Country of Origin
Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac late 2020 with Ventura 13.4, 40GB RAM, Audirvana Origin, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 network switch, 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
Reflash cost: free
It's not just a comic marvel; or heat flash which a former girlfriend renamed power surge for a positive spin on a bother. Today it's not a power surge per se. No voltages change to produce more power. Instead it's a resolution surge particularly in the higher freqs. What am I on about? Reflashing the FPGA of a Denafrips Terminator Plus with their new 12th Anniversary code. The machine underwent two running changes since inception: a change of FPGA first, then a bypass of the I²S input chip with a direct FPGA connection. The global Denafrips reseller Vinshine Audio needs any owner who is intent on the upgrade to provide them with a close-up photo of their FPGA. That's to insure that the patch we install is the correct version. Otherwise we'll crash our heavyweight DAC which must then ship back to Singapore for repair. Taking a photo just means removing two rear-panel bolts to slide back then lift out the top cover. What happens next?
"Good day. Thank you for your interest in updating the Denafrips DAC FPGA firmware. You have shared with us a close-up photo of the FPGA chip used in the Terminator Plus DAC. The model of the FPGA chip is xxxx. Here is the download link for the firmware update tool and password. We have uploaded the original firmware in the FUT download link. You will be able to roll back the firmware when needed. Pick the right download for your computer so MacOS or Windows. Kindly follow the steps carefully as detailed in the guide."
The next steps involve downloading the FUT and USB Thesycon driver. On a PC one now reboots in a specific way to install then run the non-signed digital document that is the configuration driver. With the FUT installed and Thesycon driver unzipped, we then connect our Terminator Plus to the PC via USB and follow the instructions to the letter. Overwriting the original firmware means that all settings revert to factory defaults. In my case firing the DAC back up meant that both AES/EBU LED lit up as did the clock, NOS, phase and DSD lights. Denafrips for Xmas tree. NOS and phase turned back off with their associated selector switches. To defeat the clock output and dual AES/EBU, I had to read through Vinshine's PDF to be reminded how to do it. Likewise for I²S to match its pin config back to my Soundaware D300Ref. Here Vinshine recommend chasing our correct setting by ear. That means shuttling through seven options at low SPL. A wrong config either produces loud noise no signal; signal with minor background clicks; signal with inverted channels; signal with inverted phase – or correct signal. It'd be rather more convenient had Vinshine Audio a list of the major brands supporting I²S over HDMI or RJ45 then their correct Denafrips pin equivalent like 000, 010, 111. Instead they say "one of the modes should work. To determine the correct one, play a test tone of L/R channel in phase and out of phase to confirm all tones play correctly. Do it for both PCM and DSD. One of the modes should work for both PCM and DSD playback."
Reflashing the FPGA results in more resolution particularly across the higher bands. That's where the Denafrips house sound has always pushed into the warmer more organic camp than a Chord Hugo or Dave. Without ending up anywhere near British shores like a Viking ax murderer of old, the 12th Anniversary code does modernize or cool down the Terminator Plus sound enough to be noticeable. Lovers of the original sound won't flash at all; or use the same process to restore the FPGA to its former glory. As for myself, I might be an inglorious bastard. Once things settle in, I could prefer the update. If not, the whole process takes only a few minutes; is reversible; and free. So put on your super-hero cape and investigate already. If you can read and follow instructions—I know, not the same thing—there's nothing to it other than having a preference and acting accordingly.