Denafrips Pontus 12th Anniversary


I’ve been considering moving up from my Ares ii to a Pontus ii and there have been a few of them coming up on the pre-owned market lately.

Now I’m seeing that Vinshine is offering the Pontus 12th version and there’s not a whole lot of info about what is improved on it.

Sounds like some power supply improvements and also some gold plated screws?

Has anyone heard the new Pontus 12th or know any specifics about how it compares to the Pontus ii?  What are the improvements, if any?

Pre-owned Pontus ii’s are selling for about $250 less than a brand new 12th. (At least in the U.S.) So not a huge savings.  Plus there’s shipping .., I can’t remember if Vinshine charges shipping.

Thanks in advance 




Well, 350 hours in, so figured I’d give another update.


it sounds really good.  The ‘continuity’ of the original Pontus (I hesitate to call it analogue) is in full effect with the Pontus 12th, but with significantly better extension up top, and tighter, more defined bass.


Tonally, it’s a slightly dark sounding DAC, but open at the same time.  Nothing lean here.  Tones have richness and texture, and are, mostly, well balanced.


Spacially, the soundstage is very well defined, and the decay of instruments fills the soundstage between speakers admirably.


In terms of speed, it sits at nearly a perfect balance between fast and slow.  The timing is very precise.  Almost metronome in its accuracy, through I’d say ever so slightly dragging, mostly because of a touch of midbass bloat in the tonality.


in most systems, mine included, the extra bit of midbass helps.  It gives a bit of extra fullness and weight, without really affecting midrange transparency, or weighing down the overall tonality, which is mostly neutral.


In terms of presentation, I can confidentially say that the Pontus 12th does a great job of untangling dense mixes, allowing instruments to exist in their own space, and creating a large space between them, front to back, left to right and up and down, that they occupy a believable size without competing with each other, sonically or spacially.  Again, gigantic soundstage, occupied by very believable sounds, both in size and tone.


I contend, at this price point, it would be hard to find a DAC that can tick so many audiophile checkboxes, while being very pleasant to listen to.


If I were to criticize anything, it’s that the extreme top end, can sound a little hard, as though it’s slightly closed in.  There’s plenty of shimmer and sparkle.  And it’s only in comparison to my previous Wadia 321 and the Border Patrol that I notice it, but it lacks that last bit of extension that allows it to really soar.  Perhaps this is where the Venus Ii, or a better clock, would improve things.


I’ve tried it with three different interconnects.  The acoustic zen matrix ii, the audience au24 se, and the more expensive than the DAC Nordost Tyr 2 xlr.  Of the three, the Audience seem to emphasize more of the Pontus 12s weaknesses, while contributing little to its strengths.  The Matrix ii add a ton of full and lively midrange energy and are fun, if a little indistinct in the soundstage, and the Tyr 2 really allow the DAC to sound open, holographic, and energetic, with a steady beat, tight and present bass, and a gigantic soundstage.


I might give another update in a week, at which point, the Pontus will cross the 500 hour mark, but the sound has not changed much in the last 3 days.  Overall, I purchased this DAC mostly because there was so much I loved about the original Pontus, but it fell short in top end extension.  This one doesn’t, as there’s now ample air and excitement up top that the soundstage no longer sounds vertically challenged, and can breathe in all three dimensions, maybe better than any DAC I’ve heard.  I’ll now be spending this next week, deciding if I like it more than my Border Patrol SE.


Hope this helps anyone looking at this dac.  Unless there are any other changes in the DAC to report, I’ll probably leave it here.  Though, I’m happy to answer anything else I can if someone @me or wants to PM, OTHERWISE, I think that’s all I got.


Thanks to everyone who contributed.  I’ve enjoyed the input immensely.


Thanks for these listening notes @backgroundblur.  Really appreciate.

Wondering how your comparison to the Border Patrol fared?  

Very interested in this DAC, I've owned an Orchid for several years. It's a great piece of gear but with it's processor, you're still getting 16/44 no matter what you feed it, so more detail is intriguing if you don't give up the "analogness" of it's presentation. I very much appreciate Mr. Blur's reports and look forward to hearing the verdict of the Pontus/Border Patrol contest. Any mention of "hardness" in the treble sends me scurrying. I have spent considerable time and money tuning that out of my system.