MHDT Orchid v Denafrips Pontus

I've had an Orchid in my system for going on 3 years now. It's a great DAC, does exactly what I bought it for, which is present music in a natural, non-fatiguing way. I've tube rolled with it, used a couple of different digital cables, one of which did provide slightly more detail (Audio Art D-1SE2). I'm Denafrips curious though and would like to see if someone has had both. From reviews, I'm wondering if the Pontus would keep all of that R2R goodness and present more detail than the Orchid. Thanks!


Since posting this, I've become aware of the "Grannyring" modifications. This sounds like a very plausible way to get what I'm after. Those who have described the difference mention more air and detail in the presentation. I'm investigating this option, but welcome any responses to either the aforementioned modifications, or the original question

Not an Orchid, but I owned a modified Pagoda that I really liked. I now have a Pontus II which I feel is even better. The Pontus is just as organic and natural as the pagoda, but adds more resolution and better bass control.

Thanks for the reply. Did you use the balanced connections? I don't know how much of a difference it would make. Perhaps you also tried single ended. None of my gear is balanced. I understand the Pagoda is a very different animal from the Orchid as well. 

Grannyring modified my Orchid and it opened up and got a bit quicker. I'm doing a shoot out with it vs. Holo Audio May this Sunday. I am going to be sorry I arranged that, I bet, but I really like that Orchid.

I have the Orchid with a WE396A tube and recently acquired a
Pontus II. I really like the Orchid a lot, but the Pontus like Ozzy said,
adds more resolution at the top end. Vocals are a bit more forward
and crystal clear. I seriously considered doing the Grannyring 
upgrades, but in the end decided to get the Pontus II. That being
said, I can't part with the Orchid just yet.  



The Pontus ll sounds fine using single ended RCA's. My integrated doesn't have balanced inputs, so it's RCA's for me.

Although I'm sure SQ would improve with balanced. 

With the pagoda I used rca Inputs and rca to the preamp. With the Pontus I am using balanced in from the streamer, still rca to the preamp.

FWIW, IME vocals on the Pontus aren't forward unless that's what's in the recording. Of course that's system-dependent, but with a variety of recordings the Pontus will place vocals and instruments anywhere from deep behind the speakers to at the seating end of the room on crazy stuff like the pyrotechnic Q-sound on "Amused to Death". Cheers,


@hilde45 that sounds like a bit of a mismatch. The Spring 3 would seem like more fair of a fight. I'll pull for the underdog though 🙂

@ericsch Thanks for the reply. The common theme here seems to be the Pontus may be somewhat better, but people still like their Orchids. In my system (Almarro 318/205 SE amps, Zu Soul/ODW speakers) vocals are already "in the room" with me. I don't know how much more forward I can take lol. I think I'm going to get the Grannyring upgrade and see how that works. Hopefully he's still doing it, and just as importantly, can get the parts required.

@audiewww  Good point. Actually, I suggested the Holo Audio May vs. Denafrips Terminator. I think that's a more comparable match-up.

Go for it!
Just to clarify, right now the Pontus is connected to
my Cayin A 88T tube integrated. In a couple of months
I will switch back to the Luxman 505ux2 and see how
the Pontus sounds. Using RCA inputs on both integrateds.   





I've had both dacs in my system for a few weeks and decided to keep the orchid.  to me the orchid simply sounds more cohesive.  what i think i am missing with orchid compared to pontus (air, detail etc)  sounded artificial to me.  my speakers are altec horns based and is already full of air and detail so probably didn't need help in that department.  the pontus could probably use another week or two of burn in but i am just happy with the orchid.

@viggen I see it took you about 10 minutes to sell the Pontus 2. Yours and another one listed and sold yesterday. They do be popular. I'm curious if you left it on for a few days before listening? What I've read indicates they don't work well unless they are under power all the time.

@ericsch the same tube you have WE 396A.  just last night i ordered the 6922 to 5670 adapter that is talked about in the orchid tube rolling thread to try out 6922 tubes.  ordered an amperex to try out.

@audiewww i left it on for 3 straight weeks and left the music playing through most nights.  my theory is it will burn in faster if you give the R2R resistors signal so to keep it physically moving.  ime, it sounded great on day 1 (which led me to sell my other two dacs Ares2 and D90MQA) but took a nose dive during the first week.  then, it gradually got better during week 2 and 3.  also did the chassis tweak which did unstress the mids and highs.

@viggen I have also used the 6922 adapter and an Amperex 6DJ8 tube in my Orchid. Warmed it up a smidge. 

thanks for the feedback on the amperex, @audiewww.  i don't really need more warmth.. i bought a second hand HDPlex 300 and previous owner installed a SR Orange fuse.  it's powering a LTA MZ2, my audio PC and Matrix H element.  sound is much smoother/warmer as result amongst other improvements.  was hoping for more of what i am missing from pontus... more extension and soundstage... at least that's what some users reported getting after installing 6922 into orchid... also have an Orange for the Orchid en route.. it's a 1A fuse tho... but, after i placed order, i read grannyring recommends 1.6A.. sigh

@viggen I just discovered something interesting. Perhaps you already know this. MHDT has an eBay (god...will the overloards strip this out?) store. I just looked at it for the first time and there are 3 DACs there not available on his web site or through LTA. One is a special version ($900 more) of the Orchid with the TDA1541 S2 that also now uses the 6922 instead of the 5670. The casework is also different, I like it. Apparently, there is something special about using the 6922s in his DACs.

@audiewww yup seen those on ebuy.  contemplating on swapping the R chips for a S1 chip in the orchid after I am done with all the other upgrades... i think i read some positive reviews on headfi regarding the toucan.

Re: other DACs in the MHDT lineup. I have an Istanbul and I feel that it’s a real sleeper in their lineup. I love it, using the 5670/6920 converter and a 1970s West Germany made Siemens 6922.

FWIW, in. my application switching to the 6922 didn’t make the DAC warmer, just "spicier", for lack of a better way of putting it. Gave it a bit more of a forward orientation. For me, I really like it, although I could see others preferring the more laid back presentation of the 5670.




I asked the same question a couple of weeks ago and went to the source. Unfortunately, the guy that was doing them, known to audio forums as "Grannyring", is no longer doing them. LTA will do the cap replacement portion for $650

That's bad news... the cap replacement is probably 50% of the total "GR" mod?