Denafrips Pontus II vs Venus II

Seeking experiences from people who have compared both in their systems. Is the Venus II worth the extra outlay in a system costing up to $20k.


The differences between all Denafrips models are described in the link below but I thought of seeking more thoughts from people who have made the comparison specifically the Pontus II and Venus II.






I just bought a pontus ii and don’t have 200 hours on it yet. I was using a Chord Qutest and read all the amazing reviews about the pontus ii, so I thought I’d give it a try. I also read it needs at least 300 hours before it fully breaks in and sounds amazing. Right from the start, the soundstage was way bigger than the Qutest but the detail was gone. The next week, it started to sound better and I began to feel a little better about my decision. I’m going down to listen in a few and I’m hoping it sounds even better than last week. When researching the pontus ii I found out about Denafrits’ DDCs. The British Audiophile  believes of you buy the iris DDC it will bring your pontus ii to the same level as the venus ii (for less cost). I don’t know if the addition of the iris to the pontus ii is better, but the clock in the iris is the same clock in the Venus ii. In a few months (if I love the pontus) I’m going to buy the iris and see what happens. 

I owned both,IMO the venus II is better but not worth the extra cash...for me the Holo spring 3 level 3 is better and about the same money.Thats what I'd buy.

Thanks for all responses. @stevebohnii I currently have the Chord Qbd76 so it’s useful that you compared the Quest to the Pontus II. I didn’t know about the Iris DDC and it’s useful to note that the performance of the Pontus II can taken up a notch when used with the Iris.

Looks like the Pontus II may be the better option when compared to the Venus II. Nevertheless, I’ll have to decide between that and another DAC which I have been eyeing for some time, a Luxman DA-06.

I have the Pontus ll and it’s been great.  I’ve thought about getting the Iris or the Venus ll and I’m leaning towards the DDC, I haven’t been in a huge hurry because the Pontus ll  sounds really good in my system.

All the best.


I’m interested to know which DAC you are considering over the pontus ii. I do think, halo makes some amazing DACs and wish I could have tried one of their models before purchasing the pontus ii. I really do like the pontus and think the sound is improving over time. The hi-fi store I go to let me take home a transparent premium and a cardas clear beyond power cords to try with the pontus. I’m excited to find out how they will sound. Denafrits makes two other DDCs in addition to the iris which are more expensive (hermes and gaia). 

Best of luck. 

@stevebohnil, please let us know how the pc's work out.  I typically use Clear pc's in my systems but did not have an extra one for my new Pontus.


Wow, what a difference! I have a few cheap pangea and audioquest power cords on hand just in case I need them. I had the pangea hooked up to the pontus until I could audition a few higher-end cords. I auditioned the transparent last night and everything came together. The pontus came alive with even more soundstage and amazing detail. The soundstage was always big but the detail had been lacking. I’m going to try the cardas clear beyond later tonight. I have to say, I’m a little scared to try it because it is a little out of my price range! I’m currently using all cardas cignus and clear cables. I might try a clear power cord with the pontus before purchasing the transparent just to ensure I’m making the right decision…lol. 


I use a AES/EBU from a Bricasti M5 streamer into a Denafrips Hermes, which outputs via I²S to a Pontus II.  Everything in the digital chain upstream from the streamer is powered by quiet linear power supplies and is also power filtered.  The level of detail and focus is still much greater than when bypassing the Hermes.

Check out the specs for all the Denafrips devices, and in particular the clock type. My guess is that my Hermes + Pontus II setup via I²S gets one closer to the Terminator II performance than a Venus II because of the OCXO clock in the Hermes.

Hi again Steve @stevebohnii

I'm using Kimber Kable HD29 0.5m. It's just barely long enough to go between levels on my audio rack. I haven't tried any others.  If you have any suggestions, let me know.


Hi again, buddy! I’ve researched the tubulus comcentus i2s is an amazing cable. I’m thinking about the iris but after reading your post, maybe I should step up to the hermes. Last night was the first night I feel in love with the pontus ii. Lol. 


That cable's specs look excellent, and it's in a significantly higher price bracket compared to my Kimber I2S.  I've been on a tear lately with system upgrades, including an Acoustic Zen Absolute 110ohm AES/EBU into the Hermes, but I'll consider it.  I've got it on my list now, and thanks!

The Hermes reclocker advances my sound enough that I would never think of backtracking to a Pontus II alone. That combined with setting the Pontus II on OS with the slow filter gives me the detail I want.  NOS on Pontus II just sounds hazy to me.



Yeah, I tried the NOS and felt the same way. Just lost the detail the OS provided. I reviewed the Bricasti M5 and it sounds like a very nice streamer. Can I ask if you bought it new or did you find it used?  Also, what power cord are you using for the pontus ii?  The Acoustic Zen Absolute 110ohm AES/EBU specs look amazing and so does the price tag…lol I bet your system sounds great. I’m thinking I will go with a ddc next and then upgrade my streamer. Currently, I’m using the ifi zen stream. It’s okay, but looking to upgrade. Just need my wife to approve. 


I want to stay humble and precise, so I just did the old Hermes bypass test... again. I listened to the album "Harp Favorites" by Floraleda Sacchi on Qobuz to test the difference. I find harp recordings to be one of the best ways to test many aspects of sound, including attack, decay, and the whole freq range from very high down to low mid-range and sometimes upper bass. For soundstage, not so much though. Anyway, I re-confirmed that Pontus II by itself outputs a lesser degree of finesse, speed, dynamics, and decay refinement.

I bought the Bricasti M5 new. For a power cord on my Pontus II, I’m using the Acoustic Zen Krakatoa. It has fantastic top end detail, and very fast and thunderous deep bass. However, the mid-bass and mid-range are recessed. When I use an Acoustic Zen Absolute Copper interconnect between my pre and power amp, it totally fills in that freq range with a very pleasing fullness without sacrificing any details. Without having found that synergy, I would have abandoned the Krakatoa. But with it, I’m extremely pleased! None of the power cords on my Pontus II come anywhere as close to the sub-bass extension and speed as the Krakatoa, which is especially revealed by a Rythmik F12G subwoofer + Zavfino power cable.

I have the Venus II and a Hermes combination. I use the Tubulus Argentus I2s between them. I cannot comment on the comparison between then Pontus II and Venus II as I have never compared them. I have removed the Hermes from the system when doing some troubleshooting that later revealed a problem in my preamp which is in for repair now. When I removed the Hermes I found that the soundstage shrunk  a bit and the bass was less defined with less authority. It was good to find that the Hermes was helping it along. I believe this combination is doing a great job and my musical enjoyment is relished each time I listen. I have read that you get amore detail retrieval from the Venus II vs the Pontus II in reviews i have read. It's build is more similar to the Terminator with the better resisters and more of them which helps it's detail  more I think. These DAC's do take a tremendous amount of patience to break in and just keep getting better as the hundreds of hours pile up. Good luck with your decision, I always get the best I can afford to keep from wanting to upgrade and lose on my investments when ever I can. 

Those of you who are using a reclocker, are you streaming from a PC or a dedicated streamer? Alvin alluded that when using something like a Lumin streamer, the DDC might not be such an improvement. Just curious.



@ozzy62   For me I am connected via AES/EBU from a CEC TL1x CD transport and via Coax from a dedicated streamer Cambridge CXN V2. ( Orchid AES/EBU and Illuminations D60 coax.)

I did not audition a Venus, but I do have a Denafrips stack that I adore (Pontus II DAC, Hades Pre-Amp, and Thallo Amp…..all true balanced with Morrow XLR cables driving a pair of Buchardt Audio S400 Mk II speakers. After all we’re broken in, I am in love with the music.

however, I have the Audiophile sickness and reached out to Alvin at Vinshine to see if he thought I could improve things even further. He suggested the Iris DDC feeding I2S to the Pontus, and pointed me to the British Audiophile video. So I have taken possession of said Iris, and will install in the next month after a couple of cables are broken in another 100 hours or so. I’m hoping there is a noticeable improvement can be made

When connecting the I2S from the DDC to either the pontus or the venus, are most of you using a USB or coaxial cable from your computer or streamer? Is one better than the other??

@ozzy62 I described my setup in detail in this discussion already, so you can check that out if you want. The gist is that I’m using a dedicated network endpoint to stream via UPnP from a smartphone as a dedicated device for my streaming app(s). So, not a PC. I’ve used both USB and AES/EBU to connect to my reclocker, and in both cases it is a non-trivial difference and actually a profound upgrade over not using the reclocker. Reclocked with I2S to DAC sounds like a much higher tier DAC is in play. I’ve repeated this test many times over the last 9 months or so, and I always get a definite result. Alvin is exceptionally honest and modest about gear configurations and the products he sells, but in my case, even though I’m NOT using a PC and USB, he’s still greatly underselling it. Hope that helps!

@stevebohnii For my Bricasti M5, I’m using a pretty expensive AES/EBU cable and it clearly outperforms the USB connection from the same streamer to the same reclocker. The USB cable I have isn’t in the same price range, but I don’t plan to go back to USB even with a different cable because I don't think even a top tier USB cable could best my current config.

The review that you linked  has an interesting comment about how the nature of the sound from the Venus is different than that from the Pontus. The review describes the sound from the Venus as being more analytical while the sound from the Pontus is fuller. 

I'm thrilled with the sound that I'm getting from the Pontus. I recently listened to a dcs Bartok and my impressions are that I actually like the sound of the Pontus better for the acoustic music that I typically listen to. It has an organic feeling that I'm concerned that I might lose from going to the Venus. Of course, this is just speculation on my part,  but my main thought is that the Pontus is really an overachiever if you listen to a lot of acoustic instruments, voices, jazz and small ensemble classical music even rock. The one type of music that is less of a strength is perhaps orchestral music and opera since the perspective that Pontus provides of music seems more intimate than large-scale.


"When connecting the I2S from the DDC to either the pontus or the venus, are most of you using a USB or coaxial cable from your computer or streamer? Is one better than the other??"

I plan on connecting the Iris DDC to my Pontus II via an HDMI I2S cable. Alvin at Vinshine Audio suggested that would give the best connection

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i have spent much time with the pontus (and pontus ii) -- and also with the ares ii, as well as venus and terminator dacs

in their hierarchy the pontus is relatively unique in that it is voiced with the warmest, fullest midrange and midbass, while preserving the major denafrips strength of vast and specific imaging with a relatively smooth sound

i felt, moving up to the venus and the term, that the treble becomes perceived as being more prominent (if less grainy) in the overall balance of the music, and this is somewhat a result of the upper model dacs also having a slightly leaner midbass ’foundation’, so to speak

despite the slight but clearly noticeable grain of the pontus treble, i enjoyed it quite alot, and as a result, i kept it the longest among the dena dacs, and tried it in various forms/inputs (with a gaia later using i2s, for instance) as i felt its overall balance is the most pleasant in the line

alas i have sold all my dena dacs, moved onto what i think is stuff that sounds better overall, and has features and form factors more to my liking


yes, I connected my Hermes to the Pontus II I2S via an Audioquest carbon. I plan to upgrade my HDMI cable over the next few months. You’re correct, using the I2S is the best connection. From the Hermes, I’m using a Cardas Beyond to the Pontus and Cardas Cygnus RCA cables to my Atoll IN300. I have to say, the Hermes has made a huge improvement over something that was really good to begin with. How do you like the Iris?  


I haven't connected the Iris DDC yet. I've got two cables that I'm still breaking in: Audioquest Vodka 48 8K and a Supra 2.1 8K cables, and then I'll start testing them between the Iris and Pontus II.

I have read nothing but positives from adding the Denafrips DDCs to their DACs, hoping to have the same great results you have seen......probably in a couple of weeks I'll start adding the DDC to the system

@vthokie83 please write back after you have tested the I2S with your Iris. Can wait to hear about your results. 

@ Stevebohnii:

Well I bet if you tried the Clear Beyond PC you didn't take it off.  I borrowed a CB PC from another component in another one of my systems to try on my Pontus.  Lets just say I'm looking for another PC now to use on the component it came off of, lol.  Actually the Clear Beyond PC is an older model which is more like todays Clear, plus I bought it used at a good price, so not quite as crazy a combination as it seems, but definitely worth it in my case.

I have had suggested to me by a few audiophiles I should think about an Audio GD DDC, over any of the Denafrips range.

On their advice, I have ordered an Audio GD DI-20HE.

Then will have around $400 mods before receiving it.