The Denafrips Terminator PLUS twelfth Anniversary Evaluation |

The Denafrips Terminator PLUS twelfth Anniversary Evaluation

By Steve Huff

It’s been nearly six months since I reviewed the final Denafrips DAC that was shipped to me to take a look at. That was the great Terminator PLUS which was the flagship DAC from Denafrips and it was certainly a world class DAC. It creeped up into place as one of many high 3 DACs that I’ve heard, and I’ve heard fairly a couple of excessive finish DACs during the last couple of years!

DACs from Chord (Dave, Qutest, TT2), Weiss (501), Lab 12 (Reference), DCS (Lina and Clock), Holo MAY, Playback Designs, Luxman, Jays Audio, Mola Mola and naturally Denafrips.


Since I wrote that overview again in June I nonetheless have had recollections of the Terminator PLUS and the attractive music it made in my system. Regardless that it was not the costliest DAC I’ve heard, it’s up there in sound high quality with different items  within the $10k vary although it got here in for 1000’s much less. 

Now Denafrips has launched The twelfth Anniversary Terminator Plus

Just a few weeks in the past I obtained an e mail from Alvin Chee over at Vinshine Audio. He requested if I want to overview the brand new Terminator PLUS twelfth Anniversary Version DAC. That is an ever additional refinement of the Terminator DAC and one which Alvin feels competes with any DAC in the marketplace. It’s with out query the very best DAC Denafrips makes in the present day and whereas it seems the identical because the PLUS model, there’s a new twelfth Anniversary brand on backside proper of the entrance faceplate.

When the overview unit got here in I noticed it was all black. I favor silver however the black seems mighty good as effectively. With the ability to take a look at each colours of  this distinctive DAC in home I really feel that the silver seems extra luxurious and the black a bit extra underneath the radar. The DAC remains to be heavy after all, weighing in at a whopping 41lbs as it’s actually a Terminator PLUS with some enhancements. Three of them to be actual.

What’s NEW?

Whereas the adjustments don’t appear to be large adjustments at first look, I’ve detected an much more refined sound than earlier than and I’ll speak about this down under, however first allow us to check out the adjustments made to the PLUS mannequin on this twelfth Anniversary Version…

  1. Gold, Silver, Copper shielded alloy O-Core transformers.

  2. Optimized Crucial Circuitry  – Additional reduces noise, enhances tonal density, extremely decision

  3. Direct FPGA processing of I2S, SPDIF Alerts with out intermediate converter, Shorter sign path.

Denafrips says that is their “Flagship DAC Re-Imagined” and I used to be curious as to what these adjustments would do to the sound vs the PLUS mannequin. With out a PLUS right here for direct aspect by aspect it might be robust however after two weeks of listening to the brand new twelfth version Terminator PLUS I used to be as soon as once more sucked in to the music. Some DACs can reproduce music in a dry method or lean method, however the T+twelfth is all about movement, rhythm, musicality, bringing forth these small particulars in an natural method and sure, scale.

This DAC creates a soundstage fairly a bit bigger than even my $20k DCS Lina and Clock combo.

You probably have not learn my Terminator PLUS overview I counsel you achieve this HERE. I point out this as the brand new twelfth nonetheless seems like a PLUS however there are some enhancements made to the sound. General my overview of the usual PLUS can and does pertain to this twelfth in terms of every thing else apart from these sound refinements.

However It Seems the Similar!

Sure certainly the construct is similar, design is similar, and it seems precisely the identical because the earlier plus mannequin. That is an replace to the flagship, that makes it a bit higher than earlier than. This new twelfth has some additional sugar on high with the enhancements so let me get to the sound. I can even examine the DAC to different DACs from DCS, Chord and Weiss.

Once I put in the twelfth into my system that’s comprised of my Fleetwood Deville SQ audio system with a Luxman 595 ASE for energy duties. I’m utilizing Nordost Crimson Daybreak cabling all through and still have a Michi X3 built-in amp available as effectively for comparisons.

Inside my system I heard a really related sound to the Terminator PLUS however there have been some variations.


The very first thing I observed was that the background silence was even a deeper black than earlier than. When we’ve got noise free elements in our system it permits the music to breathe simpler out of your audio system. It permits our ears to listen to nothing however the music and due to this fact the small print emerge with an ease that’s heard to explain.

The twelfth anniversary plus actually has a deeper than black silence about it. In between notes I heard completely nothing however blackness. It stood out and I don’t remembering being this impressed with the unique plus on this regard.

For streaming duties I used to be utilizing the most recent price range streamer from iFi known as the NEO STREAM. This little man is wonderful for the cash it prices and exceeds the blue sound node in all methods (even has a pleasant DAC inbuilt that sounds great) and whereas I’m not a fan of the seems, the operate is excellent. Permits use of just about any streaming service by way of their very own apps. No devoted app is required to make use of it, and it really works improbable as a streamer. It additionally options lively noise canceling and totally balanced circuitry for underneath $1300.

Additionally, do know that I do use energy purification in my system within the type of a Puritan Audio PSM 156. Once I reviewed the plus in June I had a PS Audio P20 doing energy duties. Even so, I observed a deeper blacker silence in regards to the twelfth Anniversary mannequin. It was somewhat beautiful when taking part in music that had silence in between notes or verses. That silence was SILENT with none hint of hiss, noise or hum.

The second factor I observed was it appeared as if element retrieval has ticked up a notch and I imply micro and macro particulars. I used to be listening to issues I by no means heard, and that may be a robust factor for any audio product to do for these ears. The way in which particulars emerged have been very lovely certainly. This DAC has a method of bringing forth music with a delicate movement, emotion and refinement. It’s easy however by no means does it ever enter uninteresting territory. It has world class decision however it’s doesn’t sound ahead or lean. It has a slight heat but it won’t sound mushy, flat or boring.

Fairly outstanding what DAC tech is doing nowadays and whereas it is a $7500 USD priced DAC it’s up there with the massive weapons so far as efficiency goes, surpassing some that I’ve heard within the $10k vary.

It’s attention-grabbing as 10 years in the past most DACs sounded very digital. I’m speaking a few high finish harshness, flatness and grunge. Lately the nicer DACs sound refined, easy, and so they far surpass that outdated “Analog” sound we’ve got tried to imitate with digital for many years. Todays finest digital, IMO, exceeds the sound high quality of vinyl. The Terminator PLUS twelfth does this with ease. Even my $13k retail analog entrance finish (Luxman PD-151, Luxman MC Cart, Move Labs XP-17, Crimson Daybreak Cables) doesn’t examine to what the T+ twelfth is doing with reference to all out sound high quality.

I’ve discovered through the years that the DAC inside a system can actually carry the life, breath and wonder out from our digital music of alternative and the Denafrips flagship delivers a heck of a number of life from digital sources. It doesn’t excel in just one kind of music, somewhat it may well play absolutely anything and sound refined, easy, musical, extremely detailed and it delivers this sound with physique and a delicate ease that could be very addicting.

This isn’t a DAC that sounds ahead, somewhat it appears its solely job is to create lovely music. Bear in mind, there is no such thing as a streamer constructed into this DAC so you’ll need a supply to your digital music to stream into the T+twelfth.

The hookups, ins and outs are the identical because the PLUS mannequin I reviewed in June.


Technical Highlights

  • Proprietary R2R + DSD Structure
  • True balanced 26BIT R2R + 6BIT DSD (32 steps FIR Filters)
  • Matched Precision Skinny Movie 0.005% R-2R Community Arrays
  • Encapsulated Flagship Extremely Low Noise Energy Provide
  • Excessive Purity Gold+Silver+Copper Alloy AC Transformers
  • Excessive-end Oven Managed Crystals OCXO
  • Adaptive FIFO Buffer Reclocking
  • Direct Digital Sign Processing FPGA
  • DSD1024, PCM1536 Helps On USB & I²S Enter
  • Proprietary USB Audio Resolution by way of STM32F446 Superior AMR Primarily based MCU
  • Licensed Thesycon USB Driver For Home windows Platform
  • Driverless On Mac & Linux
  • Twin AES/EBU Enter Helps
  • Sharp/Gradual Filters Choice
  • I²S Pinout Configuration
  • I²S DSD Channel Swap Configuration


  • DSD64 (DoP) on Coax/AES/Choose Enter
  • DSD1024* On USB & I²S Enter Solely


  • 24bits / 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192KHz On All Enter
  • 1536kHz* On USB & I²S Enter

Sampling Mode: Non-Oversampling NOS / Oversampling OS

Digital Enter  

  • Coax by way of RCA
  • TOSLink x 1
  • AES/EBU x 2
  • USB2.0 Sort B
  • I²S by way of HDMI LVDS
  • I²S by way of RJ45 LVDS
  • I²S by way of RJ45 LVCMOS

Analog Output

  • RCA at 2.0Vrms, 625 Ω
  • XLR at 4.0Vrms, 1250 Ω

Clock Output BNC 75Ω

  • 44.1KHz, 48KHz
  • 22.5774Mhz, 24.576Mhz
  • 45.1548MHz, 49.152Mhz

The Terminator twelfth additionally comes with a 3 12 months guarantee.

Seeing that I simply reviewed the PLUS six months in the past there may be not a lot I can say in regards to the twelfth as it’s in spirit, in essence, in actuality nearly the identical DAC with some enhancements that do up the sound sport, although the sound signature is comparable between the 2.

The twelfth is a DAC for individuals who need the “Final” DAC that Denafrips could make. In the event you love the sound of the Denafrips DACs all of them have the same home sound, and it’s actually a stupendous sound. If you transfer up the vary you get extra of the GOOD and that good retains going till the final cease which is the Terminator PLUS twelfth Anniversary.

This DAC is for these audiophiles who’re choosy and all the time trying to find the very best you’ll find. Whereas there are DACs that value 2-3X of what this Denafrips twelfth does don’t assume they’re “higher”. I lately heard a close to $24k DAC that was mighty spectacular however in realty not likely extra so than my Lina & Clock and this twelfth!



VS the earlier plus model the twelfth does seem so as to add extra refinement to the sound. We hear this extra as we flip up the amount as effectively and every thing stays composed and wealthy. It has a blacker background and due to this fact we hear extra decision and particulars rising. The sound stays easy and velvet like, much more so than earlier than, however vocals are deep and barely richer than earlier than. It’s all about these micro and macro particulars although.

As superior as the usual plus is at this, the twelfth does it a bit of higher. The sound is full and by no means will get lean although it by no means will get bloated, which is sweet. I’d say the twelfth is certainly improved in sound vs the final PLUS mannequin. It’s not night time and day however it’s noticeable and appreciated. I wouldn’t promote my PLUS for the twelfth, but when I have been searching for a brand new flagship kind of DAC the twelfth can be on my listing with out query.

What you’ll be able to anticipate from the twelfth is a really good large however pure soundstage, pure imaging, an natural easy movement and musicality with class main retrieval of micro and macro particulars. These particulars come forth in such a method that we all know we’re listening to a efficiency somewhat than a recording. This isn’t a heat muffled type of sound, somewhat it’s alive and contemporary but with a easy refinement that makes you simply get into the groove. Seems like music to me.


The DCS Lina is a DAC I fell for fairly simply and I adore it much more now than once I initially obtained it. I purchased this DAC alone and reviewed it on this web site together with a video on my YouTube channel. I used to be then contacted by DCS who despatched me the clock to check out with the DAC. After a couple of weeks with the Clock I couldn’t ship it again because it made a pleasant however delicate distinction inside my system.

The DCS Lina can be a full sounding DAC with meat and density nevertheless it’s additionally extra ahead than the Denafrips. The DCS has extra vitality to the sound and music, devices and voices come out additional into the room with the Lina. The DCS shouldn’t be vibrant in any method (neither is it lean) however it’s not as velvet like nor does the music movement as easy because the Denafrips. It It additionally creates a smaller soundstage however this smaller stage is extra centered with a extra exact imaging efficiency.

They carry forth totally different sound shows. The Lina is extra ahead the Denafrips is extra laid again. For the BASS win, effectively that goes to the Lina because it does carry forth a deeper decrease register however I really feel the mids of the Denafrips are richer and have extra depth. The DCS shouldn’t be as silky up high because the Terminator twelfth. The twelfth is barely hotter and richer sounding than the DCS but the DCS brings forth a extra thrilling hear. Devices are extra separated with the Lina however they sound pure with the Denafrips. This may come down to non-public choice as to which sound you favor.

If I take away the clock from the Lina the struggle will get nearer and there have been days I most popular the Denafrips and days I selected the Lina as my fave. However DAC vs DAC, it is a robust struggle as each are simply lovely music makers. Simply an FYI the T+twelfth is $4k much less in value than the Lina by itself.


As a lot as I really like this DAC, and it’s additionally a high tier alternative, the Lina and the Terminator twelfth edge this one out for me. It appears DACs are sounding higher and higher annually and the older Weiss could also be exhibiting its age when in comparison with the opposite two. It’s sharper within the treble, has extra weight within the mids however much less down under. I nonetheless really feel this DAC brings forth a studio type of sound, a extra “right” sound. The Weiss is over $9k, the Terminator PLUS twelfth is $7500 or so.


The Terminator can be expandable and you’ll enhance upon it down the highway by including a clock to it (See Denafrips Clock possibility Right here). Simply as DCS is understood for his or her clocks that enhance their very own DAC’s the Denafrips choices are additionally upgradable on this method. I’ve by no means tried a Denafrips Clock but when I have been to purchase a T+ twelfth I’d 100% purchase a clock to go along with it.

With my Lina the clock added extra readability to the sound, higher element retrieval and a extra centered but lovely sound. I hear the reverb trails from the studio or venue a lot simpler with the clock. Including a clock to the Denafrips would do the identical type of issues although out of the field the T + twelfth is mighty spectacular.

PROS of the T+ twelfth?

The Construct. Prime notch construct. As I stated in my PLUS overview, this factor might outlive YOU. It’s stable if not understated.

The Sound. The is what it’s all about in spite of everything, and the twelfth PLUS brings among the most refined sounds I’ve heard from my digital streaming. Deep, wealthy, layered with wonderful element retrieval. It has physique and a few heat as effectively.

Help. Vinshine Audio is the place you go to buy a Denafrips DAC and their help is just superior.

Competitors. This hangs with DACs within the $10k vary with ease. It’s pretty much as good as many high tier DACs in sound high quality.

Versatility. Add one of many Denafrips clocks to improve it even additional. With the various connection choices you’re all set it doesn’t matter what you need to hook as much as the DAC.

Filters: This DAC could be run in NOS mode with none upsampling or it may well upsample. I most popular the NOS mode throughout my time with the T+ twelfth however these filters can assist nice tune the sound to your tastes as they’re delicate somewhat than jarring in what they do.


The FEET. As I sit and write about how wonderful this factor sounds I do have a few issues I want to see improved. For one, the toes. It comes with three “toes” that aren’t connected to the unit and these toes match proper in with the slim small connected toes beneath the DAC. I would like if it had toes that have been totally connected as it may be a ache to get the little steel spherical rubberized toes completely underneath the toes on the unit.

NO REMOTE. This isn’t a con to me however I do know a lot of you like your DACs to have a distant. My Lina doesn’t have one, neither does this one.

CUSTOMIZATION. This DAC is a bit of complicated to configure as there is no such thing as a display, simply buttons. We’ve got to press this button and that button a sure variety of instances to get right into a menu and be careful for the small pink lights to know what modes we’re in. It’s a bit difficult till you work it out. The guide exhibits every thing we have to know, however in an ideal world there can be a neater option to set the DAC up.


Whereas not a large change from the Terminator PLUS there are variations right here within the new twelfth anniversary version from Denafrips as a result of enhancements they made right here. So sure it’s an upgraded PLUS mannequin and the very best DAC Deanfrips makes as of November 2022. Sure it seems the identical and sure the enhancements should not many however what they’ve carried out right here to the flagship DAC mannequin is make it pretty much as good as they presumably might.

That is the very best DAC Denafrips makes and the value displays this. Whereas it’s mighty costly for a China made DAC offered solely from a supplier in Singapore I take a look at it as getting a $12k DAC for $7500. It is because it’s simply pretty much as good as a few of these different flagships from larger identify manufacturers (the place we pay a premium for the identify).

Each excessive finish DAC I’ve heard has a “Home Sound” of types. Chord has their home sound which is excessive element retrieval in a ahead WOW type of nature that reveals every thing, warts and all, within the recordings. DCS is about density, richness and element however it’s not excessive in any method. Weiss is extra about recreating a grasp tape studio type of sound. Holo Might has the heat, physique and richness very similar to the Denafrips however I really feel the T+ twelfth pulls out extra micro and macro particulars than Holo (I’ve heard the highest flasgship from Holo Might only a few weeks in the past).

Denafrips sound is de facto extra about musicality above all else. I really feel as this DAC digs deep into the recordings with out an extra of something. It doesn’t have the most important bass or essentially the most tipped up treble however the Denafrips sound is wealthy, layered and beautiful. You get the very best of their sound on this twelfth Anniversary PLUS mannequin.

The twelfth PLUS is an addicting DAC and one that may be listened to for hours on finish with out becoming bored. Whereas I nonetheless love the PONTUS II within the Denafrips lineup as I really feel its the very best bang for the buck that they promote, when you hear the PLUS twelfth it will likely be robust to un-hear it. Nobody “wants’ such a flowery DAC to understand music but when your system has high shelf gear put in, the Denafrips will probably be proper at residence in that type of system.

Sure, even in case you have a $100k system the Terminator PLUS twelfth will match proper in. It’s that good.

I also can extremely advocate the Pontus II for these with a extra modest system. It’s a killer DAC and underneath $2k ($1700) which makes it the very best DAC I’ve heard within the $2-$3500 value vary with out query. 

What about in the event you personal the older PLUS already? Properly, if that’s the case I’d say you don’t want to improve until you need the very best Denafrips makes. There are enhancements but when I owned the plus already I doubt I’d promote at a loss to spend extra. In case you are searching for a brand new DAC as much as $10k although, the Denafrips ought to be in your radar in the event you get pleasure from music that flows with ease, magnificence and musicality with immense element retrieval and backbone. Sure, all whereas staying considerably heat and with a really good movement to the music. It is a beast of a DAC and it was my pleasure to judge it for some time. I loved each second of it.

You’ll be able to see extra data on this DAC or Buy it at Vinshine Audio HERE

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