DAC better than Denafrips Pontus II

As I try to finish out my system, looking at user recommendations for DACs better than the Pontus II.  This is one area I have not spent a great deal of time on (the digital side) but I have not found anything negative against the Pontus II or the Ares II.My transport will likely be the Nuprime CDT-8 Pro.  I like the AES to AES ability between these two devices.  From what I've read, it's the best connection.All comments appreciated.

The Pontus ll was high on my list too, but just read a review of the Musician Aquarius on Soundnews.net that has me rethinking things as he’s also familiar with Denafrips DACs. 
Thanks, I guess I should have prefaced the post with a comment of around the same price as the Pontus II.
I asked myself the same question, @colpgmrguy, the only one that seemed equalish in value but different was the Chord Qutest. Based on everything I could read, plus my own listening experience with other higher priced models from both companies, I thought the Denafrips would be a better fit for my system and taste. 
After a number of months owning the Pontus II, I've got nothing but great things to say about it. FWIW, I'm a mostly "analog guy" with a higher priced turntable setup. The Pontus is more analog-like than most of the DACs I've heard, even a number of them > $5K. It's pretty damn good overall and especially at its price point. Fit/finish, build quality is a reassuring bonus. Cheers,
the denafrips dacs do best with i2s... their gaia connects most effectively that way, improves sq with many streamers and certainly with computers supplying the bit stream - though with other connections the pontus still sounds very good - in the 1800 to 2000 dollar price range the pontus is indeed hard to beat

two in the price range (roughly) worth mentioning are the mhdt tube units modded with better caps and resistors, and the better soekris models

i do have dacs that are notably better than the pontus to my ear, but they are more expensive... upper chords, weiss, audio note (will also soon be getting a mojo dac, which may well join this tier as well)

@jjss49 An interesting point about I2S in the Denafrips line, I just saw a review of the new Terminator2, it had 3 different i2S inputs to account for all the variations out there. Perhaps that will trickle down to other models in the future. Kinda crazy that there isn't one standard for I2S! Cheers,

Why not buy the iris or better still the Hermes dcc clock it totally cleans the stream coming in usb ,then the clean signal goes I2S to the pontus  well worth the effort if coming from a computer Big step up even the $650 iris , please remember it s shown in Singapore $$ about a 1/3 less .

I’ve the new SMSL VMV D2.  Solid, very nice performing dac.  In my setup, it just ‘breathes’ music.  Run direct, the transparency is amazing.  Musical as all get out, with lots of low end punch.  The new Sting lp will set you back in your seat.  The Giacomo Gates covers of Gil Scot Heron tunes is rich, robust and powerful, with nicely fleshed details.  Brian Wilson’s Pier Pressure is layered and tastefully nuanced and rhythmically propulsive in a harmonically boisterous and very beautiful manner.  There is more separation and smoothness than my Dac3, more refinement and focus.  Run thru the Denafrips Athena or Hestia is similar, just a tad richer, Athena offering a bit more spatial separation.  It’s a very poised dac with a confident presentation, it’s fast. I’ve had it a bit over a week now so it may still settle a bit.  Not much not to like.  Don’t have a way to try the I2S yet, but the Roon nuc usb and the Rotel Tribute digi seem well suited.  It’s got a couple Noratel transformers and some sort of hybrid output stage I believe.  It’s a nice dac with a sweet treble.  Sounds great thru the Hyperion or the Mystere amps pushing some ZU DWs or 1sc ProAcs with a T9i Rel.

I have a Pontus II, and, IMHO I think it is pretty hard to beat in the under 2k range.

Imo, RME and Qutest are the best Dac. Their measurements as good as top Dac Dave but price only 1/10. 

Is that a serious post? 

yep they measure perfectly but sound like shot. 

not really cause I had the RME and it was really good. Not NEAR as good as my current. Measurements cannot tell you everything playing test tones! 

I have a Qutest, tweaked with a used M-scaler (from here) and a LPS for each.

I went this route because I mostly listen iTunes, and the M-scaler can upsample the files in the music library I already have! Plus I can get music on Bandcamp, in ALAC files, for a great price when I want new music. 

I still wonder how a comparable ladder dac sounds with Hi-res, and I know more $ can buy better sound and Hi-res files, but I have no desire to change what I have. 

I've heard great things about the Pontus II.

I sold my Pontus 2 and bought an ANK 4.1x assembled by Digital Pete.

Used they go for $2,500-$2,800. 

For the same Pontus 2 @ $1,700 but  better SQ you would be looking at obscure

stuff from eastern Europe. No features either.

Keep the Pontus and be happy until you are ready to up

your game.

I sold my pontus2 and bought a Holo spring 3 kts ...was a little more money but in my room head and shoulders above the pontus

In December of 2021 I bought the Pontus II and the Gustard X26. After listening closely and switching back and forth repeatedly with precise level matching I felt there was relatively little difference between them but I preferred the greater transparency and larger soundstage of the X26 vs the slightly denser sound of the Pontus II and sold it. During the Black Friday sales last month I bought the new Gustard R26 and there was no need to spend weeks switching back and forth trying to hear small changes between it and the X26. The R26 connected to Roon over the built in LAN connection was immediately and obviously better than the X26. I haven’t tested any of the other inputs but with Roon and an ethernet connection the R26 is fantastic. Based on other owners comments I suspect it is just as good with all the other inputs. It is a great value at $1650.