Pros: Flexible multi transport (iOS, USB DAC, some Android) supported source/amp, form fitting, rich sound
Cons: Only certain Android phones supported. 10 ohm ZOut
V-Moda's VAmp VERZA has been out for quite some time now and these days the audio lifecycle has been getting shorter and shorter with some makers churning out replacement upgrades with a longevity of an ant. So this is more a long term review of the VERZA. As many may have known the origins of the VERZA from VentureCraft Go-DAP X. But there are fundamental differences between the two as the VERZA much more than just a rebadged Go-DAP X. The collaboration between V-Moda and VentureCraft resulted in a re-imagined product that incorporated specifications stipulated by the V-Moda engineers. Some of the fundamental differences of the VERZA from the original Go-DAP X include (but not limited to) :-
- VERZA's 10 ohm output impedance vs Go-DAP X's 47 ohm (which the later revisions of Go-DAP X were also reduced to 10 ohm)
- VERZA's 6-layer PCB for RFI management vs Go-DAP X's 2-layer
- V-Moda's continuance of using OPA1612 vs Go-DAP X's basic offering of Muses8920 & OPA2134 (but offered LME49860 optional upgrade)
- VERZA's 2x130mW for iOS and 2x150mW for Android vs Go-DAP X's 80mW (again VentureCraft offered a modification to match the VERZA)
- VERZADOCK mechanism to support the METALLO sliding cases vs Go-DAP X's later support of the VentureCraft BB5 aluminium case
The VERZA uses 2xDACs, one for iDevice support whilst the other for PC USB or (some) Android device. For iDevice/iOS the AKM AK4353 whilst PC/Android leverages on a PCM2902C. Both feed into the same OPA1612 OpAmp pairs though (left/right). The VERZA also has a 2200mAh battery which can power the VERZA as a DAC/Amp for approx 7 hours (in my realtime use at least) or can be used to charge the iPhone/Touch or Android. There's also an optical out to use the VERZA as some kind of DDC transport out to an external DAC/Amp that supports optical in.
As mentioned the VERZA supports iOS devices, PCs via USB DACs, and some Android devices, notably the former Samsung Galaxy S3. What is interesting is that recently NTT Docomo released the Samsung Galaxy J (SC-02F) which has the same specs as the Samsung Note 3 but in a 5" screen like the Galaxy S4. I had no issues with the Galaxy J & the VERZA. So the VERZA is capable of supporting some current Android devices too.
Finally! That's what we're here for. I've had a few different setups but the VERZA (naturally!!) and the FitEar TO GO! 334 IEM being the common denominators. The difference is therefore in the transport used: iDevice (my trusty old 30-pin iPhone 4S & newer Lightning iPad Air), and Android NTT Docomo Samsung Galaxy J (SC-02F). Both pretty much using the same tracks except the players are different too (iOS Music player & Android Google Music player app).
As most of the readers in HF will already know, I do believe various listeners hear differently depending on their influences, preferences, sensitivity to different frequencies, etc. As such this is my disclaimer of stating what I personally hear.
The overall signature in my experience with the VERZA is a slight warm rich tube-like signature. The mid-bass is full and quite controlled, not boomy, excessively wooly, nor thin. However towards the sub-bass there is some rolloff and this is presumably due to the 10 ohm ZOut for a low impedance for the TG!334. On the other hand with FitEar's MH335DW flagship CIEM that's very bassy, the rolloff actually helps control the DW (double woofer) very well. Therefore impedance matching between this DAC/Amp and headphone is relevant in making the most out of each component in the chain.
The mids are also full without being too forward. Vocals, as with the midbass also sound rich and smooth. Whilst the trebles are airy, detailed, and clear but not too forward. There's also a slight rolloff at the higher trebles (again presumably due to the 10 ohm ZOut). In fact for headphones that are somewhat U-shaped, such as the Signature DJ, the VERZA does well in managing either ends of the FR.
Using the Galaxy J & VERZA leveraged on the PCM2902C USB DAC instead and the overall presentation sounded darker than with the iOS equivalent tracks.
The VERZA followed up where the Go-DAP X left off and in a few ways the Go-DAP X re-adapted itself through mods/upgrades to leverage on the features that popularised VERZA. The size of the VERZA and the supported devices were very form fitting without awkward mismatching shapes and sizes between the transport and DAC/Amp yet remained compact enough to be pocketable. Although in recent months other makers have released newer DAC/Amps, none have provided options to integrate their devices with the phone/player transport like the VERZA and it's METALLO optional case.
Thank You Note
V-Moda Asia was kind enough to loan me the VERZA for a good 4 months for my use and for this review. A big thank you to them for the opportunity.