i2s Cable for Denafrips Iris -> Pontus?

Hi all! Finally got all the pieces to my digital front end puzzle and am getting things hooked up and set up.

What I landed with:

Innuos Zen mk3
Denafrips Iris 12th DDC
Denafrips Pontus II 12th DAC

Right now, I have USB running from the Zen to the Iris DDC, and then using an HDMI cable for i2s out from DDC into the Pontus. I got things setup to where sound is playing, but I have some observations so far.

1. I was using the Zen into a digital input on my integrated. It sounded ok, but wasn't great. I wasn't expecting much, but wanted to have a baseline to see how the Denafrips gear would improve on this.

2. Connecting the Pontus on its own to the Zen, there was an immediate, drastic improvement in pretty much every aspect of the sound.

3. Adding the Iris and getting it configured is where I ran into an interesting issue. No problems getting sound to work by following the walkthrough video, so that was good. However, there seems to be a very slight muffling to the sound overall vs the DAC alone. The sound is less holographic and it took some of the sparkle off. To me, currently, it sounds like a slight downgrade vs the DAC on its own, which shouldn't be the case.

While some of this may be 'fresh out of the box' syndrome that break-in might change a bit, I suspect that possibly using a random HDMI cable for the i2s isn't the best approach and may be contributing to this issue.

Not sure if others that have this combo have run into this at all. If so, would like to hear if the cable choice was the problem or if it was some setting somewhere. The instructions for these aren't the most thorough, so it's definitely possible it's a setting issue as well.

Thanks for any help!



@soix I'm using some cheapies that I had laying around from other things. The HDMI is an anker HDMI cable - probably cost less than $10, I'd assume. The USB was something I bought for something else at one point - maybe a printer? I don't recall. Who knows how cheap that thing was. Probably just the cheapest one off Amazon.

I just ordered some DH labs cables since I've typically felt they were good value for money and they just announced a 25% off sale, so might as well!

I'll see how they adjust in the meantime with some burn in time as well. I know with the i2s, supposedly the cable makes a big difference there, so we will see!

Either way, the difference currently is very slight. I only notice it on vocals and some specific types of music (like classical). Minor, but it was a little bit odd! I'll report back once they've had some more time and I swap out the cables and see if there's any change from either or both.

Funny, given your price point I was gonna recommend this DH Labs HDMI cable (BTW, your HDMI cable should be as short as possible and preferably 1 foot or less as i2S don’t do distance well)…


Not sure if you ordered a USB cable, but especially give your initial impressions I’d say this one’s worth a look given its silver DNA and high-end features like physically separate data and power legs at a very reasonable price


Anyway, very interested in what you find as things progress.

@soix I actually went with the DH Labs Mirage USB for the USB cable. Has a lot of the same features of the Lavricables. Slightly more expensive, but with the 25% off sale it's in the same neighborhood.

Good choice — DH Labs obviously makes good, high-value stuff, and at 25% off it’s hard to go wrong. 

@soix I cannot find any HDMI cables 1 foot or less...DH makes an 20 inch, Wireworld a 24 and AQ a 30...any suggestions ?