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Denafrips Pontus II FPGA firmware upgrade 2023

Discussion in 'audio' started by naka, Apr 2, 2023.

  1. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend

    And you should be... in this case it was a reductio ad funis fallacy. :D
    Mike Hanson likes this.
  2. Gumice

    Gumice New Member

    I've applied the new firmware to my Venus II yesterday and haven't heard any of the issues some have reported (treble bright / reduced bass etc)
    I played some favourite tracks and the sound was "similar" to before. Maybe the soundstage is improved but need more time to assess
    I certainly don't expect that, over time, I will need to roll back this firmware

    In terms of connection equipment / cable types I run Lumin U1 Mini (AES) -> Venus II (XLR) -> Roksan Blak > Spendor A7 + REL S512 subwoofer

    I had previously used OS (slow) and restored to this setting after the upgrade (as it reverts)
    Will look to experiment with OS (sharp) / NOS at some point given these have been tweaked in the firmware

    Lip sync is "mostly" fixed. It's much closer to real time on my TV output. Not sure an R2R ladder DAC will ever be perfect in that regard. Not that I run the TV through the DAC often... this is for my stereo music source
    Hopefully the sound glitch is gone. Had experienced this occasionally but might take some time to prove up it is fixed

    If you are comfortable (technically) performing the upgrade it's definitely worth it. Especially given it can be backed out with v1 of the firmware

  3. SeanX

    SeanX New Member

    Thanks for taking your time to post this. You are the only Venus owner I have ever seen who provided experience with the firmware update so far.
    Gumice likes this.
  4. LollipopGuild

    LollipopGuild New Member

    I have a brand new Pontus 12th and it's 3 days into its burn- in.

    Compared to my existing Dac (Hegel H390 internal) I would definitely state that treble is too prominent, and bass weight reduced. Female vocals in particular are sibilant.

    However, in all other areas I observe an improvement.

    I'll give it a few more days, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to insist on 1.0 firmware, unless a 1.4 arrives soon.

    I'm a little disappointed, to be honest, particularly given that all reviews of the Pontus had emphasised its organic and (almost) analogue sound. It was for this reason I had picked it over the Gustard.
  5. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend

    Mike Hanson and Yank like this.
  6. naka

    naka pfm Member

    Mike Hanson likes this.
  7. JTC

    JTC PFM Villager...

    Just updated my Venus II. A little involved but not stupidly so. Was successful. Unit operational, but have only had 30s of listening since then due to not having the time. More updates once I settle in later to listen properly.
    Mike Hanson likes this.
  8. JTC

    JTC PFM Villager...

    Stole 1/2hr to listen just now. Probably imagining it, but upgraded Venus II seems noticeably improved. I mean it was fantastic before but new f/w seems to have ratcheted the performance up a notch.
    Salamander and Mike Hanson like this.
  9. Mike Hanson

    Mike Hanson Lovely!

    I've downloaded the new and improved firmware for my Pontus II, but I've not applied it yet. Ten days ago, I acquired a T+A DAC 200, and I've been having an interesting time comparing it to the Iris+Pontus combo. The T+A is notably better in all ways, but the Denafrips lineup is still quite listenable.

    I don't trust myself to remember the nuances of DAC attributes. Therefore, I'm trying to develop a good comparative reference of the two DACs, so that when I apply the firmware, I can clearly discern how it's improved.
    Last edited: May 26, 2023
    Salamander likes this.
  10. JTC

    JTC PFM Villager...

    I'm risking sounding delusional, but the difference to my ears was quite distinct. That said, so many factors at play. I'm sure the Venus II probably plays in a similar ball-park to the T+A, and - best I can tell - I couldn't really ask much more of it, before or after the update. IME the source mastering is almost always the most limiting factor at this level. But, tonally, I perceived more 'air' and depth in the sound than I remember. This made the more interesting by the fact that, with my ears, that's the aspect of musical reproduction in my room I found slightly lacking before. So it could be the firmware has brought out a bit more detail up there, or it could be that others might find the treble a bit 'hot' now, but it suits me.
  11. Mike Hanson

    Mike Hanson Lovely!

    The differences between DACs can be quite interesting:
    • The Benchmark DAC1 "seems" accurate, yet is somehow rather hard and cold, almost sounding "brittle".
    • The Benchmark DAC2 is an improvement, shedding that brittleness, yet is still rather clinical.
    • The Chord Qutest sounds much warmer and comfortable but isn't nearly as precise and delineated as the Benchmark DAC2. Note that using a better power supply significantly improves the Qutest.
    • The Denafrips Pontus II has the warmth of the Qutest but sounds more dynamic and rhythmic. Yet it doesn't present the precise inner details as well as the Benchmark DAC2. (Note that I compared the DAC2, Qutest and Pontus II, side-by-side.)
    • Putting the Denafrips Iris DDC in front of the Pontus II elevates the palpability and confidence of the DAC and makes instruments more defined. The rhythm also seems better. (I haven't compared this combo directly against the Benchmark DAC2, but I probably will when my friend visits in a month.)
    • The T+A DAC 200 surprises me, because it illustrates that as good as the Iris+Pontus is, it's still quite fuzzy around the edges. Instruments are not nearly as well defined. Dynamics aren't as good, and the rhythm is lacking. If you are quickly switching back and forth between them (with just a few seconds between), then this might not seem as evident, but if you sit on it for 15 seconds or longer, you realize that the T+A is the clear winner.
    I find direct comparisons to be quite helpful, alternating between quick switches (a few seconds) and somewhat longer ones (15 seconds to a few minutes). To some extent you can use longer-term trials, to see if you get tired of something. In those situations, though, I find it harder to describe why I (dis)like something. Direct A/B makes that easier and helps me to recognize and articulate the differences.

    BTW, when I did the comparison of DAC2, Qutest and Pontus II, I had recently purchased the Benchmark HPA4 pre-amp. One of its features is input volume adjustment, enabling level-matching of the DACs. Otherwise, doing an A/B comparison wouldn't be fair--ears are too biased towards things that are louder.

    As I mentioned above, my friend is visiting in a month, and we'll do another shootout at that time. He was the first to get excited by the promise of the T+A. I was unsure whether I would care about the delta, and the price difference was quite significant. Now that I have it, I don't want to give it up! Once my friend hears it, I suspect he'll feel the same and have to buy one for himself.
    Last edited: May 25, 2023
    Alex S and JTC like this.
  12. Salamander

    Salamander pfm Member

    @JTC Sounds like the Venus is going to be a good match with the Eversong, and difficult to get rid of. :D
  13. SeanX

    SeanX New Member

    Sounds like your Pontus II doesn't have the new firmware update yet?
  14. Mike Hanson

    Mike Hanson Lovely!

    Correct. After the problems with the first one, I was hesitant about jumping onto the second one. I was entertained by the new T+A, which helped my patience with the Pontus. :)

    I'm hoping to hear from people who had problems with the first one, and whether they feel the new one has resolved those issues.
  15. simonom

    simonom pfm Member

    I updated my Pontus II to v1.4 as soon as it was released and have not yet reverted to v1.0. I think it's possible that a degree of 'thickness', or body has been lost in favour of smoothness and greater refinement, which for my pesky solo violin music is a marginal downside, but this has not (yet) proved to be enough to make me revert to v1.0. Overall, I think it's a keeper. The increased refinement, almost a sweetness, is not imaginary, I'm as good as sure.
    radamel and Mike Hanson like this.
  16. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend

    I updated the firmware of my Pontus II from 1.3 to 1.4 a week ago.

    I'll share a couple of points, based solely on my subjective impressions, that may help those who are considering doing the update:
    - compared to the original firmware, the 1.3 fw was an upgrade, as I could hear more detail, a more nuanced sound and didn't feel that bass was lacking or treble became too energised (having a pair o subwoofers helps too, I guess);
    -1.4 is even better, as none of the additional detail/ textures was lost but a more fluid/ corporeal sound adds to the sense of realism and impact. More than before music seems to almost slow down.

    As always, everything is system dependent.
    Last edited: May 29, 2023
    Salamander and Mike Hanson like this.
  17. Zombie

    Zombie pfm Member

    If the music slows down there must be a motor or belt error.
  18. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend

    It was a figure of speech, naturally. :D

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