Denafrips Pontus II DAC Review

A genuine review by a French Audiophiliac

Never Cease to Tweak Things
The never ending quest to obtain a better sound quality in your system. As an audiophile, we never cease to tweak things; whether it’s swapping a power cable, an interconnect or add an external DAC in your setup.

Just to get things out of the way: I am very happy with my current equipment; however I’ve always wanted to bypass my CD player’s DAC because I had heard and read somewhere internal DACs can be bypassed and usually will result in better sound quality when using an external DAC. With this in mind, I researched many DACs and heard many reviews of a company based in Singapore called Denafrips. YouTube channels evangelists such as John Darko, Steve Guttenberg Audiophiliac and others have given high positive reviews of Denafrips’s line of audio products such as the Ares II, Pontus II, the Terminator DACs etc… so I decided to try and hear whether this DAC could bring some improvement in my system.

Could the Denafrips Pontus II elevate my current setup? Let’s find out below but before that, let’s briefly take a look at my audio setup.

Current System Setup
From top to bottom:

  • Clearaudio Concept MC
  • WhestTWO.2 dual mono phonostage
  • MCRU Linear Power Supply for Clearaudio Turntable
  • Denon DBP-2012UD Blu-ray player
  • LUMIN T2
  • Denafrips Pontus II
  • Marantz PM-KI Ruby integrated amp
  • Hi Fi rack 5-tier Omnium
  • KEF R700
  • Audience Ohno speaker cables and Interconnects

Music Tracks Used
Diana Krall - Where or When
Ennio Morricone - The Mission
Al Jarreau - Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive

First Critical Listening Session
Burn-in period: 72 hours
I first started with Diana Krall simply because I am very familiar with her timbre and how her voice effortlessly projects in the center soundstage and was keen to hear any improvement.
I have to point out in my critical listening endeavour, I first started to bypass the LUMIN T2’s DAC and noticed no significant improvement. However, I did notice a lower volume output, the track seemed quieter too. I also tested the CD version of Diana Krall but nothing had really changed critically speaking, at least to me, so I decided to put the listening session on hold until more burn-in was attained.

As a side note, I contacted Alvin (always available to help with any questions or issues) from Denafrips and told me about 10 days, which is roughly about 240 hours of burn-in is required and preferred. Interesting things started to reveal in the second listening session.

Second Critical Listening Session
Burn-in period: 240 hours
More than 240 hours of burn-in so far and I decided to give it another critical listening session.
In addition to the tracks I had chosen, I listened to many other tracks from all genres. On the LUMIN T2, I noticed a better separation of instruments, more focused and a wider soundstage. I also felt the bass was more relaxed overall.

For some reasons, when listening to the same tracks bypassing the CD player’s DAC, I found no immediate improvement and that did got me thinking perhaps the internal DAC inside the CD player may already be of high quality. I also thought perhaps I needed better speakers… With this in mind, I decided to burn-in the Pontus II for a little longer.

Finally after nearly 300 hours of burn-in, I put on Zhou Shen’s first CD album, which by the way is incredible, superbly recorded. My wife came back home from work that day and asked me if I had changed anything in my system. She very quickly said his voice sounded clearer, felt closer to the listener. You can imagine my facial expression, a “huge” big smile. It’s not everyday my wife shares anything like that and it definitely brought some joy! I realised, only then, this incredible DAC, the Pontus II, finally reached its potential, it just opened up!
It was worth the wait and this made my day!

My Final Thoughts - the Verdict
It’s been a long but exciting journey and to be frank I was a little adamant about the whole experience and process, however with patience and a long burn-in period, I feel this has in some way brought some improvement to my current digital setup… by how many percent? I don’t know, perhaps 5% better? The good thing is there’s still room for improvement, perhaps by another 15%… the never ending quest to achieve a better sound!
Next steps to get there? Better speakers, a bold pre-amp and a pair of monoblocks :-).

Finally, should you avoid the Denafrips Pontus II, consider it, shortlist it, or go right ahead and buy it? Well, I reckon and based on my own experience, you should definitely buy it! (Reference to @Mat Watson).

All the best in your quest,


A French Audiophiliac


Alvin is a great guy and dedicated to his brands, Denafrips is a Chinese brand, not Singaporean though Alvin represents Denafrips worldwide from his base in Singapore . I have many friends who love their Denafrips DACs so you are in good company.

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I’m sorry if I missed something, but I read this twice and I’d still like some clarifications, if possible.

T2 analog output is 3.5dB higher than Pontus II.

I assume this refers to T2 → Pontus II, but by which connection? BNC or USB?

I assume this means using CD player, not playing a CD rip?

I assume this mean connecting the SPDIF output of the CD player to Pontus II?

The next amp needs to have balanced XLR input.

Always glad to see a review involving a Lumin. Thanks.

Noted thanks!

Your assumption is correct, through BNC

Just inserting a CD into the player, I don’t and will never rip.

Yes in fact I initially just wanted to bypass my CDP’s DAC but I found out you can also bypass the LUMIN’s DAC too so because there are 2 coaxial inputs I thought that would be a good idea to have all the digital conversions done through an external DAC especially with R2R which I know is an old technology but heard so many positive things about it. This is my first DAC too.

Also I had to make a few changes in the LUMIN setup in Roon like selecting NO MQA SUPPORT as the Pontus doesn’t support this and put the VOLUME to FIXED. In addition the volume on the LUMIN app is also set to 100% and I only control the volume now with my Marantz amp.

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Yes that’s the plan, but for now it’s about enjoying what you have and save enough money to go reach Mount Everest :wink:.

Glad you liked the review, my first review actually… these things take time to write but I think it’s worth the effort, cheers!

There is an alternative way to connect the T2 to the Pontus II - via USB. You can change the Lumin app to output to USB, as you know. With the BNC you’re limited to DSD64. With USB you’ll be able to play higher rate DSD such as those from here:

If you’re interested in doing A/B comparison of the Lumin - Pontus II SQ of coaxial vs USB, I’d like to know the results. Make sure you disconnect the USB first for doing SQ evaluation of coaxial.

You could even use Roon DSP Engine (with Parallelize Sigma Delta Modulator enabled) to upsample PCM music to DSD256 (or DSD512 if it works) and see whether you like the original PCM better or the upsampled DSD better with the Pontus II.

If you can verify whether Lumin USB (Roon upsampled) DSD512 output to the Pontus II works, please let me know the result, too. Thanks.

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Hi Peter, thanks for your feedback. To be honest I am not planning to do any additional test at this point of time but hey if I do I’ll let you know. Thanks

By all the comparisons, we’ll always have a personal note.
I don’t know anything about the Denafrips Pontus II DAC, but my comparisons (which where real A/B tests, because I had the Lumin U1 Mini and the T2, which both get DSD256 from Roon and the the T2 connected through XLR on the Primare PRE or AudioValve Luminare) with DACs in the same and lower price area (Primare PRE35 DAC, Audio Agile Step DAC, Topping D70, AudioValve DAC,…) shows me, that the T2 was always the better solution (very good balance between details and “analogue sound”).
But perhaps the Pontus II a real extraordinary DAC, which “blows anything away”…


I have the Pontus 2. It amazes me every day, such a wonderful dac. I am using the I2S connection from a PI2AES hat.


Awesome! I wonder how the Terminator sounds… anyway I’ll be BACK :joy:

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My review is now available on Denafrips website and is getting quite a bit of momentum :hugs:

I have the Denafrips Ares II and I use it with my Rega Apollo R CD player and Blusound Node 2i streamer and it sounds fantastic. I’m using an Audio Research tube amplifier and Zu Audio speakers and the combination is very musical.

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I also have Pontus II. Sounds great.

Do you know how to change output from Roon to 24 bit?

Awesome! Good question I have no idea. Perhaps you could ask Roon Users group on Facebook.

Scroll down to “Max Bits Per Sample”

Just curious, is your Pontus II DAC recognized in Roon? I only see LUMIN T2 though…

If you connect the USB DAC to the Roon Core via a USB cable, you should be able to see the USB DAC in Roon settings → Audio.

However, if you connect the DAC to Lumin T2, you will only see Lumin T2 as a zone.