Well I've just bought an Ares ii on ebay. First impressions - it is unlike any other bit of kit I've got. It excels in warmth, tone, presence and i think soundstage. But i have to listen to it more.
The previous owner upgraded to a Pontus ii - and sent me the following views on the upgrade (I hope he doesn't mind me reproducing this for the benefit of others - he may even be on this forum ofc!)
I am - glad you like the DAC, and I wasn’t surprised to find that you did, as it’s a terrific bit of kit. It’s one you can certainly fall in love with, hence why so many speak so glowingly about it, and on the very rare occasion someone tries to diss it, you find they quickly come out strong in it’s defence. Owners of this DAC also invariably are motivated by curiosity to move to the next step, which is what I did. I purchased the Pontus 2 earlier this year from vinshine in Singapore. The difference? The Pontus is more balanced, has more authority, wider soundstage. Hard to fully describe, it is better sounding but not massively. Am I glad I upgraded? Yes. But strangely I do miss the ares 2. Bit like coming of age, but missing the nostalgic days of my youth. I found the ares 2 had life and warmth. The Pontus is more grown up, not lacking warmth, but it’s not as obvious as the ares because other aspects of the Pontus sound balance it up. Hope I’ve described it simply enough. You have a great DAC, which I kept hold of for as long as I could. Hope you get a lot of pleasure from it.
The Pontus has ..more detail more space more presence. It’s different in character somehow. If you listen to more classical style music with more space then the Pontus is best. If you are listening to more easygoing music then the ares has the musicality. Pontus for serious detailed listening, ares for warm musical enjoyment. That’s my take on it. You may have your own expressions once you listen for yourself.