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Violectric HPA V281 - Vorsprung durch Balanced - Page 134

post #1996 of 2440

I ended up getting the remote control volume option (super handy and smooth), but not the relay volume.

 

I did compare the relay v.s. pot option, but frankly I couldn't tell them apart. The main reason why I went with the remote pot option was because the relay felt very clunky and not very nice to operate. Whenever I adjusted the volume, the distinct jumps in volume were felt as "blip" sound, which was quite annoying. I guess it's nice that V281 gives you the option for one or the other.

 

The internal DAC module for the V281 felt quite outdated and "off the shelf" design. I was a bit disappointed when I looked at it, because it is pretty basic with not much going for it, in terms of USB isolation, reclocking, jitter reduction, D/A, I/V etc. The sound is very straightforward and clean. Nothing wrong with it but other external DACs could bring out more from the V281 amp.

 

S/PDIF and USB DACs from other companies have moved on a long way over the past few years, not just the D/A chip itself (ESS, AKM, whatever), but in terms of care and attention put in to ensure the data and power input is as clean as possible. The add-on DAC module for V281 doesn't live in this day and age, so I am hoping that Violectric can release some modern up-to-date DAC modules to keep up to date.

 

I'm currently using an iFi micro iDAC2 to go with the V281, because it sounded nice to my ears.

post #1997 of 2440
I really want an HE-6. I have heard the 1000 but there is something magical about the 6.

I have the enhanced knob and volume controller but honestly they are not needed.
post #1998 of 2440

For the DAC option, I'd say it is worth it as a sort of backup. For example, if you are looking for a new expensive DAC in the future but aren't sure what you'll want, you can use the integrated DAC in between demo units. It's not a terrible DAC by any means and if sold alone I think it would be competitive for $300-400 or so. Maybe not top of the heap in that price range, but not lagging too far behind either. It's neutral and inoffensive which is more than I can say for many affordable DACs or sub-$500 CD players.

 

Problem is, it's paired with one of the best amps available, so being decent or slightly above average is not enough. Then again, it does not cost all that much so expectations must be kept in check. I do wonder how the SPDIF version would sound when fed by a nice DDC - something good but cheap like the Breeze Audio U8.

 

As for the volume upgrade, I'm probably one of the few people to have spent time with both versions concurrently. For me, I chose the relay option because it does offer a tad more clarity. It's subtle, but that's often the order of the day when trying to improve on an already very good device. Is it worth the fairly significant price increase? That's a personal decision and I would certainly not argue with someone who decided to skip it. The money may very well be better spent on another aspect of your system. 

 

post #1999 of 2440
Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post
 

...Problem is, it's paired with one of the best amps available, so being decent or slightly above average is not enough....

 

Thank you - exactly what I was trying to say (and not doing it all that well).

 

The V281 amp is a much, much better unit than the built-in DAC (apples and oranges there, but I hope folks get what I mean - the amp sits pretty high up the amp pecking order, while DAC isn't in the same league of goodness for DACs).

 

Trying to review / assess the V281 with the built in DAC is not giving the amp an opportunity to show what it can do.

 

My experience is that the V281 amp scales like crazy with a better DAC. From the Vega to the Hegel HD30, the V281 lifted its game accordingly, and the Vega is definitely not a mediocre DAC to start with.

 

I'm glad you noticed a SQ lift from the relay volume control. I got mine with this option - but have never had a chance for A/B testing to see if I could pick a difference.

post #2000 of 2440

I guess the most important thing is that this DAC add-on card is only 200 euro (so about $220 USD). It's a bit unfair to compare that against some of the very musical high end units out there.

 

As a convenient all-in-one solution, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. There's certainly no need to take it out if it's already installed.

 

To me, it kind of reminds me of what Lehmann Audio did with their Black Cube Linear headphone amp many years ago. The amp itself was fantastic and class leading for the time, but then they later chucked in a tiny generic USB DAC board which didn't sound very good. It ended up being the weak link in the system.

 

I think V281 is a fantastic headphone amp that really reveal every little detail from what's connected upstream. I don't think any DAC or whatever source will be considered an overkill for V281.

post #2001 of 2440

I am set as well to go into the DAC course for the V281, as I was previously using the internal USB 24/192, but due to intensive use, it stoped working. Sending the unit back would cost too much for where I live so now is the time to find an End Game contender.

 

Just wondering if I should look into the V850 or should I consider aiming higher (max 3000USD) to complement our Amp.

post #2002 of 2440
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunz View Post
 

I am set as well to go into the DAC course for the V281, as I was previously using the internal USB 24/192, but due to intensive use, it stoped working. Sending the unit back would cost too much for where I live so now is the time to find an End Game contender.

 

Just wondering if I should look into the V850 or should I consider aiming higher (max 3000USD) to complement our Amp.

DAC's are a personal preference. I have the V850 and absolutely love it but if you have a chance to audition some DAC's I would do that. Another one to consider is Schiit Audio's Yggdrasil. A lot of people love it and the small session I had with it I was impressed. Three thousand USD is a lot of breathing room so you will have a ton of options. 

 

I went with the V850 for the following reasons: 

 

I already was ordering the V281

I needed a phono pre-amp as well so had to take that cost factor into consideration as my main source is vinyl.

I wanted balanced outputs

I do not need DSD capabilities

I wanted it to match my stack (stupid reason really and should not be taken into consideration as it does not affect the audio chain)


Edited by 13713 - 5/31/16 at 10:22am
post #2003 of 2440
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunz View Post
 

I am set as well to go into the DAC course for the V281, as I was previously using the internal USB 24/192, but due to intensive use, it stoped working. Sending the unit back would cost too much for where I live so now is the time to find an End Game contender.

 

Just wondering if I should look into the V850 or should I consider aiming higher (max 3000USD) to complement our Amp.

 

I spent a lot of time reading everything I could about Schiit and the Yggdrasil. I've got a Yggy that is past 200 hrs of burn in. It sounds amazing. There's a whole argument Schiit makes about bit-perfect sample preservation that their R2R DAC does versus most other DAC implementations which are sigma-delta. My understanding is still fairly shallow if I'm honest with myself. Regardless the net result for my is a noticeable step up in quality from my Mytek DAC. Some of the treble harshness is cleaned up. I'm quite happy with that choice. There's another thread called 'Life After Yggdrasil?' you should check out. That is a no cost ceiling search for something better than Yggy. Opinions and goals being all personal and subjective standard caveats apply. My takeaway from it all was go buy a Yggy I don't have budget for a $4k+ DAC and it will be hard to find anything in the Yggy price range that is better.

 

I also just plugged in the V281 (just got it back). Volume knob is fixed. They said electrically the unit was fine. There was also a problem with one of the board's mounting so I had a few gold washers and nuts loose in the back because they didn't thread. Also got confirmed the annoying popping in the relay wasn't just me being an idiot. I'm back with the first volume upgrade which gives me a smooth knob and remote control functionality. I haven't tried it with the Mytek to check volume level at zero which was a previous complaint, but with the Yggy and V281 at zero volume it's totally quiet. The V281 behaves like what I would expect it to behave like. A couple casual songs from the collection it sounds good. I also need a volume control with the Yggy so maybe the V281 will become my $2k volume knob :blink:. I could get a passive pre-amp or something from Schiit for much cheaper but I also think I want an instant-on amp sometimes without having to wait for the tube amp to warm up. Anyways informally I am enjoying V281 + Yggy. I also don't think I'm as picky as some of the most discerning audiophiles out there so I think I'm easier to please. I'll warm up my Woo WA5 a bit later and try to A/B with the V281 later.

post #2004 of 2440
Quote:
Originally Posted by phase0 View Post
 

I also need a volume control with the Yggy so maybe the V281 will become my $2k volume knob :blink:. I could get a passive pre-amp or something from Schiit for much cheaper but I also think I want an instant-on amp sometimes without having to wait for the tube amp to warm up

 

I think Yggdrasil is a great DAC. It's a perfect example of how there is no such thing as an overkill.

 

Using the V281 as a line out volume knob for your Yggdrasil, the sound will change somewhat compared to a passive pre, so you will have to listen and see whether you like it or not.

Particularly for XLR in/out, V281 puts the input signal through a single ended summing amp then to the volume knob, then back to balanced again, so there is active buffer amplification happening even for the rear XLR output.

 

Same reason why we shouldn't care too much about whether the DAC is balanced or not, since it's independent of the balanced headphone amp section. Best to just choose the DAC based on how it sounds.

post #2005 of 2440
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandalaudio View Post
 

 

I think Yggdrasil is a great DAC. It's a perfect example of how there is no such thing as an overkill.

 

Using the V281 as a line out volume knob for your Yggdrasil, the sound will change somewhat compared to a passive pre, so you will have to listen and see whether you like it or not.

Particularly for XLR in/out, V281 puts the input signal through a single ended summing amp then to the volume knob, then back to balanced again, so there is active buffer amplification happening even for the rear XLR output.

 

Same reason why we shouldn't care too much about whether the DAC is balanced or not, since it's independent of the balanced headphone amp section. Best to just choose the DAC based on how it sounds.

 

Right now I'm doing (1) Yggy balanced out ->  V281, and (2) Yggy RCA out -> WooAudio WA5. I heard the WA5 isn't truly balanced anyways and RCA might even sound better than the XLR. I can't really tell any difference TBH. I haven't tried routing the signal out of the V281 but I was hoping to do that for my Powered Monitors. That would prevent the accidents I had with the Mytek where I forget to switch from bypass back to internal volume control and get a blast at 100% out of the monitors. IIRC the V281 also has the option to bypass the volume circuitry for the output but then I did say $2k volume knob. Right now I'm sick of shopping. I'm probably not going to try the passive-pre option unless for some reason I decide I don't want to keep the V281 in the next week. Really it's pretty good and on it's own I'm quite enjoying it (not trying to compare to things and do A/B right now).

post #2006 of 2440
Quote:
Originally Posted by phase0 View Post
 

 

 There was also a problem with one of the board's mounting so I had a few gold washers and nuts loose in the back because they didn't thread. Also got confirmed the annoying popping in the relay wasn't just me being an idiot. I'm back with the first volume upgrade which gives me a smooth knob and remote control functionality. 

I'm kinda tempted to send back my v281 as well to check the same issue.  

post #2007 of 2440
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyNewman View Post
 

 

As a former owner of the 430HA and a current owner of the V281 I have to respectfully disagree with this statement.

 

Both amps have warmth and musicality and oodles of power - the V281 does not sacrifice bags of detail, punch and speed to do it - the 430HA does.

 

As always, YMMV.

 

Now awaiting the obligatory intervention of the defender of all things 430HA (who AFAIK does not even own a V281, but jumps into any thread where the 430HA is referred to in anything less than glowing terms ... you know who you are).

 

Tony, you mostly talk about the V281 as opposed to the 430HA as it's your latest change I guess. Could you (try to) place the Taurus Mk2 in the equation? I think I'm more interested in the technicality domain than the tonality domain (though don't let that refrain you from commenting on both :popcorn: ). You can adjust for tonality by better pairings or equalizing, but you can't bring back sacrificed bags of detail, punch and speed...

 

Thanks!

post #2008 of 2440
Quote:
Originally Posted by CoLdAsSauLt View Post
 

 

Tony, you mostly talk about the V281 as opposed to the 430HA as it's your latest change I guess. Could you (try to) place the Taurus Mk2 in the equation? I think I'm more interested in the technicality domain than the tonality domain (though don't let that refrain you from commenting on both :popcorn: ). You can adjust for tonality by better pairings or equalizing, but you can't bring back sacrificed bags of detail, punch and speed...

 

Thanks!

 

Taurus is technically excellent. Detailed, fast, punchy, dynamic. It can get slightly bright and doesn't pack the power to fully drive the HE6. Note that I like neutral-ish headphones (HE6 / HD800S ...etc). With darker headphones - like LCD-whatever - the match would probably be better. I did notice the Taurus lose its composure slightly on some complex passages of music - but this is nitpicking. It is an excellent amp. I replaced it because I wanted more power to drive the HE6 and the tonality was a little bright for the headphones I like to use. I thought the 430HA would be the answer - it wasn't. Than I found the V281 and happiness. As always, YMMV.

post #2009 of 2440
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyNewman View Post

Taurus is technically excellent. Detailed, fast, punchy, dynamic. It can get slightly bright and doesn't pack the power to fully drive the HE6. Note that I like neutral-ish headphones (HE6 / HD800S ...etc). With darker headphones - like LCD-whatever - the match would probably be better. I did notice the Taurus lose its composure slightly on some complex passages of music - but this is nitpicking. It is an excellent amp. I replaced it because I wanted more power to drive the HE6 and the tonality was a little bright for the headphones I like to use. I thought the 430HA would be the answer - it wasn't. Than I found the V281 and happiness. As always, YMMV.

Thanks a bunch :-) That leaves the GS-X Mk2 as an upgrade option... :-)
post #2010 of 2440

I totally agree with that assessment of the Taurus. It's a beautiful piece of equipment but these days there are plenty of good alternatives to consider.

 

I suspect the V280 would be a good choice for a similarly priced, similarly powerful amp that gives a somewhat less bright signature. 

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