A few of the test tracks…

  • Sam Smith – Too Good at Goodbyes
  • Marian Hill – Go Quietly
  • Jack Johnson – Banana Pancakes
  • Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – Dinah
  • Zaz – Les Passants
  • Yello – Kiss the Cloud
  • Insane Clown Posse – Boogie Woogie Wu
  • Notorious B.I.G. – Juicy
  • Aphex Twin – Isopropanol
  • Relnaldo Brahn – Out of the Blue
  • Depeche Mode – People are People
  • Yuja Wang – The Berlin Recital Album

Within the first few seconds of listening – the Denafrips Terminator makes its mark as a top-tier DAC. It’s quiet, yet full sounding. It has energy and shine but remains smooth and tactile. There’s a preservation of tonal contrast between the various performers of a recording – while keeping details in check.

The level of atmospheric presence is also astounding. Probably the best I’ve ever heard from a DAC. From the cheering of the audience to how the reflections move around a venue, everything sounds lifesized, rhythmic, and palpable. The live performance immediately envelopes you. You’re not on stage or in the front row but comfortably seated. Perfect for a more holistic and captivating presentation.

This balance between resolution and body is very difficult to achieve. Yet the Denafrips Terminator is able to articulate both simultaneously. As these two traits are typically considered trade-offs, it’s quite a rare and impressive accomplishment by Denafrips.

In short, the Denafrips Terminator is incredibly insightful – while incorporating tangible dynamics from top to bottom. Dialogue is also as clear as it’s going to get. These elements would make it difficult not to be impressed with this DAC. Music sounds just more alive.

Regarding tonality…

This is not a warmblooded or dark sounding DAC. As far as tone, it’s on the slightly neutralish-cool, more heightened side of the spectrum. There’s a slight lifting and “beautification” of the mids. This sounds great for electronic, rock, some pop, classical, and acoustic recordings. However, it may be too clean, glossy, and crystalline for hip-hop, some jazz, R&B, and vocal-centric music.

As far as my tastes, tonal color is probably the only thing I could knock the Denafrips Terminator for. It’s a little cooler than I’d like. But all isn’t lost. I’ve found using warmer speaker cables, power cords and USB cables will help get more blood flowing. Obviously, this wouldn’t be a negative for those who prefer more neutrality, brilliance, and translucency.

Stereo imaging is world-class. At times, it’s downright scary. The Denafrips Terminator does a wonderful job isolating the harmonic essence and firmly places each instrument onto the stage. In addition, there’s a natural sizing and molding of acoustic silhouettes. Dominant slams of a kick drum never perturb the delicate and focused voices. You’re still able to hear super deep into the recording – while locking down timbre, cohesion, and perspective.

The Denafrips Terminator doesn’t only sparkle but is relentless with its low end. Bass goes subterranean and hits with ferocity. The powerful slams never disturb the other performers. In fact, the dynamic contrasts are on full display at all times. This DAC insists on keeping the party going.