Denefrips Pontus "burn in" period?

Hello all


Now there's a chance I may be a little premature with this, but I've received my Pontus 8 days ago and have had it running ever since, powered up, most of the time with signal going through it, and so far I'm a little concerned. I am aware that with this particular dac it is recommended to run it roughly 10 days before it really burns in, but being only a couple of days away, I can't say the sound has changed very noticeably. Matter of fact, when I A/B with my project S2 plus dac, and even my blue sound node internal deck, I can barely tell a difference! Does burning happen gradually? Is there all of a sudden a hallelujah moment where this thing starts kicking ass? Does anybody have more experience with this particular piece of gear? Current system is rogue audio ST100 amp, rogadio RP1 preamp, upgraded tubes, blue jean cabling, upgraded power cords on power amp and preamp. I had high hopes that this dac that has received so much high praise was going to blow my meager dacs out of the water, and so far not the case at all. I must say, the thing weighs a ton and looks gorgeous, but I'm getting a little concerned at this point that I may end up disappointed. Talk me off the ledge!



Every piece of equipment is different. Audio Research I have noticed has a very definite and incrediblly reproducible pattern (I broke in three Reference 160s amps… and 2 Ref Preamps.


But the real question to ask is, did your new unit sound great? If it did, forget about burnin. It is when you get a unit and it sounds closed in, harsh, and with ill defined bass that you have to calm yourself by saying… it need breakin.


My ARC gear needs roughly 120 hours to stop sounding trebly with poorly defined bass. Then it sounds great… then back and forth for about 40 hours. Then it reverts to sounding great…. And slowly improves to around 1,000,hours.

But every piece of equipment breaks in differently. So, unless it is not meeting your expectations, relax and enjoy your new piece of equipment… and I bet over time you will say, “wow, you know, that sounds better than when I first got it.”

When I first fired it up I wasn't blown away, matter of fact it sounded kind of congested and stiff, bright, etc. I thought I heard some improvement recently like it was kind of starting to relax, but went ahead and compared to the other dacs and its not as improved as you would expect it to be, even though it hasn't been the "ten days". I just sat there changing inputs back and forth, not noticing a very noticeable change. Very little. I mean, my Pro-ject was a $350 dac, and this Pontus is $1700, with SO MUCH PRAISE, I'm having a WTF moment right now. I'm crossing my fingers hoping this thing starts sounding "more analog" like everyone is saying...I threw on my Rega P2 with Dyna 20X2 cart and started thinking maybe I should have bought more records...LOL. It's not like my analog rig is THAT fancy you would think this DAC would hold its own...IDK. 

Another thing is to cycle it off and on. Once a day is good. Let the caps discharge and then bring them back up.

BTW you break in equipment, you burn in tubes and light bulbs and burn up equipment. But you break in gear, equipment, cables, shoes and you favorite hat.

Yup, I burnt in a motor.

NO you break in an Engine. Words count. Be patient, THEN toss it off the overpass.


I agree with oldhvymec. You need to turn it off overnight or at least several hours.Give it a try.

@oldhvymec noted on the use of burn/break. 


All right fellas I unplugged the thing for the night, will continue to break in / power down for another week and check back here. I'm not completely giving up on this thing yet. 


@jin78 It'll all be fine. Don't jump just yet. Most gear including cables need about a month to burn in. It'll be fine.

Yea give it every chance and THEN kill it..

I know nothing about that unit but some of the fancy rigs have teflon caps and silver clad wire/PTFE. All of that stuff can drive you nuts trying to get it Broken in. 

I've never been real to up date on DACs but gear in general, usually, the better the gear, the longer the break-in.  Especially big high voltage boutique caps. 500-1000 hours.. Cables that aren't at least, conditioned take a while to break in too. Copper with silver clad.  Copper plug, drop and walk.. All that can make a difference. 

Then there is the chance it's a pile.. I can make Yoko Ono sound like Barbra Streisand with my rig.

What you don't want is Barbra Streisand sounding like Yoko Ono.

As you may know Alvin ships his DACs with 100 hours of burn in. This is a very cool thing. Not many makers do that. Now when orders back up could the 100 hours turn out to be 5 hours?


I bought the same DAC in December. I was traveling for the holidays 

so I loaned to a buddy to get some hours on it. 

 The instructions advise against turning it completely off.

Rather use the standby mode.


It it does not sound better than the the bluesound something  is very

wrong. Contact CS at Denafrips and let them review setup with you.

If it is defective there is a warranty. Use it.

op did not mention his speakers - he may well not have a system resolving enough to hear a meaningful difference

the pontus is very good, especially in terms of portraying an expansive soundstage and excellent tonality notable in its warmth and body -- though treble may have a touch of grain, even with an excellent source signal

I had that exact amplification chain of RP1 and ST100 and compared 3 DACs - Qutest, Brooklyn DAC 2 and Bryston BDA3. The new DACs Qutest and Brooklyn 2 took around 200 hours to sound their best (closed in, murky and confused before they settled). I ended up with the Qutest.
But I digress…the point is the Rogue set up is more than resolving enough to highlight the differences between the DACs. Are your speakers up to the task though?
Give the Pontus 200hrs of run time. If no improvement then it is what it is. 
Few more things to take into consideration…

1. The best power cords should be on your source components (DAC, preamp)

2. BJC cables are decent but they’re not great. Something to consider as a potential area for improvement. They should still allow you to hear the difference. 

Put on your parachute. DACs don't need a warm-up or "burn-in". Stop listening to the uninformed and delusional! Mechanical things need a bit of "run-in" time - but not electronics.

"Most gear including cables need about a month to burn in". LOL! More malarkey from the "golden ears" contingent!

@jjss49 sorry forgot to mention speakers! Running Tannoy XT8F’s

I would hope to think that my system, while not super high end, would be resolving enough to hear a very noticable difference between a $350 dac and a $1700 dac! I do hear a slight difference, the Pontus is perhaps a LITTLE clearer. But not by much. I'll just give it more time.....

Pro-ject happens to make good stuff. When my phono preamp was being repaired, I bought a $129 Pro-ject phono preamp from Amazon and it was not horrible. There are several issues IMO. There is the break-in issue. I don’t judge anything before 30 days, although I find differences seem to show up in 2 weeks or so. Second is, depending on what you value musically, the Pro-ject may be giving you what you need. In my experience, the better digital gives you a more realistic presentation of acoustic instruments and a better sense of space. Just sounds more "real". This may not mean anything for you. I also agree that cables make a difference, but the Blue Jeans are good enough that you should be able to judge. Right now, my advice is to calm down and give things time to settle in and adjust your ears to the new sound. This is all a product of the "new and improved" way of buying audio components through the internet and not by listening and comparing at the dealer. The world has changed and we have to accept that if we are going to buy audio through our imaginary impression of whether we will like it, sometimes we will be wrong. I have bought unheard as well, but always with a return privilege.

Running Tannoy XT8F’s

not sure whether these will easily show the performance difference that a pontus will bring over a pro-ject dac, but i would think so

the pontus also has various settings... should use os without filtering for clearest most balanced sound... pontus gets murkier in nos mode

pontus also benefits from a cleaner bit-stream signal... gaia ddc or other similar purifier can help the dac perform at its best - it is also known that the pontus does not play particularly well with b-s node digital output - you may connect with alvin to understand the details

@jjss49 : all DACs need filters to eliminate our-of-band high frequency garbage. These are call aliasing filters and suppress frequencies above 22khz. No music there! What you said was wrong: "... without filtering for clearest most balanced sound". Otherwise high frequency junk gets dumped into the audible band without filters!

Does the OP "burn-in" a new laptop computer? A DAC is the same! If it doesn't work 100% from turn-on return it! Stop falling for this burn-in crap!

the pontus also has various settings... should use os without filtering for clearest most balanced sound... pontus gets murkier in nos mode

typed that one a little too fast...

what i meant was to use the ’least’ filtering while in oversampling... what they call ’slow’ os filtering -- op, see link for details...



Hi jin, I also have a Bluesound Node and you should be hearing a substantial improvement over its internal DAC.

I am using the very affordable Signal Cable digital coax between the BS node and my DAC and it made a nice difference.

Also, I have used both the Blue Jean Canare and Belden speaker cables.  In my system, the Belden speaker cables sounded like the proverbial wet blanket was over my system, compared to the Canare cable.  Just my 2 cents.

Besides this, it is sounding like you may have a unit that is not functioning correctly.


 it is also known that the pontus does not play particularly well with b-s node digital output

Alvin actually stated it was the Aries II that has a compatibility issue 

with the Node coax input.

 Owning a R2R DAC my beliefs are they are more subject to temp stability

and burn in than traditional chip DAC's. My burn in was 4 weeks cycling between

full on and standby never completely off. I usually since the room is coolish power up fully at least an hour or so prior to critical listening.


I don't know which Bluesound Node 2 generation the OP has, but I can tell you the coax or toslink connections on the previous gen are a limiting factor. When I was using BS with various DACs, I was having a hard time discerning differences between a few DACs I tried. It was only after I moved to a better streamer supporting USB out that I was able to extract more out of my DACs. 

I have a Terminator II in my main system and recently bought an Ares II for the home office system. Both took over 100 hours to sound good. When I first got the Ares II, I wasn't sure what the fuss was about. It sounded pretty ordinary. But after two weeks, it came alive. I'm still shocked how well a DAC costing roughly $800 USD can perform. It is certainly better than my Audio Mirror Tubadour III (non-SE version) for sure. 


After 2 months with Pontus II I sold it 

never sound better than my Cambridge Azur 851N or Cocktail Audio x45 

@jetter FYI running Canare 4S11 speaker cables. I ordered power cord from Signal for the dac but the connector didn't have the tightest fit, so ordered another video reference PC with tighter connector, awaiting arrival. I'm thinking it may be too early to call it not functioning properly, going to give it another week or so and see what happens.


@arafiq I have the latest node. In my head I'm thinking the node may not be the best streamer out there but it should do a decent enough job to where I should tell a difference between a budget dac and a higher end dac? I guess we shall see!



@chayro  "a more realistic presentation of acoustic instruments and a better sense of space. Just sounds more "real". "


EXACTLY what In want! Also my system tends to be on the bright side of the spectrum, would like to get my digital to sound a little more sweet like my analog.

The Node, while a good bargain for what it is, can certainly be bettered as a streamer. There's no doubt in my mind that the Pontus II is better than the internal DAC in the Node, but moving up the chain with a better streamer would get you better results with the Pontus. I say let it keep breaking in and see what you think. You can certainly get every penny you paid back when you sell it.

@chorus Now when orders back up could the 100 hours turn out to be 5 hours?


You may be on to something there.... I did think about that at one point which is why I'm going to give it some more time​​​​​​

@jin78 It is well documented herein that the difference in the sound of external DACs, especially over the built in Node DAC, are easily distinguishable and normally an easy improvement.

@jin78 Sorry if you already mentioned it before, but how are you connecting the node to the pontus? If you haven't tried it already, can you try the usb out? I think the latest Node models now support usb out.

Almost every DAC I have tried thus far was a step up from the one in the Node (although, they might have improved in the latest generation). I'm wondering what else might be going on in your audio chain. Either way, I would give it at least another 100 hours before making a decision.

@arafiq currently feeding the Pontus with a coax cable from blue jean cables. Haven't tried USB,  My limited research seems to suggest that most people prefer coax to USB. Could be wrong, willing to try something different

I think a lot depends on the DAC's USB implementation. Maybe I'm in the minority but I've always preferred USB over spdif and definitely over toslink. But then again it could be because the DACs I've owned are better with USB, who knows. Anyways, it's worth trying ... you might still prefer coax.

Alvin actually stated it was the Aries II that has a compatibility issue with the Node coax input.

this is the case with all denafrips dacs and ddc's... the node coax digital output voltage is lower than most other streamers and the denafrips units have trouble receiving - i personally confirmed this with alvin - he actually told me to use optical instead ... 👎

dena gear was the only gear that i ever had this problem with using the node as streaming source... and since 2020 i must have been through 50 dacs, no exaggeration...

@jjss49 wow! So I guess I should try out the other outputs on the node! Was this confirmed for the latest node?

I'm using a older BS Node2 connected to a fully broken in Pontus ll with coax and I'm getting outstanding results. While I haven't tried different streamers, the SQ with coax is still very good. I have a decent turntable setup and while it sounds a bit better than the streamer/dac combination, it doesn't embarrass them either.

see below... his reply to my inquiry about my pontus not playing hi res (above redbook) streamed content from qobuz and tidal via node/node 2i
For hi-res, Node2i and Pontus Coax may not be compatible due to lower output VPP on the Node2i Coax output.
At hi-res, the data rate is much faster, hence, the signal may not be able to decode by the Pontus DAC. Would you please try the OPT connection instead?.


Many thanks.

Yours sincerely,

Alvin Chee


Let it burn in for 200 hours then decide.  I’ve noticed big changes at 100 hours and incremental improvements after that up to 200 hours.  Give it a chance.  Ignore those who say there is no break-in time on electronics.

@jjss49 DUDE. You nailed it! I switched out the coax for a crappy USB cable  I had laying around, from the node straight to the dac and BOOM...deeper soundstage, more defined,  more balanced chill sound...whoa. 

Remember I said I was switching back and forth from my analog rig to the new dac, and my analog sounded a lot sweeter. Wasn't even close. Now it's close! Song for my father by Horace silver sounded way better on vinyl before, now it's pretty darn close. What the hell! Still have to play around with the optical....


Yep that was my experience with the Node as well as I mentioned. Coax is the limiting factor. The performance improves by another step once you get a better streamer. 

Is the "best SQ setting" on Tidal Hi-rez? I was using a high grade glass optical but switched to coax because to my ears sounded better.


Alvin said "it may not" be compatible. So can it work for some, but not others?

@arafiq That's right you did mention that. which kind of sucks because I really like  the BluOS interface! To be honest with you, it's already sounding better so I'm going to sit on this setup for a little while and see how it continues to develop. It's funny I never heard of this node /coax issue with the denefrips until now, and I did a lot of research...

@mr_m I'm running Qobuz, but I'm going to play with the optical cable next to see how it compares to USB.

I got a loan Pontus from the distributor, which was well and truly burned in and I still couldn't hear any difference from my Exemplar CD player when running through the Pontus or directly to the preamp.

This is a SS DAC with R2R ladder and have separate power supplies for each channel. This should sound as good as it can ever be within 10-15 mins after warm up! If it is still not sounding good after 8 days, chances are it is not going to sound any better for the remainder no matter how long it takes.

You may want to change the input from Coax to AES EUB or vice a versa. There are two of each. Try changing the input and see if you hear any changes/improvements. Otherwise, don't get hung up on burn-in time. 

I have a Pontus with about 50 hours, streaming with the 
current Node. I'm using a DH Labs Silver Sonic Coax.
Once I get about 200 hours on the Pontus, I have a
Wireworld Super Nova Optical I can try for comparison.

This is truly an informative thread.  



@fuzztone thanks for the tip, I searched it and everything for sales coming up in British pounds...ha. know any USA dealers?


I too have the Pontus II and went through the same thing so to speak. I upgraded from the Ares II to Pontus II. It really sounds like you are looking for validation more than anything. Rest assured you made a great choice with the Pontus so sit back and enjoy.