Musical fidelity vdac II

A Review On: Musical Fidelity V-DAC II Upsampling Digital-to-Analog Converter with Asynchronous USB Input

Musical Fidelity V-DAC II Upsampling Digital-to-Analog Converter with Asynchronous USB Input

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Pros: It almost cannot dissapoint

Cons: RCA output location

1. Introduction

Let me get straight to the point of why I'm writing my first and possibly only review of an item in the world of amps and dacs. This does not dissapoint in any way at all. That's unique.


In all the 20 amps or/and dacs there always is a bug somewhere. It's either a physical fault like it overheats, looses connection, comes with badly built ports, dodgy over-sensitive volume pot, humming noises, made using cheap exterior materials and so on. Or it sounds and performs on a level of anything between abysmal to (thank god!) quite good. 


Not the musical fidelity vdacII. And it's this lack of problem areas that makes this review easy and short.




2. Setup

2.1 Burn in

Please burn this in for 300hrs. If this is something that turns you away, then that's up to you. Pretty much everyone from the manufacturer to high street sellers to amazon reviewers to professional magazines and to headfi (i.e everyone under the sun) recommends a burn in for the sake of SQ.  

I can only repeat the message. Burn in definitely helps. 


2.2 AC adaptor

It's pretty much the first thing I read about when researching this dac- the provided ac adaptor sucks. It's output at a fixed 12v is 500mah. Of course, that's not going to be good enough and an external PSU from a high street electronics shop, or elsewhere, would be an ideal no fuss replacement. I'm using one outputing at 1700mah, which is ideal for this sort of thing. Heck, even my crappy tiny toyish usb hub comes with a more beefy PSU than the stock vdac one! 


You don't need to freak out when it comes to buying something like this. If you don't want to add bulk to the setup then do what I did and stick to the popular switched mode power supply (output tips of 1.35mm or thereabouts head fits into the vdac). Make sure the polarity is correctly addressed as with setting the voltage to 12v. Better safe then sorry.

Or if you want something bigger, maybe better, then a fat linear power supply is what you will look for. I'm not interested.


2.3 Connections

The input is of digital audio via toslink/optical/usb connections. Output is through a single twin rca (phono) connection. I use it mainly through USB which hasn't been skimped at all in this device. It works perfectly well and the manufacturers are keen to emphasise that this is where it's main quality lies- the asynchronous usb implementation.

A good enough range of connections? Agree??

Oh, and incase your wandering, over usb I've never experienced any technical problems at all.


2.4 Design

A dashing all brushed metal silver casing, nice. There's writing on the top that adds to the 'high class' type of image it seeks to create. Dimension wise its slightly wider than the fiio e9 but its slightly shorter too. Not too big or small.

I have to mention a slight negative here- the rca connection is at one side with the digital input connections all on the other. You find a similar thing going down with the hrt music streamers so it's not a rareity or an issue. But this knocks down a star in the design front.




3. Sound

3.1 In the world of dacs

What's to say other than- brilliant!

I've used it with a host of amps and that's my conclusion.


It's better than both the hrt music streamers II and the II+ in basic areas such as resolution. Individual notes on the vdac are presented with more body, clariy, definition and fullness. The soundstage is slightly bigger on the vdac too, as is the overall presentation. It's definitely more dynamic than either of these hrt's and it bests out all the other dac's I have too in ways similar and further to these. 

Very importantly it manages to never enter the debate of thick vs thin notes, sharp vs tame highs, dark vs bright and so on. It fits into the middle of these things so often that it's uniquely a very commendable performer.


3.2 In the world of headphones

I'm going to stop there with the sound impressions of the vdac as I need to set something straight. The SQ differences that exist in the world of dacs are not that big to be honest In my experience. No, I'm not a believer in if it measures well then it's audibly perfect- and don't any of you dare come up with the 'subjective vs objective' arguments as they have become comical of late!

There are differences, I do volume match, I try to limit my subjection to bias (statistician element in me) and this is what I hear. Sometimes, yep, I've never been able to detect a SQ difference at all between two totally different dacs at two different prices, even with extended listening. But in other cases like here, the difference exists and it makes no effort in hiding itself. 





4. Conclusion

 I'm not a musical fidelity fanboy either- their vcan II sucks. It's got an awefully sensitive volume pot rendering the whole unit almost unfit to use. It sounds good (better than a fiio e9) but nothing special.

I'm not telling you to buy or avoid this dac. I'm neutral of course. But what I am saying is that when there's so much **** out there in the world of dac and amps, something decent sticks out like a shining star and deserves recognition. The musical fidelity vdacII is such an example. 







All that I say is based on my experience, what I have listened to and how I have conducted my tests. Don't take this review personally as the only person to take it personally should be me.... 



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