!

My experience started with Extreme care from Alvin the moment I started asking him questions about the DAC and the lineup. I read almost everything related on the web, but I had few questions still. he was very responsive, and extremely helpful. With a product that has such amazing reviews, he didn’t need to be, But he was! Even after I made the purchase and he has got the money, he kept checking with me till the Denafrips was at my door step, delivered by DHL in two days! (the cost of which is included in the price, and I bet you it ain’t cheap at 22kg that this monster of a DAC and its double thick cartoon box measure up to.

With little struggle as I was alone at home, I managed to place the 19 kg Terminator on my rack. Connected my Aurender N10 to it via AES 1 input. the terminator actually has two AES inputs, but unfortunately, they can’t work together for higher bandwidth when connected to a streamer like Aurender W20 by multiple AES cable, one for each channel, enabling DSD128 over DoP. Maybe a future update/upgrade Denafrips?

My setup - in case you were curious, consist of an Aurender N10 – AES – Denafrips terminator (previously questyle CMA600i with built in balanced Preamp via coax) – XLR - temporary preamp (custom one on the way) –XLR - fully balanced custom monoblocks power amps (200 watts class A, then 300 watts class AB, total 500 watts @ 8 ohm) - acoustic zen satori speaker cables to a pair of Wilson Sabrinas standing on isoacoustics gaia ii isolation feet, powering all this a custom power conditioner.

Being frankly honest, the way it sounded straight out of box, I was not impressed much. It was confined, a bit harsh. it didn’t sound that great, Especially the bass. It was kind of loose and accentuated. But I didn’t panic at all. A friend of mine does have its little brother (not so little!), the Venus, which I was impressed by it performance and tonality. He told me such true R2R DACs require hundreds of playback hours to break in and shine. I’ve also read multiple threads about that. so, I listened for like an hour, let it play then came back to it the next day. In 24 hours, that slight harshness was gone, and the sound has quiet improved to an “okay” listenable SQ. Excuse the lack of description, as I’m no expert in Audiophile terms, I’m not a reviewer by any means. I’m just someone who enjoys High end audio. The better the sound the more joy I get. That makes me an audiophile minus the knowledge of describing in words how things sound. I will try my best but I can’t promise you much!

Over the coming days/weeks, the DAC was on with a signal passing through all the time. when I'm not listening, I will just power off my monoblocks while keeping a long music playlist on repeat. By about 300 hours, I could say the SQ became truly impressive. it was a day by day improvement sort of, but I could sense it. Mids became the best I have ever heard, tube like mids. Highs are so detailed but never harsh/annoying. Bass has tightened up and its just of the right amount, Never covering up lower mids as it was slightly doing so earlier. I have many friends who had a listen when it was a day or two in. coming again after a couple of weeks, not listening to it in between, knowing that nothing has been added or removed from my system, they could not believe what they heard! We did compare to many other DACs (not R2R, but what we had in hand. And none did cost as much to be honest) but none was able to keep up. What are my observations about the sound at this point? Well;

it sounded so rich and detailed even at low volume, which is a first to me. I used to crank my system volume up to hear all the little details and to get a large sound stage. Well, No more!! The sound stage also doesn’t collapse at lower volume. Vocals are warm, magical, focused and floating at the same height in the middle of my expanded sound stage. instruments are layered across with unbelievable separation. regarding tonality, I can say this DAC is slightly on the Dark/Warm side but just a notch. The PERFECT amount of warmth. If a recording was bright, it will still sound bright anyway but slightly less bright. So its not an extremely warm and “boring” kind of sound by any means. And with this slight warmth, there is a ton of details and dynamics! How could these opposites be found together is mind blowing. The person who has calibrated the sound on this beast is certainly someone who knows what to do exactly. A true expert.

I have been told the Denafrips Terminator really shines and “opens up” by 1000 hours. That would be towards the end of September 2018 for my unit. I truly can’t believe anything could sound better than how it sounds now!! I look forward to witnessing further improvements which I will write again about, if proved to be true and worth noting.

I have done a fair amount of research before I pulled the trigger on this one. Some reviews claimed that other 20k USD DACs are slightly better. But I ain’t crazy, nor I have the money to buy a DAC that cost as much, just cause its better just a little. The Denafrips Terminator at its price point is probably the highest Value ever for an End game DAC without totally wrecking your bank account. Its not cheap, yes, but its Priced fairly for a flagship in a world where audio companies put on crazy margins, just cause audiophiles are willing to pay. I personally believe in the law of diminishing returns. And I never aim for that last 2-3% improvement that would cost me an arm and a leg. With this DAC I was convinced that I’ve got the most bang of my hard-earned bucks. But that is my own opinion for you to consider. I have never wrote a review before, like ever, and I don’t dare to call this write up a review – even a mini one. Its just a shout out to anyone out there who is interested, curious but still skeptical. I assure you I'm more skeptical in general about anything more than you. I do not believe many of the audiophile world myths and I’m extremely careful of snake oil while exploring the horizons of this costly but amazing hobby. I can say in confidence, If you are searching for an end game DAC, then search no more. Buy a Denafrips terminator today. then have a some faith until it breaks in at least initially for 300 hours. You can thank me after for this recommendation!

P.S. I do also highly recommend Aurender N10 server. This is thing is Magic, Provided you take its output via AES (Coax is fine but AES is way better). Forget all about USB cables even the N10 a USB out. You need your signal to pass through the N10’s OCXO clock, USB out doesn’t as it has a different protocol. Your jaws will drop of how heavenly this combination sound. I initially thought the N10 is way expensive compared to the N100h, its almost 3 times the N100h price. but that clock inside the N10 does wonders and its worth every penny. A friend of mine who bought the N100h at the same time, is currently trading it in for an N10 himself. Truly, A combo of Aurender N10 and Denafrips Terminator is the best thing I have heard to date, and I have lots of audiophile friends who has been in this hobby for years, I did listen to all of their setups. sure a great turn table and a good record will beat this combo, but the main advantage is it opens a world of convenience/savings for you without a noticeable compromise! If you thought earlier Tidal doesn’t sound good vs CDs or CD reps, even DSD, such a setup will make you rethink everything totally. and don't get me started on how good WAV files from CD rips, stored on the N10 internal storage sound like!! it did actually beat a physical CD player, playing the same track from CD. I know now that such a great clock is not just about eliminating jitter, but a whole lot more. its a holographic presentation that you will only understand if you get to listen. I can tell you with extreme confidence, it’s your laptop and USB cable that is hindering your “computer” based audio listening experience. You need a good source, the N10 (or equal), a great analog sounding DAC, the Denafrips Terminator (or equal, but where to find an equal at same price point?).

I have been happily terminated myself! Maybe its your turn next Happy listening everybody!

Saleh, wonderful expression of your experience with the Denafrips Terminator in your system. Thanks for sharing. 

Since this is your first post, if you don't mind, can you also copy and paste your review and findings from the above post over at this thread:

Thanks and welcome to the forum. Looking forward to your ongoing impressions as you add even more hours on the Terminator.
Hello everyone

Thank you all for this collective review on the Terminator; it couldn't have come at at better time.  I'm looking for the "It" Dac and have had a chance to audition the Canary KD 2000, the Nadac multi 8, and now have the Lampizator GG in my possession for he next two weeks.  Initial impressions on Lampi is simply wow, perhaps akin to the response the the Terminator is eliciting from this crowd.  I'd love for someone who's had first hand experience with these units to weigh in.  The Lampi does what the Canary does, only better like how Lebron James playsvbasketball compared to the rest of us.  From my limited experience (newbie here) the Lampi offers very broad staging, with very fluid and layering of music, and great details without sounding harsh or thin/"digital?"  All I can say is I sat listening with a big grin on my face, feeling really connected to the music.  It just felt good and I didn't have that experience with the Nadac.  
"I don’t doubt the Denafrips sounds fantastic. However technically I have a bit of trouble with the outlandish claim of 26 bits resolution. I smell a rat that may have been released by the Denafrips marketing department. (Not unlike Yggdrasil which have dubious technical claims also - usual audiophile marketing hyperbole as some would regard this)

26 bit capability requires precision of 1 in 67 million. This resolution requires a tolerance of 0.0000015% on the resistors.

The designers claim they actually use 0.005% tolerance resistors which is technically between 14 and 15 bits resolution...."

@shadorne would you say for sub $3,000 the Yggy is the only DAC with the highest specs in =>21 bit depth that is technical backing or is there other candidates at that price level who can prove there resolution?
@redphu72 wow congratulations hope you have an interstellar experience with that DAC for many years. I'm sure it sounds sublime. Is it true that it retails for $20,645 USD?  

What speakers are you using?

The Yggdrasil has dubious claims also but that like the denafrips it doesnt mean that they won’t still sound good. Personally I don’t trust or like BS claims however any resolution above 20 bits is unlikely to be noticeable on most music. 

My issue with dubious claims is that it creates doubt about other engineering aspects of the device. Presumably, if they are willing to BS about some aspects then what else might be fudged?
Ok interesting, I suppose what Schitt was coming to was they were using a proprietary closed form solution that was manufactured using nonconventional parts that was possessing enough tolerance to form a design that would actually hold up to such claims of resolution (as seen on their site). No doubt the Terminator sounds great in its own unique way. It's just nice to see a company backing their claims. I suppose though as you've mentioned even Schitt cannot hold 100% ground on every detail of claims.
Has anyone yet been able to do a direct comparison between a Terminator and an Yggdrasil  analog B version ? I recently had the upgrade done on my ygdrasil and it is a noticeable difference..  For the better... I'm not concerned with the USB upgrade as I only use the AES/EBU  input as I found it is superior to usb when using a reclocker.. 
@zoophaugus you probably already know but if not you should check out Schitt's new USB implementation they will roll out in 2020 on their DACs, a new fresh design by them. Mike Moffat usually doesn't make a big deal about things but apparently it really is a big deal, they think it sounds quite different then the USB GEN 5 im a good way and is even better sounding than SPDIF. 

I've never purchased a Schitt DAC but I think I am excited enough to patiently wait until the USB is implemented and purchase a Gumby or Yggydrasil in the future.

In general though to people tend to incline towards AES/EBU or SPDIF? Which is by the most part better quality?
If you spend some time on the forums or a lot of time like I did you would see that the general consensus is that the AES / EBU input is superior to spdif.  When I bought my yggy in early 2016 schiit was going on about their new usb3 input which mine came with.. And then came the even better new gen5 usb.. And now apparently theirs another one in the works... 
I've had some one PM me on the DDC I use and he was reluctant to purchase it as he had the new "gen5 usb" .
Well a few weeks later I get another PM from thus same person thanking me as the DDC via AES / EBU totally beat out the new gen5 usb...
This made me feel really good as I skipped an upgrade step from schiit and still came out on top...
In case your wondering I use a Matrix audio X spdif 2 DDC powered with a Uptone audio LPS1.2 linear power supply.. 
That's really interesting that AES /EBU is superior to SPDIF, I was wondering why Mike in the latest video did not mention that in this comparison to why he was trying to make USB good or better, in his case the latest development of USB they are working on in the beta stage is so good that "why even bother with SPDIF". But if what you say is that AES /EBU is better than SPDIF, than I'm not sure why SDPIF could be the ideal way to go about things.

In the case you are using the Matrix Audio interface, may I ask what your chain is specifically to get a better picture?

In particular, what is the transport you use and how does it connect to your Matrix interface. 

If you are using a laptop with USB (just case and point) since it is using proprietary XMOS U208, could you say you are still comparing that to USB gen 5 even though you eventually feed into the Yggydrasil with AES /EBU?

If you are not feeding the audio via USB into the Matrix perhaps you are using something else I guess. 
You may want to add the Ifi DSD Pro Dac at $2,500.00 to your shootout, Herb Richert from Stereophile was blown away by this little dac and felt if was in the same league as three of his reference dacs and Herb also uses the Yaggy.

Bottom line: iFi Audio's Pro iDSD lived up to the hyperbole of its owner's manual. It did actually play music like "a 'state of the art' reference digital to analog converter." It did indeed sound like "an all-out assault" on what is possible in DACs today . . . and it did both of those good things at a ridiculously low price. Highly recommended.


We have never heard one but the reviews are praising this little dac as a true giant killer and no we have never heard one but are a fan of Thorsten Loesch.

The reviews out of Europe as stellar as well.

If this little $2,500 dac can stand up to $7k dacs and a few other well lauded dacs it may be even better deal then the Denfrips of the Yaggy.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ

and for the Audio Doctor haters we are not currently selling Ifi but after reading this review we will be bringing in a sample. 

Currently I have the Ares, but digital inputs are only Coax x 2 , TOSLink x 2, and USB Combo384 Amanero which I believe was an upgrade over the old Ares which had XMOS implemented a year and a half ago. So it cannot be fed with AES /EBU, (the 2nd model up in the Denafrips departmen Pontus has AES /EBU).

As much as I like the Ares sound signature and I am enjoying it, I will be looking to seriously purchase either the Schitt Gunir or Yggydrasil depending on how my music tastes match up since the detail retrieval is substantially more revealing. 

So if I am to use my gaming laptop as a transport (Razer Blade 2017) it is a question if I am really gaining something by using the 2020 USB implementation Schitt freshly installed on new DAC or if as you say something like you have would be worth it.
The company rings a bell but they’re latest model I have not come across in any reviews when I searched modestly last year. Of course my budget was sub $1500 so perhaps that is why. However, for him to say "at a ridiculously low price of $2500" is typical audiophile writer hogwash to be taken with a grain of salt. $2500 is NOT ridiculously cheap it is reasonable though. If it matches Chord Dave’s performance than I can see how that comparison works.

Like when Absolute Sound in their testimony on the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Series 2, mentioned "The Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Series 2 would have received my highest recommendation had it cost $15,000. Yes, it sounds that good. That it sells for $4995 qualifies as a minor miracle." That is just typical salesman downplay of price phycology.

Taking an aside, I will definitely take your recommendation up and do some research on the ifi DSD Pro Dac though. $2500 is probably the most I would ever spend on a DAC even if I became a millionaire as I think that seems to be the sweet spot on the price to performance curve for anyone really serious about audio in a positive way for sound alone and not fancy appearance or exotic parts.

Does can it compare to Schitt’s Closed-Form Digital Filter solution though and how can it not be less accurate?

More importantly than ever in this evolving market does it utilize off the shelf DAC chips?

But thanks for the reply @zoophaugus. Let me know if you can answer my previous questions as I would like to know that part of the chain as I think I could gain a better understanding on the DAC upriver side of things. 

RE, Reggy,

The Matrix only accepts a USB input.... although I wish it also accepted an spdif signal so I could feed my CD transport into it as well...

My transport to the Matrix is a windows based laptop via a Usb cable.. My high res and standard flac files run through Jriver media and I also subscribe to Tidal. 
After trying all the various outputs of the matrix to the yggy, it is the AES/EBU  that I stay with...
Is it the best output final word? I dunno, but it works for me ...and its definitely better than usb but digital coax is close to it..

One only need look at the really high end streamers and dacs to see that they sport not 1, but 2 AES/EBU input/outputs... YES 2 , one for each channel L and R..
Being the cheapskate I am I decided to build my own you can see those streamers can get quite expensive really fast... but they have built into them what I have as external components, a linear power supply, reclocking and delivery of a very clean signal to the DAC so that it may function at its full potential ..
How does mine compare to a high end Auralic streamer .. I dunno to be honest...but I'd like to think it should be at the very least close ...

I use a custom made AES/EBU cable (7ft long-to eliminate reflections)  from the matrix to the yggy, the yggy feeds an LS26 via balanced cables, the LS26 feeds Bryston 7B3 monoblocks via balanced cables, which power Elac speakers...

Reggy the reason we are going to get a sample of the Ifi DSD pro is that it is being compared to really expensive dacs, Herb compared it to a $7k dac and the Six Moons reviewer compared it to a $28k Lampizator Golden Gate Dac and a few other mega expensive dacs and the little Ifi DAC held its own very very well.

The Ifi DSD pro use an FPGA combined with four burr brown dacs in an inter leaved fashion which enables very high sampling rates.

The FPGA allows for feature upgrades via firmware as MQA is also being added.

The fact that in this one product you get a great dac, heaphone amp, streamer and a tube output stage with volume control makes for a very attractive package for $2,500.00

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ

I have an iFi iDSD PRO and will be writing an in-depth review soon. I compare it to my AMR DP-777se, the AMR CD 77.1 (hot-rod’d with a TDA 1541 double crown dac chip, Jupiter Copper Foil Paper in Wax output caps and Bendix 6900 output tubes), the iFi iDSD BL, and an old-school Museatex Bidat (still one of the best) thrown in for fun. I own all of he dacs mentioned except for the iDSD PRO. I’m also going to compare it to the latest PS Audio Direct Stream.

I will say that the PRO is impressive and what it does with DSD has shown me first hand just how superior DSD can sound (I have about 700 DSD albums) when it is not converted to PCM although at 705khz it remains close to how untouched DSD sounds.
Upgradability should be a consideration between the Terminator and the Yggy. The Terminator is a mature product without a true hardware upgrade pathway. The Yggy is a modular design that permits hardware upgrades when better receiver chips Analog Devices Multibit chips, and other digital or physical hardware becomes available. 
Hey everyone, just curious what you guys thin of Marv/Purr1n's take on the terminator on S-BAF.

He actually at one point states that the Soekris 1421 dac for $900 is better which clearly shows terminator lacks value. On my discord some users only really value Marv's opinion and feel that all other online opinions about the terminator that are positive are wrong and written by people who don't understand audio.

Now I am not trying to start any confrontation here, I own the terminator, but just curious what you guys think.
@audiofun Did you ever write up that review on the iFi Pro iDSD?  How does it compare to your AMR DP-777SE?  I've been out of the hifi game for several years but have been bitten by the bug again after deciding to try the First Watt SIT-3 amp and being enamored by it.  I was looking at used/new DACs up to around $3k and considered the AMR, Luxman DA-06, McIntosh MDA-1000, MHDT Orchid (+ upgrades), Berkeley Alpha DAC 2, Schiit Yggdrasil A2. 

I have an iFi on the way and settled on it for its very high value and flexibility, especially considering that I won't need a transport and the cables to go with it, but of course I still wonder about those other DACs.

I like a sweet, organic, dense sound but detailed and transparent with realistic imaging, transparency, and 3D soundstage.  Not so much into big bass slam, in your face dynamics, or crystalline highs (though I do enjoy what a good super tweeter brings to the table).  My bedroom system, which I still have, runs an MHDT Havana that's modified with all top shelf capacitors (Duelund, Jupiter, Black Gate, etc) and other components.  I really enjoy it and settled on that over the BADA 2, PS Audio PWD2, etc. 5+ years ago.

Hi, hope all is going well. I am just about to write that one. It is the most difficult review I’ve ever attempted because it does SOOOO much and I wanted to be fair. It won’t be long but what I write is what I actually hear during my listening sessions and comparisons. The Berkeley, I can only speak about the Reference MK 1 which I had on hand, just forget about it. The Berkeley Ref was, well, sorry but it was just bad sounding. Hard, anti-musical just plain bad sounding digital. The Berkeley is beautiful to behold and feels like a solid piece of aluminum sculpture but you couldn’t give it to me free and expect that I would ever hook it up. 

I’ll give you a real quick and dirty run down before I write the full review. AMR DP 777 SE > iDSD Pro > iDSD BL >>> Berkeley Reference Mk 1.

The iDSD Pro playing DSD files ( I have about 800 of them) gets way way close to the AMR 777 SE. It plays DSD files better than I’ve ever heard that format played before.

" Well... I bought the Yggdrasil... because all of the reviews said it one of the top 3 dacs at any price, ranking with the best available. And... though skeptical... I was pleasantly surprised... it is, as they say... "on a whole other level".... cont'd..."
Looking for end game level dac, the obvious choice for price point is the yggdrasil.
I owned it and then went with a "Holo Spring" dac after.

R2R is the dac topology of choice for maximum end game sound,
But I have to agree with the review of this thread.

The Terminator IS ABOVE the yggy .
It seems like an impossibility for those that have not heard better, simply because there are none better that I and most have heard.
The Chord and others are simply a different choice.

The Terminator is the only dac I have heard that was noticeably better.
If I were to give a simple idea, I would describe it as being probably  about 15% better, so you must consider if that type of gain is worthy of the expense of upgrading ...