Country of Origin


(In)firm wares?

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac late 2020 with macOS Ventura 13.3, 40GB RAM, Audirvana Origin, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn Gradient Box at 80Hz/4th-order hi/lo-pass; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos, Goldmund Job 225; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Qualio Audio IQ w. sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Shanling M3 Ultra, Soundaware D300Ref; DAC: Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe; Preamp/filter: Vinnie Rossi Signature L2 + icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Enleum AMP-23R; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini, Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF + Akiko Audio Corelli; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; Headamp/DAC: iFi iDSD Pro Signature;  Headphones: Final D-8000; Active speakers: DMAX SC5
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl Dp5 transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

The soft tree bends, the hard one cracks. Though not verbatim, that is a famous Eastern proverb's gist. It makes a decent entry into audio firmware. We change no hardware. We just upload new code whose behind-the-scenes processing improves our hardware's operations for better/different sound. PS Audio exploited consecutive firmware updates for the FPGA code controlling their DSD converters across multiple generations. So did Devialet for their class A+D amplifiers. Currently Denafrips offer a 12th anniversary firmware update for their R2R DACs. PCfi users like I do a similar thing when we decide whether to use Apple Music, Audirvana, Euphony, HQPlayer, J.River, Lumin, Roon or other software as the virtual music OS to oversee our signal routing/processing. It's fundamentally no different than upgrading macOS or Windows; or uploading a new app to our smartphone. For software-based music players we can think of different up/resampling algorithms, digital interpolation filters, 64-bit dithered volume-control code, reduction of computing resources to run the program itself, elimination of background computing threads and more geek chicane.

Today's announcement is about what to do when new processing firmware downloaded to a piece of audio hardware isn't to our taste. Marja & Henk owned two Devialet amps. They noticed how beyond a certain generation of firmware, subsequent updates shifted sonics in a direction they didn't fancy. Being computer wizards, they'd saved prior firmware versions. They rolled back to the one they preferred and called it a day. Easy. Current word is that certain users don't agree with the direction their Denafrips DAC takes after they overwrite its processing code with the 12th anniversary version. They find that in trade for higher resolution and more treble energy, their machine gives up organic musicality, midrange heft and bass mass. It's why Vinshine Audio the global Denafrips reseller just made available also the prior firmware as a download. Now such users can smoothly revert back to the earlier darker version, no lasting harm done. Vinshine owner/presenter Alvin Chee began the firmware roll-out at the bottom of the D/A converter range. He has currently worked his way up to the Venus models. Once it's the turn of my Terminator Plus, I'll take the 12th myself to report back. For now simply know that if you prefer before to the morning after, you can go back easily. Denafrips are flexible like the opening proverb's young tree. Nothing has to stubbornly crack just because we don't agree with their latest notion on a sonic improvement. But if we do agree, our DAC just got better; for free. And majority feedback reads most positive indeed. Knowing of the roll-back option now removes any risk that you might be one of those who prefer the previous tuning. How grand is that? Over and out.