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V-MODA VAMP VERZA Universal Headphone Amplifier

  1. ruthieandjohn
    Great sound; temperamental operation
    Written by ruthieandjohn
    Published Mar 20, 2016
    Pros - Excellent with V-MODA M-100 closed HPs; great subbass; excellent transparency for closed headphone
    Cons - Slightly less treble detail than SONY PHA-1; hard to get to "capture" iPhone on initial restart after battery discharge; Metallo case can fall off
    The V-MODA VAMP VERZA DAC and amplifier is only about 1/4 inch in each dimension larger than an iPhone 5, yet provides a novel and useful method to attach to the iPhone as a single unit and provides excellent sound in a shirt-pocket-sized stack with the iPhone in the V-MODA Metallo case, particularly with the V-MODA M100 headphone for which it has been tuned.  

    The picture shows the VERZA with its silver volume control knob underneath a matching Metallo case holding an iPhone 5.  The Metallo case slides onto the VERZA along a track and a small lightening-to-USB connector connects the two (at the far end of the unit).  Testing was done with a V-MODA M-100 headphone, as shown.
    The unit feels solid and is sold with an Apple Lightening-to-USB cable of minimal length to connect the two units. It would be better if the cable were a right-angle cable at each end, so the short length of wire is not increasing the length of the stack.  It would also be great if the cable was white for those VERZAs that are white (my cable is black).  The package also includes the Apple 30 pin - to - USB connector.
    As described below, the sound is excellent.  
    However, the unit is not always able to seize control of the Apple Lightening connection when plugged in, specifically if the VERZA has discharged its power (such as being left on all night) and then recharged.  This is a problem that has been noticed by several others on the head-fi.org thread on the VERZA and Metallo case, for years, though in my case, it only happens (but almost always happens) upon full discharge of the VERZA battery.  Fixing it (i.e., causing the VERZA to actually connect with the iPhone) requires random cycling of power, unplugging and plugging the Lightening connector, switching through the various modes (VAMP, VAMP/Power, Synch on one switch; iAMP, USB-DAC on the other).  Once it connects, it stays connected until the next time that one discharges the VERZA battery, but it is a random process of unpredictable duration to cycle through the various combinations of actions to cause it to reconnect.  When it has not reconnected, the sound of the iPhone music comes out of the iPhone speaker rather than the headphones hooked to the VERZA.  If V-MODA is not able to fix this problem in the design, it would still be helpful if V-MODA would publish a sequence of steps (on/off, switch cycling, plug/unplugging) that would reliably bring the connection between iPhone and VERZA back to life upon VERZA discharge/recharge. Several calls to V-MODA were not able to elicit any solution to this problem.
    The Metallo case that holds the iPhone and slides onto the VERZA has its own set of challenges.  I am on my third case at this point of four months of ownership.  The metal of the track on the Metallo case is either milled too loose or tends to wear away or bend such that the track no longer holds onto its mating track on the top of the VERZA case, and your iPhone can fall off.  Furthermore, it would be useful if there were a firm locking "click" when the iPhone in the Metallo case has slid fully onto the VERZA.  There is not, and the Metallo case slides free, restrained only by the Lightening-to_USB plug. That problem, too, has been common to all three of my Metallo cases.  V-MODA has been very helpful in sending me a new case prior to my sending them the old, so i am not without a case during postal transit times.
    Of course, the VERZA sounds fabulous, particularly with the V-MODA M-100 headphones that I used to test it.  
    To quantify "fabulous," I used a regimen of 10 three-way comparisons, in which I rank the ability of three different systems as "best," "next best," and "third best" in reproducing ten different aspects of headphone listening (e.g., transparency, soundstage, subbass, as shown in the table below).  I described this method, including the specific pieces and several-second segments of these pieces, here
    The three chains I chose to compare were the VERZA with M-100 driven by my iPhone 5S, the M-100 driven directly by my iPhone 5S (no VERZA), and the Sony PHA-1 DAC/ amp driving the M-100 from the iPhone.  I chose the Sony PHA-1 because it is similar in price to the VERZA and because like the VERZA, the PHA-1 has a 10 ohm output impedance.  A 10 ohm impedance is rather high for such headphones as the 32 ohm input impedance of the M-100 or the Grado headphone line, as a rule of thumb is that the output impedance of the amp should be less than 1/8 of the input impedance of the headphones, to keep the bass tight.  In this case, it is 1/3.2, or about 1/3, of the headphone input impedance.
    This table shows the ranking of the three chains for each of the 10 acoustic tests.  Each test is a row, and a brief explanation sits at the right of each row.  Each of the three chains is ranked as best (score of 3, box color of blue), second best (2, blue), or third best (1, yellow) on each acoustic test.  Ties are allowed (indeed, encouraged, as I must hear a difference that I think is sufficient to be reliably reproduced before ranking one above another).  Ties for first place are purple (blue+ red) and scored 2.5; ties for second place are orange (red + yellow) and scored 1.5.
    One may compute a total score, indicative of how many first places vs. third places each chain had.  That shows that the VERZA with M-100 sounded just a bit better than PHA-1 with M-100 (differences of three are significant - this is only a difference of one).  Both amps sounded significantly better than the M100 without an amp, i.e., driven directly by the iPhone.
    I really like my VERZA amp, so much so that after I got it, I purchased, for the second time, a pair of V-MODA M-100 headphones, this time in matching colors (I had a pair earlier that I had sold).  I find the small size of the VERZA and its simple, unique way of sliding the VERZA amp onto the iPhone 5 V-MODA Metallo case as a wonderfully compact, attractive way to always have a top-quality portable DAC/amp with my iPhone.
    If only the VERZA would reliably capture the Lightening connection to the iPhone every time after power discharge / recharge of the battery, and the Metallo case would stay tight and click at the end of its transit onto the VERZA amp track and not fall off, this would be a perfect product for me.
      SpiderNhan likes this.
  2. AnakChan
    V-Moda VAmp VERZA long term review
    Written by AnakChan
    Published Dec 23, 2013
    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) :-
    1. 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)
    2. VERZA's 6-layer PCB for RFI management vs Go-DAP X's 2-layer
    3. V-Moda's continuance of using OPA1612 vs Go-DAP X's basic offering of Muses8920 & OPA2134 (but offered LME49860 optional upgrade)
    4. VERZA's 2x130mW for iOS and 2x150mW for Android vs Go-DAP X's 80mW (again VentureCraft offered a modification to match the VERZA)
    5. 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.
    1. giratina12
      Hello..would you recommend I use an Amp with my M100's? I am thinking about getting the FiiO E7...
      giratina12, Feb 6, 2014
  3. DrSheep
    Great design and phone integration.
    Written by DrSheep
    Published Jul 30, 2013
    Pros - Good power, supports both iOS, Android, and PC.
    Cons - Cost, no analog input, supressed by the new VentureCraft SounDroid Typhoon.
    Box of VAMP and VERZA

    Open box

    QuiqCard removed


    VERZA in pearl white and metallic orange

    Back of QuiqCard for settings

    Over all the VERZA is slightly bigger than the VAMP but only about 3/5 as thick. The gray "X" part is of semi-soft plastic like the black part from the VAMP.
    Ok I charged my VERZA and here is my first test drive of it with my iPod Touch 5th Gen with the M-100. All I have to say is WOW, if the iPhone 4/4S with VAMP was great, than this new VERZA just takes the M-100 to a whole new level. Listening to AKB48's "1830m" with the VERZA at 1/3 volume gives a much stronger base than normal, with the highs and mids remain quite clear. EQ mode bring the sounds even more base, and EQ + 3D is just too much for me. As of now I do prefer the sound of my old VAMP as it is more even sounding, however, the overall package and everything else the VERZA trumps the VAMP. If I have to pick I think I would like the VERZA better, and given time I might grow custom to its sound. Note that I definitely like the volume control on the VERZA better, as it is more solid (my VAMP's knob is a bit loose) AND you can turn your VERZA completely off with it without touching the toggle controls. It will be my perfect setup if Val and V-MODA release more Metallo cases so I can retire those (given very nice) rubber bands. Releasing a 90 degree angled cable for Apple Lightning connection, like what VentureCraft did, would be great too (naturally since the VERZA was derived from the GO-DAP X).
    Test Setup

    AKB48 "River"
    fripSide "Decade"
    Puddle of Mudd "Blurry"
    iPhone 4S
    iPod Touch 5th Gen
    Zune HD
    iTunes with AudioQuest DragonFly from my Alienware M18x R1
    V-MODA M-100 with 1 button and BoomMicPro cables
    iTunes 100%
    AudioQuest DragonFly 20%
    VAMP 30-40% (can't be sure since there are no marks)
    VERZA 30%, 100% in computer in USB-DAC mode
    All iPhone, iPod, VAMP, and VERZA EQ and 3D mode OFF.
    Test 1 - With and with out the 30 pin adapter for the iPod Touch 5th Gen: I can safely say that to the best of my ability that I detected no difference between the two given that the 30 pin adapter has a Wolfson DAC inside. I can assume it is properly bypassed in this case.
    Test 2 - iPhone 4S vs. iPod Touch 5th Gen with VERZA: I can also detected no difference in this case
    Test 3 - VAMP vs. VERZA: as mentioned before the VERZA was tuned for the M-100 and it shows, and you can definitely tell that the VERZA gives off a much stronger base and mids but the high end suffers. This is the one point I don't like about the VERZA as I think it is too far away from neutral even with EQ off. It by no means sounded bad, but if you really care about neutral sounding high notes you might not like the VERZA.
    Test 4 - DragonFly vs. VERZA in USB-DAC mode: this is where the VERZA get interesting, as the VERZA is even more bassy sounding than in iAMP mode. Personally I considered the DragonFly gives off a very good neutral sound, so the difference here is even more striking. This test could be an indication that USB-DAC mode users for computers or Android devices will notice more bass and mids compare to their iDevices counterpart given the same songs and settings.
    Test 5 - Zune HD: failed as I forgot that I need to get an USB to micro USB adapter for it to be used in USB-DAC mode, so stand by for this one.
    Future plan: I have a pair of Sleek-Audio SA7 coming so I will have to test that along with all my other IEMs. As a quick note I did pair my VERZA with the Ferrari T350 and does make it sound better and more lively. Since now I have the VERZA, I can finally send V-MODA another RMA request to have my VAMP updated again, and hopefully fix some of the issue I still have with it. I hope this help to some of you that are on the fence about the VERZA, and my bottom line for you is that the VERZA is a great device as it does so much and compatible with almost everything. However, sound wise the VERZA is really not for everyone even with the default setup of it pairing with the M-100, so take advantage of the 60 days trial period that V-MODA offers and judge for yourself. I hope some of you here will able to test the VERZA plus Samsung GS3 with Metallo case combo in the future. Hope this helps.
    IEM test with VERZA
    AKB48 "River"
    fripSide "Decade"
    Puddle of Mudd "Blurry"
    iPod Touch 5th Gen with 30 pin adapter and default patch cable (Wolfson DAC should have been bypassed)
    iPod Music Player
    Bowers & Wilkins C5 MSRP $180
    Ferrari Cavallino T150i MSRP $250
    Logitech UE900 MSRP $400
    Klipsch X10 MSRP $300, most places discount this to about $100
    Sleek Audio SA7 and SA1 MSRP $350 and $70
    V-MODA Vibe II MSRP $120 but discontinued
    Comply Foam Tips on all IEMs except SA1 and SA7
    iPod Touch 5th Gen 6 clicks (about 1/3)
    VERZA 25-30%
    All iPod, EQ-10, and VERZA EQ and 3D mode OFF.
    Test 1 - Bowers & Wilkins C5: the C5 is known for its great highs and VERY strong bass. Using EQ-10 flat did cut down the bass a hair compare to the Apple stock player but not by much. Pair EQ-10 with the VERZA you are getting very clear mids and highs with EXTREMELY punchy bass. You really have to set your own high pass filter with EQ-10 to reduce the bass but keeping the trebles flat is fine.
    Test 2 - Ferrari Cavallino T150i: I would never buy this at MSRP and I have only gotten it when Ferrari had an private sale for 60% off. But even at the discounted price I still would not recommend this for use on its own, as it is overly bassy and lack staging and decent highs. However, pair with the VERZA fixes it somewhat but bring up the mids and highs and have an even stronger base (but not as strong as the C5.) This is where you really need the EQ-10 to cut bass and boost highs.
    Test 3 - Logitech UE900: there were a lot already have been said about the UE900 so I am not going to repeat them here. Overall you don't really need the VERZA for the UE900, but it did brings the highs and mids even brighter without messing up the staging. The bass is even stronger but not too over powering. I would still recommend a bit of bass cut but it's not really necessary. So far this is the best sounding IEM that I have pair to the VERZA.
    Test 4 - Klipsch X10: this is my current value champ and I just love how it sounds with out over doing anything to the sound. However, in stock form with the Apple Music player, it does sound a bit weak and the VERZA really helps here. With the VERZA the mids are much more clear and the bass is not over powering. The trebles could use some help with EQ-10 so I recommend a bit of high boost here. Overall the best value for the sound at the current discounted price.
    Test 5 - Sleek Audio SA1: this is be babe SA6 and this is my current budget IEM of the lot. It is the weakest sounding of the bunch at the volume I set, and you really need to use your iPod at about 50% volume to bring the level on pair with the others. The default bass is strong with still decently clear mids but lack highs although it isn't as bad as the T150i. The VERZA drives the SA1 much better than stock for the mids and highs and only produce a marginally stronger bass. You will need EQ-10 to fix some of the SA1 bass and treble just like the T150i. If you are on a budget, then I think you will be happy with the SA1 sound given you fix it with EQ-10 even with out the VERZA or any AMP/DAC.
    Test 6 - Sleek Audio SA7: the is the latest and best offering from Sleek-Audio, and the second most expensive of the bunch. In stock from it is decently flat with bright mid and highs and not overly bassy, but staging wise it is not as good as the UE900. Note that I found the SA7 tend to be a bit over boots on the treble sometimes even with the treble - ports when the volume is high, and with the treble + port the highs are just way over boost for me. Also EQ-10 gives off even more treble for some reason. Pair with the VERZA the SA7 is really great and pretty neutral sounding and just makes everything brighter. However, I found the SA7 is VERY sensitive to volume levels and at 1/3 volume for the VERZA it is just too much for me and I have to reduce it down to 1/4. I can really say that the SA7 is a great alternative to the UE900. Unfortunately the stock accessories is a bit thin with only 3 pairs of S/M/L flanged ear tips and no secondary cable, and the worse is that there are currently no officially supported Comply Foam Tips for either the SA7 or SA1 (neither the T100 nor the T400 will work and I don't have any T500). Therefore this will affect the seal and might throw the sound a bit off for me. Overall the SA7 is a great pair of IEM especially pair with the VERZA, but it will require careful tuning of the volume and EQ (specially on the highs) to get the sound just right.
    Test 7 - V-MODA Vibe II: I literally went to war with my Vibe II so I know its sound by heart. By default the Vibe II is a very bassy IEM pretty much on par with the C5 with clear mids but lack highs a bit (but not as bad as the T150i). It is another set of weak IEM what require close to 50% volume from my iPod Touch to drive so the VERZA really helps here. The VERZA really brings the highs and mids back to live but WAY over boost the bass at 1/3 volume, so cutting the bass with EQ-10 is really necessary in this case. Given the Vibe II has been discontinued and at prices so close to the X10, there is no reason not to pick the X10 over this.
    After thought: the VERZA is a great AMP/DAC especially for weaker headphones or IEMs. It can bring weak sounding mids and highs back to live, but over all I think it boost the bass a bit too much and require EQ fixes in general. Bass head would definitely love the VERZA, and it would definitely help people looking for an good sounding setup that augment some of their IEMs short comings. Therefore, instead for people already own decently high end headphones like the SA7, UE900, or the M-100, the VERZA is really more suited for less than perfect IEMs.
    p.s. for iPhone 3G/3GS owners, there is a great alternative to the VERZA on Amazon, which is the VentureCraft Go-DAP 3.0, and it can be had for ONLY $20 (MSRP $200)!! This is a great way to get into great sound in a budget. Don't miss out.