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One more thought on the Denafrips Ares II

  • We’ve been catching quite a few streaming-related gotchas of late. Bluetooth can’t do hi-res (no matter what the promo blurb says), Google’s Chromecast doesn’t stream gaplessly, Android OS resamples all streams to 48kHz and all Sonos hardware caps ‘hi-res’ support at 48kHz to pull up alongside Apple TV OS and AirPlay.

    The Denafrips Ares II, although a D/A converter and not a streaming device per se, doesn’t get away gotcha-free. The FPGA-based DSP that handles the unit’s FIFO buffering and (N)OS modes cannot perform its calculations instantaneously. Maths takes time, albeit milliseconds. And like many pairs of active noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones, the Ares II’s DSP-induced time delay is enough to knock lip-sync out of whack when the DAC is tasked with handling the audio portion of a video stream.

    I hooked up a Xiaomi Mi Box S via TOSLINK to watch John Oliver on YouTube only to find the lip-sync error too distracting to watch for more than a couple of minutes. Switching the Denafrips DAC from OS mode to NOS mode didn’t improve the situation; and if it did, the gains were imperceptible. I have no way of measuring the number of milliseconds introduced by the Ares II’s DSP but this Drop forum commenter somehow pegs it at somewhere between 40 and 90ms. What I can tell you is that the delay is more pronounced than the DSP delay introduced by Sony’s WH-1000XM3 ANC headphones.

    Alas, this time delay renders the Ares II untenable for TV or movie watching. Gotcha!

    Further information: Denafrips

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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