Denafrips Pontus II FPGA firmware upgrade 2023

After submitting my request for the upgrade yesterday, in the today morning I got the password and instructions to proceed. I got the time to do it this afternoon.

Now, I am listening for little more than an hour and my first impressions are of more clarity and tridimensionality. To assess things more easily I am using my Tidal playlist and so far I am very impressed with the SQ improvements - Auralic Aries Femto connected with Audioquest Carbon USB and Belden 8402 from the dac to the amp.

It is easy to say that now the soundstage depth and especially width are significantly enhanced. There seems to be another notch on realism and scale. Things are very composed and natural. 
My system was already performing beautifully in terms of engagement, totally commanding our attention to the music, and continues to be, detailed but non-fatiguing, but I feel that there is now a bit more liquid quality to the sound, a bit more relaxed in a good way... but I have to listen more of course.

So far, well done Denafrips.

Note: the firmware upgrade was less straightforward than I expected, but it was mostly Windows 10 related


After some listening hours I get the impression that, despite the enhanced soundstage and definition, there is also some kind of artificiality to the sound. 
There is more clarity in the mids and I can hear more details and voices / instruments are better scaled, but the bass is weaker and the treble seems more glassy. 

I can resume like this: more Imax and less substance (meat-on-the-bones) can be OK at first but I miss the previous Firmware natural tone and palpable quality.

I am considering going back to the previous Firmware... although I must say that the “clicks” issues with all my CD transports (especially the Cambridge CXC) are now completely FIXED.

I like my Pontus II enough as is that I am considering holding off on the update.  My luck I would “brick” the unit and have to send it in.

I was thinking of delaying doing this update but I'm so glad I didn't wait.  IMO it is a significant improvement.  So good that I'm going back and listening to all of my favorites.  

I heard all of the improvement that audiofilo123 heard but none of the negatives.  However, I will keep listening for these negatives as I continue to evaluate.

I had been considering getting a Terminator, or one of the others up the line but 'll be happy with this for a while.


I updated my pontus ii on Saturday and listened to it that evening for a couple of hours. I have to say I didn’t hear any clicks, so that was great. While listening I noticed a more fluid sound in addition to more bass. To be honest, my system sounded louder at the same volume setting than if did before the update. I did notice when playing complex pieces, it sounded a little congested. When I went to bed, I wasn’t that worried about it because Alvin said the update will require five to ten days to break in. When I I bought the pontus ii last summer, it took a good month for it to fully broke in. I had a Qutest before the pontus and during that month I was concerned I made the wrong choice. But after it fully broke in, I feel in love with it. 


I haven’t listened to my system since last Saturday, but I have kept it running. I probably won’t listen to it critically until Friday night to allow six full days of break in. I think when I go down on Friday I’ll like the sound of the new firmware. I’ll repost after the weekend. 

@audiofilo123 - have you played with the NOS and the phase? Maybe using the NOS will bring back the natural tone. 

I updated my Pontus II this morning and am extremely happy with the results so far. Everything went smoothly and the actual FPGA flashing took seconds rather than minutes. A big thanks to Alvin and the FPGA update team at Denafrips for the quick turnaround for my request and the meticulous instructions which were critical for the success of this multi-step update process.

Two questions,

Are you glad you did the upgrade?

How do you upgrade something “The Pontus ll” that’s not connected to the internet?


I’m wondering if it’s the firmware or if maybe the increased resolution is uncovering an issue elsewhere in your system?  What’s the rest of your equipment, cables, etc.?

I will give it the mentioned break-in time and more, but now, after 4 days it still makes unhappy... let’s see how it goes.

I haven’t change anything in my system and I was having a blast prior to the firmware upgrade. The sound was very natural and a pure pleasure to listen. I was 100% happy, and I still fell that I will be again with the previous firmware.

Of course, my system still performs amazingly with my other CD players and dacs,

My reason to upgrade was to stop the occasional sound “glitch” when connected to the Cambridge CXC, but I loved the sound.


I just read on the Vineshine website that if you do brick it, instead of sending your Pontus in, you can order a new DSP board that’s already had the update installed. The price was in Singapore dollars, so I don’t know the price in US dollars, but at least there is a plan B available.

@audiofilo123 +1 For checking the NOS setting. I had my Pontus set to NOS prior to the update and it reverted back to OS after the update. I didn’t catch this right away and concluded that the update resulted in more detail but less bass and warmth. When I switched it back to NOS mode I was much happier and feel that the update in NOS mode is a definite improvement. I’m hoping for even better results after break-in.

@mksun I admit that don’t understand why a Firmware change needs burn-in but I am not an Engineer so I choose to believe what the brands says, So I will wait, let’s say another full week until I reporting any more, just to be fare.

Although  I am still waiting for Denafrips response to my email, (asking for the previous firmware) to learn more about it.

Previously I have always listen with the OS slow filter. A few days ago I didn’t change it to NOS but I.wasn’t impressed. I will give it another go today.

The previous Pontus II performance was so special that it became a natural reference for digital reproduction, and Now I expect nothing less :)

I posed some questions to the FPGA development team at Vinshine regarding the update and here are the responses I received: 

"Congratulations to have successfully updated the DAC with the latest DENAFRIPS 12th Anniv. Firmware! The firmware is equivalent to the Pontus that is now currently shipping. "

"The FPGA firmware update essentially 'rewired' the logic gates in the FPGA chip. (Ref: link here). Please allow some time for the FPGA to burn in for optimum sound reproduction. Up to 300 hours will be good."

@mksun thanks for the information.

In my use scheme, it is around 40 days (8 hours a day)... so far 8 days have passed.

Now the sound is less glazzy and a bit less congested. But still not natural at all. And the qualities I miss the the most are: depth, center image , decay and separation. The sound, although less tin, is flat and uni not involving at all. I really hope  to get back those qualities.

Hi @audiofilo123 

Can I ask how your experience with the Firmware (v1.3?) is progressing?

I have a brand new Pontus 12th, which is only 5 days old.  So far, I'm moderately unhappy with its glassy digital tone, sibilant female voices and light bass.


Hi, I must say that I was expecting to hear some improvements on the FW1.3 but that never happened, in fact was the worst digital experience of my audiophile life.

Then I have returned to the FW1.0 and all was instantly amazing again... in fact it is the best digital experience of my my system. So I totally recommend the original FW, and Denafrips products and the outstanding customer support.

Have been apprehensive about doing the FW update to my 9 month old P-2 12th. I’ve had no clicking ever and am quite pleased with my system. Not being one to hear half of the nuance you guys do, I think I’ll stick with the old adage…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

I opted to purchase a new DSP  board instead of risking it liking the upgrade. However in hindsight I was overly cautious and now have my original and happily working new board. 

In the short time I’ve spent listening to it   I’m really impressed.there definitely is more detail especially found in the articulation of lyrics. I can clearly make out distinct words in songs which has enhanced the musical experience.

The sound stage has also taken a more 3D quality. Wider and deeper. 

@thelonious527 ,

Could you tell me the cost of the replacement board?

Does it have the layest 1.4 firmware installed on it?


I’m in Canada and it cost $. 398 + 18 ( fedex duty charge ) . It came pre loaded with the most current firmware V 1.4. It took about 1.5 weeks to arrive from the factory in China. 

Hi guys,

Quick question; my order with my distributor here in the UK will be made tomorrow for the Pontus II 12th - will this be shipped with FW 1.4?

Thanks 👍