This is my opinion and only my opinion as to why this amp is not getting the praise it deserves. I don't intend to offend anyone but I'm just trying to understand why it's not getting more attention.
To me, the Vali is good enough to be compared with TOTL amps rather than other budget amps; but I do believe certain characteristics are throwing a lot of people off maybe for the following reasons:
1. People who are looking for TOTL amps for their TOTL headphones are dismissing it because of it's price, form and factor.
2. In stead, it draws a lot of people who buy it for the price (maybe as their first amp) and therefore, have limited experience with higher end amps and consequently are not able to evaluate it properly. It's sounds good "for the price" type of evaluations. Honestly, when I'm evaluating an amp, the first thing I listen for are wide soundstage, controled and hard hitting bass impact and macro level details and dynamics. I don't tend to and I was never taught to listen for the subtle micro level details and micro level dynamics that Vali excels at. This takes more experience (with high end amps) and even than more time to hear and appreciate.
3. People who are buying the Vali are pairing with the Modi (because of the price bracket and because the Modi stacks well with the Vali) or some other budget dac or even some other budget headphone and it's limiting the potential of the Vali. The Vali with a budget dac is going to sound like a really good budget amp. I believe if the Vali came in the Bifrost chassis they would pair it with the Bifrost or if the Vali came in the Gungnir chassis, people would pair it with Gungnir and therefore get better reviews.
4. Lastly, the Vali is not ideal with high sensitive/low impedance headphones nor ideal with high demanding hard to drive headphones like LCD-2/3. So it kind of limits many headphones and buyers. Personally, I do wish the Vali had more power to drive the LCD-2. It's sublime at low to medium volumes but when I want to crank it, I can hear it loosing steam.
I think there are lot of amps that do many things better than the Vali. But what the Vali does, it does well. It's a hyper-detailed yet musical amp that focuses on micro level experience.
Personally my hope is that Schiit will do a Vali 2 with a gain switch for low impedance headphones and increase the power output for Orthos without changing the nature and quality of the amp.
Edited by sling5s - 5/3/14 at 10:40am