I have been working on upgrading my digital signal chain. First, I upgraded my PS Audio Directstream DAC. (Edcore XS4400 transformers, External 12V R-core transformer/MOSFET regulated Power Supply). This made a big improvement however I felt I needed to use the I2s input of the DAC as the designer Ted Smith and PS Audio recommends. After a lot of research, I decided to purchase the Denafrips Hermes DDC to do that task. Boy am I glad I did…
When I first installed the Hermes in my system it felt faster and more impactful sounding, there was a higher level of detail (not in a clinical way), Transients were tight and the decay of instruments sounded more real. Especially percussion and acoustic instruments. Anything I’ve listened through it sounds more open and wider, there is plenty of air traveling around, especially while listening to live recordings. I was completely surrounded by sounds that filled every corner of the room, picking up notes out of thin air wasn’t a challenge anymore. The air felt heavy and dense. Sound stage is quite impressive in terms of scale including height. The images became clearer and sharper, depth was nicer as if the sounds were coming from behind the wall. If I’m playing live albums then more air is flying around me and if I’m playing regular tracks then everything would be happening a little closer to me. It was an easy task increasing or decreasing the stage size depending on the music that is being played. Some tracks the sound was coming from the left and right wall beside me as if I had side speakers.
Listening fatigue? None. I didn’t want to stop listening.
The Hermes was a huge turning point for me, a real eye-opener and I hope it would do the same to you. Always listen with your heart, with an open mind and never with your wallet. I really like that they let me choose a pinout configuration for the I2S making it compatible with most DAC’S. I tested with test tracks and used Mode 2 (96K LED on) on the Hermes for the PS audio Directstream DAC.
Thanks, Alvin, (Denafrips) for steering me in the right direction on my decision and for your quick answers to my many questions.
My system is fully-balanced from input to output.
HP Elitedesk 800 R3 mini PC running JRiver MC 26 .101
Pangea Audio Premier SE USB Cable 6% Silver Plate (1 Meter)
Pangea Audio HD23PC Premier SE HDMI Cable 6% Silver Plate (0.6 Meter)
Denafrips Hermes DDC.
PS Audio Directstream DAC (Edcore XS4400 transformers, External 12V R-core transformer/MOSFET regulated Power Supply)
Audio Research LS27 Hybrid Tube Preamp.
Audio Research D-400 MK II amp (sometimes I use amps below)
Emotiva XPR-1 Reference 1000w Monoblock Amps
PS Audio Powerplant
Bowers & Wilkins 802d (not the D2 as I didn’t like the forward sound of the 800 D2 I sold)
Rebuilt Yamaha NS-1000M.
JBL L7 as my Rock-N-Roll speakers.
I don’t own a Matrix to compare.
I’m sure the Matrix sounds good however the parts and spec of this Hermes surpasses it by a large amount. Hermes has OCXO Oven Controlled FEMTO crystals This process eliminates the jitter to negligible level, ensuring the digital output signal are free from the harmful jitter noise. The use of OCXO plays an important role here., Built in O-core shielded based power supply with More than 8 sets of Ultra Low Noise, Precision Linear Power Regulars, Custom USB interface with High speed isolation (This is very important if you are using a PC’s USB port), Multiple input options, External Clock in options.
The Hermes has 8 pin configurations to accommodate many more DAC’s instead of just 2 in the Matrix.
Thanks for sharing your experience using the DDC.
I have the Denifrips Gaia DDC with Terminator Plus DAC. It never crossed my mind to try it with DirectStream DAC; I’m going to have to do some experimenting.
I had the DSD DAC but found both the Ares II and the Pontus II a better match for my Klipsch Forte IV speakers and Willsenton R8 tube amp.
Then I discovered the D/D Iris, the entry level of what you have. The sound improvements were quite significant in all the ways you described. The impact of cleaning up the USB feed from my PC before sending it to either DAC has to be heard to be believed.
The best way for me to describe the improvements is easily summed up: streaming Qobuz and my own ripped-from-CD music collection through Roon comes with impressive authority and confidence. It is musical reproduction that I did not think possible.
Any feedback on these two? Has anyone heard both? I’m currently using an Antipodes P2 (after an Antipodes CX / EX, Innuos PhoenixUSB, and a couple EtherRegens) and wondering if this would improve further.
This cost half of what the Hermes does so if it sounds as good it would be a bargain. The Hermes has better clocks and power supplies however the SU-2 measures well. I have no desire to purchase a SU-2 however if someone wants to lend me one to compare I will do a review of it.
I’ve not heard either but a friend who has the Singxer SU-6 says it is the better DDC of the lot. He had a Hermes and a Gaia before it and sold both of them very quickly.
My take from what he says is if you wish to convert only a single USB output to something else then the SU-6 is the better DDC performance wise.
Both the Denafrips Gaia and Hermes can convert more than one output ie. you can convert SPDIF coaxial, etc. on top of the USB. That was pretty much why I was looking at the Hermes.
Also, there is an article reviewing the Gaia that cautions that YMMV. The writer finds that if your source is good, then the Gaia is not effective in that the sound changes but not necessarily in an improving manner
The current obsession with reclockers and fixers brings to mind an anecdote from a hi fi reviewer on youtube who observes the current state of disc transports being in so much disfavour with users that most folk will purchase the cheapest possible disc reader/ transport to play their existing library. They will then proceed to add fixers, power supplies and external clocks to reclock the output signal from said transport to death. He adds wryly and not without reason that a signal from a better transport will sound better than that from an inferior one even with much treatment to the latter. In short, you can’t polish a turd.
Received from who? I am very happy with the Hermes. I have no desire to purchase any other DDC. The Hermes made a large improvement in cleaning up the USB signal from my Mini PC running JRiver. I had several friends over that knows my system very well and they all were floored at the improvement it made even after all the upgrades I made to my Directstream DAC. Everyone stated this was the best improvement they heard even better then the DSD mods. I say if you use a PC to stream music then the Hermes is a great piece of gear and will make a big improvement in staging, Attack and decay of instruments and eliminate congestion. I don’t know about the other DDC’s however I know 100% that I made the right choice in purchasing the Hermes.
The Iris was what I originally looked at purchasing however it won’t work with the Directstream DAC’s I2s input. Denafrips has stated they may change that in the future as they did with the Hermes and Gaia.