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Schiit Vali

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #23 in Desktop Amps

Posted

Pros: Sounds Better than Magni

Cons: Tubes will Eventually Die But are Replaceable by Schiit, Less Powerful of the Bunch

I've been reading so many replies and reviews how the O2, Magni and Vali sound the same. After weeks of listening to all of them, (yes I have them all) they are all not exactly the same . I've been using the same music and all else in the system is the same and have only changed the amps. Started with O2, then went to Magni. Yes the Magni and O2 sound very close. The Magni does sound a tad processed and thin compared to O2 but the Magni does have more authority as it is more powerful in comparison even though they all seem to struggle reproducing the source.

Then I went to the Vali. The Vali sounds nothing like the others. It's slightly more smoother and warmer, more of a natural sound but ever so slightly, and more realistic sounding. I was enjoying it very much for weeks. Then I decided to get the Asgard 2. Why? I read so much about it I just had to try it. The Vali like the others also seem to struggle reproducing the source which makes sense as it's less powerful of them all.

 

BUT, the Vali does sound better than all of them in the form factor and price range.








 

Posted

Pros: great price, nice full bass, excellent pairing with the Q701,

Cons: tube ringing when plugging in headphones.

Very few times in this hobby have I run across a piece of gear that's turned me into a rabid raving lunatic fan boy.

 

The Vali is a nondescript no frills entry level tube amp weighing in at a lowly 119.00 bones. Whats special about this little amp is the phrase "entry level" is deceiving when you take into account what its capable of. Compared to far pricier amps the Vali may lack fineness but in still exudes tons of control and detail over the gear it drives. So much so I have no qualms saying that its the titan amongst other amps of its price bracket and in many ways a predator capable of embarrassing some gear out there that's two or three times its MSRP.

 

You don't believe me? Watch my video review below and then go order yourself one and decide for yourself. Considering its MSRP the risk is quite minimal. Be warned, since I've owned the Vali many of the other amps I own have since started to collect dust leaving me to wonder why the heck I ever wasted my time and money on them.

 

Well done Schiit Audio. Fingers crossed your upcoming flagship gear will blow people away like the lowly Vali has.

 

 

 

Posted

Pros: see review

Cons: see review

Sounds great with the modded AKG Q701. Nearly as good with that as my main amp that originally cost $350. Impressive! In fact, the Vali added nothing to the sound of the modded Q701, which is perfect. I would say the resulting sound is similar to that of the O2 but with very very slightly fuller mids and very slightly smoother treble. We're talking maybe a 2% difference. The Vali sounds dead neutral to my ears with the Q701. I also tried my K400 and the Vali added nothing.

 

I then tried the HD-650 and Koss Pro DJ100. Sounded terrible and no better than an E9. On both the bass was too sloppy and uncontrolled. Any recordings with bass would put a haze over the sound. The problem I had was that the sound with these two was just not clear and very closed in. They never sound this way. There was extra thickness to the mids but yet the low mids were almost fatiguing. On the DJ100 the sound was not smooth at all. On an amazing amp the DJ100 with M50 pads never ever sounds closed in and congested. It's even a closed headphone! On my main setup it sometimes sounds like an open headphone.

 

The best results I got were with a CD player with two Wolfson WM8740 DACs and my Micro DAC with a CS4398 DAC. The problem with the CD player that is it made my HD-650 abnormally thick sounding and too smooth. This obscured detail and just made it sound weird. I think the larger soundstage of this CD player is what helped out the Vali and HD-650.

 

When switching to many different sources it's as if I couldn't even hear their different qualities and Vali was adding in it's own colorations (with HD-650). Maybe the HD-650 is just a very bad match for it. I guess some might like it.

 

I myself would pair the HD-650 and Vali up with a DAC that has a massive soundstage and is sort of lean and bright. I could not get acceptable results with anything I own. If it requires a $500 DAC to get good sound with the HD-650, then that's a complete fail. There is absolutely no reason the Modi should be bad for this setup.

 

I imagine that this would be best with a neutral headphone that's not too warm and doesn't have a closed in soundstage. I was thinking that it might sound great with a DT-880 or T90.

 

I'm a bit disappointed in some ways. I can't suggest it for someone new to all this because it doesn't seem like a good all-rounder. If you plan to only use it with very specific headphones with no plans to upgrade, then this might be OK.

 

Despite this sounding great with the modded Q701 I would probably suggest the Magni or O2 instead since it seems to do better with more headphones.

 

I guess you could get this as a cheap toy to play with and that's what it felt like really. Nothing wrong with that.

 

YMMV

Posted

Pros: See the review

Cons: see the review

I've been looking for an amp to pair with my AKG Q701, and Vali was highly recommended by the users.Now I know why....Before vali,I was using Fiio e12/X3 combo.(yeah I know it's portable)

 

Fiio e12 and X3

 

There was a noticeable improvement this combo over my smart phone's hp-out.The sound stage got bigger, and the music was slightly realistic sounding.I used e12/x3 over six months, and it was time to upgrade!!!

 

Schiit MODI/VALI

 

 Okay...I got my Schiit package,then I opened it. And my first impression was " Hmm..Smaller than I thought.Instead of pairing my q701 with schiit, I listened for 15mins with Fiio combo. "Then I hooked my AKG Q701 and gave it a listen. Honestly,..I couldn't hear any difference at first.So I gave it a 3hour listen straight.After that I switched back to my Fiio combo, and all the music  was "lifeless" .Soundstage got narrower, overall sound became rough,bass got lightened.So I think that it needed some burn-in time.I gotta say that this amp is fabulous! It's an addictive sound.

 

So vali/modi gave q701 

                                       1.Wider soundstage with a great 3 dimensional realism and instrument separation

                                       2.Smoother sound overall

                                       3.Enhanced bass response

                                       4.Great detail retrieval 

                                       5.smooth treble  

 

Sound signature in vali is not neutral.It has a slightly warm sound ,giving it a smooth overall presentation.It will work well with bright headphones imo.

 

 

Microphonics

 

You can hear a ringing sound when you turn it on; plugging a headphone.Although Schiit has said that we would hear it when we move vali or tap on it.But I didn't have any issue in that regard.Ringing will remain for 30 seconds. Sometimes it will appear with out any reason stated above, and it'll be annoying.It won't go away until you turn it off.Yes... that's a bad thing.But don't worry fellas! After playing with it a week, I found a solution for that.This is the most important tip I can give you.Plug your headphone,before you turn on the Vali.

 

I don't have any other headphone to pair with Vali. So this review will be mainly for Q701 owners who are looking for a great sound at a low price.

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

If you're looking for an amp to pair with a Q701, just buy this little beast and enjoy your music.Cheers!

Posted

Pros: Interesting sound

Cons: Hiss

An interesting introduction for me to tube sound. No idea if this is a faithful representation of the genre.

 

When I turned it on it the first time, left channel had lots of hiss. But the signal was equal in both channels, when playing music. So I decided to keep it for a while. After a few hours, the hiss evened out, but still was noticeable with the following equipment. Hiss was with only the headphones connected to the amp, no sources or cables.

 

Monoprice MEP-839
Grado SR 60
Focal Spirit Pro
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
Panasonic

RP HTF 600

 

The nominal impedance of HD 280 and HTF 600 are 64 and 56 Ohms respectively. The hiss though lower than in the others, is still clearly audible to me, especially in quiet passages of classical music.

 

When I contacted Schiit service, I was told this is working as designed and that some level of hiss is normal for tube equipment with these headphones. Again, I have no way of comparing this to any other tube equipment.

 

I still kept it because I was going to use this in a noisy work environ. And it was fun to listen to. And they got a few points for a funny user manual.

To me, this is unacceptable if used in a quiet listening area.

 

After a couple of months of using a few hours a week on average, the hiss seems to be worsening. Chain: computer -> USB -> micromega mydac -> HD 280. I'll wait a little more and if this trend continues, hopefully send it in for some service.

 

The other amps I have are the PA2V2 and a Grace m901.

My rankings in ascending order: PA2V2, Vali, m901.

The Grace seems the most neutral of the three to my ears.

 

If I had to pick a genre that this excels for me: Jazz and Blues.

Posted

Pros: Transparency, scalability, simplicity

Cons: wow factor, microphonics,overhyped but still good

SCHIIT VALI

iMac > Fidelia/Vox>Nuforce Icon DAC> Schiit Vali>Yamaha HPH MT220

iMac > Vox > JDS LABS ODAC> Schiit Vali> Yamaha HPH MT220

 

PROS AND CONS:

- harmless or non hindering

- tiny bit of tube flavor(don't expect a lot)

- transparent

- scalable

- detailed (what you put is what you get)

- capable

- nothing recessed (maybe the highs a tad if anything)

- smooth

- good power for any dynamic

- simplicity

- build

- PRICE

- size/footprint

 

cons:

- microphonics

- wow factor

 

To start I would like to say that right from the jump the Vali is a good pick for someone wanting an amp at an affordable price. It is pretty hard for me to explain what exactly this amp does do really well but more so it is hard for me to explain what it does bad and below is why:

 

MY EXPERIENCE WITH IT:

 

For a headphone amp you may be expect for your bass to become really strong, your soundstage to take off in width and depth, or your highs to become more clear and enhanced. The Vali has become for me a tool of learning. I think that equipment can fight each other and you can have a Good DAC but the amp mess it up and Vice Versa. The awesome thing about the Vali is that it won't mess up the sound quality of what is upstream of it. It won't muddy up your DAC nor will it make it sound better but maybe slightly different. The tube sound of this amp isn't all syrupy and lush either. It doesnt take your music and butter poach it for you. 

 

I am limited in experience with DACs and amps but if any amp taught me my DAC it was the Vali. At first I plugged the Vali into the JDS LABS ODAC and the combo was pretty enjoyable but I kept feeling like it took away from the raw and natural sound of my Yamaha hph-mt220(the headphone I proselytize ...we all have one). It made it sound softer, a little more murky but balanced  with the instruments rounded off in a way that made them less vivid and more emotionless. The bass became soft and lost its weight. The soundstage compared to my iMac out increased slightly and there was more space around the instruments but it left me wanting. It didn't leave me wanting more bass quantity or more highs or mids, but it left me wanting the headphone to sound like I know it is supposed to sound with other sources I have tried with it before. I had some serious brain burn in with the trio(yammie,odac,vali) and came to enjoy its more polite way of communicating my music  but missing the Yamaha realism and clarity. Before this I had an emotiva and modi and tried the yamaha, focusrite forte, and fiio x3 with it so I knew how it was supposed to sound.

 

Then I got the late model Nuforce Icon DAC. The amp by itself brought everything back that I missed about the Yamaha and more, but sometimes a bit too much more. All of a sudden the bass firmed back up, the soundstage stayed as open, the highs sprouted, and the mids were ripe again. So I thought "Well let me try this Vali with the Nuforce DAC Section" ... VIOLA!! Nothing missing from what I love about the yamaha at all!!!  The bass stayed clean and clear, the mids were very similar to how they were on the Nuforce ICON DAC by them selves and the highs were a little more palpable. The overall sound was just a tad smoother. 

 

In short the VALI HINDERED NOTHING and only added a tad bit of tube flavor. I was baffled and played all night going back and forth between the Vali and Nuforce headphone outs to see if I was losing any textures or anything and could find nothing. It is very easy for me to hear the Nuforce Icon DAC through the VALI; "Hear through" factor to me equals transparency. 

 

Previous reviews have mentioned flaws with the Vali  like soft bass etc. but I would bet it is their source.

 

On the flip side I have heard comments about the bass being enhanced and the mids sounding fuller etc etc.... I also do not hear any of that either. I hear what my DAC is doing but with a very slight touch of tube. 

 

MICROPHONICS:

What is true about this X 2 is the microphonics. I looked it up before I bought it to try to understand how it would sound. Good thing I didn't get a good description because it may have influenced my purchase. Well imagine a clean and high pitched synth midi note being sustained that is more than audible but annoying. When you move the thing around or tap the table it makes the noise. You can make it do this by tapping it with the metal end of a pen or something and it will ring. The ringing goes away after some 10-20 seconds and then it is music time. I can put up with that. I just turn it on before I am ready to listen.

 

So there is a review if you want to call it that. I will just say that these are impressions. 

Schiit Vali
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Description:

Welcome to the least expensive serious tube hybrid amp on the planet. Vali delivers solid power into headphones from 32 to 600 ohms. It's a great way to get a taste of exceptional tube sound, for only a tiny investment.

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