Bifrost 2 vs. Ares II

Can anyone compare the Bifrost 2 to the Denafrips Ares II? At some point of I’d like to upgrade my dac and these both seem like good choices. Currently using an SMSL SU-8

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I’ve not compared the Bifrost 2 directly to the Ares II, and don’t plan to do so, but if it helps, I did do a full review of the original Ares (no idea what has changed but if I had to guess it’d be the USB input now supporting higher-rate DSD). And I’ll have a full review of the Bifrost 2 on here shortly.

At the time, I preferred the original Bifrost MB to the Ares. Bifrost 2 is a significant improvement over the original Bifrost MB. The brief time I got to hear an Ares II didn’t suggest any significant change in its sound vs. the original - but that’s going on memory.

The thing I really don’t like with DENAFRIPS stuff is that a) there’s no practical way to audition them unless you know someone that owns one and b) if you buy them, there’s no return period. So, if you wind up not liking it, you’re stuck with it and will have to sell it on yourself.

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I hate to be “that guy” who is always blunt and overly honest (actually I don’t), but I think Torq was being extremely kind in his Aries review. I had the Aries on loan and directly compared it to the MB card in a Jotunheim, the Modi MB, and the iFi iDSD BL thingy. The Aries was soft and very unresolving. The MB add-on card in the Jot was orders of magnitude more resolving and detailed, with more natural tone and timbre. The Modi and iFi were better still. I own a Bifrost 2 now, and it’s better than all of the above.

The Aries couldn’t render the background instrument noises on Rebecca Pidgeon’s Spanish Harlem. Go ahead, listen to that song. On any decent DAC you can hear things in the background, like when the drummer picks up his sticks, or when the bassist readjusts the upright bass and you hear a distinct clack of it hitting the floor. Detail like that wasn’t just buried on the Aries, it was almost like it was just erased from the track. The integrated sound on my motherboard was more resolving.

Anyway… good luck. I hope you get what you’re after. :slight_smile:

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Your bluntness is what makes you somebody who’s views are sought. I like that you tell it straight at least then you know where you stand.

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I would second @prfallon69 I appreciate your perspective @ProfFalkin !! You have already kept me from throwing away money once and guided me down a different path, for newer people to the hobby like me this is really important.

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In retrospect, a fair bit kinder than I should have been.

Though one accidental aspect of that was I found the effects of the differences in performance between the two channels to be sufficiently distracting that it not only affected my listening but also became a major focus of the review … to the point where I didn’t even get into the DACs (in)ability to resolve detail etc.


I can say that between the original Ares and the Pontus, which I also reviewed, I was completely unmotivated to try either the Venus or the Terminator.


I was so irritated by the increasing number of super-hyped DACs, all getting branded as “giant killers” (with the continuing theme that this was invariably pure speculation by people that had not heard them, let alone the giants they were being slated as slaying) and then turning out to be average at best, that that pretty much ended my systematic reviewing of DACs, even ones I’ve bought and own.

I’ve done a handful in the two years or so since then, but again not as a systematic thing.

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This is by far the largest group to use the term, imo.

There’s some interesting psychology behind this…

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So, all this talk of the Ares, I wonder how the Ares II compares? Could they have improved it? I know one person that loves it, and he hears and reviews lots of hi end gear.

Sure, they could have improved it.

As far as I can tell, the new version is just using a different USB implementation and has new DSP (which could mean any of a number of things). When I tested the original I used both USB and S/PDIF inputs and didn’t care for the USB input at all, so that change might help or might be worse - no way to know without trying it properly.

You’ll almost always be able to find people that love any given piece of hardware. So how useful that is come down to how much trust or faith you have in their opinion and how well what they tell you about gear you’ve heard correlates with your own experience.

I’ve only heard the Ares II briefly. It wasn’t back to back with the original. It wasn’t in a familiar system. There was nothing remarkable, good or bad, about what I heard. I didn’t come away thinking it was any different to the original (though that’s based on longer term audio memory, so not very reliable), but I also didn’t come away thinking “I should spend more time with this/review it”.

Only way to be sure is to get ears on one yourself.

Which, unfortunately, is not that easily done since there is no audition/return provision from the dealer or manufacturer.

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