Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphone Amplifiers › Desktop Amps › Violectric HPA V200

Violectric HPA V200

Posted

 

The V200 seems to be a very well balanced amp in every aspect of its sonic presentation.  By this I mean its frequency presentation seems to be equally consistent throughout the entire spectrum from the very low bass all the way throughout the upper treble. This consistency  gives the V200 a very smooth, even and natural tonal balance.  This well balanced tonal character gives the amp a smooth, almost liquid sense, a somewhat silky feel. Never is there a hint of artificial or electronic reproduction taking place. When I say silkiness and smoothness I do not mean to infer a lack of detail or leading edge blurriness but quite the contrary, there is plenty of inner detail and resolution.  

 

There is also an overall warmth to this amp but not too much, not overly present or in any way intrusive.  This warmth does not seem to be a manifestation of any undue or excess mid bass emphasis, its just there in the presentation in a beneficial way rather than detracting and does not obscure the the amps detail or compromise definition.  Personally I find this warmth pleasant, inviting and gratifying.

 

The V200 is at once dynamic and laid back. It delivers the dynamic emphasis required to give instruments the weight and impact needed for palpable realism and it does so without seeming to break a sweat. Dynamics are never constrained nor is there ever any sense of congestion.  There is explosive dynamics when called for and yet fine inner detail and micro dynamics are not sacrificed at the expense of muscle.  Its ability to deliver whatever power is needed is done in an effortless manner, never any sense that the V200 is straining to get the job done. If an amp could have a demeanor then for the V200 it would be confidence.

 
The V200 has the ability to unravel a complex sonic landscape with ease and confidence. Musical lines and rhythms are kept straight and coherent. Nothing is sonically tripping over itself or obscuring the detail of another instrument. Even in the most complex passages you can distinctly hear every instrument in detail.  This is the consequence of the V200's ability to resolve and present the smallest amounts of inner detail and micro dynamics.  Instruments are clearly defined and focused and separated across the soundstage.  
 
Bass extension is deep and controlled with excellent definition, impact and tonality.  Treble is extended and smooth without any sense of edginess or harshness. The slight overall warmth to the V200 gives the midrange the seduction needed to draw you into the music and get you involved. 
 
Listening to the V200 I never once thought I was listening to an amplifier. It is not an in your face kind of amplifier. It seems so well balanced in so many regards that it doesn't need to have any particular overbearing characteristics to give it its overall magic.  It simply does its job in every area with confidence and respect and disappears from the sonic equation in an effortless way.
 
Smooth and effortless are the words I kept mouthing when listening to the V200.

Posted

Pros: Warm, lush, inviting sound

Cons: some detail smearing, soundstage compression, and treble roll off

 

reviewlogo.jpg

 

 

prereview.jpeg

 

Hi all, Zombie-X here again with another review for the good boys and girls of Head-Fi.org. Up today I have the Violectric HPA V200, which is developed and manufactured by Lake-People for their subdivision named "Violectric". I have had ample time to listen and compare this amp with my other amps and it's quite a nice amp, but how does it compare to other amps in the price range?

 

I would love to give a big thanks to both Robert at Aphrodite Cu29 for supplying me with the Violectric V200 as well as information and guidance. Robert is quite a nice guy and was ready to send the amps for review, what a guy!

 

During this review I will be comparing to my other amps: Audio-GD ROC and SPL Auditor. Each amp will be compared quite extensively and will be tested with a wide variety of headphones. The Audio-GD ROC and SPL Auditor will utilize the XLR output from my Violectric DAC V800.

 

 

aboutviolectric copy.jpg

 

Who is Violectric? Violectric is a subdivision of Lake People GmBH from Germany. The parent company, Lake People, manufactures a wide variety of electronics such as other DAC's and headphone amps for studio use or for sound engineers. They aim to produce very accurate equipment and everything is built very sturdy, just like all German engineering. All their gear is incredibly rugged and sturdy.

 

Even though the Violectric line is aimed at consumers, the performance and behavior of the gear is still very studio quality. Clearly their studio roots couldn't be lost but is that good or bad? From what I have heard in this DAC this is still very much a studio unit and is not far off prom their professional offerings. Well you're going to find out soon enough on how it actually sounds and compares. Brace yourself!!

 

The following text is quoted directly from their website:

 

Quote:

Established in 1986, we have since become your partner for professional audio electronics. Following our  motto “tools - not toys”, we  achieved highest  reputation during the past years amongst our customers. These are private studios, broadcasters and TV companies. Also airports, congress and exhibition centres count on the reliability of our products made in Germany. This all began under the roof of Rosgartenstrasse 13 in the city of Konstanz. Here, three young guys started with the development and manufacture of limiters and noise gates  but not too success-fully … The commercial survival on a very low level was made possible by the production of headphone amplifiers. From 1989 on, the production range was extended to level matching and balancing amplifiers such successfully, that it came essential to move to larger premises.

 

Since 1991, the new address read: Haidelmoosweg 52. Due to the developement of the first german 20-bit A/D and D/A converters in the beginning nineties, the name Lake People re-sounded throughout the land. Suddenly, the company was regarded as a high-tech brand, with a highly positive effect on its public reputation. The growing know-how led to many new products in the analog and digital domain during the following years. Although some pro-jects turned out to be flops, most devices met the customers' re-quirements, with the effect of continuous growth of the company.  By the end of the nineties, the number of employees had in-creased to ten, and the 140 m² of Haidelmoosweg 52 went cramping. Again, a move to new premises came necessary. As it was obvious that rental facilities would not meet the demands, we decided to put up our own building. The company site was constructed in 2000 in a new industrial park in Konstanz, Turmstrasse 7a, just a hundred metres from the lake. Also in 2000, Lake People was transformed into a Ltd. company.

During 2004, nearly the entire production range underwent re-engineering. This concerned both circuitry as well as mechanical design. At the same time, new digital converters were - now being the 4th generation. Another ambitious unit is our innovative digital peak meter, with its new and sophisticated detail solutions.A very speciality of Lake People is the development and modification of audio processing units according to customer specifications.

 

 

 

gear.jpg

 

features.jpg

 

observations.jpeg

This amp, like the DAC V800, is built like a tank! The housing is made from machined aluminum is coated with a material called Nextel. The inside of the amp has machined ridges on the underside of the top part of the case. The amp is small, compact, but quite hefty for it's size. All the jacks as high quality parts from Neutrik. The headphone jacks are nice and snug which means you get good contact. The RCA I/O sockets are a tad bigger than normal RCA's and they in turn give you a tighter fit. This can be god or bad, and in my case I find the RCA I/O sockets somewhat iffy. With certain cables you will get distorted sound, like there is a short in the cable.

 

This is the newest revision of the amp, which now includes a stepped potentiometer. This type of POT give the most accurate channel balance next to digital, but it does have drawbacks. The main draw back is that when using IEM's, one click may be too quite and the next click will be too loud. That's where the pre-gain setting comes in and I recommend lowering the gain by -6db or -12db for IEM's and lower sensitivity headphones. The gain dip switches are located on the back of the unit and adjust the volume by: -12db, -6db, +6db, +12db. The RCA cinch socket can be configured as input or output via internal jumpers located towards where the USB DAC board would connect to the main board.

 

The insides of the amp are quite nice and the amp has a hearty build indeed. You will find capacitors, resistors, OP amps, dip switches, jumpers all throughout the inside of this little guy! From the inside of the amp you can adjust various settings such as the RCA I/O, cut-off, and ground lift. The dip switches on the back f the amp are nice as they adjust the internal gain of the amp. Be sure the power is off before touching them though, as gear generally does not like sudden changes in voltage.

 

 

IMG_0052.JPGIMG_0053.JPGIMG_0040.JPGIMG_0046.JPGIMG_0075.JPGIMG_0074.JPGIMG_0057.JPG

           

 

 

performance.jpeg

The V200 is a high powered headphone amplifier and it's sonic signature is warm, smooth, and powerful. Maybe I should elaborate more. What I mean is the sound is very tube like with the warmth and smoothness to it, but has more pronounced bass that makes it sound "more in charge" or powerful. I have yet to experience this type of signature in a solid state headphone amp. The amp is still quite detailed but more forgiving of lower quality sources. I think it's quite a achievement in that respect, but because of this smoothness and warmth, some details are smeared over and the soundstage is smaller than it should be. When I used my T1 with the amp, initially with the first unit I had, the sound was distorted and there was a lot of clipping. So the review was shelved. Now I have a properly working unit and here's the low down.

 

The amp alone is very beefy and can drive everything I threw at it without a hitch. Even the difficult K400 was no problem for it at all. I don't have any orthodynamic models on hand to try out but the specs alone say it should be able to drive most of the HiFiMan ortho's without and fuss. It can put out nearly 3W into a 50Ohm load!

 

It also has a 10Ohm output impedance which means you should not use IEM's with it. I briefly tried the SE215-K and the result was bloated bass. The CX500 also had the same issues. The headphones sued should be no less than 80Ohms.

 

Thanks to Fried, Lake-People CEO, I have been informed that the output impedance is actually 0,0625Ohms. It seems I misread the technical data and gave some wrong info. I'd like to apologize for any confusion this may have caused. As such I will give impressions of some of my low impedance headphones from this amp. Hopefully this may sway people away from my initial findings.

 

  • With the Beyerdynamic T1's  I find this amp to mate extremely well with them. It's has the power to drive them with complete authority and ease. So don't worry about pairing the T1 with the amp. The warm and smooth sound complements the T1's warmish/neutral tone quite well. The T1's become more intimate and intoxicating. Treble is slightly rolled and smoothed out thus giving the T1's a more mid-centric sound. The added bass is really nice as well and gives the T1 more "oomph". The bass is very well controlled and tight. The soundstage however sounds more confined.
     
  • The Sennheiser HD600's (300Ohms) are already quite warm and forgiving. The amp intensifies this. The HD600's treble is further smoothed out and the mids gain a nice full body feel to them. The bass is more powerful, and as with the T1, is very well controlled. The treble detail is a bit masked by the warmth of the amp, though it's not that bad. The amp is able to drive the HD600 perfectly and it sound superb. The soundstage issues are not as noticeable as with the T1 but they are still there.
     
  • The AKG K501 (120Ohms) on this bad boy sounds glorious! If you thought the K501's mids were lifelike before, then you will bet a nice surprise from this amp. The mids take on an ethereal quality to them. They are fuller and even more realistic sounding. The treble does not to be subdued or rolled off like what I heard with the previous headphones, it's smoother sounding for sure. The bass fills in nicely and makes this headphone sound even more balanced and I do appreciate the extra bass, and it's not distorted or bloated. You can notice that the soundstage is more constricted as it's like going from a concert hall to a movie theater.
     
  • The AKG K400 (120Ohms) benefits nicely from the amp. It already had a sound signature that I would call "right" but the amp intensifies it. More bass, smoother treble, more liquid mids. Also the V200 has no trouble driving the K400 at all. The midrange is more liquid and smooth and even more engaging. The treble is slightly rolled but gives way to a more analog type presentation. The bass is still tight and controlled, just there is more of it now. I have not heard one bit of clipping or distortion from the amp at all. The soundstage suffers bit and sounds more congested but nothing that is too bad.
     
  • The KRK KNS-8400 (38Ohms) benefited the most of the other headphones. They are quite lean sounding to begin with and this amps makes them sound a lot fuller. The mids on the stock model were somewhat thin sounding with elevated treble and somewhat distant bass. I'm glad to say that the bass is upfront, the mids are filled in, and the treble is toned down a notch. Really nice! These 8400's seemed harder to drive than the SRH-440. I had to turn the volume up to double of the SRH-440 so that their levels matched. But the amp still drives them fine. I should note that the bass improved a lot. It become much tighter and gained more punch... oh wait a sec..
     
  • Lets see, the Shure SRH-440 (38Ohms) sounded pretty nice from the amp but it wasn't as big of a change as with the others. I could definitely hear more bass and smoother highs and more mids, but it was not a huge improvement. The bass was more prominent but not bloated or mushy. The midrange was the best improvement as they a bit thin in the mids before and now they are warm. The 440's are already very easy to amp so they did not need much power. They just didn't improve as much with amping as I expected. I suspect that they are far to easy to drive and don't scale that well.
     
  • Next up is the Sennheiser CX500 (16Ohms) does not require that much power. The sound by itself is a bit muddy with too much bass and rolled highs with a somewhat iffy sounding midrange. The V200 adds an unnecessary amount of bass and the highs can be overly smoothed out a bit. The bass becomes quite bloated and the highs are muffled sounding, like you are listening to a HD650. The midrange is quite better than what it was when unamped. Their soundstage is further narrowed . This pairing is not good at all IMO. I don't know what the headphone could sound good on it's own but worse with the amp. I'd say it's just not synergizing with it.
     
  • I have the Shure SE215-K here. This headphone has improved quite a bit with my other amps, especially on my ROC and X-CANV8P. It seems they need s a lot of current to have their potential unlocked. With the V200 they become a lot more intimate and resolving, but also have a more gripping and powerful sound. I always thought they were bassy, but the V200 brings them into the realm of bass heavy. The bass gets more body but remains tight and punchy with good extension and texture. I have yet to hear it loose control and get bloated. The headphones didn't have much soundstage and the amp further narrows it. I think it's similar to a Grado's soundstage now, but a tad larger.

 

 

TREBLE:

The treble on this amp is very similar tot hat of tube amps. It's smooth, non fatiguing, and slightly rolled off. The treble on this amp is quite extended but does roll off a tad. Because of the roll off and smoothness, some details of the treble are obscured or blurred. It's still really good treble, but of a different flavor. It's also not as airy as the Auditor or ROC. The highs aren't blurred at all and are still present, but slightly softer.

 

MIDRANGE:

The mids are this amps specialty. They are lush and engaging without being shouty or congested. Yet again they remind me of tubes and are rich and detailed. Some details are more subdued in the mids, perhaps from the treble being slightly soft? In any case they do add new life to certain music. Guitars and vocals are more life like than ever before. Vocals sound more natural and pleasing while guitars are smoother and less grating on ones ears. Take a listen to Alice in Chains: MTV Unplugged and you'll get where I'm coming from ;)

 

BASS:

Bass is presented in a way that it's fuller and has more impact but not bloated or mushy. It's tight, controlled, and fast. It reaches deep and grips you. It's almost visceral in nature and adds more life to the mix. Bass details aren't covered by the rest of the sound not does the bass "bleed" into the midrange at all. It's separated and exclaims 'Here I am!". Bass guitar's have more heft and weight to them. The whole sound gains this weight to it that can be intoxicating, to me it is at least.

 

SOUNDSTAGE:

Here's is the amps weakness. It sounds compressed on some material or headphones. On the T1's it did sound compressed and was more intimate. Imaging was slightly off because of this and picking spots in the music can be hard on some headphones. I was initially disappointed by this, but grew to enjoy the smaller stage. It brought everything into focus and more upfront. 

 

 

comparisons.jpg

VS. SPL AUDITOR:

These amps sound vastly different from one another. The SPL being dead neutral with perhaps a tiny touch of warmth, and the Violectric being very warm and smooth. The V200 can sound a little smeared when you do a direct comparison between the two amps. The V200 has rolled treble which makes it sound softer or even ill defined in comparison, but it's not downright dull. The V200 has plenty of treble, just that the upper registers are rolled off.

 

The mids of both amps are very different as well. The V200 being lush and the Auditor being neutral. The V200 has a more pleasing coloration in the midband than it's neutral brother that can make some music sound boring. I find the Auditor to have more natural mids as they are not boosted. Both are equally detailed and engaging when in comes to guitars.

 

The bass on both of them are similar in regards to how far it extends and the only major difference is that the V200 has more bass body and impact. This does not negatively effect the bass at all though as it's not bloated or distorted. Still in line with the Auditor I would say. The Auditor also has more control over the bass and is tighter.

 

VS. AUDIO-GD ROC:

Yet again they sound different, this time the ROC is warmer. The ROC is warmer than the SPL Auditor and is smoother in it's presentation. The treble is not rolled at all though. It's still extends high up there and is very detailed. It just sounds more fluid or liquid than you would expect. The V200's treble is fluid as well and just seems to flow out without being harsh or strident. As stated earlier it is slightly rolled off and the treble can suffer from this. The highest details in the treble are present on the ROC, but not the V200. 

 

The midrange of the ROC is not as detailed but also can sound more organic. The V200 in comparison has a very warm midrange that is organic, but not in the way the ROC portrays it. The ROC has more texture to the midrange, but not more detailed. The V200 is still a lot more detailed in it's midrange than the ROC is and is more pleasing. There is just something about the ROC's midrange...

 

The bass on the is quite tight and I'd have to give the nudge to the V200. It reaches deeper and has more control over the bass. The bass is also more textured on the V200. The ROC's bass is still very good but lacks some texture and control. I guess you can say it sounds a tad loose in direct comparison.

 

 

conclusion.jpeg

Having this amp for some time and using it with a large variety of headphones, I have to tip my hat to Violectric. They packed a lot of power and finesse in this amp. It can drive everything I throw at it easily. The sonics are nice and warm, great for any tube lover, especially if one does not want to deal with tubes but loves their sound. Probably the warmest solid state amp I have ever heard and I think you'd be hard pressed to fins anther solid state amp with this signature again. The main reason the review is 4 stars is due to how the treble is presented and how it kills some details, and how the soundstage is presented. If those issues were not there then the amp would easily get a 5 star rating from me.

 

This amp can drive absolutely anything short of the K1000 and some orthos.

 

 

rating.jpg

 

Posted

Pros: Sound fantastic, quality build, versatile

Cons: Looks a bit boring

After several months, I used both the V200 and Burson HA-160D. I find that they both are excellent amps to e.g. K702, LCD-2, HE-300 and HE-500. Last week I decided that the 160D had to go, since I always reverted to the V200 for all these headphones. There is something likeable with the V200 sound signature and build quality.

 

The project86 and WA reviews elaborate further.

Posted

Pros: Excellent sound quality, very smooth yet detailed, powerful with great dynamics, superb bass reproduction, very good build quality

Cons: Limited as far as inputs - basically only good for one input at a time

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/551173/review-violectric-hpa-v200-amp

 

See above for my in depth review. In summary: This is one of my all time favorite amps. I find that it is a worthwhile upgrade even over great budget amps like the Matrix M-stage or Yulong A100, without costing an insane price. If I could do it all over I'd probably get this amp as my one and only amp, or perhaps supplement it with a more colored tube amp. I am seriously considering offloading my expensive Luxman P-1u because I haven't really touched it since obtaining the V200. It's that good. 

Posted

Pros: Smaller physical size than expected. Top notch build quality. Stays fairly cool even when on 24/7. Soundstage larger than V181.

Cons: Smears detail in comparison to V181. Textures have little depth.

I was sent the V800, V181, and V200 Violectric products to demonstrate at the 2014 Austin Head-fi meet, so I wanted to drop a short review of the 3 items before sending them back. This review will be copied for both amps and I will review the DAC separately. I have had several days with these products in my home, testing with multiple headphones and comparing to products I own and other products I have for demonstration from other companies. The setup I used for the bulk of my listening was using the V800 as DAC and switching between the V181 and V200. Occasionally I would toss in a different DAC or a different amp to confirm what I was hearing.

Click the spoiler for a copy of my introduction and listening preferences. This is from early 2012, so it isn't quite up to date, but it works well enough.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
As a nearly 10 year member of Head-fi.org, this is my first review of any kind. As such I feel an introduction is due. I am 30 years of age (as of March 20th), a luthier of violins (restoration, adjustment, repair) for 12 years, apprenticed, violist for 21 years (user name is shortened form of MaximumViola, generated in my high school days), and have been interested in quality audio/video since I can remember. My father always had a humble home theater setup and enjoyed listening to LPs and hobbyist recording with his Akai reel to reel. My first hi-fi headphones were the Sennheiser HD580 as I excitedly, and youthfully exclaimed here. I then tried a Gilmore Lite amp, with which I seemed to find no difference. This turned me off of Head-fi for a few years with spotty interest until I returned with a Little Dot MKIII and Shanling PCD300A, which was an immediately noticeable upgrade. Following that was a Cambridge Audio DacMagic, Little Dot MKVI, HD600 balanced setup. After a couple years I picked up the Hifiman HE-6, that I did not like much at all. It was then I discovered, through some cheap MEElectronics M9s, the wonders of IEM 3D soundstaging. My next move was the Hifiman RE262 as a placeholder until RMAF 2011 where I picked my customs of choice, the Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor. In the last 2 months I've quit computer gaming entirely and Head-fi and other audio sites now consume most of my free time. In that spirit I've changed my ways significantly, going from a one headphone, one amp, one source user, to an explosion of 5 full size headphones, 4 purchased within the last month.

My philosophy regarding audio gear has always been to buy the best I could afford and sell the rest to fund that purchase. This philosophy extends to any items of quality; watch, television, computer, even non-technical items such as musical instruments, furniture, pens, etc. Items I purchase are those I find that mix the highest quality with a minimum of diminishing returns. If it is an item I can't currently afford, I will patiently save up until I get it. I do not compromise and purchase a cheaper option in all but the rarest cases. I live life on a cash only basis, so I have no credit cards and currently owe no money to anyone, and thus I carefully consider exactly where my money is going when I make purchases. In that vein, I am probably one of the most boring people on the planet because I am logical to a fault. My highly analytical nature has benefits when it comes to judging audio, but I have problems getting past this phase and into enjoying the music. I consider myself what I define as a true audiophile, someone who is obsessed with quality of audio of any kind. I am not a music lover. For me, music is a tool to judge gear, and to enjoy when I can. You might be thinking 'poor guy, can't enjoy his music', but this isn't it at all. My thrills come from hearing what the gear is capable of, responding to all of these different combinations of instruments and effects. There are certainly times where I kick back and just listen to the music, but this isn't regular. I could say I feel sorry for those who are music lovers but don't really enjoy the fine details of sound production, but I realize everyone has their own approach, so please understand my perspective, but don't judge or pity me because of it. I'm still the only person I know of who goes to Head-fi meets with a notebook and pen and takes notes for every rig he listens to. Analytical listener or not, I still don't understand why people don't do this.

My priorities are center focus by far the most important. What does that mean? When a singer is present, the voice should be directly in front at a 12 o'clock position if you were standing on the face of a clock. It should never sound like it is coming from a range of 11 to 1, which I call fuzzy to varying degrees, and absolutely should never come from both 10 and 2 with a gap in the middle. This is horribly distracting and I cannot listen to the rig even if everything else is touched by God himself. Next is the balance of the spectrum and if it is seamless or not. This is somewhat personal taste in how much of what I want, but it being seamless is not. One range should not bleed into the next or overpower to the extent where it completely covers another. Far lower in the priority are things like texture, bass presence, extension, detail, soundstage depth and width, and imaging (excepting center focus, which is technically a part of imaging, but I make a special category). These last several are not in any particular order, but are much less important than the first two.

First impressions of these Violectric pieces were that they were significantly smaller than I expected. I didn't look at the dimensions before receiving them, but for some reason I expected them to be nearly twice their size. A V800 and either the V181 or V200 makes for a relatively compact higher-end desktop setup. Another surprising bit was that even having all 3 devices stacked together and on for days at a time, they are all 3 just barely warm. This means you should be able to tuck them in an enclosed part of a desk or entertainment center and not worry about ventilation too much. Build quality is excellent as well. Every part of each device feels tight and solid. The volume knob is smooth, but with confident stops for the steps. Headphone plugs are smooth but firm, as are the inputs and outputs on the rear. The look of these devices is a little plain, but that suits me just fine. They have some heft to them, but are not exactly heavy. You should be fine to put a 2 stack on a small shelf with no problems so long as the shelf is somewhat strong. The flexibility of gain switches on the rear is appreciated, but I found I didn't need to change them at all with HD800s and IEMs in the mix.

Getting to the sound, this review will focus on differences between the V181 and V200 exclusively. Before getting into detail, I wanted to talk about where these stand with the competition at this $1000 price point. I feel these amps not as good of a deal as some of the competition. Some quick examples are the Schiit Mjolnir at $250 less that I feel gives similar or slightly better performance than both, the Bryston BHA-1 that betters both, but is $400 more, the Decware CSP2+ that is no longer available new, but was $1000 (IIRC) that also betters them. Going from quite old memory I would rate the performance of the Little Dot MKVI with HD600s to be similar to either of the Violectrics and runs roughly $850. The Little Dot will not be as flexible with lower impedance cans. I do feel the Violectric amps are worth a listen and that their performance is at least in the ballpark of the competition. Given the very good build quality and attention to detail, I have a hard time calling the Violectric amps lower in value, but since their reason to exist is sound, I must.

Using three different headphones, the HD800, HD600, and Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor (UERM) as well as the V800 DAC (coaxial), I put the amps through their paces with everything from classical to electronic. The first bit of good news is that there was no noise with no music playing from either amp, even with the UERM, which is very high sensitivity and low impedance. This is a very different load to drive than either of the Sennheisers, but the sound signature was largely unchanged, a sign of good design. Another sign of good design is that each headphone sounded as they usually do, so neither amp was imparting an overarching signature to the headphones. With the basics out of the way, lets get into detail. First impressions of the V181 were that it had great texture, that reach out and touch it type of texture. Moving to the V200, the first thing I noticed was the soundstage was larger than the V181, both depth and width, but layering was worse. I didn't get much time to listen before packing them up to demo at the Austin meet, but after coming back I've let them both play for several days to shake off any remaining potential 'rust'. Today I sat down for a proper evaluation and ran them through my collection and took further notes.

Consolidated notes:

Better texture on V181 for sure. Cymbals and bells clearer with ring sounding more realistic. Noticeable with all 3 headphones, the UERM most of all (a surprise). Switching to V200 cymbals and bells have a sheen over them, they sound more synthetic. Piano is noticeably better on V181, overtones are produced properly and with good depth of tone. V200 piano is shallow in comparison, but not bad. I don't engage with the V200 as easily due to the texture problem. The V200 helps with the larger soundstage, though. Things are more spread with fair to good imaging, but layering still goes to the V181. The detail makes the layers more believable on the V181. The V200 just throws sounds out in the distance, but between the listener and the back, it's sort of a cloud of sound. Left-right imaging is still good, but front to back placement is problematic. Both amps are identical in dynamic capacity, both very good, but not the best I've heard. Macro dynamics are very good, micro dynamics could be better. Listening to 1st Mov Symphonic Dances has plenty of both to test them. Sound is acceptable for this price range. Recall Mjolnir having better dynamic contrast. Other than texture/detail and soundstage size, I can't tell much difference between the two amps. I don't find either amp to be particularly warm or dark as some have characterized the Violectric stack. Sounds similar to the X-Sabre in that it is just slightly warm, but still quite neutral, IMO.

In summary, I find the V181 the superior of the two for my taste, but both amps are very close. The larger soundstage of the V200 (though still smaller than several amps I've heard) would normally be an insurmountable advantage (I am a soundstage junkie), but the lack of layering makes it a bittersweet advantage. Counting the smearing of textures of the V200, the V181 with it's smaller, but better assembled soundstage comes out on top. Compared to other amps in this price range, I find the Violectrics performing on the bottom side of value.

I will try to get the V800 review out today as well. Thanks for reading and thanks to Violectric (German) and Arthur of Violectric USA (English) for the opportunity to try these items I'd long been curious about.

Posted

Pros: quiet,musical and great bass

Cons: soundstage can be a little restricted

Review: Violectric V200 the Smooth Operator

 

German made products always spike my interest. When I think of products manufactured in Germany usually what comes to mind are precise products that are well designed and usually built well. The Violectric V200 is one such product. Developed and designed by Freid Reim and manufactured in Germany the V200 is a superbly built and designed headphone amplifier. The company Lake People has been building both professional and home use amplifiers since 1986 in Germany. Freid told me he hires educated employees and pays them well so his products are always manufactured to high standards. He only uses high quality parts and from the look of the casing you could see this is not a run of the mill design. All manufacturing is done in Germany which makes the cost of this amplifier higher than many others that are outsourced to China. 1K buys an amplifier that is not only built to last but sounds very good as well.

 

After reading other reviews and impressions of this amplifier I asked Robert from Aphrodite if I could get a unit to listen to and give some impressions and Robert graciously sent me a new unit for the review process. Robert is a first class guy and someone you want to do business with. A better person you will be hard pressed to find. My preference in high end audio design has always been biased toward tube amplifiers.  Some say the V200 is tube like in performance. I figure if so many solid state designers are trying to design solid state amp that sound like tube amps then tube amps must indeed be special. In my 35 years of experience I have yet to hear any product to sound more real or live than a tube based product. Tube amps in my opinion are hard to beat in what they do with tonality. Focus and sound stage is always better in my tube based products than in my solid state counterparts.  I was curious if the V200 could compete with my Decware Tube Amps as well as m my other solid state options like the vintage Pioneer SX650 and the newly acquired RSA Hr-2.

 

The equipment used for evaluation is my usual assortment of top tier headphones, the Beyer T1, Denon D7000 and the HE500. The source I used for this review was the Marantz SA8004 SACD/CD player. All interconnects were audio quest diamondback.  Also other amps compared were the Ray Samuels Audio Design HR-2, Pioneer SX 650 and the Decware tube combination of the Taboo and CSP2 preamp. Music used ranged from Classical, jazz, vocals and pop recordings and folk. The only music not used was metal and Electronic. Female vocalists recordings used were from Eva Cassidy, Holly Cole, Gillian Welch and others. Male vocalist include Harry Connick and Frank Sinatra

The first thing that strikes you about the V200 is the build quality and you can see where there were few compromises in the design philosophy. The amplifier is described as a hybrid op amp and discrete transistor design    Parts used are all of the highest quality. The power section of the amplifier has 16 total transistors all discrete. The amp will put out a maximum of 2.7W into 50 ohms. The volume control is an Alps 27 in steps. The design is a class AB design. The amplifier is a well built piece of kit and leaves little to be desired in build quality. You can understand why the retail price is 1K when you see the detail put into the build and the casework. The name Violectric is silk screened to the front panel and makes this an amplifier many would be proud to own.

 

 

The V200 was a new unit and I heard no changes either at the 100 hour mark or after. The V200 is a smooth performer. The sound is very easy sounding. The music just flows in a quiet jet black velvet background. There is no trace of any harshness or grain I could hear. The V200 is dead silent and would qualify as the quietest solid state amp I have yet experienced.  Signature of the amplifier is different than most other solid state amp designs that I have experienced. Cold and Sterile this amp is not. It also is not analytical or boring. When listening to music you forget there is a solid state or any amp in the performance chain. There are some adjustable gain switches in the rear of the amp that will allow you to adjust the gain of the amp to pretty much tailor the sound to any headphone in use. The T1 required 12DB or 4X gain to sound best while the other two headphones used unity gain stock no gain added was best and also has the smoothest  presentation on the V200. Tube like is not a term I like to use describing solid state amps it’s either a tube amp or it not. The v200 is a solid state amp that has a touch of warmth but not an overly warm or syrupy sound. Musicality and tonality are part of the strength of this product. 

 

The midrange is excellent on this amplifier.    Instrument tonality is accurate in this amplifier. The V200 is not what I would consider to be a balanced and neutral amp. Bass is very noticeable with the V200 so much so that it has to be considered a strong point but it also make the amp a little restricted as it is more extended than the treble and reduces the sound stage size in both width and depth.   The music is addictive enough to keep you involved.  You can hear clearly the guitar notes and piano keys being struck. Piano sounds very realistic and violins have that delicate sound and you can also tell differences from a viola. The midrange is very liquid. The vocal presentation is done in a very clear precise manner with good detail of both male and female vocalist. The sound is sibilant free with no favoring of either male or female vocalist. Instrument tone is nicely presented with musicality and details something many amps fail to deliver. This amp gets it. The midrange is very good. 

Treble is nice and easy to listen too. It is neither hard nor harsh and extension is good. The tube amps have more extended treble with a more natural sheen to it and the RSA HR-2 treble is also more extended that the V200.  The V200 is better than my Pioneer SX650 in treble extension and the clear winner here for sound stage is the RSA HR-2.  Drum cymbals are not as extended in comparison to the other amps used for this review. They do not have the crisp sheen also that I hear on the HR-2.  Treble while very good is not as extended as the other amps but still acceptable.

.

The bass is very extended and deep. It is very fast with good texture and hits very hard. The V200 is black. It is the quietest amp I have ever experienced. Music just seems to come from everywhere when called for. I would hear passages with dead silence and then music just appears. The best part is listening to a classical orchestra is when the orchestra stops and then starts again. The dynamics of the V200 is excellent and competes with most any amps I have heard to date. It is exciting and enjoyable to listen too. I never experienced any fatigue and even after some 14 hr sessions I always looked forward to my next session. Acoustic bass and drums sound very extended. I can feel the drum pedal hitting drum skins.

 

Comparison to the Ray Samuels HR-2 is fair since the 875.00 price is close to the cost of the V200. The HR-2 has the wider and deeper soundstage with a more extended treble. The bass on the V200 is more extended and deeper but the RSA is no slouch in the area. The tonality of the amplifiers is different.   RSA is livelier and a touch brighter not as warm sounding but it also is neither cold nor sterile. Musicality with more soundstage is what the HR-2 does better than the V200. The V200 is more quiet but only slightly so. The Decware amps are not really a fair comparison. They are a step up in every direction from all my solid state amps. The V200 has less focus and  a more restricted sound stage and does not exhibit the transparency of the Decware  taboo or CSP2. The Decware combo with good tubes is a 2400.00 combination so it’s more than twice the price of the V200. The Pioneer SX650 is as good and in some ways better than the head amps that I have but many will not like the size and weight plus the maintenance that will be required as this receiver is 35 years old and starting to show signs that it will need to be rebuilt at some point. Most noticeable the SX650 has more power and a wider and deeper soundstage than either the V200 or HR-2. Most people will appreciate the size of the headphone amplifiers and more appreciate the idea of using less real estate.

 The V200 is a well built amp. The time spent listened to this amplifier has been very enjoyable. It is well made and manufactured to high standard and pleasure to listen to and have in my possession. Is it worth the asking price? If I had the money for the unit and I was looking for a primary headphone amp I could honestly say I could be happy with this amp. If you have limited funds and want an amp that will play well with any headphone the V200 could be your end all amplifier. I have enjoyed my time with it and it is one of the best solid state amps I have heard and it is the quietest.  If I did not own the HR-2 and the Decware amps I would have seriously considered the purchase of this amplifier. If you are looking for a great solid state amp that does most thing well the V200 can be your solution. The V200 will handle both high and low impedance headphones and do it musically. If musicality is what most important and you do not want a tube amp look no further than to call Robert and order the V200. This amp is highly recommended for its build quality and simplicity and most of all its majestic sound. Sadly this is on its way back to Robert and I will miss it but will fondly remember it. If you’re looking for a top tier product and want one headphone amp that will play well with all headphones you need to consider the V200. It definitely can play in the big leagues and is made by a seasoned veteran of high end design that can swing the bat with anyone. This amplifier will certainly please most and is an easy recommendation.    I want to thank Robert for the loan of the amplifier and Fried for being so available to answer my questions.   The V200 is highly recommended for anyone looking for a fantastic solid state design.

 

Disclaimer:

The above review are my impressions of this amplifier and in context with my headphones and other gear, It is one man’s impression and others may be either more impressed or disagree with my impressions. The best recommendation I can give is to always audition a product in your system to see if you like it. Hopefully it’s a starting point for some and gives some insight. Robert website is at aporoditecu29.com for additional information regarding this amplifier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Violectric HPA V200
Description:

The HPA V200 was developped with the target to enable ultimate transmission quality for low- , medium- and high-impedance headphones. Due to its specific, variable, low-noise and low-distortion circuit design especially optimised for dynamic headphones, the HPA V200 fulfils even most sophisticated demands. LOW-NOISE because of low internal gain. Therefore the self generated noise from the amplifer is not audible. HIGH OUTPUT VOLTAGE through 60 Volt internal operating voltage. Therefore best suited for high impedance headphones. Over 90 % of all headphone amplifiers in the market offer not half that voltage !! HIGH OUTPUT POWER because of powerful amplifiers able to deliver much more current a headphone needs. Therefore best suited for low impedance headphones and even magnetostatic cans !! HIGH DAMPING FACTOR through lowest output impedance. Therefore best suited for full control even over critical headphones with the garantee to have flatest possible response. FEATURES: - Balanced inputs with gold-plated Neutrik XLR connectors - Unbalanced inputs with gold-plated ALPS cinch connectors - switchable unbalanced outputs with cinch connectors - optional USB input 16 Bit / 48 kHz or 24 Bit / 96 kHz - PRE-GAIN = switchable input gain in five steps - Independent-channel design - DC-coupled (switchable) - ALPS RK27 High-Grade volume control - High-Quality op-amps in the signal path - High-quality MKP capacitors in the signal path - 0.1 and 1% metal film resistors throughout the unit - Discrete-design power amp with 8 transistors per channel - 2 silver-plated Neutrik headphone outputs - Relay-based headphone output cutoff - Toroidal transformer - Large filtering capacitors in the power supply - Switchable ground lift - Rugged aluminium case with Nextel coating - Solid, laser-engraved aluminium front panel

Details:
DetailValue
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphone Amplifiers › Desktop Amps › Violectric HPA V200