Advice regarding separate DAC purchase

Greetings all.  I currently have a McIntosh MA8900 Integrated with an onboard DAC1.  I'm considering a purchase of an external DAC from Denefrips , specifically the Pontus ll or possibly the Venus ll. They are R2R DACs that most users have reviewed with very positive comments.

I have not listened to an R2R DAC so I'm asking yinz if this is a good upgrade from my current DAC. I only listen to redbook CDs and Vinyl.  I have not considered streaming at this time and given my music library I'll be staying that way.

Thanks and Happy Listening to all.  Greg


you suddenly have access to millions of albums at nearly zero cost, many of higher resolution, you end up asking… “what was I thinking? Why didn’t I do this years ago.

Absolutely.  A streamer is an essential component.

I would concentrate on the sound characteristics of the DAC and not the technology. Denfrips are highly regarded DACs for their price. I’ll let someone else chime in on the contrasting the two.

solid advice above from @ghdprentice

the op did not mention the rest of his system nor what his/her desire is for the sonic balance of the new dac being considered

the dena pontus is rather warm/rich but spacious sounding dac

just by the notion of the mcintosh gear mentioned in the op, i would think this may well be duplicative of the sound signature already being presented in the system

thusly, perhaps the op would benefit from a clearer, more upfront, livelier presentation -- which could be afforded by a chord dac (qutest or hugo tt2), an original schiit yggy, or a gustard r26 (which incidentally has an onboard streamer).... further up the price ladder, dacs from weiss or bricasti would also fit this bill



Thanks for sharing your knowledge.  Seems there's a consensus among you that this may be closer to a lateral move for the results I desire and would require much more expense than I initially intended to raise my experience with my CD collection.  I'm currently 66+ and I don't believe streaming is in my future regardless of the dearth of music that is available with that format. Geez I haven't time to listen to the physical media on hand 😆. 

😊. I’m 71… I see streaming a key part of my audio strategy because it is increasingly hard to get up all the time.


I didn’t have time to listen to my physical media either. Now, I virtually listen to nothing from the part. My world has opened up exponentially… that is a great thing. The best thing that has happened in music in my life. Your not dead yet… enjoy!

The Pontus is not a lateral move but, given the investment level you spent on the integrated, something in the $4-$5k range will likely serve you better.  If that is not economically feasible the Pontus is definitely several steps up from the DAC1 that comes with the 8900 and is worth the cost imho.  You can always give the Pontus a spin as you can find them used.  If you don’t like it it’s not hard to sell them as they are well liked.  Places like The Music Room have a 30 or 60 day return policy as well which would give you plenty of time to determine if it works for you or not.