Two happy math-keteers? How would Venus II preceded by Gaia deal with Terminator+ solo? The more attainable twosome puts 6'996 Singaporean on the leader board so circa €4'340 European. The lone flagship weighs in at S$8'698 or €5'400. Further on the green stuff, Gaia is the costliest of the three Denafrips DDC. If you only do USB so need no other digital inputs, Iris comes in at all of €435 [all euro figures relative to the day's exchange rate]. With Venus II, that duo would cost less than €3K but still guarantee the vital I²S link.

From experience with various reclockers, I'm bullish. An iMac with Audirvana running into a reclocker which then passes reclocked and dejittered I²S or S/PDIF to your DAC matches most costly 'audiophile' servers on sound then crushes them on functionality. It's why I'm on my 3rd iMac, not some headless horseman server. If you likewise come from PCfi but want to upgrade, insert a quality reclocker between your computer and DAC. That really levels the playing field.

It's what a Soundaware D300Ref did for our downstairs system prior to Gaia; what an Audiobyte Hydra X+ still does on my desktop.

If your digital hand is flusher, Gaia below has more i/o to cover all eventualities. And yes, with Venus II the master-clock sockets on either machine won't see any action. Those clock inputs are presently reserved for Terminator II & Plus. Relative to my A/B, having Plus make do sans Gaia stole from it not only the preceding jitter stripping but also clock-sync feature. That was a -2 handicap for the alpha male, a +1 advantage for super woman. Battle of the sexes and all. Could this offset of 3 level the playing field for my comparison?

To preview my expectations, I saw somewhat of a 'no but' answer. After a bit of traipsing around, I knew for sure.

Here is the reshuffled setup. For Gaia, Venus II's HDMI pin-out had to change to 000. I selected the I²S input, hit 'mute', then used the 'phase' button to set the 1X, 2X and 4X sample-rate LEDs accordingly. 000 obviously meant all of them off. Done.

The upshot of this A/B was another close call. The Gaia-fortified Venus II crept unreasonably close to solo he-man. By contrast, flying solo with Venus II took hits on contrast, focus and depth of field. The latter is that extra clarity whereby the far side of the virtual stage rolls out and illuminates. So the preceding reclocker notched up all of these aspects for what's usually called higher digital resolution. That tally was a close second to the Terminator+. The other difference was on the analogue side. Here super woman played it a bit softer, rounder and—you just knew this was coming—more femmy. Cough but true.